Thursday, July 02, 2020

The Chaos of the Age (Leo Perutz)



(The Emperor Rudolf II addresses his lover, by means of a mutual dream.)
"In the dark hours of the day, when the chaos of the age weighs on me like a nightmare and the noise and bustle of the world is about me with all its perfidy and cunning, its lies and treachery, my thoughts fly to you, you are my comfort and consolation. With you there's clarity, when I'm with you I feel as if I could understand the way of the world and see through the lies and penetrate to the truth behind the perfidy. Sometimes I feel lost and call you, call you aloud, though in such a way as not to be overheard — but you don't come. Why don't you come? What holds you back when I call you? What prevents you?"

No answer came.

By Night Under the Stone Bridge

Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth



The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor.

Read by General Gordon Granger, June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

Jamelle Bouie:
Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution, that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.

Why Juneteenth Matters
More information: "Juneteenth, explained"

Photo: Unknown young woman on the campus of Langston University (then known as the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University), probably before 1920.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Dreaming Again (Zachary Richard)




From singer, musician, bilingual songwriter, and all-around good guy Zachary Richard, a beautiful, moving, and timely new song of hope. Downloads (here) benefit the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic.
When the danger at long last is gone,
And peace has returned to this land.
When we can all embrace without fear or disgrace
And all come home safely again.

I hear the thunder, and I am afraid,
Of the darkness that seems not to end.
But then I remember that you are always with me,
And I go back to dreaming again.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Quote of the day


Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona (via Daughter Number Three):
This is an awful man, waving a book he hasn’t read, in front of a church he doesn’t attend, invoking laws he doesn’t understand, against fellow Americans he sees as enemies, wielding a military he dodged serving, to protect power he gained via accepting foreign interference, exploiting fear and anger he loves to stoke, after failing to address a pandemic he was warned about, and building it all on a bed of constant lies and childish inanity.
I can't even bear to look at the photo in question. It turns out that the last refuge of a scoundrel isn't patriotism after all. I'm not religious and I'm not sure I know what "the soul" means, but I know when someone doesn't have one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Cypripedium acaule



I'll always associate pink lady's-slipper or moccasin flower with my childhood, because there was a secluded spot in the woods about a mile or so from my house where they could be found quietly growing, if you were observant and if you went at the right time of year. I haven't been back for decades and I have no idea if they're still there, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were. These native orchids require just the right habitat and are said to be extremely difficult to cultivate.

I know of another place where they still grow in relative abundance, though, and over the weekend I trekked into the woods and found several dozen of them in bloom. They're not visible from a main trail, but are easily reached if you happen to know where they are. Two other hikers walked right past them while I was there, but they either didn't notice them or weren't interested (or maybe they were just giving a wide berth to the eccentric kneeling on the ground with a camera).


The white moth on the specimen below is Tetracis cachexiata. I know that fact not because I keep that kind of information in my head, but because an online search for moths associated with the plant immediately brought it up. The moth has been spotted on lady's-slippers many times in various locations over the years, but no one knows quite why. It's not believed to be a pollinator of the flower (which is pollinated by bees), nor does it derive any apparent nourishment from it. One theory is that it obtains some kind of pheromone from the plant. Charley Eiseman at Bug Tracks has more information.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Notebook: Seeing Music


Christy Moore:
When I go to West Clare I can see the music in the hills and stony fields. Today I look out upon the Sheep's Head and over Dunmanus Bay to Mount Gabriel and I can see many things: the beauty of it all, the bay, the beacons — as one man tries to quietly fish in it another hungry man seeks to poison it. I can see God's work everywhere but I cannot see the music. In West Clare you can see the fiddle music, you can stand looking over a stone wall into a poor little field and it is there as plain as day. I saw concertina music on the square in Kilrush in 1964 and the vision never left me. Coming up from The White Strand in Milltown Malbay I met chanter music, and on the windswept Hill of Tulla (East Clare) I met the man that wrote Spancilhill. The music scarpered off the big fields of Meath and Kildare — there is no sign of it at all. I have seen it in Ahascragh too, and above in Ardara and you can plainly see the flute music in Fisher Street. You'd always have a better chance of glimpsing it around stony half acres, but seldom if ever on the ranches brimming with sleek shiny bullocks full of antibiotics and growth hormones. Show me a scrawny auld heifer unable for a bull and I'll show you a slow air with a slip jig traipsing after it. The combine harvesters have driven the music out of the John Hinde-coloured pastures where it has been forced to live in exile in libraries and museums. It needs the birdsong and the meadow to breathe, the wind through the furze, the distant corncrake in the meadow, the smell of the fair day.

From One Voice: My Life in Song (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000).
"Spancilhill" (or "Spancil Hill"): a song associated with Robbie McMahon, a version of which appears on Christy Moore's 1970 album Prosperous. John Hinde was a popular photographer and creator of nostalgic colored postcards.