This site is named after the drawing on the front cover of the Anthology of American Folk Music, depicting the hand of the Creator tuning the "celestial monochord." Reading up on the origins of the idea of the celestial monochord, I once ran across this passage:
Pythagoras is said to have taught that the universe is put together by means of harmonic laws and so produces, through the motion of the seven planets, rhythm and melody. The very enthusiastic Neo-Pythagorean Iamblichus went so far as to claim that Pythagoras could actually hear the cosmic music inaudible to other mortals. And since all discoveries about the Pythagorean cosmos were dependent on the numerical ratios sounded by a stretched string, or monochord, it was reported by the Neo-Platonic musical theorist Aristides Quintilianus that Pythagoras' dying injunction to his students was “work the monochord.”Work the monochord. I think of this often when this blog feels like way too much work, and I want to quit.
Today, Expecting Rain featured my long posts about the New Lost City Ramblers and Bob Dylan, and it has really done wonders for my site statistics, to say nothing of my resolve to forge ahead! I thank them. Surely, they must be very familiar with the thankless, relentless job of blogging, and I suspect that the long hours of lonesome computer work must be why they chose their name, based on this Dylan lyric:
Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortunetelling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
Editor's Note: The quote about Pythagoras has been very slightly edited for pithiness. You can find the whole thing at the Dictionary of the History of Ideas. "Work the monochord" ... well, you know those ancient Greeks ...