Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Form follows function, in an infinite tautology. They put each other on display. Means can be used to shape or create; limitations liberate. Means grant vision. Options are all there is.

Do minds provide direction? Is the process of evolution, of adapting forms, of balancing, directed? What about rocks? Inanimate things move and change, very slowly when people and animals aren't around. Time only goes in one direction, which is why you've come at last to this point. We enter into this process blind, insensate, and gain mind, words to bring things to mind when they are not there; we learn to count, to beat, to fight. We name the world.

We speculate that the forces are Mind. We often call our perspective tiny, but we are midway between infinitely small and infinitely large; our capacity is of sensing and learning. The rocks and void and the forces that lace them, these may be Mind or no; we choose but do not choose our relationship to them by choosing or not choosing our actions.

Expression is a beloved activity of humans. It proves self, agency; once uttered, it can't be denied. There's just the little matter of memory. Your voice doesn't exist; it's instantly gone, like a fart in the wind. Too, you can only shout so loud, see so far; transmission requires media.

Sports. Nature. Business. Poverty.

Then there's narrative. It's the way we understand, like, everything. As it devolves in the human mind, we become animal. Narrative is history, science, religion; narrative is order. Order's what we bring to the table. Chaos is inside us too. The boundaries constantly blur between our bodies, our minds, and the world. We can't go into space though.

You get to thinking and follow one thought as another as the day the night and maybe you want to find your way out of the infinite. It's never straight. I get this way playing this CD. Weirdly, it's the only Mahler symphony I've got a recording of. Weird because I enjoy the tingly feeling I get when I'm trying to unwind that spool of reality, and Mahler always sends me down that road. Mahler and some other guys, mostly German, mostly male, mostly from around Mahler's time, made all these big big big works where it's all screaming, laughing, crying, love and hate and death and anger and sex and nature all woven together in a single thread, and these guys were really trying to wring all that from a score and an orchestra, just like, say, Hendrix would do with a guitar and amp. The whole damn orchestra plays one single note in all the octaves you can hear for a long time at the beginning of this symphony; it's a big empty bucket and it sounds really cool. It fills in with slow two-note cries and sporadic little village-dancey blurts for a while, then there's an hour of hummable tunes and a big crashing finale. Along the way there's a nice mid-tempo dance number and every couple minutes there's a moment where you're just like "Mmmmyeah that sounds great!" Really it's not that different from Electric Ladyland, in terms of narrative arc.

I got this CD in the Twentieth Century, when I was taking a class on Twentieth Century composition. It signified because Mahler took the Romantic and pushed and pushed, like, harmonically and structurally, until he broke a hole through the sky and let guys like Stravinsky and Schoenberg hear some really next stuff with their minds. Wagner did that too, but I got the Mahler CD cause opera singing really just annoys the crap out of me. It's on a budget label ("LaserLight"), and a search for the conductor and orchestra (Pavel Urbanek with the Prague Festival Orchestra) turns up no actual commentary, just people listing their recordings. So I guess this is the bottom of the barrel? I dunno, it's tight and organic, no problem.

All it is, is form. All it is, is artifice. It's for us. Talking about phenomena or putting form around the formless is human only. The CD on LaserLight, the DDD recording, the bird on the cover, the jewel case, the staring into the infinite, the scrub orchestra playing their hearts out, that's all by us for us. Stories are people. The progression of music from Romantic to Late Romantic to Modern to Post-Modern, from we only care about smart Europeans and the rest are savages to we only care about pop and classical music OMG it's dying dying dying save the orchestra! It's all people. It's all we've got. You can't BE a rock. Imagine that. A hundred million years at once. No time. It's all here in the present. This huge endeavor, these people and their thousands of hours of rehearsing to do something together, this endurance test of a huge symphony, this all you can fit in your mind at once, and the rock does it without a mind. This massive monument to human that only humans will ever care about. You can hum the tunes. Energy goes into a body, comes out and freezes in one form. There's nothing you can do about it. Dance.

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