This Alice Oswald poem is one of my increasingly favorite sonnets. In the three-minute video, Sir Andrew Motion touchingly interprets it as: “rush and change of the poem is its own point. It makes us think, first and foremost, about transformations, about the changes that love creates, and the changes that art creates, as it takes hold of familiar experience, illuminates it and passes it back to us as something deeper and refreshed.”
Happy International Women’s Day! (which is tomorrow but the poem couldn’t wait.)
“Wedding” by Alice Oswald
From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions…
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe
tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.
A Gama Sennin (toad sage)
sarangi.info‘s ninth birthday was on 28 January 2014. It has been observed that when parents are busy with their work or the kids are in the middle of their exams, birthdays are often postponed to a more convenient day, like a weekend or two later. Nothing of that sort was the case here since Aftab had uploaded all this music in October 2012 and has been repeatedly asking me with great patience and cheerfulness that I should post it on the site. One and a half year is enough to earn one the title of the Master of Procrastination and to annoy even very good friends, but that is definitely not the case with Aftab who has the generosity and enthusiasm to share such musical gems in abundance with the world. Our other close friends who have participated in keeping this site going and the music flowing are, as you already know, Saadullah Bashir, Bilal Khan and Suhaib Kiani.
Aftab will be in Pakistan soon and Suhaib, I and others look forward to spending this weekend with him, play and listen to music, and celebrate and discuss the virtue of authenticity.
Best wishes and season’s greetings,
ay dil-e naa-aaqibat-andesh zabt-e shauq kar
kaun laa saktaa hai taab-e jalvah-e diidaar-e dost
oh heart thoughtless of consequences, control your ardor
who can find the power to bear the glory of the sight of the friend?
Ahmad Jan Thirakwa – Teentaal
Ali Akbar Khan – Puriya (Alap)
Allah Lok and Qamar Abbas – Pakhawaj (Duet)
Aman Ali Khan – Kedara (Tarana)
Amir Khan – Puriya (Live)
Arnab Chakraborty – Hameer
Azmat Hussain Khan -Darbari
Bai Sunderabai – Sindhura
Barkat Ali Khan – Woh Aa Ke Khwab Mein
Begum Akhtar – Kaise Katen Din Ratiyan
Chidanand Nagarkar – Bhairavi Bhairav
Dabir Khan – Malkauns
Fateh Ali Khan – Megh (Tarana)
Fayyaz Khan – Jaunpuri
Gajananrao Joshi – Shree
Habib Ali Beenkar – Bhairavi
Hafiz Ali Khan – Purvi
Hamid Hussain – Jog
Ijaz Hussain Hazravi – Khirad Mandon Se Kya Poochhon
Imrat Khan and Vilayat Khan – Jog
Joydeep Gosh – Behag (Sursringar)
A. Kanan – Hansdhuni
Karam Abbas – Bhopali (Lahore Music Forum, Karachi)
Khadim Hussain Khan – Behag (Alap and Dhammar)
Krishnarao Shankar Pandit – Desi Todi
Kumar Prasad – Chhayanat
Latafat Hussain Khan – Shankara
Majid Khan – Puriya Dhaneshree
Malini Rajurkar – Bhopali Todi
M. Hassan – Behag (Chatarang)
M. Kaleem – Woh Sar Khole Hamari Lash
Mohammad Saghiruddin – Shyam Kalyan (Radio Broadcast)
Moinuddin and Aminuddin Dagar – Lalit
Mubarak Ali – Kaushak Mukhi (Lahore Music Forum)
Mujadit Hussain – Kedara
Mushtaq Ali – Bhopali
Muzaffar Akbar Khan and Asad Qizilbash – Shree (PTV)
Natai Basu – Dhani
Nirmalguha Thakurata – Lalit
Pushparaj Koshti – Jaunpuri
Rahmat Ali Khan – Kafi
Rahmat Ali Khan – Bhairavi
Rais Khan – Rageshree
Rasiklal Andharia – Puriya Kalyan
Rasoolanbai – Chaiti Desi Todi (Piya Milan Hum Jayibo)
Ravikitchlu Khamaj (Thumri)
Roshan Ara Begum – Behag (78rpm)
Roshan Ara Begum – Shudh Sarang
Sadiq Ali – Shankara
Sadiq Hussain Pindiwalay – Tilang
Safdar Hussain Khan – Mishra Khamaj
Sain Ditta Qadri – Tilang
Sajjad Ali – Yad Piya Ki Aye
Nazakat Ali and Salamat Ali Khan – Adana (Radio Pakistan)
Saleem Hussain – Kalavati
Saptarshi Hazra – Purvi (Alap)
Sara Kazmi – Nilambari
Sharafat Hussain Khan – Ahir Bhairav
Siddheshwari Devi – Jhamak Jhuki Aayi
Umrao Bundu Khan – Puriya (Drut)
Vasant Rai – Bhairav
Wahid Hussain – Lakhon Key Bol (Dhun)
Wahid Hussain – Megh
Interior of Baba Taher Mausoleum in Hamadan, Iran
دلی نازک بسان شیشه ام بی
اگر آهی کشم اندیشه ام بی
سرشکم گر بوه خونین عجب نیست
مو آن دارم که در خون ریشه ام بی
Here’s a draft of a paper to be presented at a conference at UNC in May. Â As always, comments, criticisms, questions, etc. are most welcome. 1 Introduction Gone are the heady days when Berna…
‘According to Leiter, Nietzsche believes in a “Doctrine of Types,” according to which “Each person has a fixed psycho-physical constitution, which defines him as a particular type of person” (2002, p. 8). These type-facts are meant to be “physiological facts about the person, or facts about the person’s unconscious drives or affects” (Knobe & Leiter 2007), and they largely determine both what a person can do and what a person should do from the point of view of his own well-being.’ To support this interpretation, Knobe and Leiter cite Nietzsche’s claim that a
well-turned out human being […] must perform certain actions and shrinks instinctively from other actions; he carries the order, which he represents physiologically, into his relations with other human beings and things. (TI “Errors” 2)
[Then come passages that conversely support the social construction of character.]
“If someone obstinately and for a long time wants to appear something it is in the end hard for him to be anything else.” (HH 51)
“The reputation, name, and appearance […] of a thing […] nearly always becomes its essence and effectively acts as its essence.” (GS 58)
‘It may be hard to square the passages that support the doctrine of types with those that support the social construction of character, but here’s a try: Nietzsche thinks that many people have the precise character traits they do because they have been labeled with those traits. The idea is that type-facts limit the palette or menu of traits that someone could end up with, but do not uniquely determine how his character will develop. From that menu, social pressures select and shape the character that results.’
‘In a seminal study, Miller, Brickman, & Bolen (1975) compared the effects of labeling with those of moral exhortation on the behavior of fifth graders. Participants in the exhortation group were asked repeatedly by the principal, the teachers, and the janitor to keep their classroom tidy. The labeling group, by contrast, heard congratulatory (false) announcements of their above-average tidiness over the course of eight days. On Day 1, the teacher praised them for being ‘ecology minded’ and mentioned that the janitor had commented that theirs was one of the cleanest classrooms in the school. On Day 2, the teacher noticed some litter on the floor but explained, “our class is clean and would not do that.” On Day 4, the principal visited the class and commended their orderliness; after he left, the students actually complained that the teacher’s desk was not as neat as theirs. On Day 8, the janitors washed the room and left a note thanking the students for making their job so easy. After a brief improvement in their behavior, the exhortation group settled back into its old routine, but the labeling group exhibited higher levels of tidiness over an extended period.
‘Other experiments have corroborated the tidiness study with other trait attributions. Jensen & Moore (1977), for instance, found that children labeled as charitable donated more than those who were subjected to moral suasion. Grusec, Kuczynski, Rushton, & Simutis (1978) announced to experimental participants that a questionairre they had completed indicated either that they were competitive or that they were cooperative, inducing congruent behavior in a subsequent game. Grusec & Redler (1980) found that ten-year-olds who helped once and were then labeled (“You know, you certainly are a nice person. I bet you’re someone who is helpful whenever possible.”) contributed 350% more in a subsequent trial than students whose actions were praised after helping (“You know, that was certainly a nice thing to do. It was good that you helped me with my work here today.”) These are just a few examples, but the point should be clear: praise and exhortation are worse ways to elicit trait-congruent behavior than attribution. People become what they are by becoming what they are called.
‘Thus, while I agree with Knobe and Leiter both that Nietzsche believes in the doctrine of types and that there is strong empirical support for the doctrine of types, I think that they overlook Nietzsche’s insight into the social construction of character and the empirical support for the social construction of character. These two positions may seem to be in tension, but ultimately I think that both can be accommodated. Types are diverse. What counts as aggressiveness, neuroticism, extraversion, and so on differs from case to case and person to person. Character traits develop through the interaction of types and social influence, and even they exhibit a great deal of diversity. In a recent book, Adams (2009, p. 182) argues that courage should be divided up into “modules” that include physical courage, social courage, financial courage, and vicarious courage (the courage not to be overprotective or paternalistic). This echoes Nietzsche’s own distinctions between different types of courage.’
This is where the serpent lives, the bodiless.
His head is air. Beneath his tip at night
Eyes open and fix on us in every sky.
Or is this another wriggling out of the egg,
Another image at the end of the cave,
Another bodiless for the body’s slough?
This is where the serpent lives. This is his nest,
These fields, these hills, these tinted distances,
And the pines above and along and beside the sea.
This is form gulping after formlessness,
Skin flashing to wished-for disappearances
And the serpent body flashing without the skin.
This is the height emerging and its base
These lights may finally attain a pole
In the midmost midnight and find the serpent there,
In another nest, the master of the maze
Of body and air and forms and images,
Relentlessly in possession of happiness.
This is his poison: that we should disbelieve
Even that. His meditations in the ferns,
When he moved so slightly to make sure of sun,
Made us no less as sure. We saw in his head,
Black beaded on the rock, the flecked animal,
The moving grass, the Indian in his glade.
Farewell to an idea … A cabin stands,
Deserted, on a beach. It is white,
As by a custom or according to
An ancestral theme or as a consequence
Of an infinite course. The flowers against the wall
Are white, a little dried, a kind of mark
Reminding, trying to remind, of a white
That was different, something else, last year
Or before, not the white of an aging afternoon,
Whether fresher or duller, whether of winter cloud
Or of winter sky, from horizon to horizon.
The wind is blowing the sand across the floor.
Here, being visible is being white,
Is being of the solid of white, the accomplishment
Of an extremist in an exercise …
The season changes. A cold wind chills the beach.
The long lines of it grow longer, emptier,
A darkness gathers though it does not fall
And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.
The man who is walking turns blankly on the sand.
He observes how the north is always enlarging the change,
With its frigid brilliances, its blue-red sweeps
And gusts of great enkindlings, its polar green,
The color of ice and fire and solitude.
Farewell to an idea … The mother’s face,
The purpose of the poem, fills the room.
They are together, here, and it is warm,
With none of the prescience of oncoming dreams.
It is evening. The house is evening, half dissolved.
Only the half they can never possess remains,
Still-starred. It is the mother they possess,
Who gives transparence to their present peace.
She makes that gentler that can gentle be.
And yet she too is dissolved, she is destroyed.
She gives transparence. But she has grown old.
The necklace is a carving not a kiss.
The soft hands are a motion not a touch.
The house will crumble and the books will burn.
They are at ease in a shelter of the mind
And the house is of the mind and they and time,
Together, all together. Boreal night
Will look like frost as it approaches them
And to the mother as she falls asleep
And as they say good-night, good-night. Upstairs
The windows will be lighted, not the rooms.
A wind will spread its windy grandeurs round
And knock like a rifle-butt against the door.
The wind will command them with invincible sound.
Farewell to an idea … The cancellings,
The negations are never final. The father sits
In space, wherever he sits, of bleak regard,
As one that is strong in the bushes of his eyes.
He says no to no and yes to yes. He says yes
To no; and in saying yes he says farewell.
He measures the velocities of change.
He leaps from heaven to heaven more rapidly
Than bad angels leap from heaven to hell in flames.
But now he sits in quiet and green-a-day.
He assumes the great speeds of space and flutters them
From cloud to cloudless, cloudless to keen clear
In flights of eye and ear, the highest eye
And the lowest ear, the deep ear that discerns,
At evening, things that attend it until it hears
The supernatural preludes of its own,
At the moment when the angelic eye defines
Its actors approaching, in company, in their masks.
Master O master seated by the fire
And yet in space and motionless and yet
Of motion the ever-brightening origin,
Profound, and yet the king and yet the crown,
Look at this present throne. What company,
In masks, can choir it with the naked wind?
The mother invites humanity to her house
And table. The father fetches tellers of tales
And musicians who mute much, muse much, on the tales.
The father fetches negresses to dance,
Among the children, like curious ripenesses
Of pattern in the dance’s ripening.
For these the musicians make insidious tones,
Clawing the sing-song of their instruments.
The children laugh and jangle a tinny time.
The father fetches pageants out of air,
Scenes of the theatre, vistas and blocks of woods
And curtains like a naive pretence of sleep.
Among these the musicians strike the instinctive poem.
The father fetches his unherded herds,
Of barbarous tongue, slavered and panting halves
Of breath, obedient to his trumpet’s touch.
This then is Chatillon or as you please.
We stand in the tumult of a festival.
What festival? This loud, disordered mooch?
These hospitaliers? These brute-like guests?
These musicians dubbing at a tragedy,
A-dub, a-dub, which is made up of this:
That there are no lines to speak? There is no play.
Or, the persons act one merely by being here.
It is a theatre floating through the clouds,
Itself a cloud, although of misted rock
And mountains running like water, wave on wave,
Through waves of light. It is of cloud transformed
To cloud transformed again, idly, the way
A season changes color to no end,
Except the lavishing of itself in change,
As light changes yellow into gold and gold
To its opal elements and fire’s delight,
Splashed wide-wise because it likes magnificence
And the solemn pleasures of magnificent space
The cloud drifts idly through half-thought-of forms.
The theatre is filled with flying birds,
Wild wedges, as of a volcano’s smoke, palm-eyed
And vanishing, a web in a corridor
Or massive portico. A capitol,
It may be, is emerging or has just
Collapsed. The denouement has to be postponed …
This is nothing until in a single man contained,
Nothing until this named thing nameless is
And is destroyed. He opens the door of his house
On flames. The scholar of one candle sees
An Arctic effulgence flaring on the frame
Of everything he is. And he feels afraid.
Is there an imagination that sits enthroned
As grim as it is benevolent, the just
And the unjust, which in the midst of summer stops
To imagine winter? When the leaves are dead,
Does it take its place in the north and enfold itself,
Goat-leaper, crystalled and luminous, sitting
In highest night? And do these heavens adorn
And proclaim it, the white creator of black, jetted
By extinguishings, even of planets as may be,
Even of earth, even of sight, in snow,
Except as needed by way of majesty,
In the sky, as crown and diamond cabala?
It leaps through us, through all our heavens leaps,
Extinguishing our planets, one by one,
Leaving, of where we were and looked, of where
We knew each other and of each other thought,
A shivering residue, chilled and foregone,
Except for that crown and mystical cabala.
But it dare not leap by chance in its own dark.
It must change from destiny to slight caprice.
And thus its jetted tragedy, its stele
And shape and mournful making move to find
What must unmake it and, at last, what can,
Say, a flippant communication under the moon.
There may be always a time of innocence.
There is never a place. Or if there is no time,
If it is not a thing of time, nor of place,
Existing in the idea of it, alone,
In the sense against calamity, it is not
Less real. For the oldest and coldest philosopher,
There is or may be a time of innocence
As pure principle. Its nature is its end,
That it should be, and yet not be, a thing
That pinches the pity of the pitiful man,
Like a book at evening beautiful but untrue,
Like a book on rising beautiful and true.
It is like a thing of ether that exists
Almost as predicate. But it exists,
It exists, it is visible, it is, it is.
So, then, these lights are not a spell of light,
A saying out of a cloud, but innocence.
An innocence of the earth and no false sign
Or symbol of malice. That we partake thereof,
Lie down like children in this holiness,
As if, awake, we lay in the quiet of sleep,
As if the innocent mother sang in the dark
Of the room and on an accordion, half-heard,
Created the time and place in which we breathed …
And of each other thought—in the idiom
Of the work, in the idiom of an innocent earth,
Not of the enigma of the guilty dream.
We were as Danes in Denmark all day long
And knew each other well, hale-hearted landsmen,
For whom the outlandish was another day
Of the week, queerer than Sunday. We thought alike
And that made brothers of us in a home
In which we fed on being brothers, fed
And fattened as on a decorous honeycomb.
This drama that we live—We lay sticky with sleep.
This sense of the activity of fate—
The rendezvous, when she came alone,
By her coming became a freedom of the two,
An isolation which only the two could share.
Shall we be found hanging in the trees next spring?
Of what disaster in this the imminence:
Bare limbs, bare trees and a wind as sharp as salt?
The stars are putting on their glittering belts.
They throw around their shoulders cloaks that flash
Like a great shadow’s last embellishment.
It may come tomorrow in the simplest word,
Almost as part of innocence, almost,
Almost as the tenderest and the truest part.
An unhappy people in a happy world—
Read, rabbi, the phases of this difference.
An unhappy people in an unhappy world—
Here are too many mirrors for misery.
A happy people in an unhappy world—
It cannot be. There’s nothing there to roll
On the expressive tongue, the finding fang.
A happy people in a happy world—
Buffo! A ball, an opera, a bar.
Turn back to where we were when we began:
An unhappy people in a happy world.
Now, solemnize the secretive syllables.
Read to the congregation, for today
And for tomorrow, this extremity,
This contrivance of the spectre of the spheres,
Contriving balance to contrive a whole,
The vital, the never-failing genius,
Fulfilling his meditations, great and small.
In these unhappy he meditates a whole,
The full of fortune and the full of fate,
As if he lived all lives, that he might know,
In hall harridan, not hushful paradise,
To a haggling of wind and weather, by these lights
Like a blaze of summer straw, in winter’s nick.