The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, January 29, 2019:


Silence is an integral part of all good music. Compared with Beethoven’s or Mozart’s, the ceaseless torrent of Wagner’s music is very poor in silence. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it seems so much less significant than theirs. It “says” less because it is always speaking.

Aldous Huxley, ‘The Rest is Silence,’ MUSIC AT NIGHT AND OTHER ESSAYS


The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, January 15. 2019:


The world is full of poetry.  The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness.

James Gates Percival (h/t BJ)

The Prompter Room

For Friday, April 6, 2018:


If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week, for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

Charles Darwin (h/t to JB via YD)

The Prompter Room

For Friday, December 29, 2017:


A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


(h/t to Phibby for the source)

The Prompter Room

For Friday, December 15, 2017:



We’re all — trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.

Because life is network, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from humans. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world. Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “Science and Art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.

We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.

Our ethic must therefore be one of belonging, an imperative made all the more urgent by the many ways that human actions are fraying, rewiring, and severing biological networks worldwide. To listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, is therefore to learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.


The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, December 12, 2017:


Children speak the language of the flowers and understand the whispers of the wind.  They’re in tune with the subtle songs of the forest; they can listen to the trees, interpret the chatter of the rivers, and intuit the meaning of each sparkle of sun.

Our job isn’t to correct that, but to nurture it, to preserve it, and perhaps even remember it ourselves.

Cristen Rodgers, meme on Facebook (

The Prompter Room

For Monday, May 2, 2016:


“The art of the word is painting + architecture + music.”

Yevgeny Zamyatin

Two images come immediately to my mind whenever I read this quote.  One is of some of the book covers from the 1940s and ’50s, where Art Deco style and cityscape buildings were the featured style on hardcover dust jackets.  The other is kind of a blend of my mother, her sister, and their parents sitting in front of the long shelves of their family library.

My mother was a musician, my aunt was a watercolorist, my grandfather was an artist and an architect, and my grandmother, also a musician, could recite almost any poem at the drop of a hat and was something of a poet herself.  Mother and Daddy Tom were the two quote-unquote professionals, but all of their family used the arts in every aspect of their daily lives.

The paternal side of my lineage is similar: music and engineering wove in and out of their lives in myriad vocational and avocational directions, and I remember many happy hours reading the volumes and volumes from their bookshelves as well.

So I have an idea, even if through osmosis – and the years of reading the books in their collected libraries – of the three disciplines that make up Zamyatin’s art of the word.  As I’ve said here before, I consider my art and literature heritage a tremendous blessing.  Until I read this particular quote, however, I never really considered how the three facets can come together to make words.

Neither have I felt all that comfortable calling what I do ‘art.’  While I have no trouble calling other writers artists, I had long been hesitant to include myself in that appellation.  I always tried to build effective structures when I wrote, and I always strived to make my words sing or evoke appropriate images in readers’ minds, but art …?  Not so much.  At least not compared to the accomplished artists in my family.

Perhaps, I thought, it’s because the disciplines in writing are less visible to the eye of the beholder.

I should have known better.  I knew firsthand how much the musicians in our family practiced every day, even down to the simplest of scales and vocal warm-ups.  I knew about the regular classes the painters, engineers, and architect had to take, and I saw the progress of their ‘studies’ (the visual art equivalent to writers’ first, second, and third drafts) that filled their drafting tables and easels.  I knew all this, but not everyone is aware of what goes into a polished musical performance or a stunning painting ahead of time and behind the scenes.

Even so, it was not until I was an adult and undertook some art courses of my own, that I realized the similarities between writing – my own, at least – and the other arts.  By then, of course, I had taken all kinds of writing classes, gone to writers’ conferences, and practiced, practiced, practiced, and was encouraged by family and teachers and other writers.  Something finally fell into place, though, and I really saw the erasure marks on painters’ studies and even, sometimes, their eventual final products. I finally realized we had a lot in common.

I know.  Talk about a ‘duh’ moment.  It was embarrassingly long in coming, but it was worth it.  Now I carry all the artists in my family on my shoulders as I pursue my own version of art in the world of words, and I do believe they smile every once in a while and maybe even whisper ‘Welcome to the club.’