Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Saturday, August 12, 2006

no posts?

It's not because I don't like you! It's just that I'll be posting a little more frequently at my other blog while I'm tour. Go on, go check it out. I'll still put stuff here periodically, mostly about drugs, sex, or magick, but, you know, not for the kiddies. :)

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Random Rules Wednesday

first five random songs off the ipod.

1. Sting Me - The Black Crowes. I hugely dig the Black Crowes. This is a great song off a great album, but not something I listen to much lately. I think I burned out on them.

2. Tin Man - America. One of the pivotal songs of my childhood. "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man/that he didn't, didn't already have." This song, and actually, most of America's catalog, has this mid-seventies burned-out sadness, as if all the hedonism of the 60's just left them hollowed out and melancholy. And, as anyone will tell you, melacholy is one of my favorites.

3. Cinnamon Girl - Prince. Not my favorite song off Musicology, but it's Prince, which means that it's better than most of the crap out there right now. Another burnout album. Part of the problem I have with music is that, if I like something very much, I'll listen to it to the exclusion of anything else. Over and over, several times in a row, learning all the words, memorizing song titles through sheer repetition. Used to drive my wife crazy. As I may have mentioned, she banned several genres ("sad bastard music" which included Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion, and Starflyer 59, "all reggae" which she said she couldn't listen to unless she was in the carribean) and artists (Weezer, Todd Rundgren) outright because I listened to them over and over. Just an example of my addictive personality. The only thing that saves me is my ADD, which means I shortly get bored.

4. Holy Water - Soundgarden. Music from my youth. Ah, the sweet dulcet tones of Grunge. I put this on my ipod in a fit of nostalgia, but I haven't listened to it all that much. Some things no longer speak to us the same way they did.

5. Budge - Dinosaur Jr. Yet again, the music of youth. This one aged quite a bit better, for some reason. Maybe because I didn't listen to it constantly over a period of several months. Mr. Macis's voice is whiny, but he plays guitar like a beast, and his songs are always rocking. Except when they drag.

They say that most people stop listening to music at a certain age, that the music one listens to in, say, college, is the music one will be listening to for the rest of one's life. I don't know how people can do that. I get bored, and I'm constantly looking for new music, new thoughts, new sensations. For example.

6. The New Face of Zero and One - The New Pornographers. Now this is good stuff. Fresh sounding, energetic, very much of the moment, with great melodies, unusual structures and progressions. Great stuff.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Creation is not complete

As I was out last night wandering the neighborhood getting snacks I saw a woman and her dog. The dog is a white and black american pit bull, and last night she was standing with it. Pit bulls can have incredibly sweet personalities, if they're raised right, and this woman seemed to be lucky enough to have found one of those. Last night, she stood above the dog while he gazed off into the night, the both of them watching the people and dogs and cars pass by in front of the apartment building. She leaned over and kissed the dog on the top of his broad, flat head, and he wagged his tail and smiled.

Again, this morning, I'm out in the early morning haze, before it gets really hot but where you can feel the heat winding up to really smash the day to pieces, and I see the same woman walking her dog. She looked bored, and just waking up, but he looked perky and happy to be out, his long pink tongue lolling out of his enormous square jaws. It suddenly struck me, in that moment, that she had really lifted that dog up, in an evolutionary sense. Pit bulls can be dumb and mean and scared, and they have an incredible capacity for destruction. This dog, however, seemed well-adjusted and quite intelligent, and I know from experience that that has as much to do with the raising as with the temperment of the dog.

I thought of one of my favorite books growing up, Startide Rising by David Brin, which talks a lot about humans evolving animals in our biosphere through the application of technology - chimps and dolphins are electronically and biologically augmented to be able to speak and reason with humans. I have always thought that is is the job of humans to help the animals we interact with become more conscious, more intelligent. This, in turn led me to think of the story of Adam and his responsibility to "name" all the animals. Why is he given this job?

In pre-lapsarian times (we're speaking mythically, now. Don't start spreading rumors that I'm a literalist) Adam's job, given him by God, was to name all the animals. But really what does that mean? Of course, it's nice to have names for things. It allows us to communicate with each other, without having to constantly resort to "That thing. Over there. No, over there. The other one!" But if you take a moment to consider, there was no one but God, and Adam. This implies another reason for the names. Perhaps names were given in order that the things themselves might learn them. We see, in this story, a hint of the function of humanity. Being conscious, it is our gift to bring consciousness to the world, to make the world more conscious. God, being in all things present, is awakened through our agency. And not big daddy thunder god, but God, consciousness, light.

The story goes that God made everthing, and on the seventh day, he rested. I would posit that, until the world knows itself (and not just animals, but all things) creation is not completed. As it says in the Bible, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." Romans 8:19

In order for us to create the world, we must become fully concious, ourselves. Until we awaken, the world lies before us, dead as science has always supposed it to be, inert matter. We must make the world live. Spiritual work is not selfish or world-denying. It is the primary reason for which we have come here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Led Zepplin, Magick, and Literary Theory

This is why I love the Net. This article on Led Zepplin IV (otherwise known as the Zoso album) is simply brilliant. I have a difficult time even explaining how deeply I relate to it, except to talk for a moment about Yes.

As a freshman in high school, I was a living embodiment of the truism that boys mature later than girls. I was tall, gawky, awkward, shy, spastic, not too far removed from the nerd who used to cast horoscopes (from the book The Cosmic Informer) and play D&D. Somebody, I can't even remember who, got me a copy of Classic Yes with the Roger Dean artwork (which you can see here) and I was in love. The music was grandiose and the artwork just killed me. I became obsessed, partially because I could sense, in the otherworldly art and the lofty music, another reality, akin to the world created by my (at the time) favorite writer, J.R.R. Tolkien. The whole package hinted that there was another world, a world of myth and quests, of wizardry and romance, that lay just beyond my sight, and that this album (not just the music or the artwork or the lyrics but the whole package) was a gateway to this other world.

And it wasn't just this music, this album, it was this whole genre of early 70's British rock (American rock, for all its considerable charms, never really got the hang of the "other world" thing. I can't think of a single American band that really nailed it, though bands like, say, Kansas, sort of tried...). King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, Marillion. The albums were about creating an entire experience, almost a cosmology. And I ate it up.

When you're 14, 15, 16, your entire world resonates with significance. The massive hormones surging through your bloodstream, the wracking emotions that seem to arise from nothing leaving you dazed and blinking, all of these seem to impart to the world a weight. Every experience is fraught with meaning and import. It is the time of sexual imprinting, and the male teenage mind is designed to see the world in that obsessional, magickal way. I mention this because, really, what else is magickal thinking but the creation of significance through the use of the imagination.

So, the article: it's a long read, but well worth it. Fascinating stuff. Check it out.

Update: For more insights into my formative years, check out this post about Jack Chick on the 3 Quarks Daily blog. Jack Chick (and the little pamphlets he popularized) was a huge part of my semi-evangelical Christian upbringing, and a huge part of the guilt, shame, and otherwise occasionally twisted meanderings of my soul.

I actually used to collect his pamphlets when I was in college, and had over 80 of them. I think I tossed 'em when I moved to New York. Good times.