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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Der Lindenbaum (The Lime Tree)

It is June in France, and all over Europe the linden trees are in bloom.
There are no words to describe the delicate fragrance of the linden trees, and all the ideas in the world could never replace just ONE linden tree. And American linden trees are not as fragrant as European ones...
Two composers who have loved the linden tree : Mahler, and Schubert, of course.
I would like to write out the poem taken from Winterreise in German, but that would be a little fastidious for you.
Here it is in an English translation. And if you ever manage to get your hands on Wolfgang Holzmair's performance of Winterreise, it is worth much more than filthy lucre, or even GOLD.

By the well outside the gate
Stands a lime (linden) tree ;
in its shade I dreamt so many sweet dreams.
In its bark I carved so many tender words ;
In joy and sorrow I was constantly drawn to it.
Tonight once more I had to walk past in pitch blackness,
then in the dark I again shut my eyes.
And its branches rustled as if calling to me :
Come here to me, young fellow, here you will find your rest !

The cold winds blew straight in my face ;
my hat flew off my head.
I did not turn.
Now I am several hours away from that place,
and still I hear it rustling :
You would find rest there ! (Wilhelm Müller)

Yes, dear Franz was a rootless modern too...


Dink said...

It is a pleasant poem. Most the poetry I know goes back to high school. I remember thinking that The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was one of the most tragic things I had ever come across.

And something about My Coy Mistress being kind of hot. Obviously the student wasn't ready even when the masters appeared ;)

Cottonbloggin said...

my goodness. I run away for a couple days and I miss out on all sorts of good stuff.

Dink, if Prufrock is one of the most tragic things you've ever come across, then Bladerunner-- for me-- is one of the most tragic things IVE ever come across. The Tears in the Rain scene sums up the whole movie: It is our experiences which make us human... experiences which are finite, personal and (most likely) impossible to pass on. (liked chasing the dragon by the way)

Deb- I don't see religion that way at all. I see religion as an oppressive power structure meant to self replicate and maintain its position in the hierarchy of things. It was living in Italy and visiting the Vatican which changed my perspective. That structure (St.Peters, the Sistina, the gardens and Mussolini's horrid fascist promenade) was built as socio-religious propoganda.

spirituality on the other hand... THAT is where the intense feeling of meaning in life comes from. And it is most certainly not necessary to associate with an institution in order to find meaning within one's worldview.

Thai, I can feel th understanding of the conservation of risk just begin to tickle something tangentally. Keep it comin, for now I'm being a good student squirrel, sitting at my desk, listening to the lecture. Later, I'll go rabid.

SS said...


What a lovely post and poem. Mahler is truly my favorite composer? Do you like him? Especially the silences in Resurrection symphony, the grandeur, the peace followed by tumult. I hardly listen to anything but Mahler for enjoyment, the rest is background music for me.


Debra said...

It was starting to get a little lonely in the saloon, even if Dink is a nice squirrel.
I really do agree with you on religion, Cotton, EXCEPT for the fact that spirituality is an individual thing, and RELIGION is, well, an institutional phenomenon. Although it is for sure that God has no grandchildren, and that "he" is accessible only through DIRECT PERSONAL experience, there is no way to TRANSMIT that experience, and as human beings we MUST transmit. Culture is about transmitting. That is what institutions are for, although they don't do it very well.
SS, I adore Mahler, although I don't know the symphonies very well.
One of my favorite songs : ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.
And well, ich atmet' einen linden Duft was almost the poem I was going to stick in. You can HEAR the linden trees rustling...
Sung by Kathleen Ferrier. She will break your heart, and then you will never want to listen to the music by anyone else... That's what records do.

Dink said...

@ Cotton,
"The Tears in the Rain scene"

Ridley Scott's finest moment. It transcended all preconceived notions of the sci-fi genre. Absolutely heartbreaking.

"Later, I'll go rabid"

It is our squirrel nature. We do the best that we can with the equipment available ;)

@ Deb (bringing a previous post's comments into the present for order's sake)

"But DINK, who says they have to be differentiated ?
If they have the same structure, then WHY must they be differentiated ?"

The implications are huge. If there is an all-powerful sky man that's going to torture us if we don't do as he wants, people go insane with fear. They'll sacrifice each other to save themselves. Even the implications of an afterlife are dangerous in terms of the terrestrial environment (i.e. who cares if we trash this apartment since were about to move to a better place).

The idea that we're on our own to take care of ourselves may not be warm and fuzzy, but at least it forces us to accept responsibility. And hopefully we don't go "Lord of the Flies".

I remembered what I forgot a few days ago. It was triggered by Alan Turing during WWII. So many astounding scientists we're "made" during that period (Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Feynmann, etc, etc.). They weren't motivating by "filthy lucre". Or inhibited from collaborating since patents weren't at risk subsequently involving "filthy lucre". They were absolutely free to do whatever they could in hopes of saving their lives (or at least preferred lifestyles). Maybe if humanity realized that this planet and each other was all that we had, we could become a collective that excels in every possible way to save ourselves (or species at least).

Debra said...

But, dinky, the FEAR OF THE LAST JUDGMENT can also keep people in line... That's what it used to do, for SOME people, at least...
And if we want to throw around that ugly word "genetic", that's what I keep harping on : the big sky man is like almost GENETIC.
But the big sky man is NOT God, dink.
Not to the mystics, and the spiritually aware.
And take away the big sky man and you get...
the big earth man, for example, but you will always get a BIG MAN.
Depressing, huh ?

Cottonbloggin said...

no, I disagree... I don't see a big sky man OR a big Earth man, or any such big man. I see.... ok, i think it's time to write a post.

SS said...

I listened to Kathleen Ferrier, "ich atmet' einen linden Duft," simply sublime, theflute, the essence of flutes, I don't know howMahler does it. The voice alsojust right. so perfect inthis song. You must listento Resurrection symphony. I didn't know the Liedes at all; theyare Mahler he is everwhere so special to me. Idon't what it isMahler and Nietszche seem to unveil the essenceofthings, the one in thought the other in sound.

As for squirrels, they are special,watching us everywhere and proably laughing. Imagine that all theinternet only served to discover the Lieds of Mahler sungby Kathleen Ferrier,it would be worth it! so joyfiul.

The word atme = breath is the key to ancient Hindu/Aryan philosophy in the Upanishads and the ancient chants of this pastoral/horse people. Breath was the key to life the opening by which being allowed the other to enter.


SS said...

@ Dink

By the way ,
a wonderful comment on science, dedication and incentives. Canyou expand this into a full blog?


Debra said...

Cotton, what is the difference between what you see, and what you THINK you see ?
I have had an ongoing discussion with Thai about Dan Dennett, and what HE thinks he sees. Or Ted, for that matter...
YOU are always the best judge of what you think you see.
But... ask your bro, and you will get a lot of insight into what you see... And most of the time he is a more objective (lol) judge than you are.
IF I'M right on this one, and I suspect that I am, we are always looking for a big man to protect us and take care of us.
Before y'all start screaming, let me nuance.
More or less. Because a feeling of helplessness is a major part of the human experience. We have ALL felt helpless at one point or another in our existence. And we ALL, more or less would like for someone, sometime, to take care of us.
That means ME, obviously.
That means YOU, too.

Debra said...

And SS, I'm really glad you liked the Mahler songs by Kathleen Ferrier.
And if you REALLY want to get blown away, listen to Um Mitternacht, one of the songs of this song cycle, which is called the Ruckert Lieder.
The last part, "He holds watch" at midnight, will blow your mind, Mahler has done it so so well.

Dink said...

"Canyou expand this into a full blog?"

Not this week, comrade ;) But someday soon it might be fun.

"Before y'all start screaming"

TOO LATE!!!!!!

"And we ALL, more or less would like for someone, sometime, to take care of us"

But not to limit our freedom of choice. And sometimes we want self-destructive things. And to allow that wouldn't be "care". So tension, friction, resentment, etc. Computerization really is the best middle ground.
D- "Computer: Provide donut"
C- "Override moron block?"
D- ".... Yes"

Debra said...

But dink, you have forgotten one extremely important FACT of human nature.
We want to have our cake and eat it too.
I will draw out this comment, in a later post.
It is essential to understand this "fact", which holds true for all of us, at varying levels.
And Thai ?
You can consider that I hold this one to be an axiom.

Thai said...

@Deb re: "We want to have our cake and eat it too."

I couldn't agree more with this statement.

However, the problem with this metaphor (or manipulation of "information structures") is that it wrongly assumes the smaller information structures "cake" and "eat it too" are closed systems.

Remember, the idea of "cake" (as intended in this metaphor) is really just an information structure, just as the idea of "eat it too" is another information structure.

Our brain manipulates these information structures as if each were an individual "closed systems" or packet of information to come up with an even larger idea: we want it all.

But "cake" and "eat it too" are really open systems. We only treat them as closed systems because it would be make manipulating the information too difficult.

I seriously doubt anyone would eat their cake if they knew it would poison them.

Again, my theory is slowly putting the chess pieces on the board one piece at a time. We are still on closed systems and have not yet talked about what this all means if we move from the idea of closed system to open systems.


Debra said...

You're going to have to find different words to explain this Thai, as I don't understand a word of your last comment.
How is "cake" a "system" ?
It is a noun, and as such, is an element of the English language, which is INDEED a system. Idem for "eat it too".
Meaning does not work the way that you seem to think it does, Thai. Not linguistic meaning, and see one of my other comments to understand just how much our philosophical concepts are dependant on our categories of speech.
Here we have the sentence :

I wanna buy...
And now we add the object/predicate.
you dinner
a piece of cake

Now, just exactly where is the moment that MEANING hits you across the face ? It's at the END, isn't it ? It's not WITHIN any particular element, it's when all of the elements have come together, and AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE. This is not even THE BEST example I could think up, because there is a classic one where as you keep adding words (elements) on to the sentence, the meaning changes totally as you go along. This is indeed possible.
Tell me how this relates to what you're trying to tell me.
I still don't understand.

Thai said...

re: "I still don't understand".

I will move this thread of comments to the other comment thread as I think you have correctly recognized that I am what you seem to call a "structuralist", but you have not yet recognized that I do see the mirror in the mirror to continue with your analogy.

In particular, think again about your question: "How is "cake" a "system?"

Do you see now how it relates to the other comment thread? "Cake" is a system or an information structure or a closed (yet open) system.

re: "keep adding words changes the meaning" and meaning comes when the sentence is completed or at the end.

Yes and No, meaning comes from the entire system (or sentence to use your linguistic analogy). Change ANY part of the system (or sentence to continue with your linguistic analogy) and you have now changed the entire system (or sentence).

There is no one point at which the system is invariant and another where it changes. It is always "all of the above", as conservation of energy always still appies.

So again, to continue with your linguistic/mental analogy, the mind treats information as packets or closed systems and manipulates these little packets to come up with a new information structure by adding or subtracting packets of information to the information structure. It treats each individual piece of information as a closed system.

But the very fact you can information structures by adding or subtracting information means they are in fact not closed systems.

I do see what you call the mirror in the mirror. Indeed, I do.

Dink said...

(Dink's response under the GAD post for order's sake)

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits