Commonplace

“It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano. She was then no longer either deferential or patronizing; no longer either a rebel or a slave. The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected. The commonplace person begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marvelling how he has escaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions. Perhaps he cannot; certainly he does not, or does so very seldom. Lucy had done so never.

She was no dazzling executante; her runs were not at all like strings of pearls, and she struck no more right notes than was suitable for one of her age and situation. Nor was she the passionate young lady, who performs so tragically on a summer’s evening with the window open. Passion was there, but it could not be easily labelled; it slipped between love and hatred and jealousy, and all the furniture of the pictorial style. And she was tragical only in the sense that she was great, for she loved to play on the side of Victory. Victory of what and over what–this more than the words of daily life can tell us. But that some sonatas of Beethoven are written tragic no one can gainsay; yet they can triumph or despair as the player decides, and Lucy had decided that they should triumph.”

~ E.M. Forester, A Room With a View

Summer Music: “Let’s Go” “Take a Walk”

Trying not to use teen girl speak here, but squee!! new Matt and Kim to tide use over until a new album in the fall. Couple that with the news that Passion Pit has a new album out in July that’s supposedly even better than their first, and I’m just super excited. And while I’m not big on basketball, the Matt and Kim video of one guy going through different skills in one take is pretty awesome too. And the new Passion Pit video is such a great concept.

Collecting: Voyager I (1977)

I’m a collector of things: things with owls on them, pictures of flowers, places I’ve seen, craft projects, music, books, more books, recipes, and china, among other things. This blog, in fact, is a space that presents part of my collecting habits. As I’ve been doing this for three years now, I’ve been thinking more and more about the purpose of this blog. It began life as a blog about a trip. But it’s evolved into something else since that point in time.

Some weeks it really is just youtube posts of bands I’m listening to. Some weeks it’s quotes from what I’m reading and re-reading for class, or the funny thing Andrew Sullivan posted. There are well worn grooves in my mental landscape the blog works its way along. As much as possible, I try to keep Elizabeth Gaskell’s advice about objects not feelings in front of me. Thus, this blog at least functions more like a idiosyncratically (a word I happen to be enamored with at the moment) curated digital commonplace book than perhaps other blogs. I’m less interested in capturing the essence of now that is integral to so much blogging than I am in pulling together a pastiche of the objects that interest and fascinate me.

I also likes things done in a series, if the song of the day feature didn’t already tell you that, so I may be starting a new feature on collecting. At any rate, one of the things I collect is events that happened the year I was born. It’s not an actual collection; no display case to dust or file folder to maintain. I just keep little bits of information about 1977 tucked away in my mind. It’s the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, the release of the first Star Wars film, and the year for Walter De Maria’s Lighting Field, among other things.

So the fact that Voyager 1, the space probe launched by NASA in 1977, is about to reach the edge of the solar system, is going into the collection. I’m not a science person really; a lab is the last place on the planet I want to be. I would have taken the science for liberal arts majors course my brother had at Austin College if I could have because they read Timothy Ferris’s Coming of Age in the Milky Way, perhaps one of the best histories of science, cosmology, and faith I’ve read. Yet, space exploration gets me every time. In fact, the mix I did for the CD club last year was about space because I began the mix in the month the shuttle program flew its last flight.

Can you imagine thirty-five years of movement in one direction, a lonely, isolated vehicle for the intense inquisitiveness of the human race? Carl Franzen’s interview with the 76 year Ed Stone, the man who heads up the Voyager project, is a fascinating explanation of the science of the edge of solar system. Solar winds beating back galactic cosmic rays. The ship possibly entering heliopause, the space between the heliosphere and interstellar space. (And whoever named that space heliopause understands the concept of liminality to its core.) It’s all the language of discovery, of possibility.

Beirut Soiree de Poche

Vincent Moon and his crew over at La Blogotheque manage to capture the essence of a band and their fans almost every time they film a show. Somehow, I missed this two part video of a live Beirut show in someone’s house/flat in Paris. A soiree de poche is a pocket book show; an intimate gathering where the interplay between band and audience is at it’s most direct. In some ways, the audience becomes part of the band, an enthusiastic backing chorus with harmonizing voices, hand claps, and swaying bodies. The voyeuristic gaze between audience and band isn’t intensified because of this joining of band and audience. Indeed, the confluence turns the performance into something more. And it gives me another excuse to post videos of Beirut. Not that I really needed an excuse. My adoration of Beirut is in the same stratosphere as my love for Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

Part 1:

One of my three favorite Beirut songs, “Nantes,” comes at the 5 minute mark.

Part 2:

Somehow, someday, I will get to see this band play live.

Random Happies

My love for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me is probably boundless at this point; their most recent Sandwich Monday posting isn’t likely to lessen the adoration. In this week’s installment, they try Burger King’s new Bacon Sundae. Yep, you read that right.

Bee cop. Yep, you read that right.

My comp class is doing the review essay this week, so we’re discussing taste and criteria for how we come to like the things we like. In honor of that, here’s the best representation of arbitrary taste judgments I know, New York Magazine‘s The Approval Matrix.