Disce aut discede (learn or go away)
An inscription above the entrance to the Shepton Mallet school in England, found by my friend Nick Blanton.
It seems to have been common at English schools.
"I hate the sight of pen, ink, and paper... I do not believe that I was born for such a lot. I have aimed higher than this"
Henri Wadsworth Longfellow, Harvard professor, poet and translator.
The best writers, especially war correspondents, are moralists. I think of Richard Harding Davis' picture of the German army marching into Brussels and burning Louvain in 1914: he had witnessed wars where both sides followed some rules, but, "At Louvain it was war upon the defenseless, war upon churches, colleges, shops of milliners and lacemakers; war brought to the bedside and fireside; against women harvesting in the fields, against children in wooden shoes at play in the streets."
What would he say today about drones? Your papers are due tomorrow in the first minute of class.
Raymond A. Schroth, S.J.
Aut amat mulier, aut odit, nil tertium. (a woman either loves or hates, there's no other (third) possibility.)
Pete Seeger in his Johnny Appleseed, Jr. column in the February-March 1963 issue of Sing Out! magazine
Everything here is designed to focus your ear on Ostroushko’s bright, crisp, precise playing. And, that’s the only knock with this three-and-a-half hour set. There’s an inherent sameness to the mando’s narrow ring that makes these songs best in short takes. But, there isn’t a cut here that won’t make you marvel at Ostroushko’s touch.
An online review of Peter Ostroushko's latest album (and a warning for mandolin players)
I've said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice. Stevie Ray Vaughan missed on both counts, but I never noticed.
B. B. King
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Americans eventually always do the right thing, after exhausting all other possibilities.
Winston Churchill, quoted on NPR
As a child, (folk singer Judy) Collins studied classical pianowith Antonia Brico, making her public debut at age 13, performing Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos. Dr. Brico took a dim view, both then and later, of Collins's developing interest in folk music, which led her to the difficult decision to discontinue her piano lessons. Years later, when Collins had become internationally known through her music, she invited Dr. Brico to one of her concerts in Denver. When they met after the performance, Brico took both of Judy's hands in hers, looked wistfully at her fingers and said, "Little Judy—you really could have gone places."
Wikipedia s.v. Judy Collins
"...while a great mandolin is a wonderful treat, I would venture to say that there is always more each of us can do with the tools we have available at hand. The biggest limiting factors belong to us not the instruments." Paul Glasse
The butcher feeds the turkey. The turkey thinks it's permanent. Who am I, the butcher or the turkey?
(quoted in This American Life?)
“Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling,
And I would still be on my feet,
Oh I would still be on my feet.”
From the song "a case of you" by Joni Mitchell, Blue album.
Chet Atkins to the bass player in his band: "did anybody ever tell you you're the greatest bass player in the world?"
Bass Player: "Why, no Chet, that's mighty nice of you to say that.
Chet: "Ever wonder why nobody ever told you that…?"
(heard on Prairy Home Companion)
When the American composer George Gershwin met Ravel, he asked the French composer if he would take him on as a student. Ravel responded: "Why should you be second-rate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?"
- Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep time.
- Stop playing all that bullsh-t, those weird notes, play the melody!
- Make the drummer sound good.
- Discrimination is important.
"Theorrhoea-poisoned Groves of Hackademe"
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."
Segovia was selective and only performed works with which he identified personally. He was known to reject atonal works, or works which he considered too radical, even if they were dedicated to him; e.g. he rejected Frank Martin's Quatre pièces brèves, Darius Milhaud's Segoviana, etc
When a man makes up his mind without evidence, no evidence disproving his opinion will change his mind-
"Musik ist die Vermittelung des geistigen Lebens zum sinnlichen."
Bettina von Arnim, in a letter to Goethe, wrote that Beethoven had said this.
"(In Mussolini's opinion).. Neapolitans were feckless and undisciplined, andnothing could be done to amend their failings, which were primordial: in 1936
Mussolini suggested one day organizing a "March on Naples" so he could "sweep
away guitars, mandolins and violins, folk-singers, etc."
-Mussolini, RJB Bosworth (p273)
The truth about the bombing of Barcelona is that Mussolini gave the orders, Franco knew nothing … Mussolini claimed to be pleased that the Italians managed to horrify by their aggression instead of giving pleasure as mandolin players.
Quoted from the diaries of Galleazzo Ciano (Mussolini's son-in-law)
in the documentary "Fascism in colour"
L’italiano tradizionale doveva sostituire l’affetto per la mamma e la famiglia, con la dedizione appassionata al Duce e alla Patria; il mandolino (una vera ossessione di Mussolini, che nel 1935 vietò ai giornali di pubblicare fotografie di soldati italiani al fronte, mentre erano impegnati a suonare chitarre o mandolini), col moschetto; gli ideali cristiani di bontà e di amore per il prossimo, con la durezza e, là dove necessaria, la spietatezza.
By 1938 Mussolini was declaring war on “those fools [in Italy] and abroad who prefer the carefree, disordered, amusing, mandolin-playing Italy of the past and not the organised, strong, taciturn and powerful [Italy] of the fascist era”.
On perhaps no other issue was Mussolini so consistent: violence, inflicted by and upon his people, would transform the Italians from a bunch of undisciplined, chattering "mandolin players" into fearsome, conquering warriors."
Michael Erbner, Ordinary Violence in Mussolini's Italy
Please forgive this intrusion on this pleasant August afternoon.
(our new deparmtent head in an email. The fall looks better already.)
Lomax's description of southern Italian singing is widely cited: "A voice as pinched and strangulated and high-pitched as any in Europe. The singing expression is one of true agony, the throat is distended and flushed with strain, the brow knotted with a painful expression."
Italy was not unified politically until the 19th century. The drive towards unification led to efforts to create a sense of Italian identity, famously described by the Italian statesman Massimo d’Azeglio: "We have created Italy; now we have to create Italians." Abroad, Italian culture and society are often stereotyped, associating all Italian music with certain styles. For example, some years ago the Mayor of Venice banned gondoliers from singing Neapolitan songs for the tourists, most of whom requested "‘O sole mio" and other songs typical only of Naples but widely regarded abroad as characteristic of all Italian music.
Quando Laplace presentò il suo Trattato di meccanica celeste a Napoleone Bonaparte, l’imperatore osservò: «Signor Laplace, mi hanno detto che in quest’opera sull’Universo il Creatore non è citato neppure una volta». «Sire, non ho bisogno di questa ipotesi», fu la risposta di Laplace. Entrambi erano di parola pronta. «È una bella ipotesi, che spiega molte cose», ribatté Napoleone. E Laplace: «Certo, spiega tutto. Ma non permette di predire niente».
Piero Baianucci in La Stampa 03/09/2010
L'art de la citation est l'art de ceux qui ne savent pas réfléchir par eux- mêmes"
Quid enim molestiae tristitiaeque ingerant prudentibus fratribus temerarii praesumptores, satis dici non potest, cum si quando de prava et falsa opinatione sua reprehendi, et convinci coeperint ab eis qui nostrorum Librorum auctoritate non tenentur, ad defendendum id quod levissima temeritate et apertissima falsitate dixerunt, eosdem Libros sanctos, unde id probent, proferre conantur, vel etiam memoriter, quae ad testimonium valere arbitrantur, multa inde verba pronuntiant, non intellegentes neque quae loquuntur, neque de quibus affirmant.
Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."
Augustinus --De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (trans. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers).
Non omnes qui habent citharam sunt citharoedi (Not all those who have a guitar are guitarists)
Marcus Terentius Varro Reatinus (116-27BC)
Colleges have long been engaged in an odd deal with students and their parents. Paying for a college education — or taking on a huge amount of debt to finance an education — is a transaction in which most of the buyers and most of the sellers have fundamentally different understandings of the product.
Think about it this way: Suppose I start a print newspaper tomorrow. I might think I’m selling excellent journalism, while my “readers” are actually using my product to line their birdcages. It might work out fine for a while. But the imbalance in this transaction would make it difficult to talk in general terms about improving the product or whether the product is worth what I’m charging. I might think I should improve my grammar and hire more reporters. My customers might want me to make the paper thicker.
In the college transaction, most parents think they’re buying their kids a credential, a better job and a ticket, economically speaking at least, to the American dream. Most college professors and administrators (the good ones, anyway) see their role as producing liberally educated, well-rounded individuals with an appreciation for certain kinds of knowledge. If they get a job after graduation, well, that’s nice, too.
The students, for the most part, are not quite sure where they fit into this bargain. Some will get caught up in what they learn and decide to go on to further education. But most will see college as an opportunity to have fun and then come out the other end of the pipeline with the stamp of approval they need to make a decent salary after graduation.
What is a college education really worth? By Naomi Schaefer Riley
Washington Post June 3 2011 B3
Music washes away the dust of every day life.
"Without deviation, progress is not possible."
Peut-être dans le domaine de la religion, comme dans celui de l'amour, est-il inévitable de recourir à des termes vagues: tout y est vrai, pourvu qu'on y croie."
Gertrude Stein described the essence of agnosticism well: "There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer."
Quoted by Vincent Bugliosi
Hillel the Elder, a sage who lived in the first century BCE, was known for having said that "a shy man cannot learn, nor can the impatient man teach" (Mishna Avot 2:6)
Judgment Day is the most rescheduled event of all times.
Alexandra Petri, Washington Post May 14, 2011, p. A13 (A conversation with Cicadas)
L’art de diriger consiste à savoir abandonner la baguette pour ne pas gêner l’orchestre.
Herbert von Karajan
If a student is successful, he usually ascribes that to his own hard work. If a student doesn't learn anything, he usually blames his incompetent teacher.
(an Indian lady I met today at a party; she says it's a Chinese proverb)
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
-- H L Mencken, Minority Report (1956), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Insulting Quotations
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.
Frank A. Clark
Each generation produces its squad of "moderns" with peashooters to attack Gibraltar.
The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing". "But," says man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It proves you exist and so therefore you don't. QED." "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. "Oh, that was easy," says man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing. Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys. But this did not stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme for his best selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up for God.
Better to remain silent and appear to be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
As I watched the Harris video, I tried to imagine myself giving a similar talk, and it was obvious to me that if I even raised the issues where I’m disagreeing I’d get bogged down making subtle distinctions that might confuse the audience. You can be more forthright and straightforward and rhetorically effective if you have a simple story to tell. But alas, none of that entails that any simple story is more than an approximation.
‘The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.’
Thomas Jefferson, deist and the third president of the USA, in a letter to John Adams.
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
Beware the man of one book.
Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. –
When conversing with young and gay women, do not discourse of metaphysics, but chat about the latest fashion, the new opera or play, the last concert or novel, &c. With single ladies past twenty-five, speak of literary matters, music, &c., and silently complement them by a proper deference to their opinions. With married ladies, inquire about the health of their children, speak of their grace and beauty, &c.
True Politeness. A hand-book for Gentlemen, by an American Gentleman. (New York 1847) 24
: We must believe in free will — we have no choice.
"National languages are . . . almost always semi-artificial constructs and occasionally . . . virtually invented," writes Eric Hobsbawm in Nations and Nationalism. "They are the opposite of what nationalist mythology supposes them to be, namely the primordial foundations of national culture and the matrices of the national mind. They are usually attempts to devise a standardised idiom out of a multiplicity of actually spoken idioms, which are thereafter downgraded to dialects."
Gary Younge in the Guardian, Monday 14 June 2010
"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words."
Often attributed to Francis of Assisi
"A few months ago I was told that the Johns Hopkins University had given me a degree. I naturally supposed this constituted me a Member of the Faculty, and so I started in to help as I could there. I told them I believed they were perfectly competent to run a college as far as the higher branches of education are concerned, but what they needed was a little help here and there from a practical commercial man. I said the public is sensitive to little things, and they wouldn't have full confidence in a college that didn't know how to spell the name John."
"Und willst du nicht mein Bruder sein, so schlag' ich dir den Schädel ein." (If you refuse to be my brother, I'll crack your skull).
"I think I'd been playing guitar twenty years before I figured out I couldn't tune very well. Of course, by that time I was too rich to quit.
A witty saying proves nothing.
A Haiku about hair:
Hair blows in the wind
After years there is still wind
Sadly no more hair.
Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy
(who recently became the first European President!)
"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse."
"De Pompeiano saepe est eiecta theatro
Quae duxit silvas detinuitque feras."
"A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married."
H. L. Mencken
"Iets kan zowel goed, slecht of geen van beide zijn. Muziek is bijvoorbeeld goed voor iemand in een melancholische bui, slecht voor degene die rouwt en de dove maakt het niks uit."
(Something can be goo, bad, or neither. Music for instance is good for someone in a melancoly mood, bad for someone who mourns, and for the deaf person it makes no difference.)
Ethica deel IV Baruch Spinoza
Aan de Belgen
Ik ook ik ben een Belg en mag tot Belgen spreéken.
'K mag d'eer van't Vaderland op't geén haer vreémd is vreéken,
Myn Citer stemmen op een vaderlandschen toon,
En wapens zoeken voór een onverdienden hoón.
Ik zing de vrye tael die d'oude Belgen spraken.
Wie zou myn iver voór die dierbre kunnen laeken?
Ik zoóg ze uyt moeders borst, 'k lasze op myns broeders graf,
Myn Vader sprak ze toen hy my zyn zegen gaf.
Je suis Belge, il m'est permis de parler à des Belges; Il m'est permis de venger mon Pays de tout ce qui est contraire à son honneur. Ma Lyre peut rendre des sons patriotiques et ma Muse chercher des armes contre un outrage non mérité. Je chanterai librement la langue que les anciens Belges se vantaient de parler. S'il y avait quelqu'un qui pût blâmer le zèle que je mets à sa cause, - Je lui répondrais: cette langue, je l'ai sucée avec le lait de ma mère, je l'ai lue sur le tombeau d'un frère, elle était dans la bouche de mon père lorsqu'il me bénissait!
Het was ook in die tael dat Wodans harpenaeren
Den krygszang hooren deên,
J.F. Willems, Aen de Belgen. Aux Belges. J.S. Schoesetters, Antwerpen 1818
"If they act too hip you know they can't play sh.."
"Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature."
George Bernard Shaw
"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."
"Everyone complains of his memory, and nobody complains of his judgment."
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
"Metaphors are much more tenacious than facts."
Paul de Man
"Le bon sens est la chose du monde la mieux partagée : car chacun pense en être si bien pourvu, que ceux même qui sont les plus difficiles à contenter en toute autre chose, n'ont point coutume d'en désirer plus qu'ils en ont."
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
"The baths were mostly tiled showers, with an endless variety of spouting mechanisms, but with one definitely non-Laodicean characteristic in common, a propensity, while in use, to turn instantly beastly hot or blindingly cold upon you, depending on whether your neighbor turned on his cold or his hot to deprive you of a necessary complement in the shower you had so carefully blended."
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita 1955
" 'Tis the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries & for that reason to like best what they understand least."
"Go to graduate school, write a conventional dissertation, get a tenure-track job, publish in academic journals and in university presses, give papers at professional conferences to small groups of fellow specialists, and comply with all the requirements of deference, conformity, and hoop-jumping that narrow the road to tenure while also narrowing the travelers on that road. Then, once tenured, you can take up the applied work that appealed to you in the first place."
"You can achieve anything you set your mind to." - American proverb"Non omnia possumus omnes." (Everyone cannot do everything.) - Latin proverb
"Tout ce qui branle ne tombe pas."
ἡμεῖς δ’, οἷά τε φύλλα φύει πολυάνθεμος ὥρη
ἔαρος, ὅτ’ αἶψ’ αὐγῇς αὔξεται ἠελίου,
τοῖς ἴκελοι πήχυιον ἐπὶ χρόνον ἄνθεσιν ἥβης
τερπόμεθα, πρὸς θεῶν εἰδότες οὔτε κακόν
οὔτ’ ἀγαθόν· Κῆρες δὲ παρεστήκασι μέλαιναι,
ἡ μὲν ἔχουσα τέλος γήραος ἀργαλέου,
ἡ δ’ ἑτέρη θανάτοιο· μίνυνθα δὲ γίγνεται ἥβης
καρπός, ὅσον τ’ ἐπὶ γῆν κίδναται ἠέλιος.
αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν δὴ τοῦτο τέλος παραμείψεται ὥρης,
αὐτίκα δὴ τεθνάναι βέλτιον ἢ βίοτος·
πολλὰ γὰρ ἐν θυμῷ κακὰ γίγνεται· ἄλλοτε οἶκος
τρυχοῦται, πενίης δ’ ἔργ’ ὀδυνηρὰ πέλει·
ἄλλος δ’ αὖ παίδων ἐπιδεύεται, ὧν τε μάλιστα
ἱμείρων κατὰ γῆς ἔρχεται εἰς Ἀΐδην·
ἄλλος νοῦσον ἔχει θυμοφθόρον· οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν
νθρώπων ᾧ Ζεὺς μὴ κακὰ πολλὰ διδοῖ.Mimnermus