Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, December 31, 2012

Daisy Age



Thank you De La Soul for everything, and Steely Dan for "Peg."

Higgs Schmiggs

Thanks to Marcus Nilsson I have now read this piece in The Guardian. As I've been reading these past few months, the Higgs, far from completing the gaps in the Standard Model, turns out to be a kind of monster that distorts the entire field. Fantastic example of the phenomenon–thing gap, key to Kant and core of OOO.

The Standard Model Higgs is just a necessary hysterical symptom of a correlationist view in which measurement makes things real. I like the line in the Guardian piece about an elephantiasis of mathematization.

The electric universe hypothesis sounds an awful lot like Bohm's implicate order, of which I've been a huge fan. Watch the videos.

Johnny Morris, Animist without Nature









Who Is My Brother?

Steve. He started this band. And was going to be in this band before things went bad.

1992...twenty years ago...

Thank You Apple

Really, the computer as prosthetic device--not just for accomplishing tasks, but for storing information and sorting things. To help my brother Steve put these ten songs together. I am listening now. Remember Steve has schizophrenia? When you have that, even brushing your teeth is an Arctic expedition. So the fact that he put these pieces together is very meaningful for me.

Grotesque MLA Talk

As usual it will be recorded. I'm on two panels this coming week: one on the grotesque, and another on Victorian ecology.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Love That Butoh

I hope something like this for the cover of Hyperobjects. In particular, the scene where the two dancers freak out to each other's existence. No pressure, Minnesota :)


Three Basic Hyperobjects Questions


1. We have suddenly become aware of the Anthropocene, the geological period brought about by human carbon emissions. But how does the Anthropocene affect human society, thought and art?  

2. How can humans think and plan for the scales sufficient to take global warming and radiation into account: scales that are measured in tens of thousands of years?

3. We often think and act towards the environment as if a horrifying cataclysm is about to take place. But what if the problem were precisely that the cataclysm has already occurred?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Are You a Translator

And would you like to translate Hyperobjects? Email me.

What Does Hyperobjects Say?

As I'm filling out my questionnaire, might as well share it here.


The book is divided into two parts: (1) What are hyperobjects? and (2) What do they mean for humans?

The introduction argues that hyperobjects have activated a philosophical “earthquake” that compels us to refashion what we mean by a thing in the first place (ontology).

In five long sections, part (1) argues that hyperobjects have five properties.

Hyperobjects are viscous: they stick to us and penetrate us, thus abolishing concepts of distance and norms concerning meaning and propriety (metalanguage).

Hyperobjects are nonlocal: they do not manifest at a specific time and place but rather are stretched out in such a way as to challenge the idea that a thing must occupy a specific place and time.

Hyperobjects have a temporality so different from current human ones that they force us to drop the idea of time as a neutral container. Instead, hyperobjects “emit” time just like planets (Einstein).

Hyperobjects occupy high dimensional phase spaces that are unavailable to direct human perception. Computational prosthetics are required even to think them (mapping global warming requires petaflops of computing speed, for instance).

Hyperobjects exist “interobjectively,” which is to say that they consist, of, yet are not reducible to, interactions between a large number of entities.

In three long sections, part (2) argues that hyperobjects have three major implications for humans:

“The end of the world” as a meaningful horizon against which (human) events take shape has already occurred.

Instead of inhabiting a world, we find ourselves on the insides of a number of hyperobjects. This fact reduces all human styles of engagement to forms of hypocrisy, thus ending the reign of cynicism (otherwise known as modernity).

Culture has entered an age of asymmetry in which the nonhuman matches human cognition equally, but not in a neat Goldilocks way. Rather, humans are sandwiched between two giant beings that increase one another in a feedback loop: (human) reason and hyperobjects. Some contemporary art is already showing signs of this paradox.

Hyperobjects Raw Blurb Data


In the late 1700s, two things happened in the West. Humans began to deposit carbon in Earth's crust, thus becoming a geophysical force on a planetary scale and giving rise to the geological period now called the Anthropocene. Secondly, philosophy since Kant decided that it could not talk about reality as such, but only (human) access to reality. I see these two events as related. With a strange blindness, modernity plowed ahead with the actions now known to have changed geological time.

Since then, it has been creeping up on us that the end of the world has already occurred. This isn't just a matter of atomic bombs and global warming. It is also to do with the fact that concepts such as world and Nature (and even environment) are human-scale concepts. Now that we can think things beyond the human scale (climate, evolution, quanta, relativity…) we are no longer able to squeeze ourselves into the narrow box of concepts such as world.

What has appeared on our collective radar are entities that this book calls hyperobjects. These entities are so large in both temporal and spatial terms that they defeat habitual ideas about what a thing is in the first place. They ruthlessly underline the Kantian gap between phenomenon and thing, since we can measure and compute them, and assess their properties, yet we cannot directly point to them or sense them. Hyperobjects change forever what counts as a thing. Things can no longer be thought as “given” to a (human) subject, or as constantly present.

What has happened since the end of the world is that humans have discovered that we live inside a series of gigantic entities, the hyperobjects. This realization has deep implications for how humans coexist with one another and with nonhumans. It affects the realms of art, politics and ethics in a decisive way that cannot be reversed. 

One's Shrine

The small white stupa at the back is made of Tulku Urgyen's ashes. At the back left is a treasure vase containing all kinds of things such as pieces of Tilopa's meditation belt.

It's seeing a lot of action here at present.





Comments Info

Please state your full name.

The likelihood of your comment being published goes up from zero if you don't use four letter words or SHOUT.

Jay Garfield, Philosopher of Buddhism

Finally someone who crosses the streams, as recommended by Foucault. Actually there are a bunch, including Graham Priest. I like what they both do with Nagarjuna. Thanks Dirk.

Hyperobjects Final Update 1

It's like making a meal for a rather large number of people. Did I forget the toast points? I'm fixing the captions today and adding some acknowledgments to my excellent editors and to the very very kind reader, who revealed his name (you will find out). I also need to fix my author questionnaire and think about who will puff it. I say puff rather than blurb, because technically a blurb is actually the description of the book on the jacket. A puff is someone's salesmanship of it.

Happily Minnesota like actual discussion of images in captions. There is quite a lot to say and I can understand how with 23 pictures, many in color, someone might rifle through the book and look at the images. You want the captions to say something meaningful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

...when the tradesmen came round with boxes for you to put money in.

Superb and twinkling Christmas. Hope yours was if you had it. Not quite sure how a pagan festival made it onto Fox News with their "war on Christmas" spiel...



Sunday, December 23, 2012

"The Thinking Posture": Mudra

Hegel's phrase, which I talk about in my interview (see below). Read Sogyal Rinpoche:

The masters say: “If you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment, then meditation and realization will automatically arise.” Talk about posture is not esoteric pedantry; the whole point of assuming a correct posture is to create a more inspiring environment for meditation, for the awakening of Rigpa.

There is a connection between the posture of the body and the mind. Mind and body are interrelated, and meditation arises naturally once your posture and attitude are inspired.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Trouble with the Young Hegelians

I give some thoughts here.

Taussig << Jamie Allen

I'm writing a piece for her and Paul Boshears with some photographs I took with Paul Thomas. She pointed me in the direction of this piece by my old acquaintance Mick Taussig.

Vikram the Vampire

Nice Yuletide music I think you'll agree.


Media Matters vs. La Pierre

If you don't know about Media Matters for America now is your chance.

What have I been up to today? Decorating a tree of course.

Atavism and Prepperism

This piece on preppers is interesting, and I've seen the National Geographic show a few times.

I remember being on retreat in Crestone next door to some preppers who started talking quite "innocently" (at least innocently enough) to their lodger about how to shoot a bear. 30 minutes later it was what part of the black man's head to aim for when the looters come from the big city after civilization collapses...

I have a theory. Prepping is only consciously oriented to an apocalyptic future. In reality, it is an atavistic reaction to a world that has already ended (Anthropocene, hyperobjects--and let's not forget, America ceasing to be a frontier pioneer white settlers against everyone else in a circle). It's a reaction to an apocalypse that has already occurred.

Discuss.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Guns and the Decline of the Young Man

A Princeton professor pens this for Simon Crichley's place at NYT.

I like to try to jump to a systems interpretation of such things as soon as I can. If only because when I mentioned that we were all in some sense responsible for Michael Jackson's death (top of the pops is a toxic place) the most conservative guy in my class snorted derisively.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mind Control

Thanks Rayya!

A Cartography of the Anthropocene

Oh man. Thanks Jeremy Schmidt.

An Interview

Just wrote it for C. Derick Varn. It's a little bit about Hegel(ian)/s. I'm not sure when he will put it out. But it sure is useful for both the books I'm writing now.

Something like a Eulogy

Sam's mom is collecting them for the memorial service next week:

Sam had a way of existing that was kind and helpful on a directly physical level. Many of the things that I learned from him were nonverbal, even when they included words. Sam had an ability not to be caught in the reactions of others. To walk with him through a crowd in Kathmandu, for instance, was to cut a steady and definite swathe through the buttery substance of that crowd. His body seemed to smile. 

"Boring"

To say "yawn" or "boring" is to express hostility, along with a modern, slouching aggression towards hostility, that is (even more) hostile. Discuss.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Funereal

Oh yeah, sure I've done funerals. In Buddhism, and Vajrayana in particular, you get to do a lot of the ritual yourself, much more so than in Christianity. You are expected to. There is Sukhavati, and Amitabha practice in general. I was just doing one last week as it goes.

I've meditated with corpses and I've watched cremations where they burn the body in front of you. One of my best friends is a hospice chaplain (Buddhist but does all comers). So yeah.

Let's Just End One-Upsmanship Now Shall We

"There is not narcissism and non-narcissism; there are narcissisms that are more or less comprehensive, generous, open, extended. What is called non-narcissism is in general but the economy of a much more welcoming, hospitable narcissism, one that is much more open to the experience of the other as other. I believe that without a movement of narcissistic reappropriation, the relation to the other would be absolutedly destroyed, it would be destroyed in advance. The relation to the other - even if it remains asymmetrical, open, without possible reappropriation - must trace a movement of reappropriation in the image of oneself for love to be possible, for example. Love is narcissistic."
--Jacques Derrida

Wounded narcissism projects its (impossible) ideal of a completely closed loop, a magical lost narcissism, onto the other, then attacks it. This usually takes the form of hostility towards a perceived self-referential loop.

Wounded narcissism detects in the other a loop that it directly experiences as wounding, since its own loop is twisted (weird, from Norse urth, twist or turn, of fate).

Did I exempt myself from narcissism? Reality just is narcissistic wounds, down to the nonhuman, possibly even  nonsentient levels. Since ego is just the precipitate of abandoned object cathexes (Freud) or, as yoga puts it, twists in the nadis (subtle channels) that are fixated on as "my" suffering--because of this, the form of an object as such just is the "wounds" it has sustained. An object is a wounded narcissism, a twisted loop. Reality is Jörmungandr, a serpent eating its tail (maybe the earliest example of a strange loop or Möbius strip).

So there is no us vs them on this level, no normal and pathological. Yet there is a syndrome in which wounded narcissism refuses to think itself as narcissism, a refusal to gather (comprehend) its suffering (patho-logos, the gleaning of suffering): "What is called non-narcissism is in general but the economy of a much more welcoming, hospitable narcissism, one that is much more open to the experience of the other as other." A refusal that in itself is the “pathology” of wounded narcissism, or rather, the pathologizing violence of wounded narcissism just is the refusal to see itself in its mirror. A refusal to be “narcissistic”...

Refusal to see: in this sense, a refusal to notice that one's tail is already in one's mouth.  Exemption of oneself from being a strange loop. Exemption from language, refusal of “there is no metalanguage” (Lacan's distillation of phenomenology). The temptation of one-upsmanship, which is a serpent chasing its tail thinking “This way I shall outfox it!”



Come with Me

(Infernal Desiring Machine mix), by me a little while ago. It seemed appropriate somehow. Slightly mad acid. It has a bit of Terminator saying “Come with me if you want to live...” Somehow I find that moment in T2 quite moving.


Romanticism Stranger

My friend David's new book. He got into The Ecological Thought.





How to Reframe

"Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Become a Lobster...Or a Line of Code

Just as Husserl claims, the logical content of thoughts is independent of thinking: here is a wonderful inverse proof of that. Jaron Lanier. Also, respect to his implicit dig at massively online crap. Thanks Dirk!


Cary Wolfe on Animals

From 2011, at the Natural History Museum.

"Narcissism" Again

...only the wounded narcissist pours scorn on "narcissism."

When Friday's victims' families hold DIY funerals, and people try to talk outside the script, will they tell us exactly how much contempt we should feel?

No Ritual Is Truly Empty

Every form has its own kind of content. (That's just basic art and literature analysis 101.)

No doubt, there is the good manners of "following the form," which I can't help subscribing to as an ex-Brit and as a Buddhist. But why is it good manners? It's not that the ritual one "just follows" is empty. It's that it has its own kind of content that is uplifting.

Otherwise I can just make up a ritual that includes shooting as many people as possible, and follow it without reason.

But sure yes, form, bring it on. Suits, under certain circumstances. The Californian neurosis is to be too suspicious of authority--with the ironic consequence of summoning the pepper spraying cops, overreaction.

Yet as I've said before, you need to know how to have generosity before you have discipline.

A Simple Proposal

This latest shooting shows that adults with guns just can't be grownups about how they store and use them. From now on, only one handgun or rifle per owner and no automatics, semi-automatics or large clips. No people under 21 at a firing range, period. Gun store owners who refuse to do the proper checks to be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Melt the Guns



Programmes of violence,
As entertainment,
Brings the disease into your room.
We know the germ,
Which is man-made in metal,
Is really a key to your own tomb.

Prevention is better than cure,
Bad apples affecting the pure,
You'll gather your senses I'm sure
Then agree to

Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
And never more to fire them.
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
And never more desire them.

Children will want them,
Mothers supply them,
As long as your killers are heroes.
And all the media
Will fiddle while Rome burns,
Acting like modern-time Neros.

Prevention is better than cure,
Bad apples affecting the pure,
You'll gather your senses I'm sure
Then agree to

Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
And never more to fire them.
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
And never more desire them.

I'm speaking to the Justice League of America.
The U S of A,
Hey you,
Yes you in particular...
When it comes to the judgement day
And you're standing at the gates with your weaponry,
You dare go down on one knee,
Clasp your hands in prayer, start quoting me,
'Cos we say...

Our father we've managed to contain the epidemic in one place now,
Let's hope they shoot themselves instead of others, help to civilize the race now.
We've trapped the cause of the plague,
In the land of the free and the home of the brave.
If we listen quietly we can hear them shooting from grave to grave.

You ought to
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns,
And never more to fire them
Melt the guns,
Melt the guns
Melt the guns,
And never more desire them.

Guns and Philosophy (Interesting Band : ) )

A gun is a tool. Tools withdraw from total access. Therefore they can do things that you don't want them to do.

A gun can go off without your conscious intention, killing your son (this happened quite recently in PA).

Your ideas about reality can force you to buy four guns, not one. (Did I mention that ideas are also tools that are withdrawn from access? Call them memes, call them intentional objects, whatever.)

Your psychopathic son can take these guns, kill you, and then go on a rampage. You did not consciously intend this.

Tools are withdrawn from total access. They can do things that surprise me. Therefore it would be best severely to limit the number of guns I can own, and their type. Assuming that is, that we decide that it is best if some people should have some access to guns at all.

Someone was wondering "how OOO helps" in the case of PA killing. This in part is a response to that question.

People kill people like the NRA says. Also, guns kill people, like the NRA doesn't say.

Asperger's and Psychopathy

My brother Steve has schizophrenia. He used to live in a house with Patrick, who had schizophrenia and was also a psychopath. How do I know? Whenever I went around there he got in my face, like within two millimeters of my face, with a huge grin. And then he murdered his mum.

There was a particularly awesome moment during a weird Christmas party there when Steve told Patrick, "Not meaning to be rude or anything Patrick, but you're a c--- : in a strictly business quality sense." (Said in his usual quite quiet and not confrontational voice...)

So if the killer in CT had Asperger's, as some have been suggesting, he also was a psychopath. Asperger's is irrelevant, just as schizophrenia was irrelevant to Patrick's psychopathic behavior. You can have two conditions at once.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Shots rang out"

When I arrived here in the US, in 1992, I was stunned by the dehumanized ambience of gun violence reporting: "Shots rang out." Never "Someone fired a gun." And never ever "Someone tried to kill someone else dead."

They have a lot of guns in Canada. What makes them different in the killing statistics, to cite Michael Moore? It's a truism to say we live in a culture of aggression. But part of that is that we are strangely and situationally drained of affect when it comes to thinking death and violence, or mediating it.

I am reminded of the "embedded reporter" in Iraq in 2003, whose basic function was to act as a virtual couch potato inside your telly, so you would be distanced from and desensitized to the state killing. (The total opposite of the promised reality teevee, or rather, its truth.) "I hear the sound of tracer fire around me," said against a dark background while filmed with an infra red camera to give it a dissociated ambience.

It's the casualness of the violence isn't it? And the violence of the casualness. I remember my Buddhist friend Alan satirizing the way some hip hop lyrics worked: "I'm gonna kill you...I'm gonna kill you..."--but it was the tone with which he said it, the relaxed drawl, and in particular the smile, that made it specially American.

A Story

By Claire, 8. Click to magnify.





Repeat after Me

"Hello [representative x], my name is [y] and I'm calling because I vote. And I am calling because if you don't do something to control guns in this coming legislative session, I will personally do all I can to end your career."



Bombed

My friend Leke Adeeko said an interesting thing about terrorist incidents in the USA back in 2002: "Well, now they know what it's like to be bombed." So Dirk just showed me this place where you can see the extent of bombing during the Blitz in London. I'm including a picture here of the bombs dropped in my area of London.


Object-Oriented Polity

You want it? Here it is, in The British Journal of Sociology.

Ph.D. Chats

Just had an excellent lunch with my colleague Helena Michie to talk about the nineteenth-century dissertations happening at Rice. And last week I had about eight hours of talks with my existing Ph.D. students at UC Davis. All seem to be thriving in their different ways. I have students in Performance Studies, English and Comp. Lit. It's very very interesting and inspiring to work with them, and I feel like I'm at the best point in my career to be doing so--both in terms of what I can bring to the table by way of advice, and in terms of my relative lack of professional necessity: nothing is pushing me.

Speculative Shoegaze

What could go wrong? Nothing. M83. Thanks Dirk (AGAIN).


Jeffrey Kripal at Esalen

Jeff is becoming a friend here and he helps to run contemplative studies. We are figuring out how I fit into that. Here's Jeff talking at Esalen (thanks Dirk).

On Nature

Thanks Bill.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Renunciation

And if I had to choose a soundtrack for that essential Buddhist affect, renunciation, it would be this, the Apollo 440 edit of “Going South” by The Wolfgang Press.


Pointing Out the Nature of Mind

People always ask me, "Tim, what is the nature of mind?" :) Not really.

What is the taste of sugar? Imagine you are a mute and are trying to describe it.

Since like everything else in the universe, you can't directly point to it, here is something that is as good as anything:

Listen to this first. It is the emptiness aspect:




Now listen to this. It is the display aspect:




Now dance to both. That is the moving love aspect. (As Anne Klein says, what a star.)

Objects Praying

Bill makes this very astute point about Zizek on Buddhism:

"he glosses the buddhist prayer wheel as the precursor of canned laughter. the wheel prays even though the person who placed it is absent from it

it's an object praying"

Exactly. Exactly why I think Buddhism is dope. And what I'm arguing in two books and a couple of essays on the topic.

It's a fear of automation. Again, these Marxists are Romanticist Nature people really.



Zizek Talks about Buddhism

Thanks Dirk. I haven't watched it yet though.

That Was Fun

Interview on ecocriticism with Ken Hiltner. It will be on iTunes U in a few weeks I think. He is also interviewing Ursula Heise and Cheryll Glotfelty and others.

Molecular Systematics

...by Juliet Brodie. HT Dirk. Smokers, energy transduction, acid/alkaline redox potential. Evolution is a tinkerer on the top of chemistry. With a view to biodiversity, “the twiglets on the tree of life.”

Landfill Harmonic

I get it! My dad was in the Royalfill Harmonic... Thanks to Dirk (YouTube) and Cliff (Vimeo).

Swords into ploughshares in a sense.

Today

Interview with Ken Hiltner, who is currently at Princeton. I have an NPR one to arrange too and I might as well get on it now all my grading is done.



Virtual Auto Icon of Bentham

Thanks Rob Jackson. Bentham requested that his mummified body be put on display at University College London. You can now spin him around and so on online.

Q&A Transcript

Ben Abraham, who evidently can type much faster than me, has put up this transcript of a Q&A in Sydney.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stop the World, They Want to Get Off

Galloway and the commenters on the ever-popular Hegelian response site suspect that speculative realism is tantamount to dangerous financial speculation, in which entire worlds are wiped away and created at a stroke. Indeed, this does sound a bit like hyperchaos.

But what are the conditions of possibility for financial speculation as we've seen it recently? Conditions such as severe constraints on the explanatory power of sufficient reason, for instance? Or the anarchic "teeming" world that I describe in various places?

Isn't it just as likely that humans will need to pass through a cognitive (and social and philosophical) engagement with this negativity to reach "the other shore"--if there is one?

Galloway's is a stop the world, I want to get off position, common to (I repeat) a certain Romanticism within Marxism, a Romanticism that inheres in what McKenzie Wark today skillfully calls the "open" art form, the kind that big money pays big money for. The eschewal of the kitsch that is always the kitsch of the other.

The burden of proof is Galloway's--he is the one who must show why his eschewal of non-open form (found in his hostility to object-oriented programming, for instance, canard though it is) is not the reactionary one that gets hung on the walls of banks every week.

I prefer Ken's view of reality as an abundance and excess that high finance tames. So that the ultimate problem is that high finance is not excessive enough.

As Badiou remarks in his Continent interview, speculative realists are trying to work on new forms of negation adequate to the present times. The old forms are evidently not working.

Galloway's cry for totality is the rusty squeak of an old farm gate, misheard as Nature through the rose-tinted hearing aid of the contemporary Romantic consumer: "They don't make em like they used to..."


META Magazine

A goodly advertisement for it.

Byron Conference in London (CFP)

Looking excellent. I shall be there.

"The world really is a place of excess"

Ken Wark with an excellent post. Couldn't agree more with it. It's quite quite nice how a stealth paganism flourishes at Christmas. Stealth at least here in the USA. Maybe not so stealth elsewhere.

The art of withdrawing the hand that gives and leaving just the gift as given."

This could have come from my Continent essay. (See previous.)

 Then there's this: "It is not the fault of artists that they are now obliged to make work for one of history’s more useless and clueless ruling classes. Theirs is a bespoke business, dependent on patrons. But one might at least take on the task of even more closely making the art portray its real subject. Contemporary art gets by on alibis. As if it could gesture to a politics of the aesthetic or the aesthetics of politics, as if it could redistribute the sensible independent of any redistribution of the tangible. All of this is just dishonesty. Art is a portrait of its patrons, and nothing else. The old Dutch masters at least knew who their clients really were and what they wanted."

 "[Art] naively thinks it makes ‘open’ works, exempt from any particular meaning. As such it is just the spitting image of a ruling class without qualities."

 It's what I was saying about high (conceptual) art versus kitsch (here). And Christmas is an incredible example of it:

"The hard path for art would be to abolish itself in favor of Xmas. Instead of making ‘works,’ the work of finding the tangible excess of the world, of making again the ritual of presenting the thing that is usually withdrawn, and withdrawing the human who is usually all too present, so that the world presents itself to the human and the human to the world, so that the human knows what it has been given and what it has keep and give again. To find again the long loop of imperfect presence in the world which gives itself back to the world, which both learns and teaches the power of the double act."

Neat!

Continent Book

My "Objects as Temporary Autonomous Zones" is in this along with an essay on Meillassoux by Graham, a piece by Michael O'Rourke, and an interview with Badiou, that bourgeois user of the dreaded "mathematics."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ravi Shankar Dead

...my first meditation instructor, Roland, was once a very gifted sarangi player who had worked with Ravi Shankar. Perhaps Ravi Shankar's music was the first time I had heard a sitar, somewhere around the age of five-ish. I was entranced by the timbre: the elicitation of thousands of harmonics from wire and wood, the phasing of the notes against the sympathetic strings. Indian music isn't necessarily as narrative based as Western music, though stories are told. It's often more about timbre, which means that it's about how things attune (and detune) to (and from) one another.

Ravi Shankar got me thinking about materiality, the depth of a thing.

Once or twice I have played a sitar, very very badly. It's a very difficult instrument.

I liked how Ravi Shankar worked with Harrison on the Concert for Bangladesh and I liked how he worked in A Concert for George.