Christmas 2019 Sabbatical

(1) Glenn Gould’s U.S. Television Debut: Bernstein Conducting Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor (YouTube)

(2) The link between Haruki Murakami / Seiji Ozawa and Kingdom Hearts via Absolutely on Music.

Murakami: Keiko Fuji’s daughter is very active nowadays as a singer.

Ozawa: Oh, really?

Murakami: She calls herself Hikaru Utada. When I was a student, I worked in a little record shop in Shinjuku, and one day Keiko Fuji came in. She was a small woman, very simply dressed, and didn’t stand out in any way. She introduced herself to us with a smile and thanked us for selling her records. Then she gave us a little bow and left. I remember being very impressed that such a big star would go to the trouble of making the rounds of the record stores like that. That would have been around 1970.

(3) How the Creator of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Got the Gospel Past CBS Execs (NewsBusters™)

(4) A Leg Up on the Last Mile (Urban Omnibus)

(5) Interview: How a Pigment Forager Is Creating an Exhaustive Archive of Ochres Around the World (My Modern Met)

(5a) Related Post: Making Colour

(6) More Haruki Murakami / Seiji Ozawa via Absolutely on Music.

Murakami: Let’s talk about the sixties again. I believe your first American recording was an accompaniment for the oboist Harold Gomberg. It contains concertos by Vivaldi and Telemann, and the recording is date listed as May 1965. I happened to come across this copy at a used-record store in the US.

Ozawa: How incredible that you found this thing. Wow, it brings back memories!

(7) A quote from Walt Disney and the Quest for Community by Steve Mannheim:

“One of the important maxims at WED Enterprises was, according to Bill Martin, ‘we never threw anything away and a lot of these ideas ended up in other plans years later.’ Examples include the proposed International Street at Disneyland and a Chinatown district, neither of which was built. Of course, international theming has a long tradition in fairs and exhibitions and would be featured in the EPCOT concept.

Edison Square, another historically themed street proposed for Disneyland, evolved into General Electric’s Carousel of Progress. Also, an American Liberty Street was scheduled to open at Disneyland in 1959. Disney visited Williamsburg, Virginia, with his family near the end of his life and possessed several books about colonial Williamsburg. Instead, Liberty Square eventually become part of the Magic Kingdom at Florida’s Walt Disney World in 1971. The WED Enterprises’ maxim that an idea sometimes must be wait until its time illustrates that a concept and the final show installation can end up being two very different things. The EPCOT plan was only conceptual when Disney died.”

(8) Some quotes from Paul by N.T. Wright:

“The second thing we can be sure of it that he prayed, he studied, and he figured out all sorts of things. Faced with his letters (written a decade and more later), dense as they are with concentrated argument, we cannot imagine that when he wrote the he was breaking entirely new ground. He could no doubt improvise on the spot, but in his mature thought he gives every evidence of long pondering. Saul spent a silent decade deepening the well of scriptural reflection from which he would thereafter draw the water he needed.”

“As I think of Paul launching this new venture, the image of the tightrope over the volcano doesn’t seem to go far enough. He was inventing, and must have known that he was inventing, a new way of being human. It must have been a bit like the first person to realize that notes sounded in sequence created melody, that notes sounded together created harmony, and that ordering the sequence created rhythm. If we can think of a world without music and then imagine it being invented, offering a hitherto undreamed-of depth and power to space, time, and matter, then we may have a sense of the crazy magnitude of Paul’s vocation.”

(9) A quote from The Mirror of Faith by William of Saint Thierry:

“Woven into the fabric of medieval ecclesiastical society, the Black Monks sought salvation for themselves and for all Christians by maintaining an ancient and honorable tradition, giving glory to God and security to men through fidelity to the Rule of St Benedict and to the customs which had grown up through generations of its observance. The first Cistercians, reacting against the embellishments of time and sentiment, had undertaken a corporal and spiritual asceticism by which they discarded cherished observances, impressive ceremonies, and architectural ornamentation which supported contemporary monastic life, not because they thought them meaningless—some indeed had altogether too much meaning—but because they found the very richness distracted them from the search for God alone. The White Monks had resolved to return to the fountainhead, to the Rule and to the Scripturas which it summarizes. Having settled themselves in their austere monasteries in the strait and narrow way set out by the Rule, they began in the persons of their most articulate abbots and able writers to explicate these sources in terms of their own personal experience. Unfettered by archaism, they strove for primitive purity and created a new tradition.”

2019 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey (Part 1)

St. Joseph’s Abbey 2019“Take away from a traveler the hope of arriving, and his courage to go on is broken.” — William of Saint Thierry

My retreats are a bit like book ends and it was interesting to read / compare my journal entries between them. The exercise of comparing entries isn’t all that groundbreaking but there’s a BIGGER backstory here that makes this year more interesting than previous. My plan is to use the time between retreats to give fuller context to one incredibly amazing year, especially since SO much of the year was rooted in faith, hope, and charity.

This wasn’t an intellectual retreat either and the time was mostly spent recovering / recuperating from physical exhaustion (although I don’t want to diminish the intellectual meatiness of the homily and conference(s) since both were brilliant).

I took five books from the limestone library but read mostly from two found at the abbey. The first was St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations by St. Therese of Lisieux (Author) and John Clarke (Translator) and the second The Mirror of Faith by William of Saint Thierry. The two books from my own library I did revisit were Dialogues with Silence by Thomas Merton and Life Lessons from the Monastery by Jerome Kodell.

There were a couple of emergent themes. One was inspired by A Joy To Be Around in Life Lessons from the Monastery. The other was in my notes from last year regarding a ‘field hospital‘ that’s traced to The Power of Silence (pages 154-156; see below) and this quote from Pope Francis.

“In a secularized, decadent world, if the Church allows herself to be lured by materialistic, media-savvy, and relativistic sirens, she runs the risk of making Christ’s death on the cross for the salvation of souls futile. The Church’s mission is not to solve all the social problems of the world; she must repeat tirelessly the first words of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry in Galilee: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.’ (Mk 1:15)”

I also took some photos which you can view on Flickr in an album dedicated to St. Joseph’s Abbey.

Personal Plea
IF you find this post please pray for Fr. William. He gave our conference in 2018. Please also pray for the brothers at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Orval Abbey, and Clear Creek Abbey.

St. Joseph's Abbey 2019


Spitfire O’er Southampton“I didn’t know what to do. And I flew round in circles with ten people following me around in circles, them looking at me as a leader, and me not knowing what to do. And I can tell you, I prayed, I prayed. I didn’t know what to do, what to do. And God answered. He doesn’t answer you with a flash of lightning, he puts something in your head that you never thought of before. And I thought, ‘What I’d better do now is fly all the way back to Gibraltar,’ which was 850 miles in the opposite direction. So I set off. By the grace of God, I came across the wake of the Navy and found the Ark Royal and all the fleet, 20, 25 ships.” — Thomas Francis “Ginger” Neil

Weekend 455.0

Lead, Kindly Light
“This world is a scene of conflict between good and evil. The evil not only avoids but persecutes the good; the good cannot conquer except by suffering. Good men seem to fail; their cause triumphs, but their own overthrow is the price paid for this success. — Endurance of Censure

Penn Station

(1) This Is Why Your Holiday Travel Is Awful (Politico)

“Penn Station is the second most heavily trafficked transit hub in the world, trailing only Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. The station serves more daily passengers than the region’s three huge airports (Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark) combined. More people pass through Penn each weekday than live in the city of Baltimore. Anyone who has passed through Penn Station over the past half-century—or who passed through it this Thanksgiving weekend—knows that the nation’s busiest transit center is a national embarrassment, a hole in the ground where the food is ratty and the waiting rooms are sparse.”

Advent 2019

“You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” — Rom 13:11-14

Lead, Kindly Light
Divine calls in Scripture require instant obedience, and next call us we know not to what; call us on in the darkness. Faith alone can obey them. How does this concern us now? We were all called to serve God in infancy, before we could obey or disobey; we have been called to a state of salvation, through Holy Baptism, by the act of our parents. Calling is not a thing future with us, but a thing past.

Prayer: Sometimes I am afraid, dear Lord, when You lead me in darkness. Increase my little faith that I may ever trust in You.

Thanksgiving 2019

(1) American Interior (1935) by Charles Sheeler

(2) Game Over: How technology forced traditional toys to evolve (Vera)

(3) Great Western Railway: Adventures with the Famous Five (YouTube)

(4) A couple of quotes from British Rail Architecture 1948-97 by David Lawrence:

“Any designed object or space will have an appearance intended to attract the eye in some way: perhaps to impress or reassure, to demonstrate efficiency, or comfort, or progressive ideas.”

“Frank Pick (1878-1941), influential patron of art and design for modern transport, saw the potential for the railway station as an opportunity for architecture and design to come together in interesting an appropriate ways, and he knew that the station could earn money for the railway.”

“Only the concrete and brick stations built by the Southern Railway for routes converted to electric services during the 1930s provided a contrast to the varying levels of decrepitude manifested at the Region’s wayside halts and gloomy suburban stations.”

“Leslie (later Sir Leslie) Martin and his wife Sadie Speight, shared a background in architecture and avant-garde art. They were close to sources of modernity, not least because Martin co-edited the magazine Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art with artists Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, published from 1937. Sadie Speight was a founding partner of Design Research Unit, which would author the British Rail corporate identity of 1964. Together they designed a timber-frame school at Hartford Ch (1938), which used standard components to test building with ready-made structures. London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) architect WH Hamlyn created a Development Section concerned with the collection of data from existing buildings, to look at types of station, planning and production of buildings, types of structure and their performance, wear and maintenance of materials and finishes, lighting and plumbing, and furnishings. From this data specifications would be compiled to standardize design, materials and equipment for future architectural needs.”

(5) It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.

How San Francisco’s Salesforce Transit Center went from the Grand Central of the West to a $2.2 billion construction debacle. (Popular Mechanics)

(6) The Festival of Britain 1951 (Historic UK)

(7) Quarry plan controversy (The Royal Gazette)

(8) blue cathedral (YouTube)

Weekend 454.0

A couple of quotes from Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins:

“Previously governor of Greenwich Hospital, Hardy† had earlier in the year been put in charge of the Channel Fleet, in what was a political rather than a military appointment.”

“Despite Admiral Hardy’s widely criticized handling of the invasion threat, he was still in command of the Channel Fleet, but instead of involving him in these new operations it was decided to place someone else in charge.”

†Sir Charles Hardy, Vice-Admiral of the Channel Fleet

Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 1782 by John Singleton Copley at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Weekend 453.0

Dino Diner“To attempt to gain happiness, except in this way, is a labor lost; it is building on the sand; the foundation will soon give way, though the house looks fair for a time.” — Gain after Pain

“Decaying and dilapidated architecture resonates as loss, as evidence of the irreversible passage of time, yet architectural ruins emanate past grandeur. Ware’s comics, then, focus on ruins and the melancholy they elicit in an attempt to render the irreversible passage of time into an aesthetic object.” — On Modernism’s Ruins: The Architecture of “Building Stories” and Lost Buildings by Daniel Worden

(1) Bricks & Dinos

Weekend 452.0

(1) La Moselle // 6 Rue du Pont des Morts, 57000 Metz, France

On my desk…

I have Rusty Brown by Chris Ware and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad by Dennis Hopeless. I also backed (via Kickstarter) Third Editions: The Ultimate Gaming Library – Kingdom Heart which should arrive sometime in December.

(1) A visual tour through Chris Ware’s adventurous, sprawling, dazzling new book ‘Rusty Brown’ (Chicago Tribune)

“The greatest fiction, like memory, thrives in detail, and comics being an art of memory should follow suit. There are no actual people on the cover, and I set my task to draw all four (book) jackets (there are four different jackets, one for every character in the book) to try and make something that gets, however awkwardly, at that overpowering sense of ‘thereness’ that we all look for but only briefly experience when the odor of a freshly cut weed or the sight of a bit of typography or a fast-food sign briefly calls back the tangible sensation of a moment — or, more properly, the feeling of life itself that we are always going out of our ways to tamp down, smother and forget.”

(2) The Bard of Sadtown: The empty, miserable comics of Chris Ware. (Slate)

Weekend 451.0

“Music, of course, is an art that occurs through time.” — Seiji Ozawa

(1) Au Plat d’Etain

(2) Quotes from Absolutely On Music by Haruki Murakami:

“In the Boston version of the Fantastique we heard before, you’re constantly adjusting every little detail: the tempo changes from one part to the next, the color of the sound changes. It’s marvelous, and though I wouldn’t call it ornate, it’s like looking at a moving miniature.”

“By ‘simple’ I mean something like the musicality of a folk song, something that everyone can hum. Lately, I’ve come to feel that as long as you capture that quality with truly superior technique and tone color and get the feeling into it, it’s probably going to go well.”

Weekend 450.0

“Our most important task is to search for an effective passageway through the wall—and two people who share a natural affinity for an art, any art, will be sure to find that passageway.” — Haruki Murakami

(1) It’s a Playmobil World After All! (Animation Magazine)

Weekend 449.0

(1) Thurifer angel (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona)

(2) Mandorla (Wikipedia)

Weekend 448.0

(1) Academics ignore the anniversary of 1984 because they know they’re living it out (Washington Examiner)

(2) How disease, war and a remote Scottish island inspired George Orwell’s ‘1984’ (NY Post)