Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sri Aurobindo had great respect for Walt Whitman

Whitman's work eventually gained enormous popularity in the West, but it was applauded first by Eastern minds. Sri Aurobindo had great respect for Walt Whitman and extolled him in his essay, Future Poetry. Tagore admired him and even translated one of his poems. Swami Vivekananda paid tribute to Whitman as a "spiritual genius." George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Whitman is a classic. Curious that America should be the only country in which this is not as obvious as the sun in the heavens."
O.K. Nambiar again provides a Hindu perspective: "It is a curious fact that the Hindu mind has shown an instant capacity for responsive incandescence when brought into contact with Whitman's works. I remember one occasion when I read out passages from Leaves of Grass and translated them for the benefit of a Brahman pundit. The pundit's eyes lit up with a flash of recognition, and he exclaimed from time to time: 'He is a realized soul.' 'That is the cream of Vedanta' 'Those are signs of Bhava Samadhi.'" Posted by A at 9:58 AM

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I often find that it works to turn things upside-down

RL: Freud defines anxiety as the product of intrapsychical conflict. Skinner defines it as a learned behavior. In Zen philosophy, anxiety is an evil to be removed. Heidegger, on the other hand, defines anxiety as ontological, in that it tells us about our humanness. It is for him not a by-product or a learned behavior‹or something to be avoided. To which of these definitions do you most closely subscribe?
WP: Check Heidegger. I would agree with him that we do a lot better treating anxiety (some forms, at least) as a kind of beckoning of the self to a self rather than as a symptom of illness. This is why in writing novels I often find that it works to turn things upside-down and to set forth a character (say, a woman with severe free-floating anxiety) as more interesting, more hopeful, possessing greater possibilities than, say, another perfectly adjusted symptom-free woman. To say this is to say a good deal more than that illness is more interesting than health.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Homer or Stephen King, Sri Aurobindo or Isabel Allende

Armchair Travel Friday, May 25, 2007 Another Fan of the Blind Greek Guy
James O'Reilly, cofounder of Travelers' Tales feels the same way I do about books. Here's an excerpt from his website:
"To James O'Reilly, books are as important as water, air, and food.
He writes: 'I would be a sad fellow indeed without them, and this has been true for as long as I can remember. They are as rivers flowing through a universal mind that doesn't know the bounds of time. I can be with the dead as easily as the living— Homer or Stephen King, Sri Aurobindo or Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner or Jan Morris, Mary Shelley or Redmond O'Hanlon.
Books are the aqua vita of the spirit; they form a kind of background radiation against which I measure my life and my endeavors. They buck me up when I'm down, inspire me out of torpor, galvanize me when I am ready to walk the fire.'" Stephen Hartshorne 2:05 PM

Friday, May 25, 2007

The idea of collage drives my mixes

Deleuze/Guattari: Remix Culture, Paul D. Miller Interviews Carlo Simula in Music, Theory, Album/CD/DVD Covers, Remix Culture, Interview, Hip Hop, History, DJ Culture, Criticism Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 Trackback Image source: Dusty Groove Text source: and November 20, 2005 The following is an interview with Carlo Simula for his book MILLESUONI. OMAGGIO A DELEUZE E GUATTARI (Cronopio Edizioni)
2) I see many analogies between your work and Deleuze and Guattari’s, especially when they talk about the “concept” as a way to define the world, defining it as an “event.” The production of a concept is therefore the way philosophy builds the understanding of the real world. It seems to me that in Rhythm Science you talk a lot about sampling and the figure of the DJ as a manipulator of images, sounds, technologies used to create, exactly, “concepts.” What do you think about it?
One of my favorite books of the last several years, African Philosophy: An Anthology edited by Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, explores this kind of thing: how do we re-map the scripted territories of Eurocentric thought to create new tools, new ways of thinking about the multi-plex scenario any idealist will find at the end of any investigation of philosophy in the 21st century.
  • For Deleuze and Guattari, and for me, the idea is always an “event” - it presupposes a kind of frame of reference that closes one action and starts another - they overlap and blur.
  • For me “sampling” is the same thing: thought event, sound event. Computers generate algorithms that create tableaux of continuous uncertainty - the screen is not a locked space.
  • My work asks about how the networks of creativity that we have inherited from the “bricks and mortar” world of the 20th century, have imploded, evolved and accelerated the “im-material” networks of the frequencies, fiber optic networks, and mathematically driven world of the 21st century. That’s the real “dematerialization of the art object” - it becomes patterns meshed, working between the spaces of pre-scripted behavior.

My book Rhythm Science looked at foundations of contemporary thinking from the viewpoint of “how do we make art out of patterns of culture?” It was meant to ask more questions, not offer answers to contexts that are continually changing. The landscape of contemporary digital media is undefined. Anything that tells you it is “defined” is pretty much making a false observation. The undefined defined?

Heraclitus said something like this years ago - dj culture tells us it has become the way we organize information in a media ecology of unstable subjectivity. My take on this is basically “pro-active” - for me, music is all about creating tools for thinking - about giving people systems to organize information outside of the European categories of “rationality” and “universal subjectivity” that drove the Enlightenment. That is what I learned from them. Abstraction is the ultimate weapon. Multiculturalism is the ultimate destabilizing category because, like sampling, it can absorb anything. It defies limits, and posits “the subject” as an imploded category - one that is, and always has been, basically a construct.

What other constructs - the nation state, the idea of the “self” etc - are linked to this category that is slowly being pulled apart by the centrifugal forces of digital media? Deleuze and Guattari give us tools to think about this kind of stuff - they posit these as fictions holding together other fictions. The mirror is held up to another mirror, and we can see an infinite corridor in either direction. I kind of want to break the mirror. Warhol’s “From A to B and Back Again” drifted as word dust through the fiber optic cables and satellite transmissions of a world of invisible meshworks. Stuff like that.

3) Among other things the cd inside the book Rhythm Science is a concentrated “improvisation” of the Subrosa archive, a label which more than others promoted a certain genre of music connected to art.. It reminded me, with the proper differences, John Oswald’s “Greyfolded”, where he ends up building a version of Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” from hundreds of live versions. Thoughts?
The “fold” is about involution - it’s about taking multiple perspectives on an event - just like the “break” in hip-hop, it’s the break beat, the broken fragment of time recorded on the sample that gives the “flow” of discourse its meaning in this context. In dj culture, you create structure from sequences. My style is the sound track to urban sprawl. It’s my way to look at compositional strategy in the era of digital media.
My favorite photographer, Etienne Jules Maret’s “stop motion photography” alludes to this kind of thing. The fragment is greater than the interpretation of Deleuze and Guattari was about, and if you look at John Cage’s idea of “indeterminancy” and it’s relationship to turntables - the concept fits solidly. Composers have been using the “fold” for many centuries - the main issue is that they haven’t had the tools to describe the process. D&G gave us those tools - I guess I look more to stuff like Grand Master Flash’s “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel,” Steinski and Double D’s “Hip-hop Lessons” than John Oswald, but we’re both driven by the same concept. The idea of collage drives my mixes - that’s the point.
Contemporary art - art that explores the economies of scale that software allows us to explore - points to the idea of the “input-output” schemata that Delueze and Guattari talked about with their concept of the body without organs. I think it’s a good analogy. I really want to set music up as a platform - I want to make sure to remind people, that yes, I’m an artist… It’s really weird how much people are set against the idea of existing in multiple contexts. Mono-reality… something like that. It’s boring. Again, the D & G connection about multiple situations occurring simultaneously - reflects the “post post modern” scenario - it’s not about “deconstruction,” but reconstruction - of building a new vision of how we can live and think in the info ecology we’ve built for ourselves. And so on, and so on, and so on…

The gothic and the ghost story

At the end of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe attempts to politicize Poe's achievements. Critics have rightly focused on her adroit mixing of popular antebellum genres to account for the success of her novel--drawing everything from the novel of sentiment to the slave narrative, Stowe attempts to make her readers feel the evils and injustices of slavery, not just understand them conceptually. I haven't read enough Stowe criticism to see if scholars have been paying attention to her use of the gothic and the ghost story, but it is crucial to her novel's mediation of Enlightenment and Christian attacks on slavery--her linking of appeals to violations of rights to life, liberty, and property to the notions that slavery is a sin and that true Christians can neither hold slaves nor tolerate the existence of slavery.
When Cassy and Emmeline conspire to manipulate Simon Legree into believing the garret in his mansion is haunted by the spirit of a slave woman he tortured, raped, and killed, they are participating in one of the classic conventions of the explained Gothic--but instead of the vulnerable protagonist being tormented by a conspiracy out to make her believe she is being haunted, here the vulnerable female slaves are the ones who are protecting themselves by making the garret the safest place for them to hide from the slave catchers trying to hunt them down after they are seen trying to escape the plantation.
Stowe takes us behind the scenes to see how Cassy stages all the supposedly supernatural events that heighten Legree's guilt, horror, and fear--this is the explained Gothic with a vengeance--and asserts that it is Legree's atheism that makes him particularly susceptible to her manipulations. In so doing, she echoes Poe's language--and provides some imagery that Dickinson may well be responding to in her Civil War-era poem #670 (the revolver that is no protection against spirits, the locked door that is no protection against your own internal haunting)--in a way that mixes their philosophical and psychological emphases with her own social and political projects.
Cassy's staging of an "authentic ghost story," as one late chapter title proclaims it to be, enables her and Emmeline to escape the fate of the tortured and murdered slave woman--and the martyrdom of Uncle Tom by Legree that is framed by the narrative of their escape--even as it shows the consequences on Legree of his own actions. Stowe's hauntings emphasize the horrors of slavery and install the metaphor of the slaveholder haunted by his sins and the nation haunted by the peculiar institution... The Constructivist : 5:57 AM

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where the material transcends itself and ceases to be material

Tue 15 May 2007 Music to My Ears Posted by larvalsubjects
Lars and company have invited me to speak at Newcastle University in the UK for the 3rd Symposium in the Music, Philosophy and Vernacular series in November. I suppose I’ll finally have to get a passport now and come up with something to say about music from a suitably hip continental perspective. Actually I’ve been wishing to discuss the symptomatic role that music plays in Plato’s Republic and up through the writings of Augustine and Plotinus for some time now, as there music seems to occupy an odd position between the fallen material world and the world of logos or the intellect.
Music, in this view, inhabits the edge of materiality or that point of materiality where the material transcends itself and ceases to be material. Not only is music the most mathematical of all the arts, but it is that art that is least attached to the five senses due to the unique temporal structure that renders a musical refrain simultaneously something that unfolds in time while nonetheless being a unity with itself that can only be grasped through operations of thought. As such, the musical requires an operation of the intellect to be grasped or a movement beyond appearances. It will be recalled that Plato, in the Phaedo, will argue that all philosophy is a preparation for death and that the philosopher lives his life as if he were already dead.
By this Plato is referring to the necessity of cultivating the soul through a purification of the soul that separates it from the body, where the body refers to anything having to do with the sensations and the passions. This will lead to elaborate discussions of what sort of music and poetry is permissible in the Republic, and a categorical rejection of certain rhythms and the flute due to the manner in which these meters and instruments excite the passions and incite a sort of madness. Augustine will later make similar points about music, discerning the study of certain musical structures and grammatical patterns as a necessary stage in the cultivation of the soul that separates it from the body.
You didn’t think Catholic church services were so somber and boring because the early founders of the church lived in boring times, did you? Of course these are only vague thoughts and I’m not sure what the cash value of all this would be. The question would be one of pushing past this dualistic tradition and discerning, in this strange relation to music, a symptom that both belongs to a certain metaphysics and upsets that metaphysics. I’ll have to wait and see what the actual theme of the series will be this year. It appears I need to send Lars, the Newcastle staff, and the students even more love letters than I already do. Perhaps Anthony will stop being angry with me and we can share a pint. I’m both tremendously excited and honored. It’s nice to be appreciated. Especially when it isn’t deserved.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri Award for Distinguished Service

Sarod Great Ali Akbar Khan Honored by California Institute
By LISA TSERING India-West Staff Reporter Friday, May 11, 2007
SAUSALITO, Calif. - After a lifetime dedicating himself to music, Ali Akbar Khan has racked up some impressive credentials. The sarod maestro, now 85, has earned India's Padma Vibhushan, a MacArthur genius grant, several Grammy nominations and the National Endowment for the Arts' prestigious National Heritage Fellowship.
But he said he was especially touched by an honor he received recently from the California Institute of Integral Studies. "Your love and feeling for me is so wonderful," the frail artist whispered into a microphone to a warmly appreciative crowd after being named the recipient of the Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri Award for Distinguished Service at the annual banquet of the California Institute of Integral Studies held April 28 at Gaylord India restaurant.
Khan, a Kolkata native who settled in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1965 and founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967, "embodies the sound of the sarod," said CIIS president Joseph Subbiondo in his opening remarks. Khan's achievements, he said, mirror the school's mission as laid out by the Chaudhuris, founders of the CIIS, who sought to "integrate higher values of East and West."
Chosen for the honor because of his work nurturing and fostering a worldwide appreciation of Indian music, Khan is a noted composer and teacher as well as instrumentalist.Born in 1922, he started his musical training at age three at the feet of his father, the virtuoso Padma Vibhushan Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan. Trained by his father in vocal music as well as several instruments, Khan later settled on the sarod, giving his first public performance at the age of 13 in Allahabad. Khan (who hails from the gharana founded by the great 16th century musician Mian Tansen) became the court musician for the royal family of Jodhpur before becoming one of the first Indian professional musicians to perform in the United States, making his U.S. debut in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
For over 20 years, Khan practiced 18 hours a day and always held the utmost respect for his illustrious father. He has often said that of all the honors he has won, it was the one bestowed by his father and guru, "Swara Samrat," or emperor of melody, that made him most proud.
So it was not surprising that Khan evoked his famous father in his comments receiving the award. "He taught many, many students," said Khan in a soft voice. "He wanted everyone to be happy." Khan, who is known for blending spiritual lessons in with his music tuition, referred to "Nad Brahma," or the Vedic idea of the sacred vibrational current of one's essence, with the comment: "I request that to make your life happy, you need to have awareness of Nad Brahma."
The evening was marked with sincere comments of appreciation from Prasad Vepa, the CIIS's chair of the board of trustees; Margy Boyd, CIIS trustee; Dr. Rina Sircar, a longtime CIIS faculty member who sang a touching invocation; and two talented youths - Gaayatri Kaundinya and Ram Kaundinya - who performed a song to Khan that left the audience rapt.
The late Haridas Chaudhuri, a philosopher, educator, and humanist from West Bengal who was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, founded the CIIS in 1968. An accredited institution of higher education, the CIIS expands the boundaries of traditional degree programs with specializations in psychology, philosophy, religion, cultural anthropology, transformative learning and leadership, integrative health, and the arts. His wife, Bina, carried on his work until her death last December, creating a void that lent a melancholy air to the gathering, leading Subbiondo to suggest a moment of silence before the festivities began. :by indiawest