A Few Choice Words:  Pat Wictor Newsletter, January 8, 2008

======= A Few Choice Words " January 8, 2008===========

By Pat Wictor              Subscribe: https://patwictor.com

                  Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Ever-Present Present and the Seventh Generation

Ears and Eyes: What I'm listening to and reading

     -The Songlines, Jeff Lang, and more

Upcoming Gigs & appearances

     full calendar: https://patwictor.com


The Ever-Present Present and the Seventh Generation

I've been reading the classics, and it's given me a new awareness of history, and the difference between short-term and long-term thinking.  Thucydides, in "The Peloponnesian War," says "I have written my work not...to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time."  He wrote those words 2500 years ago (that is, 125 generations ago).  Things that were created "for all time" are markedly different in quality and function than things created for short-term gain.  In our culture, we are drowning in things made for short-term gain, and must search long and hard for creations intended "for all time."

Americans have always avoided learning from the past ("History is bunk," said Henry Ford), but increasingly we neither look towards the future.  We are adrift in an ever-present present, devoid of history, context, or significance.  "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness," said Alexis de Tocqueville.  Illustrations abound:  Companies like Enron defraud investors for every short-term dollar they can get.  The average citizen saves little or nothing for his/her own retirement, not having thought that far ahead.   And just consider the outcomes of parents making decisions from a short-term perspective.  

What kind of culture is created in this slice of time, without past or future?  Television dominates, especially reality TV.  People are shown in contrived (and often humiliating) situations, without reference to story, character, history--all the elements that used to be considered essential to good entertainment.  And the citizenry itself prefers mediocre reality shows, while scripted programs are canceled.  (My favorite recent casualty was "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," full of witty dialogue and sympathetic characters.  Gone in less than a year.)  Video games, even more empty of real-world context, keep growing in popularity.

In music, there is a growing gulf between "hit songs" (literally designed "to win the applause of the moment") and good songs, the ones that speak to us year after year.  Thank goodness folk music seems to be a cultural exception, connected with history, filled with enduring songs, and good people who keep the long term in mind.  The culture at large could learn a lot from this music, and its communities around the country.

I've done my best to create music and build relationships, personal and professional, from the vantage point of the long-term.  An appetite to keep learning history (both History, and the smaller histories of our own lives) helps me do that.  And, I believe that we all could benefit greatly from a shift away from short-term thinking and towards a long-term outlook.  It would help heal some of the divisions in the country, put our differences in perspective, and better equip us all to make responsible decisions about some of the tasks ahead of us, individually and collectively.

The Iroquois have a concept that major decisions should be evaluated by how they will impact on the next seven generations to come.  Isn't that a marvelous way to re-think our priorities, and the impact of our actions?   I want to invite you to try incorporating the "seventh generation" perspective in your own life, if you haven't already.  I'd be eager to hear how it goes.    Let's let 2008 be the beginning of a longer-term outlook for us all.

P.S. My longtime friend Phil Terry and I run phone-based reading groups of the classics. If you are interested to read the wonderful first historian, Herodotus, in one of our groups this year, then e-mail herodotus@creativegood.com and say you want more information or want to join (it's free).



"The Landmark Thucydides," Robert B. Strassler, ed.   http://tinyurl.com/2on6by

Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America."  http://tinyurl.com/3x7yyn

"The Landmark Herodotus," Robert B. Strassler, ed.  http://tinyurl.com/34gcxx


Ears and Eyes:  What I'm Listening to and Reading:


    Jeff Lang, "Everything Is Still."  http://store.jefflang.org/

    Kelly Joe Phelps, "Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind."  



    Bruce Chatwin, "The Songlines."   http://tinyurl.com/32pbec

    John E. Wills, "1688:  A Global History."  http://tinyurl.com/3y3ly6


Upcoming Pat Wictor gigs and appearances.  

Full calendar details and links:  https://patwictor.com

January 9, The Brokerage Pub, Bellmore, NY  opening for John Hammond

January 11, House Concert, Philadelphia, PA

January 17, The Living Room, New York, NY  w/ Jon Shain

January 18, Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY  w/ Jon Shain

January 19, Watertown Barn Concert, Watertown, CT  

January 26, Landmark on Main Street, Port Washington, NY  w/ Red Molly.

     Percussionist Cheryl Prashker accompanies.

February 1, First Friday Coffeehouse, Martinsburg, WV  

February 2, AtLantis House Concert, Weaverville, NC  w/ Zoe Mulford

February 3, Concert at Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC  w/ Zoe Mulford

February 8, Steel City Coffeehouse, Phoenixville, PA  "Saints & Sinners" w/ Toby Walker

February 9, Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse, White Plains, NY  w/ Joe Crookston

February 15, Minstrel Coffeehouse, Morristown, NJ

February 16, Musical Lairs House Concert, St. Davids, PA  duo show w/ Cheryl Prashker

March 1, Folk Music Society of Huntington, Huntington, NY  Phil Ochs Song Night

March 2, Acoustic Celebration, Ridgefield, CT  Phil Ochs Song Night

March 7, Garden Stage Concerts, Garden City, NY  "Saints & Sinners" w/ Toby Walker

March 8, Shenandoah Coffeehouse, Leesburg, VA

March 9, CoolDog House Concerts, Clayton, DE

March 15, Rose Garden Coffeehouse, Mansfield, MA w/ Mike Morris

March 28, Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse, Dallas, TX  Opening for Eliza Gilkyson

March 29, Jefferson Freedom Cafe, Fort Worth, TX  Opening for Ellis Paul

March 30, Branch Creek Concerts, Farmers Branch, TX  

April 4, Pittsburgh-area House Concert, TBA

April 5, Acoustic Brew, State College, PA  w/ Danielle Miraglia

April 11, Black River Concert Series, Lowville, NY  w/ Jess Klein

April 12, Valley Folk, Elmira, NY  w/ Joe Crookston

More dates being added all the time--check website for updates.

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Until next time:  many thanks, and warm regards,

Pat Wictor


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Buy Pat Wictor's latest CD "Heaven Is So High...And I'm So Far Down" at CD Baby and Subway Records:



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                        contact info



Modern Man's Rob Carlson says, ""He not only is a great guy and a great talent, but I believe he has, follicle for follicle, the best hair in folk music."

If you are interested in booking Pat Wictor, contact McShane Glover:  

tel. 410-268-8232, or mcshane@mcnote.com

Bio: https://patwictor.com and http://www.myspace.com/patwictor

Philly Folk Festival Video: http://www.myspace.com/patwictor

Contact Pat Wictor directly: patwictor@earthlink.net

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