A META-CONTEXT TO CHEW
This is an excerpt from my February 2000, Positive Feedback article
THE RETURN OF THE GIFTED DUMB BRUTE
I will start, at the most obvious place, by using a quote by Aaron Copland about the gift and art of listening.....
"Listening is a talent, and like any other talent or gift, we possess it in varying degrees. I have found among music-lovers a marked tendency to underestimate and mistrust this talent, rather than to overestimate it. The reasons for these feelings of inferiority are difficult to determine. Since there is no reliable way of measuring the gift of listening, there is no reliable way of reassuring those misjudge themselves......The gifted listener.... without theories and without preconceived notions of what music ought to be, he lends himself as a sentient human being to the power of music. What often surprises me is the basically primal nature of this relationship. From self-observation and from observing audience reaction I would be inclined to say that we all listen on an elementary plane of musical consciousness. I was startled to find this curious phrase in Santayana concerning music: "the most abstract of arts," he remarks, "serves the dumbest emotions." Yes, I like this idea that we respond to music from a primal and almost brutish level- dumbly, as it were, for on that level we are firmly grounded....That is fundamentally the way we all hear music-gifted and ungifted alike-and all the analytical, historical, textural material on or about the music heard, interesting though it may be, cannot---and I venture to say should not---alter that fundamental relationship."
Never confuse the ownership of audio gizmos with listening talent. Never confuse the lowest level of musical experience, analysis, with the capacity to surrender to the music, to become it. My old psycho-analyst Hal, used to remind me.."Men analyze to avoid feeling".
How do we get the public into deeper and dumber levels of music pleasure? How about reviews about musical beers? Shouldnt Stereophile or Ultimate Audio be doing critical review of massage oils? Should journalist describe their favorite pagan music rituals, rather than listing their mounds of reference equipment? What is the best way to scratch your butt when listening to music? Are there ways of farting, belching, or lice picking that enhance the music experience? What about snacks? Any suggestions?
"MUSIC, DONT JUST LISTEN TO IT, EAT IT"
Anything worthwhile is worth eating, is an obvious truism about life, and the above is The Triode Guilds new slogan, because if you are just listening to music, you have missed the point. Music is food and is meant to be eaten. Our passions are our nourishment, have been, always will be. Feeding our bodies is cool, but if we dont feed our souls we die of spiritual malnutrition or become a twisted evil violent animal. Music is food for the soul and the quality of food we eat is important, because WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. Eat junk food or junk music, and our soul turns to junk. Eat quality food and quality music and our souls fly... you know these truths to be self- evident.
Does this mean that we are cannibals at heart? Yes, humans were cannibals for most of our four million year evolution, and we finally stopped eating each other, as a source of protein, about 40,000 years ago, probably because human flesh causes really wicked flatulence, and that can be lethal in caves, especially if you are sitting near the fire. The thing that shocked the Spanish Conquistadors, when they swooped down over Mexico in the 16th century, was how widespread Aztec cannibalism was, with hundreds of thousands of humans ritually slaughtered and eaten every year.
Our cannibalism has also infiltrated the language and metaphor of love, because what is the highest expression of love....." Sweetheart, would you like me to eat you, after diner?" Why is whipped cream such an essential ingredient in love rituals? Forgive this intrusion into your Puritanical soul, but humans have always connected the nourishment of their body with the nourishment of their soul...so.... MUSIC, DONT JUST LISTEN TO IT, EAT IT...and make sure you only eat the highest quality illusion....illusion is essential nourishment for the human soul.
Now you know why I insist that newbies to audiodementia eat something juicy while they are getting into the audio arts as a way of experiencing the total physicality of music. Based on the emails I receive most prefer mangos or foodstuffs that have a similar texture and taste.
YOUR SHINING ASCENDS
Inside each of us is a music structure. It is a diamond, and for the gifted listener, it has thousands of facets. Each of these musical facets has been polished onto the surface of our musical diamond by a profound musical experience. One facet we all have, no matter our life experience (even those who listen to transistor amps), and it is our first facet, is the heart-beat of our mother.
Indians living in the Brazilian forest have thousands of musical facets that they have acquired from listening to plants music. This quote from Wade Daviss, (the famous Harvard ethnobotantist) book, One River, makes the point, (page 176):
"How do they tell them apart?", I asked Pedro (an Indian living in the rain forest)
"They say you must prepare the plant at the right time of the month. Then, once you come under its influence, you can distinguish the varieties based on the tone of the songs that each one sings to you on the night of the full moon."
Many of us have the music of our cars or motorcycles faceted into our diamond. Others have the ocean, wind and earth as musical facets. As we grow and open to the thousands of dimension of music reality, more and more facets appear on our diamond, and with it, the brilliance of our diamond increases, because these facets reflect off of each other.
Your musical diamond is completely unique, and this is the most important point....your musical diamond reflects your entire life experience, and that includes every aspect of your being, from your parents, to your pets, to your experience with love, despair and every other human emotion. The reason I suggest building your own audio equipment or playing with tubes is because these activities are facet multipliers.
For those of you who have trouble making contact with your metaphoric self, please dont be impatient or be hard on yourself. Everything worthwhile takes time, and if you need some spiritual support try wearing an "Elvis" sequined jump suit and then stare at yourself in the mirror for a while. Behold your shining beauty.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL RESPONDS TO ROBERT HARLEY
Because Joe Campbell is so metaphoric he reads all of our great audio magazine on the potty up in the Happy Hunting Ground, and after reading the August issue of the Absolute Sound and the editorial written by Robert Harley, Joe sent me this message by cherub:
Dear Dr. Gizmo,
Please ask the Priests of the Absolute Sound Temple to read page 180 and 181 of my book, Reflections on the Art of Living, so they can expand their imagination about the audio arts.
Joe, Who Art in Heaven
So I quote Joe, which may give you a new insight into the audio arts:
"A sacred space is any space that that is set apart from the usual context of life. In the secular context, one is concerned with pairs of opposites; cause and effect, gain and loss, and so on. Sacred space has no function in the way of earning a living or a reputation. Practical use is not the dominant feature of anything in the space. You do not have anything in your sacred space thats not of significance to you for the harmonization of your own life. In your sacred space things are working in terms of your dynamic-and not anybody elses....
I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is as a playground. If what you are doing seems like play, you are in it. But you cant play with my toys, you have to have your own....."
And they meet by the river. The past, present and future were all there in that moment, and they listened to the river sing, "Follow Your Bliss, Follow Your Bliss". The Ancient One, the Guildmeister sat naked on the river bank and listened as dragon flies danced from sparkling 300B to sparkling 300B, with the perfume of magnolia and solder flux hanging from the trees.
What is the meaning of this poetic passage? I wrote this for young men who should use me as their model of spiritual piety. When you invite a date over to your house, just whip out this issue of PF, some beer, salsa, corn chips, and point to the above passage and say.. ."It is time for us to do a musical meditation of great piety". Women respond very positively to wholey men. Be sure to put a little dab of solder flux behind your ear.
THERE IS ONLY ONE MUSIC, AND IT IS YOU
There is no music "out there". Out there, is only noise, and music is only created when it enters our being, and by that I mean our wholey being....not just our head. Or, to say it another way...when the noise enters our music diamond and is reflected off the thousands of facets that are in us, the noise is transformed into music.
A quote from, Dr. Karl Pribomb, neurophysiologist, Sanford University, author, Languages of the Brain ( which appears in the book, The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot) goes further down this path...
Was it possible, he wondered, that what the mystics had been saying for centuries were true, reality was maya, an illusion, and what was out there was really a vast, resonating symphony of waves, a "frequency domain" that was transformed into the world as we know it only after it entered our senses?
As you know, for decades, the intellectual foundation of the audio arts has been audio engineering, whose authority is based on the measurement of "noise distortion" with test equipment, because IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MEASURE MUSIC, because, again, that phenomenon, like love, only exists within the soul of a human....noise fills concert halls...musical ecstasy fills people. These noise tests litter the pages of audio magazines. What is the relationship between music quality, which can only exist in us, and noise distortion measurements by test equipment? What is the intellectual validity of audio engineering orthodoxy that is terrified of confronting the most fundamental paradox of the audio arts? Is audio engineering why audio progress has become retarded, my dear Lenin? Do we need a new audio science? Do I need more electric shock therapy?
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