john fahey – voice of the turtle

juvenile mourning doves

Juvenile Mourning Doves, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Juvenile Mourning Doves

These two have been hanging out on the deck railing for the past few days. Their parents drop by from time to time and regurgitate food into their mouths. It’s quite entertaining.

life along a west virginia stream

© 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 1

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Streamside Attraction No. 2, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 2

 

Wood Turtle, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Turtle

 

Wood Turtle, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Turtle

 

Streamside Attraction No. 3, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 3

the absent company

The set varies little over time. The minor changes made to accommodate this current script likely only matter to the director, who ordered them months ago. The lead actor, however, is now unavailable—checked out, no longer there—perhaps not even working in the business anymore. Suddenly the understudy arrives, unbidden, as if responding to a premonition. The understudy is a near doppelgänger. The resemblance to the lead is uncanny—all the members of the crew agree.

Whereas in previous scripts other major characters besides the lead have appeared, here there are only very minor ones. It’s unclear if this has been a budgetary decision. The director walks the set, noting the removal of some props and the addition of others. In particular a new stunning scenic backdrop stands out—vibrant in its colors and intricate in its horticultural detail. The director pauses to inspect the veins on the leaves of a painted plant. Stunning, the director murmurs.

The music director reviews the score, which changes seasonally. Though maintaining a basic familiar framework, the score remains in a state of flux. The music director is fastidious, constantly adding and subtracting songs, fiddling with the order, all done in a supreme effort to achieve the absolute perfect balance of musical accompaniment.

Now the director is perturbed. The understudy has grown belligerent. Refuses to follow stage directions. Wants to ad lib. But there is no room for flexibility in the script. Every line, every action has been carefully scripted. Each fits within the director’s vision. None can be bent or discarded. The understudy objects. The director stands fast. Will the show go on…

As the audience filters into the theater, the tension behind the curtain rises to a head. At last, displaying characteristic poise and intuition, the music director steps in with a suggestion. All speaking lines will be removed, leaving the emotional arc of the script to be formed through mere gesture accompanied by a meticulously arranged new and expanded score, which the music director just happened to have eked out over the past few days during the scraps of time between rehearsals, having somehow, unconsciously or not, anticipated that a potentially show-stopping dilemma of this colossal magnitude may have arisen.

And so the show goes on with actors mute, stretching their non-vocal dramatic talents to the limits. When it is over the theater resounds with applause. It is another triumph for the entire company, but most of all for the music director, who quietly acknowledges success with a slight nod to the director, and walks out into the cool moonless night, humming quietly the last bars heard before the curtain fell.

De Press ‘Heaven’ (1982, Norway)

“It simply became too much for me.”

Swiss nun quits hermit post

As reported in 2014, the Verena Hermitage in Switzerland had announced a job search for a resident hermit. The position called for a solitary who nevertheless could entertain visitors to the historic church and grounds and maintain popular interest in the centuries-old site. The administrators of the church and hermitage selected Sister Benedikta, but the arrangement did not work out as the publicity about the hermitage and the new hermit resident brought an unexpectedly large number of visitors. Sister Benedikta quit after 18 months.

“I never had a problem with the number of people who came for spiritual advice or pastoral care,” she told the 20 Minuten newspaper. But other visitors were just nosy, and wanted to see what a hermit was like or to have a chat. “It simply became too much for me,” she said.

(via the hermitary)

excerpt from alejandra pizarnik’s diary

Empty happiness. I spent the day reading poems. Trying to learn the technique, in a miserly and premeditated manner. Sometimes it makes me nostalgic to think of children, for whom every action is play. For me, to read poems is work, a great effort. To manage to focus my attention on other people’s words and feelings is a battle against myself. I made two poems. And yesterday another two. I think I won’t ever be able to make a novel, because I’ve nothing to tell in many pages, and even if I had something to tell, but no, I’ve nothing to tell.

Read more at Music & Literature (found via The Blog of Disquiet)

See also: Extracting the Stone of Madness, Pizarnik’s first full-length collection of poetry in English, which was just published this week by New Directions.

sociologist zygmunt bauman on social media and community

Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called “armchair activism,” and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?

A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren’t created, and you either have one or you don’t. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don’t teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap.

(from an interview in El País earlier this year)

the passing of time

You know two months have passed when it’s time to buy dog food. You know six months have passed when it’s time to visit the dentist. And speaking of the dentist, against your will you have now endured another session with the aggressively chatty hygienist. What happened is that the dentist’s office called you up while you were out birding on an (extended) lunch break, looking for an elusive Sora to be precise, and so you were distracted and had trouble understanding the person on the phone but managed to grasp that there was a cancellation and did you want to come in tomorrow. You weren’t sure, not particularly liking to make such decisions in a rushed manner (or at all), but also not particularly wanting to continue the conversation, so you said sure, okay, tomorrow is fine. You hung up and another birder pointed out the Sora which was good but then you went to the dentist the next day and it was the chatty hygienist instead of the one you prefer who has a Polish accent and does not barrage you with personal questions while probing between your teeth for plaque, but with whom you did have an enjoyable (short) conversation with six months earlier regarding the hospital seen through the window that as you were sitting there was being torn down, literally at that moment, and you both laughed about how you hadn’t even noticed when you sat down that it was now mostly gone, but after which you were made aware of it provided plenty of visual entertainment during your cleaning while a worker repeatedly employed a wrecking ball with vigorous effort in the demolition process. So now six months later there you are in the chair again and the chatty hygienist immediately begins her assault of questions, growing quite sassy in no time at all, perhaps a new record even for her, necessitating an accompanying increase in sass on your part, for one must maintain a similar tone in this type of repartee or else it swiftly fails, making the situation rather awkward and, let’s face it, if this person is going to have her hands in your mouth for the next 30 minutes it’s best you go along with the banter even though its personal nature is now increasing at a furious pace, as if she is now testing her ability to raise your ire, but your ire will in fact not be raised, it will actually refuse raising altogether because your ire is not easily raised and she is beginning to sense this and clearly it intrigues her, leading her to make verbal note of it, and so she keeps upping the ante, as they say, to the point where it does begin to grow rather tiresome leading you to hope very much for the appointment to end soon so that you can exit the building, get on your bike, and ride in the late afternoon mist the four miles uphill through the gathering traffic to your house where you must walk your dog, prepare dinner, eat dinner, brush your teeth, read a few pages in whatever book you’re currently reading, and go to sleep. And finally it does end, this intense scraping session with accompanying interrogation into your flossing habits coupled with theorizing on topics such as whether you are perhaps a mouth-breather at night because that tends to harden the plaque on the back of your lower front teeth and did you say you do use an electric toothbrushyes, you are eventually freed from this verbal bondage, but not before a certain amount of psychological damage is incurred, though nothing permanent, just enough to make you wish that the stealthy Sora had not distracted you in the first place leading to a split-second decision without full consideration of the possible ramifications, namely that you may, in fact, by taking someone else’s appointment other than your own, be unwittingly sabotaging yourself, directing yourself onto an alternate course whereby you are now penciled in for the duration of time with the overly chatty hygienist, after having just extricated yourself from somehow getting onto her schedule and having subsequently returned yourself to your proper place on the reticent Polish hygienist’s schedule where you in fact had long been penciled in, literally for years beforehand, and still can’t understand how you had suddenly been removed from in the first place. But alas, you won’t know your fate in this matter until another six months have passed, during which time you will have purchased another two, possibly three, bags of dog food, depending on how the calendar asserts itself.

r.i.p. john stabb

John Stabb, the iconic singer of Government Issue, has lost his battle with stomach cancer.  G.I. was one of those punk bands whose initial caustic sound grew and evolved through a number of stylistic shifts, some of which prefigured popular bands to come, but not all of which were embraced by fans of the band’s early raw hardcore songs. But I loved everything they wrote. John’s lyrics were always poignant, cutting to the heart of what it means to be human in this modern world, particularly when you feel at odds with it.

You will be remembered, John, for all the joy and inspiration you brought to punks everywhere. You made good use of your short time here and your musical legacy and influence will live on for many years to come. Rest in Peace.

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