A Little Aural Perspective on Modernity: A Game for Your Playlist

We’re so inured to our modern lives, I sometimes find it hard to really appreciate how radically different the world I live in is from that a century ago, not just in terms of technology. Everything has changed, even the way we perceive the world and the act of living. Hell, I didn’t live a century ago, so how can I possibly imagine what it was like to live then? I need something constant from a century ago, something that I can experience both the past and present.

So I play a little game. Open up Wikipedia, pick two years exactly a century apart (e.g. 1901 and 2001), then select a piece of classical music from the earlier year (as this was the dominant musical genre of the time) and a few hit singles from the later. As I listen to the classical music, I try to imagine myself in the concert hall, in that year. After, there’s a brief intermission, then the modern-day singles start. And it is in that disruptive leap between styles and technology and cultural values–that feeling of being a fish-out-of-Earth–that I rediscover the reality of how radically different my life is.

I’ve made a short little playlist to give a try. Pretty delightfully juxtaposed. Enjoy!

[Note: This is only as good as comparing Late Romantics to modern popular music, i.e. 1850-1910 compared to 1950-2010.]

Wild Conjecture: Love, LSD, and Near-Death Experiences Are One and the Same

Anyone out there read this crazy article? Setting aside all talk of near-death experiences and the human soul, I want to talk about something as…deserving of skepticism: monopsychism (popularly referred to as the collective unconscious, though that really means something else.) In brief, the belief that all of life has a shared communion with a sort of world consciousness.

It’s the stuff of New Age pamphlets handed out at the local mall by a middle-aged lady in a Sari. But, along with ghost stories, it’s also the stuff of, “Yeah, I’ve got a story like that, this one time […]” Usually these stories involve the synchronicity of friends’ thoughts, occasionally on opposite coasts. Some stories even claim that synchronicity between strangers, though these are more dubious than the former—why wouldn’t like-minded friends think exactly alike on rare occasions? Of course, I have my story too, of the former variety, and it’s one I have a hard time not giving credence to.

In short, my father is a “Serious Record Collector” (any Fanfare Magazine readers out there?) with a classical music collection that’d last around 50 days of straight, mind-shattering listening (upwards of 1000 albums if you’re wondering.) And while there’s a fair amount of repeat repertoire, that’s still a substantial amount of music.

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That’s maybe half of his collection (the rest is scattered on bookshelves and in boxes.) I have maybe half of his total collection imported to my iTunes library, but the half that’s missing I’ve replaced with as much popular music. With that amount of music to choose from, the odds of deciding to listen to the same piece of music within a day of each other (or less) should be rather astronomical. In fact, it’s one in a million: (1/1,000) x (1/1,000) = (1/1,000,000). Despite that, the number of times I have returned home for a visit, only to discover my father listing to the same piece I’d listened to earlier that day is, frankly, absurd. We’re probably talking 5% of the time, or 1 out of every 20 visits.

For instance, I’ll be at work and think, “I haven’t listened to Mahler’s 9th Symphony in a while.” I listen to it, lovin’ every second. Next day, I head up for a weekend with the folks. Late in the evening, my dad puts on Mahler’s 9th, the very same recording at that. Of Mahler alone there are 15 works we both have in our libraries (most all with multiple recordings), so it’s not as though we were both just in the mood for Mahler. And this happens all the time, has even happened with such prolific composers as Beethoven and Brahms.

It’s important to remember that this synchronicity only takes my perspective into account. How many times did the opposite occur, he listen to a piece the day before me? How often when we’re apart does this synchronicity take place? It also bears mentioning that these occasions are never instances of me scrolling through my iPod and picking something at random. It is always that the music pops into my head untriggered and I have to listen to said music to sate the earworm. And then, of course, my dad is afflicted by the same earworm.

And you can’t simply chalk it up to cues in the environment, because our environments barely overlap—we frequent different pages of the internet, he doesn’t watch any TV shows or movies, we read different books, have different jobs, different friends and lifestyles. And since much of classical music is absolute (without programme) and completely auditory, it’s even harder to imagine shared cues.

And that’s what gets me seriously considering that the collective unconscious exists.

Collective Unconscious 2

But I refuse to believe in a truly unified, single consciousness—it’s not as if the whole world sits down and listens to Mahler’s 9th. But maybe, just maybe, my father and I are connected at a level beyond the confines of our body, beyond the confines of the atomic universe. No scientist knows what exists beyond the quantum state, it’s all mere conjecture. So perhaps my father and I have a quantum connection unboundaried by time and space. An intimate connection where he and I occasionally tap into each other’s thoughts through the medium of the quantum universe; that the thought occurs in some microtubule of mine, and that quantum vibration triggers a synchronous quantum vibration in one of my father’s microtubules.

Perhaps that is what intense love and friendship is. A bonding of quantum states, a sharing of minds, a foundational unity between two distinct persons. When we are around our partner, or even thinking of them, the insular self dissolves to a degree, and we expand out into the vastness that is the collective other.

Actually, I feel that way when I experience love, a warm and comforting dissolution outwards. Also, from what I’ve read, this is how people experience LSD. Which, incidentally, is how others describe near-death experiences. Which is what this article was trying to argue…

But I ain’t convinced about souls and the afterlife. That’s all wish-fulfillment (and a bad wish at that.) No, it’s about love, wonderful love.

Acid Tab

P.S. If any of my readers have ever tried LSD, please let me know if this rings any bells.

P.S.S. Would it be tacky of me to seek a drug-connect through my blog?

7 Days / 7 Poems for Valentine’s: Love Is The Expanse

the tree of love
flowers

flush with sweet orgeat sap

roots far and deep
diffuse

‘low the fast organon still

the wheat-rich plain
ripples

‘round the vert organic drop

the breadth of wind
bellows

loose lusty organal airs

through dark fissures
carry

far the wild orgial storm

from the nutshell
unfurls

out the black organdie sheet

flash the fruiting
bodies

all whole orgasmic cosmos.

7 Days / 7 Poems for Valentine’s: Come Slake my Desert Solitude

Alluring daughter of Set,
the hearts of men find their doom
‘midst the sensuous silhouette of your windswept curves,
as they seek, desperate, the oasis of your love
to save themselves from their desire.

Your soft, sunset tresses,
like the striated curves of flood-carved slots,
swirl in silken chaos ‘round
your gypsum visage.

And though your eyes—
a lonely pair of soothing sagebrush, lost
in blue shadows—
whisper of cool intimacy

the flash of your blaze-beaming smile
unleashes the full heat of your desert splendor
mercilessly
‘gainst the thirsting hearts of men.

Divine daughter of Set,
though he be god of the barren wastes,
you, magic vision of the variegated desert,
are the sole goddess of my soul,
through life, through death.

[Note: Apologies for yesterday. Remind me never to post poems/pictures from >3 years ago. Also, stay tuned. Tomorrow’s the grand finale, an erotic poem that kicked my ass all week because I decided to give it one hell of a restrictive form, one that practically makes a sestina look like child’s play.]

7 Days / 7 Poems for Valentine’s: The Garden of (un)Earthly Delights

[Note: for #TBT, one of my first poems (from ages ago.) Also note, this is a parody, read accordingly.]

If all the tears I’ve cried had flowered
I would search their ceaseless ranks
For the bloom that would engender
The purest thoughts of Spring.

It unto you I would deliver
So your warmth could be its sun
And your breath, a cool breeze blowing,
Its sweetened air could be.

And ne’er would our flower wither
Testament to our true love.
Sadly, all the tears I’ve cried, though,
I’ve cried them all for you.

I see your face forever frozen
Terror flashing in your eyes
From my grasp your soft hands slipped, slow,
And ne’er breathed you once more.

And so my garden green must wither
As the darkness ‘round me grows
Would that I could feel your love now
Before my sun sinks low.

Yet wait! What joy is this? A flower
Blooms amidst the rotten rank
Glowing with a lustrous beauty
Oh! that eternal springs.

As I glance up, what joy is mine now!
From the gloom you fast appear
Bird-like flies my heart free flowing
‘Round you, my sky so clear.

What matter if this be but dreams here?
Gladly will I play the fool!
I know no joy that’s greater than
The joys I feel with you.

7 Days / 7 Poems for Valentine’s: More of a Gold Panhandler

I fell for a gorgeous man,
one that makes me feel good.
But momma always told me,
“Hon, don’t marry for love.”

So

I’ll be your banded domestic
for a one-time payment of gold.
I’ll be your sacrificial lamb
for a trip to greener pastures.
I’ll make all the gutters run red
for a little wealth transfusion.

So

I sent that man a-packing,
momma would be so proud.
For money, only money,
is my soul’s living wage.

[Note: Special thanks to my high school biology teacher Mrs. Talle who taught me the valuable lesson: “Don’t marry for love.” Also: “Don’t be the town bicycle.” But that’s for another poem.]