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 []
*epic of gilgamesh
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta []
Lugalbanda I & II
*Dialogue of Pessimism []
_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 []
_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 []
*alcaeus (alcaic meter) []
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.