In Praise of a Sensitive Language

Music, in this case.

The climate, social, financial, political — it’s dispiriting because you don’t see eye to eye. But the world can be safe if each of us is concerned. This starts with our own life, with our family, with our friends, with our village. If everybody was ready to help others, to do something, the world would be different. We are too ready to say, ‘Well, this is not my problem,’ and I think when you see the reaction from fanatical people, you see that the first enemy of humans is ignorance. Ignorance makes fanatics. The second enemy is hatred. And the third is egoism. And all these things can be saved with the development of a sensitive language, like music.

Jordi Savall, from an interview in Listen Magazine.

A Blessing for the New Year

In 2013, may the road rise to meet you, and the wind be ever at your back; may your Wi-Fi router reach every corner of your house and may you remember all your passwords; may your legs never fall asleep in zazen and may your cellphone never go off in church; may your ski poles never bend and the path from the dinner table to the door at friends’ houses never be straight, let those paths be circuitous rather, good conversations should become tangled like knitting, making extrication difficult, and when in doubt at least half the party should pass through the kitchen again, nibbling at the leftover desserts; may you find frequent occasions to laugh with children; may your work be interesting and may you have as much of it as you want; may you receive as much as you need and may you give so that others have comfort; may your spirit be lifted by words and by music; may you find patience when you need it, and joy at unexpected times; and may your travels be so arranged that on at least a handful of mornings this year you wake to an absolute silence interrupted only by birdsong.

(This little blessing popped into my head this morning. Thought I’d share it.)

Kenneth Rexroth on San Francisco

We were running errands the other day and listening to NPR, when Garrison Keillor came on for “The Writer’s Almanac” and read this droll description of San Francisco by Kenneth Rexroth:

It is the only city in the United States which was not settled overland by the westward-spreading puritan tradition, or by the Walter Scott, fake-cavalier tradition of the South. It had been settled, mostly, in spite of all the romances of the overland migration, by gamblers, prostitutes, rascals and fortune seekers who came across the Isthmus and around the Horn. They had their faults, but they were not influenced by Cotton Mather.

That’s just perfect.


I’m finally reading the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (the Gregory Hays translation). I was struck by this passage:

Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric. Not to write treatises on abstract questions, or deliver moralizing little sermons, or compose imaginary descriptions of The Simple Life or The Man Who Lives Only for Others. (p. 6)

Some themes were cliches two thousand years ago, and a wise man knew not to indulge in them.

News Bulletin: The English Language Died Today

The English language died today after a free-lancer described creating a bookmark in an eBook as “personalizing your navigation experience.” The language, which had been ailing for a long time, was in particularly weakened state, owning to a heavy diet of snarling bloviations from the GOP primary.

Upon succumbing to this attack, English was seen staggering from a midtown address, clutching its heart. It collapsed on the sidewalk minutes later, while concerned passersby texted, “Shoulda skipped the fries LOL” and “Faceplant FTW!”

The language will be replaced by a pastiche of jingoism, platitudes, and slang, which to most readers will be indistinguishable from English in its recent years.

We now return you to Call of Duty: BlackOps.

A Spring Day

It is a fine thing, after the rains have stopped, to let the dog run loose in the fields, and to wander along the woods and hear the birds calling back and forth, and to find, despite the downpour, the crab apple trees still towering white with blooms, and to feel the temperate sun, veiled in a gray sky, not harshly bright, just warm.