Backing out of a parking space on this always grey and sometimes rainy day, I thought that if the day were a chord, it would be the one above, a major seventh with a raised fourth. It’s a Monkish chord (as in Thelonious), and to my ear it suggests wet streets, bare trees, and the need for lamplight, even if it’s only the early afternoon.

Thanks to Elaine for the chord’s name and notation, and for thinking that it sounds good (because of the wide voicing).

[If you don’t read music, the notes from bottom to top are C G F# B E.]


Tamas in our time

Ancient texts often resonate with startling relevance. Teaching the Bhagavad-Gita for the first time in many years, I read the following passage with new eyes. The context: Krishna teaches that tamas is one of the three gunas, the movers of all action, “the bonds that bind / The undying dweller / Imprisoned in the body.” Tamas binds with “bonds of delusion, / Sluggishness, torpor.” When tamas prevails, one is “lost in delusion.” Here I think of the folly that has given us a war in Iraq:

The act undertaken
In the hour of delusion
Without count of cost,
Squandering strength and treasure,
Heedless of harm to another,
By him who does not question
His power to perform it:
That act is of tamas.

[Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.]

Some related posts
Homer then and now
Homer’s Rumsfeld
Not dead yet
, ,
Tamas in our time

As a child, Mr. Newman decided to pursue a career in bio-technology. This vision lasted until he landed a biotech internship the summer before college. “I soon discovered that this was a place where people told jokes with the punch line: ‘And that’s why they call it reverse-transcriptase,’” says Mr. Newman. “I was like: Get me out of here.”