Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chuck Palahniuk - Guts

Oh god, I think I'm gonna be sick. But sometimes, with art, that's a good thing.

A friend sent me this. It's a short story by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club and other novels. It's probably not something you wanna read if you're easily sickened (or if you're at work, or whatever). Very representative of his clever and unique style though. ...And of course there is the shock value. Enjoy.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Psychogeography and the Dérive

Psychogeography is an interesting exploration used by the Situationists. As Guy
Debord defines it: "[psychogeography is] a slightly stuffy term that's been applied to a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities. Psychogeography includes just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape." This can be more interesting and applicable than how this definition makes it sound. This site has a nice introduction and two projects in Paris and New Orleans:


One woman, Jennifer Dumpert, explored (explores?) this concept thoroughly, applying dreams to her landscape, overlaying places with emotions and memories, making them hers, or ours. She makes the space around her more human. This is less philisophical or political than Debord's version. Read:


I haven't explored this too much myself...but it looks like it has a lot of potential.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lucid Dreaming

I'm going to start working on this again, because it's a really good way to learn things about oneself and play out certain future scenarios so you can know what to do in advance. There are a multitude of other benefits, if you do it right. Some people even use it to play out sexual fantasies. Whatever you wanna do, I guess.

For the unfamiliar, lucid dreaming is nothing but dreaming while knowing you are dreaming, hence the "lucid". Thus, if it happens a lot, you can learn to control your dream completely and play out any scenario you want to. Most people I've talked to have experienced this at some point in their lives, but with practice it can be done with frequency and greater control.

I tried doing this a few years ago, but then got distracted by other things. I've wanted to work on it ever since, but never really got around to it. I just found the same exact FAQ/"guide" to lucid dreaming that I was using years ago, and it seems like a really good one. If you're interested, go take a look.

If I reach any success, I'll post. I have a few odd dreamachine experiences I haven't put up yet...

Oh, and over at Erowid there's a good section on dreaming in general (and a mini-section on lucid dreaming). I haven't filtered through it yet, but for the interested: click

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Fundamental Differences of the Natures of Artistic Mediums

All artistic mediums - literature, visual arts, and music - are fundamentally the same. They are all catharses that spiral out of the soul due to a processing of our thoughts and our surroundings into a new product, that is not otherwise functional except for the sake of expulsion and expression. The failure to realize the ubiquity of the artistic mediums has kept many important ideas from amalgamating between mediums. This is due to poverty of thought, or willingness to accept artistic conventions.

However, there are a few fundamental differences that make each medium unique and seperate, and these need to be understood. When they are understood, one can understand how to appropriately translate certain innovations in one to another, how to combine two, and in what scenarios one is advantageous to another. These may be obvious, or obvious but not taken for consideration, or meaningless except in this comparative context. Nowhere have I seen a direct comparison of these characteristics such as this, and I feel it to be a vital consideration.

The fundamental differing features of each medium, and how each is fundamentally viewed as a result are as follows. The mediums are divided and classed somewhat unconventionally, mostly by the number of physical dimensions they act upon and are conceived through.


This includes all expressions through sound - classical music, musique concret, pop music, experimental pieces, and so forth. A better term might be "sound art".

-This is the only form expressed via soundwave, and therefore experienced with the sense of hearing.

-Being an expression via soundwave, music works within the realm of time, and acts upon no dimension of space.

-When a music piece is heard, the listener cannot control how fast or slow they experience the piece, nor the order in which they hear sections of the piece, as they may with a visual, still artwork.

-Being a medium that works within a time frame, it may be considered as, for lack of a better term, a continuous variable. No specific pinpoint of a length of time means anything; it is 0/x, where x is the whole of the time of the work. This would contrast with a discrete variable, where there is a finite set of divisions that each mean something in relation to the whole, each piece being n/x, where 0 < n < x. This contrasts to any still visual works, and in this manner music is similar to any other work within a time frame (film and dance, for example).

-Since the listener has no control over the experience of the work (how fast or slow he or she percieves it, which parts they percieve in what order), the piece itself dominates and forces the listener to percieve the music in a certain way, at a certain rate, in a certain order. However, in some instances, the listener will have control over specific elements of the music; listening to music at home usually enables the listener to alter volume or bass, for example, but these do not alter the work fundamentally.

-Because of this, the one experiencing a musical artwork does not have to put in any effort to experience it. The piece feeds itself to the listener's ear, and the listener hears it whether they want to or not.

-For this reason, those who are uneducated in the arts (usually the masses), tend to be able to have such a great interest in music, and not in, say, painting, because to understand most painting it requires some form of education and a bit of patience to find things (because the prior point is not true of painting).

-And this is why music suffers the most from conventionalized, watered down popular forms of its art, which are collectively known as, in this case, "pop music". However, there is no "pop painting" in the same sense of the term "pop". This is why people tend to assume wrong things about this medium more than others, why it suffers from the most misguided history, and why many people think they are experienced in this medium when they are really not. This is also what makes dealing with music and musicians so frustrating at times. The same could be said of films, except the situation is even worse in that case. With films and music, even many educated people know nothing of the medium except its popular incarnations, and that is a shame. (How many more people know of The Beatles than they do of Pierre Henry?)

-It is easier to experience something in this medium and not have one's attention fully consumed, as is the case of film, or most visual artworks.

Two dimensional, timeless visual arts. This includes anything such as painting, drawing, etching, photography, etc. Depending on the depth, carvings and certain structures may be considered two or three dimensional visual arts (Rauschenberg's Canyon is one such grey area). This does NOT include anything that works within time, such as film. All of these mediums are fundamentally the same, except for choice of material itself. Most of these points contrast with those of music.

-Being an expression of two dimensional, unalterable forms (lacking the last two dimensions of depth and time), it is experienced with the sense of sight, and is created with a wide range of mediums.

-Because of this, points two, four, and five of music do not apply here. The viewer has control over what parts and aspects of the work they experience, in what order, at what rate, and can even control how much time he or she spends on each. Though visual tricks like "focus points" can draw the viewer to observe certain things before others, this is not powerful enough to work all the time.

-The viewer thus has control over his or her experience of the work: it is not being fed to them.

-And because of this, visual arts take patience and often education to understand.

-Therefore, visual arts do not catch onto the masses as easily as music does. There is little "pop art" in the sense that there is "pop music". This contrasts to point six of music.

-Thus, visual still arts do not suffer from many of the negative conventionalizations of music described in point seven of that section. For this reason, too, visual arts of this class are better respected than those that consume the attention of the uncultured masses.

Three dimensional, timeless visual arts. This is essentially sculpture and architecture.

-Almost everything that is relative to two dimensional, timeless visual arts applies here.

-There is the obvious exception that these mediums involve the third dimension, but not yet the fourth of time. (Exceptions are being made - see the note on Alexander Calder under "Grey Areas").

-Architecture has the added element that it can be experienced spatially within and without, and is also functional. This can also be limiting: architecture usually has to conform to new restrictions that sculpture does not. For example, architecture is always functional, and suffers from constraints that smaller structures do not.

Timed visual works. This includes both three and two dimensional forms, as they share all of the characteristics being listed. This includes films, dance, and performances.

-These works are experienced with the sense of sight, and involve all four dimensions (to contrast, music only involves the fourth, and visual timeless arts the first two or three).

-Many require a great number of performers, or both directors and performers (essentially, the one who comes up with the artwork, and those that carry it out). Many of these works are too complicated to be created AND carried out by one person (though many still works, such as architecture, and certain large sculptures suffer from the same constraints). It is very rare the entire process is carried out by one person. This opens up new implications.

-Many of the restrictions of music apply here (two through seven).

-For these reasons, film suffers the most of all media from popular forms, and is best suited for propaganda and forcing the viewer into thinking within the confines of certain conventions. It is therefore also the most connected with money, capitalism, and the idea of success based on popularity and extravagance.

-It suffers even more than music or literature, because it is much more direct, much more attention-consuming and escapist, and requires little patience on the viewer (in its popular forms).

-Many of these mediums require active, live performances by the performers (plays and dance); others do not (films). This is one of the only distinctions between seperate media in this section.

-These works can combine all the other mediums into one, and are unique in this regard.


-These works are experienced with the sense of sight. It consists of speech in written form. Literature is a bit of an odd duck: in a certain sense, it works within the realm of time; in another, it does not. With these distinctions in mind, it is a bit of a cross between the elements of music and those of visual arts. The content itself occupies no dimensions itself except those it envisions and communicates. It is interesting to point out that Foucault considers Don Quixote a dividing link: previously, all literary work was representational; afterwards, mostly imaginatory, creating its own spaces. (See chapter three, part one, of On the Order of Things).

-Along with visual arts, they are one of the most respected forms (music and film may be said to be the least respected, for reasons already described).

-They are experienced within a certain sequence (read in a certain order), like music. However, the pace that a literary piece is experienced is within the control of the viewer. It is generally inappropriate to experience the piece within any order (except, maybe, in the case of cut-up works), though certain sections can be reviewed (as in music, film, still visual arts, but unlike live performances or recordings).

-It takes patience - an active participation by the reader - to experience a literary work, like still visual works. The work is not fed to the reader, as with music or film, and the reader mostly dominates.

-The smallest units, which are sentences, or even words or letters, can be specifically pinpointed, making it discrete (unlike music, which is continuous).

-Literature may thus be considered a cross between the elements of music (and those it shares with film) and those of still visual works.

Grey areas

Due to the innovations of many modern artists, the lines between mediums are being blurred. New genres and forms are being created. They are little understood, and need to be explored in depth. These grey areas make it hard to marginilize many works into the categories above, and may, if their innovations continue developing, smash down the walls of all these categories completely. (See below).

-Fluxus specifically tried to amalgamate different mediums, even creating a few new ones. It is the most radical and innovative of all art movements in this regard. Art has been traditionally conveyed through the senses of vision and hearing only, because they are the strongest senses in human beings, allowing for the most complex forms of communication, and those forms certainly have that advantage. However, Fluxus has dared to create works that involve the senses of smell, taste, and touch. These forms are new and unexplored. These include Takako Saito's Smell Chess, Ay-O's Finger Boxes, or Alison Knowles' Identical Lunch (and some of her other pieces involving food). Since these involve senses that are less strong and direct in human beings, they are less applicable than those that utilize hearing and sight, though are still worth exploring. This also explains their lack of prevalence compared to works that target sight and hearing, and their relative newness.

-Fluxus events and happenings involve the experiencer more, and often escape the limitations of typical timed visual works, such as films, at least to a certain degree. (Duchamp's Erratum Musicale also does this, by allowing the performer to determine the length of each note and the length of each block of silence, but not the notes themselves or their order).

-Many musical works escape some of the limitations described above. For example, Duchamp's Erratum Musicale escapes the second point, and many of Cage's works (and other random, chance, or cut up works) escape four and five.

-Some even more radical works play upon things that are not tangible, such as by having effects on the psychology or body of the individual. Specific sounds have been able to make women orgasm, for example.

-As Foucault explains, Las Meninas plays upon the untangible space between the viewer and the viewed. (See his On the Order of Things, chapter one). This is a space no medium can touch directly, and involves no real dimensions. Visual works, such as film and Renaissance paintings that employ perspective may be said to do the same thing to a lesser degree - they create spaces in which they do not exist.

-Film and performance combine music and vision (all four dimensions, and both main senses). I have even been to a performance that added the sense of smell and touch.

-Alexander Calder's works are not two dimensional films, yet they move; they also involve objects, not people, as performances do. What are they to be considered? He suggested a new term, "mobile". These might fall under a new category after "three dimensional, timeless visual arts" - three dimensional, timed visual arts. In this case, Calder's works operate within a continuous loop, and not in a specific, finite pattern as do musical works. This should be kept in mind.

-"Sound poetry" and literature that is read live borders between music (sound) and written literature, and shares restrictions and elements of each. They may be considered purely musical under our definitions.

These aspects of the nature of each medium or set of media determines:

-How each medium is viewed in a society (for example, music is less respected than painting, for points six and seven under music).

-Which medium is best in a certain scenario, or the best to get a certain experience across.

-Which medium to use based on cost restraints, if that is an issue, though this is generally very workable if one wills it to be.

-How different media can be combined, or borrow ideas from each other (for example, how to translate the idea of "cut ups" to film from literature).

-How each medium is percieved by people, how they may be differently percieved by the educated and uneducated, and why (be it for ignorant reasons or not).

If these innovations listed in "grey areas" continue, eventually the distinctions of all these media will be broken down. New media are emerging to respond to the three ignored senses (smell, taste, and touch) and artists are finding ways to get around the limitations and specific qualities of the others. Others are creating new genres by combining existing ones. Schwitters was an expert at this.

I would see the three new sensory media as diverging into "timed olfactory", "timeless olfactory", and so on and so forth. Eventually, there would be so many categories and combinations of senses and dimensions, art would either be classified on an extremely complex level, or categorization would be broken down completely. Genre names would be descriptions and no longer classifications. However, certain types would still be preferred, no doubt.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Latin Literature

And now I've been moving on to Latin and Hellenistic literature. Same purpose as before. Here's the list so far:

cicero - the orator and others
julius caesar
ovid - art of love and erotic poems
ovid - metamorphoses
pliny the elder
[see bertrand russel's history of western philosophy]
*epictetus - the handbook, or the enchiridion
*marcus aurelius - the meditations
*seneca [http://essays.quotidiana.org/seneca/]
zeno and cleanthes: fragments of [http://www.archive.org/details/thefragmentsofze00zenouoft]

lucretius - on the nature of things

Sextus empiricus [the only skeptic whose works survive] - outlines of pyrrhonism, against the mathmeticians

plotinus - the enneads

*cynicism includes: antisthenes, diogenes, teles [little writing; absorbed by stoicism]
*other stoics include: antiochus, chrysippus, panaetius, posidonius
*for epicureanism, also epicurus
*other skeptics: pyrrho, timon, arcesilaus, carneades, cato, clitomachus, aenesidemus, lucia
Christian new testament
Apocrypha and other non-canonical texts
dead sea scrolls [pengiun classics]

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brain Waves, the Dreamachine, and Music


Brion Gysin's brainchild.

Some general info:

Make your own:

Online Dreamachines:
(Both work well, I might add)


And a brainwave generator. Anyone wanna try it?



"Recently I tried cd's that produce alpha, beta, theta, and delta brain waves (they use wave frequencies and Hertz to help you meditate). I got a very similar result by listening to these. The good ones aren’t music, they are like a 'humming' noise."

Haven't tried 'em, but would like to. Anyone tried, or would recommend any?

I know that parts of Throbbing Gristle's album Heathen Earth are meant to mimic the frequencies of the dreamachine (particularly the first half). There is even a track called "Dreamachine". (The album is supposed to be completely untitled, but when the CD is put into a computer, it comes up with track titles...Title or no title, the track I'm referring to is number five).

I've found that not only does listening to music greatly heighten meditation, use of the dreamachine, and other transcendental experiences - that's a given - but that music that consists of dense blocks of uninterrupted sound seem to work best - musical Rothkos or Newmans, if you will. La Monte Young works great. Lately I've been using a 30 minute track called "Chopped Optigan" from the 11th CD of the LAFMS compilation. I experience strong synesthesia (and therefore experience music differently to a certain degree, I think) so the effect may not be the same to others. (For example, a dense block of sound would also put what I'm visually percieving in the back of my mind as a dense flat block too, since for me sound and vision are connected...if that makes sense). But I get the feeling that the "uninterruptedness", if you will, creates a nice, steady state, blocking out noise from your head and from your surroundings, being dull enough to not catch your attention (and for me, blocking out the synesthesia as well). Gaps, beats, and sections of silence will draw my attention away from what I'm focusing on and to the music itself.
Music with steady, rhythmic beats works well too, but not as well as these "musical Rothkos". Lately I've been using the track "Western Mantra" by Cabaret Voltaire - for some reason, it works well for me. I would imagine Brian Eno (his ambient stuff, of course) would work great too, or works by Steve Reich.

Using the dreamachine in combination with meditation seems to work better than either individually for me, and I'm going to start practicing with this now. Someone (I think it may have been Gysin himself) explained with a certain degree of seriousness that the dreamachine gives exactly the same state as meditation does, without the work. That I'm not sure I can agree on, as to me they're a bit different. The dreamachine involves more CEV's, for one, and the very fact that meditation takes practice reveals another reward that dreamachine use does not offer - discipline of mind, which to me is becoming very valuable.

I remember reading once (again, I wish I could remember where!) that repeated use of the dreamachine could result in 360 degree vision (while the eyes were closed and using the dreamachine). Talk about cool, but how possible is that? Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vast Literary Self-Fulfillment

I hold the following maxim very dearly: The best way to reach fulfillment, or to influence your surroundings, is to know WHAT HAS HAPPENED and WHAT PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY DONE, take their successes, and ask yourself where to go from there. It is a secondary or tertiary cycle of the machine. I believe knowledge to be my only saviour (metaphorically, of course), and it to be vital for every man and woman to garner as much of it as possible. And this all fits in with my treatment of literature and other forms of creativity.

But then, isn't that what locales is all about?

In response to this long-held revelation, I have thus began the following self-instituted program.

I am attempting to read the major works of as many regions and past eras as I can, and as many obscure, deserving works as I can uncover as well. (Anyone who was a visitor of Direct-Waves knows that many of the best and most precious artifacts are those that are the most hidden). For example, I spent some time reading as many Greek and Mesopotamian works as I could - the birth of literature in Eurasia. Currently I'm on Latin literature, and as my time frees up, I'll have more and more time to fulfill this goal. I have gone so far as to make lists of works I feel I should come into contact with, and I will reveal some of these for the fulfillment of others and myself, whether this fulfillment is interactive or otherwise.

Any ignorance of the so-called classics is not embarrassing as long as those gaps are subsequentially filled. I had not, for example, read any Plato until about six months ago, but I also read works from the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, Plotinus, and others, so I can fit his ideas neatly in place with the grand scheme of things, and thus attain the greatest fulfillment from them. It is better to admit these ignorances and fill them in than to simply accept ignorance as inevitable, whether you and I are ignorant because we had a poor education, we were naive, or simply stagnant. I see far too many people that accept the fact that they know nothing about a certain subject, and do absolutely nothing about it. I was once one of these people.

The average man would find this daunting, if not foolish or worthless. Many would also wonder why I bother taking such a linear, academic approach to what seems so personal a matter. And then upon this realization I feel even more alien in my driving approach to these kinds of things. But that is fine.

As I said, I started at the very beginning. Here are my rough lists for a few sections.This all comes from my notes, so it isn't supposed to be definite.


Enheduanna [The first known writer]
*enuma elish [http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/enuma.htm]
*epic of gilgamesh
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta [http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/myths/texts/classic/enmerkaratta.htm]
Lugalbanda I & II
*Dialogue of Pessimism [http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/myths/texts/classic/dialoguepessimism.htm]
_I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (Poem of the Righteous Sufferer or the Babylonian Job)
_Esagil-kin-apli - Diagnostic Handbook
_poor man of nippur [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Man_of_Nippur]
_The Theodicy
lament for ur
code of hammurabi
Code of Ur-Nammu [Assyriologists have given the name of Code of Ur-Nammu to a literary monument that is the oldest known example of a genre extending through the Code of Lipit-Ishtar in Sumerian to the Code of Hammurabi, written in Akkadian. ... It is a collection of sentences or verdicts mostly following the pattern of "If A [assumption], it follows that B [legal consequence]."] - My note: compare to the Dialogue of Pessimism.
the tanakh (old testament)


pyramid texts
book of the dead
memphite theology on the shabaka stone
instruction of hardjedef
instruction of kagemni
instruction of ptahhotep
Admonitions of Ipuwer
story of sinuhe
westcar papyrus
tale of the shipwrecked sailor
Papyrus Harris 500
Instruction of Ani
Instruction of Amenemope
Tale of Two Brothers
Truth and Falsehood
story of wenamun


*mythology - edith hamilton
*Homer - Iliad
*Homer - Odyssey
Apollonius of Rhodes - Argonautica
Hesiod - Theogony, Works and Days
*Sappho [http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sappho/index.htm]
*alcaeus (alcaic meter) [http://mkatz.web.wesleyan.edu/Images2/cciv243.Alcaeus.html]
theocritus (bucolic meter/pastorals)
*aeschylus - prometheus bound, agamemnon
*sophocles - oedipus the king, antigone
*euripides - alcestis, medea
*aristophanes - the frogs
*pre-socratics (thales to anaxagoras)
homeric hymns

The idea is to get a broad understanding of things that have always been withheld from me, because of personal misgivings, gaps or prejudices in profressional knowledge (for example, "the only important poets of genre x are a, b, and c") or a poor environment.

(And also, let me note that the idea of a "classic" can fall apart very easily with proper reasoning, but that is a matter for a different day).

Just remember: every LOCALE, every mindbomb, every shining light of knowledge is right there, within grasp. Only personal limitations keep us from exploring the realm of intellect out there. I for the longest time restricted myself from certain sectors of literature and thought because I felt they were too vast or I was too inferior. When I finally tried, I proved myself wrong. As cliche as it may sound, no one, with adequate work, can ever not do anything, or conquer any sector of what is knowable. It took me so long to realize this - probably too long.

On the Uses of Literature

I have come to reject the way books are typically treated. I grew up feeling like I had to read and approach literature and even nonfiction a certain way, and that was it. I've come more and more to dislike this way, how to use it, and what to get out of it. Years of reflecting have made me ultimately become revulsed by this attitude, though my revulsion for the way people view other mediums, such as music and film is even greater. But that is a topic for a different day.

A big source of discomfort and irritation for me when I study works of any kind is that people conventionalize different forms of creativity. Books are this way, and paintings are this way, and rock music is another way, and dancing is certainly this way, and they all fit a certain place, and clearly occupy different realms and are inspired by different sources of creativity. Or so I have always been taught - and that is where my revulsion has its roots. People do not understand that every medium is exactly the same thing, comes from the same source, and has the same function. A poem and a painting and a composition are all the same. I cannot stress this enough. They are all creative expulsions from the soul; the most beautiful and honest form of catharsis a human being can experience. They are all products in a great machine: we pick up information with our senses, modify it with reason and emotion (often conflicting), package, read, and alter it and change our behavior accordingly. The purpose of this is twofold: it is a reiteration of our situation (a commentary on the human condition, to formalize), or to some way alter or effect it. And it is in this regard that all creative mediums are exactly the same. However, people give some more worth than others, or attribute certain qualities to some they do not think exist in others...which is an extremely poor way of treating these things. I will not get into the details of these discrepencies of popular thought, but if you reflect you will understand what I mean.

And so it can be said that every book, poem, or other literary work is just as artistic as a visual work, just as rhythmic as a musical one, and certainly on par in worth with either. And like all creative works, every literary work is its own sequence of LOCALES. I do not read books merely for pleasure. And this is where my approach differs. My approach may be different, but it is not all that odd, as it is the most reasonable and valuable way to use a work of any kind that I can fathom. In a literary work, every paragraph, let alone every single sentence is its own little locale, its own mindbomb, its own intellectual atom ready to be split. My process of reading books is quite simple. I read, I process, I analyze. I mark every sentence - every locale - I find worthwhile. And then I go back and take notes when I'm done. I keep copius, obsessively organized notes of all my thoughts and all the things I read. Long, long lists of just thoughts - locales - that can be central to a thousand different essays, or applied directly to life. When I write, I can then go back and pull everything I need from any source I've read. Every book I have is marked through with ink. I have no qualms with this because books are simply vessels for more important ideas, and ideas are more easily manipulated in this direct manner than by simple reading. Yes, this process is time consuming. But it's worthwhile. (If you will notice, for example, my post about 20 Jazz Funk Greats is really just a tidying up of a section of my notes on that book. It is not a review, nor a summary, nor a commentary. It is the most important set of locales I found from that book.) Note also that locales can be things that are not main ideas or arguments, as a typical English course would have you to believe about every poem you've ever read.

As such, I get as much as I can from everything I come across.

The best thing anyone can do for previous authors and artists is to synthesize what they can from their work, get something out of it on a personal level, and then use what they've just discovered in the best way possible - meaning you must, if you agree with it, apply it directly to yourself or your surroundings. Any Enlightenment writer did not mean for us to walk away without reflecting on the powers above us, if not directly altering them!

And so, I declare: Written works, or any works for that matter, are no longer artifacts for their time, a record of people and how they work and respond to their surroundings. They are that, but so much more. They are LIVING ideas that are up for the taking if only you will just reach for them. Even some of the most educated people never get anything out of what are called "classics" because they don't approach them properly. People aren't willing to wake up and apply what they experience through these works to themselves or their societies, and that is an utter shame. Thoreau, Fitzgerald, and Eliot did not write merely to provide fodder for your English class! Their ideas go to waste when you accept them as bits of junk from a long-gone era. Become a senator, and apply some Voltaire to your government. When you are angry, raise a riot on Rousseau's principles. Live like a minimalist off Lao Tzu's words.

And that is that. It would seem utterly simple, and it is, yet so many people get bogged down by the quagmire of how teachers, the media, and ultimately fellow citizens want you to approach things. I feel almost exasperated to make such a point of these things, because to me they come so simply, so easily, yet for others that doesn't seem to be the case. I am sometimes so alone when I cry such things. This only means I am either extremely foolish, or one of the few people with any sense of drive anymore. I continue to hope it is the latter.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Was a Mute

On Friday I was silent the entire day. I didn't speak for 24 hours.

My original intent was to protest the mistreatment of homosexual and transgender teenagers. It was successful. It brought the matter to quite a few people's attention.

A friend and I decided to keep going without talking for 24 hours, even when we were out of public and any possibility of having an impact on the aforementioned issue. It became a personal experiment. I had willfully become mute, and I wanted to see what it was like to live as if I were mute for one day.

It was certainly enlightening.

It isn't just that it is difficult to communicate without speech. That is a given. Truly knowing the extent, however, is less easy to assume. By revoking the act of speech - something so integral to human-to-human communication - you become trapped, shut off, and locked inside your own head, just a spectator of the outside world. The actor reverts to being a mere audience member. Other modes of communication are too innefficient to offer any real benefit, and you are at a severe disadvantage. You cannot mutter even a few words to yourself in a moment on stress! Willingly holding something so dear (and so taken for granted) away, you essentially find yourself enduring a trial of masochism, as well as form of self-conditioning and discipline. Don't talk! Don't even say hello. All you can do is wave; you, being merely an observer behind the window panes of the eyes, can only knock or gesture to direct people this way or that. The skull, after all, is soundproof. You can scream as much as you want within the confines of your own head, but no one will ever hear you. How appropriate an allegory for the oppressed.

Taking this idea further, I want to attempt to be blind or deaf (or both) for a whole day, sometime within the next few months. It is an analogous form of the masochistic conditioning of what I did yesterday. It is a way to learn things about yourself, how you communicate, and how you interact with the world around you. If nothing else, it certainly produces a form of empathy for people who actually are mute, deaf, and so forth.

Could you imagine never speaking? For those who came from Direct-Waves (and other big music fans) - could you imagine never hearing your favorite records again?

Monday, April 21, 2008

33 1/3: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (a few notes)

Yeah. The Throbbing Gristle album. Someone wrote a whole book on it. Which, if you're a TG fanatic, you know of by now (it's been out for a few months).

The book reviews the whole album, piece by piece, from cover art, release, to each track. And, my god. I knew TG were brilliant before, but the amount of thoughtful subversion that went into each and every track is simply amazing. An album I previously found mediocre in the Gristle ouevre is now, in my mind, perhaps their most brilliant. Beneath the simple beats of each track is much more than distorted pop, funk, jazz, or exotica: it is its own perverse and subverse mindbomb - it's own LOCALE, if you will.

What seems to be a quaint, somewhat cheesey cover happens to be the location of a suicide spot. Seemingly half-assed attempts at jazz, techno, rock and other conventionalized genres are really clever, undercover mockeries of such popular modes of expression. Rife with odd references to Mesopotamian goddesses, Polanski films, Margaret Thatcher, the industrial workplace, and so forth - the album is all over the place. And the lyrics for Six Six Sixties? They're cryptic messages recieved by Gen from a spirit calling himself "Mebar". Hot on the Heels of Love is a dangerous flirt with what may be one of the first true examples of techno music. And so on and so forth. Ah...I really can't explain how fascinating some of this stuff is in a few quick paragraphs; this just glosses over the obvious. Each song has its own charm, as do the numerous diversions into other social, political, philosophical, musical and even magical territory.


Of particular interest:

C&C explain that the track Still Walking is much like (what it seems to me) a spoken version of the Surrealist exquisite corpse, in which two people are having a conversation with a seperate person in their head, and, taking turns, fire off consecutive phrases to create a new, hidden conversation, analogous in manner to the cadavre exquis and analogous in purpose to the cut-up. Once the lyrical text has been completed, each member of the band recites the text - so it is being heard four times, from four people. The purpose, as Gen describes, lies in the fact that "an overlay of multiple streams of information produces a new space that is not merely additive", and compares it to a musical form of a cabalistic square (with its four sides). Possibly the most interesting song on the whole album. Music like this is fascinating - that which can go beyond being merely sound, and can affect people by doing more than simply relaying audible information, or working on a certain emotion - music that can affect brainwaves, become magical, or, as Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound once suggested, could elicit violent reactions such as vomiting or orgasm in the listener. Or, perhaps, one might even call for music that causes physical pain. That is, music that affects "a new space that is not merely additive" - music which goes above and beyond. (This is something I've tried to target in my own music at times). Why resort to a traditional mode of expression, when you can target someone at the gut, the genitalia, or even invoke the world of the spiritual?

Hot on the Heels of Love, being a proto-techno song, is, as Cosey (if I remember correctly) describes as an "attempt to combine the systems music of riley and reich" with trance music. Hot on the Heels of Love is also described as a "mini-eternity", a "momentary illusion of an infinite horizon, a smooth plateau peirced by the transient spike of each momentary kick drum, sprindled upon the beat but spiraling outward in all directions". The author adds, "thankfully, help from above never arrives". Nice.

Gen remarks of his own writing, "I was exploring options, trying to take the lyric to the final level after the VU, where the lyric could be journalistic and anecdotal (think slug bait!), with lou reed using the...Factory and the downtown underground scene as his source...everything is fair game for the lyric." Also,

"It's the job of the artist to reflect their times and...illuminate some of the dark shadow side of society's guilt and fear, and expose that for the hypocrisy and danger that it represents." ... Gen was (unlike Whitehouse, as he makes clear), "trying to discuss motives, the dynamic of how people behave, because...I believe that human behavior is the key to change, to evolution. If we don't behave differently, we're doomed. Art has to ultimately deal with issues of human behavior, and why we behave in ways that are counterproductive, cruel, desctuctive, aggressive. Why is it that we keep falling back into the same loops, damaging ourselves, when anyone...knows that pain and violence are not good? That's what I want to find out: Why? Why do people keep repeating this aberrent behavior? Why are people titillated and stimulated by second-hand descriptions of other people's aberrent behavior? ... If we can find out what that is, what that story is, that has stopped us from evolving with our technology, then maybe...we can finally let go of our prehistoric behavior and actually become a species that we can truly be proud of when we look at ourselves."

And also, "It's obviously my responsibility as a writer to propose some escapes, some alternatives." Gen explains that 2nd Annual Report was supposed representative of "here's the problem", and 3rd Annual Report explains the severity of it (it even goes down to personal relationships, as with Weeping), and 20 Jazz Funk Greats represents "some escapes, some alternatives". Just what those alternatives are is not so clear.

Noteworthy for anyone interested in permutation, cut-ups, or musical repetition, Gen notes, drawing on Burroughs and Gysin, that "by the repetition of certain phrases, there is a subvocal resonance of meaning that is inarticulable with straightforward language. It exists in the actual act of repetition rather than in the linear sense of meaning." He also reiterates Burroughs theory of Language as a Virus, going into an interesting discussion of how he believes language to be literally alive, among other things. (I happen to be reading a Crowley book right now where he discusses much the same thing - no doubt this is where Gen draws this from). A sample of that discussion:

DREW: "So with the repitition of phrases you push the cadence toward hidden associations, and...the repetitions stack up for the listener, they become hungry for new information, and so they try to hear something new even in the repetition of the "same" phrase?"

GEN: "All words are alive, in a literal sense...They have the ability to create and pressure people to bend and manifest the agendas of those very words. Certain words are vying to control the direction of what you write. They work a bit like the gene strands of DNA. " [shades of burroughs]

DREW: "We are all in the prison house of language?"

GEN: "Tape recorded loops. As Burroughs asked: in a pre-recorded universe, who made the first recording?...Words are trying to push me to reveal or hide, to camouflage certain things that need to be discussed. I'm always looking for ways to trap words in little games so that their particular agendas are confounded and something that's a little closer to the real story of what is happening comes through."


There's all kinds of great stuff you can pull from the ideas expressed in this book (or, rather, the album itself). These are just a few particular parts that caught my interest. This is no review, and certainly no summary; it is merely the isolation of certain ideas that may otherwise be overlooked as unimportant. For the TG fan, it's essential. For anyone else, it's highly intriguing - bursting will all sorts of radiant implications, each song, and each discussion, is its own set of LOCALES. Right?