thinking about china


So I only had two and half hours of ballet class last week. Today I have the regular full schedule (three and a half house). Hope College doesn’t give Labor day off. But I am taking Friday off to go with my organ committee to Chicago to hear an instrument built by Martin Pasi. I hope we make a decision soon on which builder to contract with so this process can move on to the next stage.

Last night I browsed through a friend’s online library of ebooks. He seems to have added about a thousand more. Very cool, although many of them were in the pdf format which doesn’t seem to work well with my Kindle (paperwhite version).

But I’m not complaining. I love having access to so many books and my friend seems to have deliberately put books up that might interest me. Like this one:

I understand why pdf is a good format for this book because it such a beautifully laid out and illustrated one. When I consider China, I often think of its ancient literature and art which has been an ongoing interest for me. This morning I read a poem in it called “Calling to the Recluse” by Zuo Si. One couplet leaped out at me:

“ why depend on whistling or song,

when tree clumps hum so movingly? “

I love this. It reminds me of an observation of an artist I know that he spent his life trying to learn how to make beauty in his art and then beautiful and stunning images emerge in nature around us and in his phrase, “Just happen!”

Apparently the above painting is by the poet (at least that’s what Google says).

I also figured out that I have nine chapters plus an epilogue left in Fuschia Dunlop’s excellently written, Shark Fin and Sichuan Pepper.

This woman can write up a storm as far as I’m concerned. I read a chapter in it this morning and need to do that more often in order to finish it by the time I get on a plane to go visit China and my  new grand daughter.

Rick Perlstein: By the Book –

I follow this guy on Facebook. When this article was published this week end, he changed his profile picture to him holding a hard copy of it with a goofy smile.

Reflections on a Shooting Range Death, From One Who Knows –

The author of this article also accidentally killed as a child.

When Did We Get So Old? –

How to handle being the oldest person in the room when one is used to being the youngest.

Jorge Luis Borges interview.

Stumbled on to this. Haven’t read it yet but I do love Borges.

John Kerry: The Threat of ISIS Demands a Global Coalition –

John McCain and Lindsey Graham: Confront ISIS Now –

I do like it when involved parties go on the record with an essay. Unfortunately I didn’t get much from either of these essays.

David Rosand, an Art History Scholar Whose Heart Was in Venice, Dies at 75 – NY

Mr. Rosand’s career was shaped by the conviction that the arts of all eras and cultures are connected, and that past and present exist on a continuum, so that all art is immediately pertinent to our lives.

introvert jupe and how much david byrne pays for music



I was sitting at a surprise birthday party for my friend Rhonda yesterday. I found myself in conversation with a teacher from Hope. As we chatted I realized that we had a love of  poetry in common. I somehow wanted to tell him. But I was reluctant due to previous futile attempts to connect with professors around my interests. But I overcame my introverted predilections and mentioned it to him. We then had a conversation around books and poetry that I found very enjoyable.

Part of being an introvert is the way conversations like this drain me in retrospect. I have to convince myself that I wasn’t too chatty and didn’t dominate the conversation with my passionate talk.  Sheesh.

I have now reached the chapter entitled, “Amateurs!,” chapter nine in How Music Works by David Byrne. I note that this is a chapter that he footnotes more than the others. He quoted from John Carey’s grumpy little book, What Good are the Arts? 

Carey apparently has written a exposition that treats an elitist approach to the arts as a bad thing. This might be needed where he lives. But where I live, people barely are interested in what used to be thought of as high art.

Jupe the introvert thinks twice before mentioning his love of poetry or Proust or Bach or Buxtehude. My passions seem not only to be antiquated but evidence of some sort of inherent snobbery and elitism. Weird.

I like Denis Dutton’s response to Carey’s book (which he still says can be fun to read):

What good are the arts? Here’s one stab at an answer. They provide us with powerful pleasures. They expand our imaginative sense. The are windows into historical epochs and into realms of pure fancy and fantasy. They sharpen our intellectual discriminative powers and, for example in music, develop human technical capacities to the highest degree possible. The arts incite emotional experience of an intensity and variety nowhere else available and take us deeply into alternative human sensibilities. They can increase human sociality, for artistic performers and their audiences alike. They record what are some of the most profound ideas human beings have ever had, but unlike advanced science do it in a way that ordinary mortals can understand.

Byrne really doesn’t evidence interest in Carey’s ideas or at least not yet. He quotes Carey quoting Ellen Dissanayake who is doing some interesting thinking around evolution and the arts.

She has her own website. I note with amusement that one of her recent articles (unlinked on her site) is “Denis Dutton: Appreciation of the man and discussion of the work. ” Philosophy and Literature 2014 38:1.

And Dutton does mention her as a bit of lucidity in Carey’s book. How about that?

Anyway, Byrne is full of hilarious and outrageous quotes.

I do enjoy reading his thoughtful reflections from a specifically commerical popular musician’s point of view.

“Of all the arts, music, being ephemeral, is the closest to being an experience more than it is a thing—it is yoked to where you heard it, how much you paid for it, and who else was there.” p. 267 HOW MUSIC WORKS

Good grief. How much you paid for it?