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Archive for August, 2009

Rainer Maria Rilke: FOR THE SAKE OF A SINGLE POEM

Friday, August 28th, 2009

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Rainer Maria Rilke with Baladine Klossowska at Chateau de Muzot (Switzerland), 1923

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Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) – they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighbourhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along overhead and went flying with all the stars, and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

from THE NOTEBOOKS OF MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE

(the poet’s only novel)

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Rilke manuscript facsimile: “Sonnet I” from the Sonnets to Orpheus [Part One]. Presented as a gift to Katharina Kippenberg during a visit to Muzot in February 1922

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Rilke circa 1900

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In Memoriam: LES PAUL (1915-2009)

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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Les Paul
[born
Lester William Polsfuss]
June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009

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Go to the original

Les Paul: A legacy of ground-breaking musical invention

By Tony Cornwell

World Socialist Website

19 August 2009


Les Paul, the American musician and inventor who gave his name to the Gibson Les Paul guitar, died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in suburban New York City on August 13 at the age of 94.

As well as being a beautiful player who never sacrificed the musical idea for flashy displays of technique—of which he had plenty—Les Paul was responsible for key advances in musical recording techniques. In a professional musical career that spanned more than eight decades, Paul genuinely revolutionised popular music, a remarkable achievement for a man without formal training in electronics or music.

Born Lester William Polfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin (100 miles north of Chicago), on June 9, 1915 to George and Evelyn Polfuss, Paul’s family were of German ancestry. Paul showed an early and innate musical and technical ability. He taught himself to play the harmonica at the age of eight and then discovered how to program his mother’s upright player piano by punching additional holes in its piano roll.

Paul soon moved on to the banjo and finally the guitar, and was one of the early pioneers of playing harmonica and guitar at the same time. Indeed, the neck-worn harmonica holder which he invented is still manufactured using his basic design.

At the age of 13 Paul began playing professionally at a local drive-in restaurant. Frustrated that he was barely audible over the sound of automobile engines and the hubbub of the patrons, he rigged up a phonograph needle in the middle of his guitar which he wired to a radio speaker, thus creating his first electric guitar.

Dubbed the “Wizard from Waukesha”, the red-haired teenager dropped out of school and joined a country band, finally ending up in Chicago where he was known as “Rhubarb Red” on WJJD radio. Within two years he was being featured on the NBC network.

After hearing a recording of the brilliant Gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt, Paul began rehearsing with bass player Ernie Newton and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Atkins (the older half-brother of guitarist Chet Atkins) to explore the more varied and broader musical horizons offered by the world of jazz.

Known as the Les Paul Trio, the band moved to New York in 1938, played with bandleader Fred Waring and joined Harlem jam sessions with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Stuff Smith and Charlie Christian. In 1939 the trio was invited by President Roosevelt to perform at the White House.

Paul continued to experiment with different forms of electric guitar. As he later told rock music author Jim O’Donnell: “What I wanted to do is not have two things vibrating. I wanted the string to vibrate and nothing else. I wanted the guitar to sustain longer than an acoustical box and have different sounds than an acoustical box.”

Here we glimpse some of Paul’s genius. In general, one of the main problems with acoustic guitars—be they with steel or nylon strings—is their quickness of decay, i.e., the sounds of the notes don’t linger for long. Paul figured out that the less the string vibration was dissipated the longer “the return”. Add electrification and the instrument could sustain a note for a previously unheard of length of time.

In 1941, after years of experiment—or just “tinkering around” as he modestly put it—Paul came up with the idea of a guitar which would be solid enough to enable the guitar pickups to capture nearly every part of the vibration and at the same time reduce the problems of feedback.

Paul called his invention “the log”, a four-by-four-inch board with a neck from an Epiphone guitar, strings and an attached pickup. And to dress it up a bit, he fitted part of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar around “the log”. While it was by no means perfect, the instrument provided the basis for a revolutionary transformation of the guitar sound, and eventually new musical mountains for guitarists to climb.

Unbelievably, at least in hindsight, the Gibson guitar company turned down Paul’s invention, describing it as a “broomstick with pickups”. Undeterred, Paul moved on to Hollywood and formed a new trio, which appeared with Nat King Cole at the inaugural 1944 “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concert in Los Angeles. He regularly performed with Bing Crosby and produced one of his hits—“It’s Been A Long, Long Time.” During WWII he served under bandleader Meredith Wilson in the Armed Forces Radio Service and toured with the Andrews Sisters.

(more…)

THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO BUDDHISM, 3rd Edition

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

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The Complete Idiot's Guide¨ Order

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Gary Gach

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Watch and listen as Gary Gach discusses nirvana, everyday practice, mindfulness, breath, and other topics lovingly addressed in his Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism (3rd edition) to an audience at Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA, 28 July 2009.

Courtesy video © FORA.tv

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