when the fairy sang

July 5, 2020

It may be laid down as a general rule that if a man begins to sing, no one will take any notice of his song except his fellow human beings. This is true even if his song is surpassingly beautiful. Other men may be raptures at his skill, but the rest of creation is, by and large, unmoved. Perhaps a cat or a dog may look at him; his horse, if it is an exceptionally intelligent beast, may pause in cropping the grass, but that is the extent of it. But when the fairy sang, the whole world listened to him. Stephen felt clouds pause in their passing; he felt sleeping hills shift and murmur; he felt cold mists dance. He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands. In the fairy’s song the earth recognized the names by which it called itself.

Susanna Clarke
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Singing in the shower

June 6, 2020

Music was my first love. I grew up surrounded by music: my father practicing various violin pieces six, seven, eight hours a day; my grandfather playing his cello, viola or violin for similar amounts of time; and my grandmother, a fervent, intense soprano, living deeply in the past by recreating her roles as the innocent Butterfly, or the poor seamstress Mimi. Freakin’ iconic, I tell you, boys & girls. So is it any wonder, I tend to sing in the shower?

Bright, skillful, melodic songs – some of my own compositions, too. Sheer virtuosity, the performances, marred slightly by the cascading water and the sound of the power shower.

And yet my girls describe my brilliant performances as sounding like a dying cat in the nighttime! Can you believe that?

‘You’re not so much idiosyncratic, as preposterous,’ says one. ‘To be fair,’ says the other, ‘you sound a bit like Sinatra after a night of heavy drinking – horrendously godawful!’

Well, you soon learn who your true friends are, don’t you?

Pair of tone deaf critics –

experience becoming

March 29, 2020

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

licking your coasts

September 1, 2018

If you were a peninsula, I would be the sea licking your coasts. Together we would wait for the tide to turn, that delicious moment when, your beaches flooded, you sing out to the sky from the depths of your being…