Over the next months, leading into 2018, I am going to shift my blogging emphasis toward using the Explorations Blog to bookmark compelling content across the range of my interests without also including a great deal of personal commentary. This blog will fold in the old music studio blog’s content, nogutsnoglorystudios. This will also afford me the chance to include new music oriented content. Finally, after over a decade of musings about my personal wandering and its shifting contexts, this new direction will dial those kinds of essays back.
These changes are all due to the sudden manifestation in my life’s mission of its missing expressive aspect, my original experiments in creating mirror symmetry-based numinous images. One result of this new chapter is that the blog will softly arc away from its prior principal (and multiple concerns,) and cast a new arc toward the cultural cosmos.
In the background, my interests also have been lightly altered, yet, core concerns remain grounded and just what these have been for decades. As always, juxtaposition will be deployed for the sake of ‘hiding’ my own sense.
“I live in an unethical society, that coarsens the sensibilities and thwarts the capacities for goodness of most people but makes available for minority consumption an astonishing array of intellectual and aesthetic pleasures. Those who don’t enjoy (in both senses) my pleasures have every right, from their side, to regard my consciousness as spoiled, corrupt, decadent.” Susan Sontag
Because I carry the equipment bags and make out the line-ups and provide ad hoc and amateur cognitive behavioral therapy interventions, I possess awesome power within the Free Play Softball League leadership, you know, the one I convened prior to this season. This power may be trumped by a harsh god with his passive-aggressive approach to guiding the weather. Due to this more powerful deity I worked out parameters with m=the co-leaders for starting softball games in the late fall, past the baseball world series. The conditions must be dry, the field playable, and, temp in the forties.
Still, in the face of such gods the free players turned out on a windy rainy Sunday morning. Not in force, here at the end of the season, (in which the league has expanded its base of regulars by the most new and second/third year players in years,) but turning out nine players. Sadly, once I got there a half hour late, summoned by a text, the drizzle intensified.
Smiling, I walked up to Francis and told him,
All these players are irrepressible.
He said, You can play in this, we just don’t have enough players.
Later Dave told me, “we used to play games in much worse conditions.”
Indeed. It is fitting in this 2017 Free Play Softball League season that the original spark of the league made its late season claim. We’ve played through falling snow once upon a time.
The assembled players convened a batting practice as the curtain started to very slowly unfold.
I was reminded recently in rereading some of his poems from his self-curated unpublished collection The Hero In the Oak Branch Stretcher, that in passing away in February 1993, he was a poet of the pre-internet era. This poem, Expulsion, is prescient about contemporary communication.
via CWRU.edu POETSBANK is a loosely structured organization that sponsors and promotes readings by and of Cleveland poets. It was the brainchild of poet Daniel Thompson, who began sponsoring readings at the County Justice Ctr. in the late 1970s to commemorate the birthdays of Cleveland poets HART CRANE, LANGSTON HUGHES, and d.a. levy (see DARRYL ALLEN LEVY). It tended to attract performance-oriented poets as opposed to more publication-minded groups, such as the Poets’ League of Gtr. Cleveland. Since his girlfriend’s father was a bank president, Thompson chose the name Poetsbank in order that he might become one himself. In the absence of elections, he has filled that office since the group’s founding. The principal function of Poetsbank has been to provide a name whenever a sponsor was needed for a reading. It attempted to include artists from different disciplines, to promote woman poets, and to address such political issues as nuclear disarmament and homelessness. Its most memorable events were the annual “Junkstock” readings given at the Pearl Rd. Auto Wrecking & Salvage Co. during the 1980s. Other readings have taken place in such venues as the ARCADE, the Cleveland Workhouse, the county jail, the FLATS, and area coffeehouses. Participating poets, besides Thompson, have included Barbara Angell, Kristen Ban Tepper, TIM CALHOUN, Mark Hopkins, Tim Joyce, JAMES KILGORE, Marilyn Murray, Maarafu Ojo, Geoffrey Singer, C. A. Smith, Amy Sparks, Zena Zipporah, and Barry Zucker.
Kathy described this mind map and I found it out in the wild. Collaborations can lead to interesting incidental paths. Kathy turned me on to Dr. Chris Seeley‘s view of the artful organization. She added her own very highest regard. The incidental informs the future process and relationship and collaboration and transforms into the coincidental. follow along
It seems to me consistent with the old fashioned archetypal view of hidden complexes and incumbent courses of social action and social response that the election of President Priapic would promote an intense and heartfelt compensation. This has begun to transform relations in the patriarchical social structures.
(Also, archetypically related to this are the sweep of the athletes protest against state violence against minorities and #blacklivesmatter.)
Personally, the questions for me are what might I experience, act, and, communicate differently? As soon as this had bubbled up, I spent an afternoon with my artistic collaborator Kathy to discuss our first creative collaboration. She took me to school not on sexual behavior or harassment but on entering and being present and self-aware in the sacred space of her studio. This is precisely where my attitude needs the most adjustment. For many men this is where the transformation could begin. For others the call beckons in a more fundamental direction.
Many who know something about my art practice know I loathe the terms “digital art” and “digital artist.” Both terms strike me as almost always leading right into various thickets of ignorance, bias, oversimplification, and, confusion about what the word “digital” means when applied to art-making. Yes, it is my personal hangup that I don’t want to be associated with inevitable misconceptions about where ‘the digits’ fall in my own process.
On the other hand I dig being someone who creates generative art because I’m always ready to explain how I deploy scripted generative routines to make images. If I encounter someone who knows about generative art processes, one of their first questions will be along the lines of, “what sequences what?”
An art acquaintance asked me on what kind of art I made. My initial response was about processes and processing, ‘After taking pictures of set-ups I cut them into symmetries, and, process these half pieces into full symmetries. I may process the art work further by adjusting pixels using software.’
“Mixed process photographs.”
“Why didn’t you just say so?”
I term the art work to be a: mixed process photographic image, or, mixed process photo-generative image. Sometimes the finished piece is a straight photograph–taken by a digital camera–cut and pasted into a mirror symmetry. It’s all about the process and the ‘processes of processes.’ This fact is, apparently, very hard to approach from the direction of ‘the digital.’
When I imagine possibilities in the realm of generativity, I am visualizing how different iterations of the processing of processes and first order processing work in concert. In this there are features of a peculiar cybernetics anchored to imagining.
Over the past two winters I have not been firing up the generative dashboard, yet I have been stockpiling various experiments, in my head. My goal would be to create a piece as overwhelming as the two here, Brisk Totem, and, Sonny Sharrock in Heaven, both 2015.
I started playing Free Play Softball League in 2002. At the time, the game was co-ed to the magnitude of six female players, Alice, Laine, Angie, Amy, Linda, Mary. By 2009, the attrition of female players had reached its “negative zenith.” The game labored on and became more spiky, masculine, boyish, and, mildly less civilized. However, the boyish part reflects aging and regression, not an influx of many younger players.
This year it appears Free Play Softball League has developed two women players.
Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
I have no idea how they found their way to our game. East siders. I know Nicole played softball in high school. She and Mia are feisty, and I suspect both see right through the antics and legacy patterns of the recent league.
As a group, we had our most civilized season in many years. Just sayin’, (and suggesting something about the relationship between an increase in wholeness and courtesy.)
This past weekend I went to my forty-fifth high school reunion, for the Class of ’72. I have been to every single five year Class of ’72 Hawken School (Gates Mills, Ohio,) reunion. The first one was in 1977. I was living in Middlebury Vermont at the time.
This year the hallowed men’s circle that uniquely characterizes the class’s fraternal ritual was at an Upper School (grades 9-12) transformed by a luxurious new 21st century series of connected school buildings. As you can see, some of us took the tour. Almost nothing of our own experience ‘back in the day’ naturally translates to the new surroundings; and, I note as much while also regarding the addition of women to the upper school classes starting in 1974. The buck buck tree is still there. Several of the old building’s wings, with their fifties utilitarian cinder blocks, have remained connected to the new campus.
Each reunion presents a mini seminar in men, masculinity, adult development, families, and, the second law of thermodynamics. It’s a lovely group.
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. (Henry David Thoreau)
I first heard Thelonious Monk in 1970, several years before I put my jazz head on. Probably it was my classmate Warren who auditioned an LP track. I don’t recall which one. I didn’t care for it. However, in the winter of 1971 I began working part time in a record store next to the post office in Cleveland Heights. In Budget records and Tapes’s collection of vinyl promos were two Monk records, Monk’s Blues, the big band record arranged by Oliver Nelson, and, Criss Cross, a quartet record from the sixties with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. The former record was one of the owner’s favorite records. At the time the available discography of the master was quite slim with the exception of the Columbia recordings, all of which dated from the sixties beginning in 1963.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world that night and day wants to make you like everybody else is to fight the greatest battle you will fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings
The iconic Cleveland jazz maven Harvey Pekar scoffed at the big band record one day while in the store, and lamented the unavailability of the “class Blue Note sides.” But, never mind, Harvey, despite your influence on my tastes and your insistence on the store bringing in the Black Lion trio dates recorded in 1971 and released in 1972, it would not be until those Blue Notes were issued in a stirling twofer in 1976 that I got bitten by the Monk hard.
How hard? ‘Life-changingly hard.’ Monk is second to no one in my estimation and surely in my experience. Happy 100th birthday to the khidr of sound, Thelonious Sphere Monk.
My friend Abdullah Ibrahim turned 83 today. Of the many possibilities for experiential learning he served my way in the late eighties, the most essential was that the next breath possibly might turn out to be the last such breath.
A man in prison is sent a prayer rug by his friend. What he had wanted, of course, was a file or a crowbar or a key! But he began using the rug, doing five-times prayer before dawn, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before sleep. Bowing, sitting up, bowing again, he notices an odd pattern in the weave of the rug, just at the qibla, the point, where his head touches. He studies and meditates on that pattern, gradually discovering that it is a diagram of the lock that confines him in his cell and how it works. He’s able to escape. Anything you do every day can open into the deepest spiritual place, which is freedom.
— Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi
Abdullah refashioned a teaching story and transmitted the best version. I’ve revised it a bit due to some additional understanding gained over the intervening years.
A hunter was in the jungle hunting when he heard in the distance a beautiful bird song. He slowly and quietly made his way to the song’s source. Standing in the brush near a tall tree he spotted a gorgeous bird singing a song the hunter was the most beautiful melody he’s ever heard a bird sing. He set a snare, and the next day came back and found the bird trapped. With a great deal of respect and care he brought the bird back with him to his country place.
The hunter outfitted a large cage and hung the cage with the bird in it in a sunlit corner with windows on both sides. The bird was quiet for many weeks after first being housed in the cage. However, eventually, the bird began piecing together bits of melodies. After beginning to do this, a few weeks later, the bird began singing the songs that had so captured the hunter’s attention in the jungle.
Yet, the songs seemed much sadder to the hunter than the original melodies. He reflected on this and decided the bird was lonely. So it was the hunter decided to return to the jungle and track down a bird like the bird in the cage, and bring it back as a companion.
The hunter returned to the same location in the jungle where he had first heard the marvelous bird songs. Not right away, but soon enough, the hunter one morning heard a similar song. He tracked the melody to another tall tree. From some nearby bushes he stood quietly observing the singing bird on a branch high up the tree. Then something shattering happened, mid song the bird fell out of the tree and landed with a soft thud in the undergrowth.
The hunter was shocked and dismayed as he made his way to the now still and silent bird. He gently picked it up. It was dead. The hunter was so moved and so deeply startled by this that, after burying the bird, he abandoned his search.
He returned to his farm. Walking into the room where the caged bird was singing, he sat on the shoulder of a couch next to the cage. To himself, the hunter recounted what had happened in the jungle. When he finished, the bird stopped singing. Then it fell off its perch to the floor of the cage. The hunter was instantly beside himself. He opened the door of the cage and picked up the still bird.
Then, as he was about to pronounce the bird dead, the bird instantly fluttered a second and then flew out of his hand and flew out an open window, and flew to a branch on a nearby tree, and, started singing a fresh and glorious song.
(The title of this story is: Thanks for the Message!)
Dr. Ibrahim and me, 1989, Middlebury Vermont
Speaking of my current chapter as an artist, Abdullah Ibrahim’s influence on my creative mission is certain and very direct. Yes, for me, my art is about providing an opportunity for a small moment of positive feeling. I also have redeployed many times his self-evaluative question: What are your four highest art forms that you practice?
At 83, Abdullah Ibrahim, the ‘africanizer of Ellington,’ remains one of the masters of contemporary and ancient music. The tour video above from a few weeks ago speaks for itself. Ibrahim lives today with his honey in Switzerland.
“For the mind of man is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced.” — Francis Bacon
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the glib but best-selling Sapiens and Homo Deus, reduces massive ideas with the efficiency of a clothes dryer fed a soaking wool sweater. For example, liberal humanism in his view simply erases all but the individual’s feeling and so it is literally for him the natural state of affairs that if something feels good one may just do it. He also asserts that, maybe, this is entirely to do to with implicitly ‘necessitarian’ algorithms.
Another beautiful day for our Sunday Free Play Softball game. The weather has been mild all summer and now is unseasonably warm in the early fall. We’ll keep playing until the increasing cold knocks our numbers below twelve.
What is arrogance?
It is being oblivious and insensible to what is essential,
as the ice is unaware of the sun.
When ice becomes conscious of the sun, it doesn’t last
long: it warms and melts and flows away.
— Rumi; Mathnawi V:1941-1942
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
My own result hit close to the sweet spot. My self-evaluation about my time perspective recognizes that my hedonistic present anchors me and is also the imposition I have to work against. This is consistent with my Myers-Briggs XNXP, my Jungian puer aeternus complex, and my Big five extroverted, open to experience, and, non-neurotic personality type.
Importance of having a balanced time-perspective profile
Zimbardo & Boyd show that each of the six perspectives may have benefits, some much more than others. They also show that the costs associated with any one perspective may rise sharply if it is held in excess, and/or if it is out of balance with others of the six. Many of the book’s examples involve disturbed persons (e.g., addicts). But it also offers valuable more-general observations too. Here’s one that caught my eye: In discussing the faults of some executives who’d been running risky mortgage businesses not long ago, the authors find that “lack of balance between present and future orientations in both business and government is a well-worn path to disaster.”
As a result, Zimbardo & Boyd urge their readers to develop an “optimally balanced time perspective”:
“The ideal we want you to develop is a balanced time perspective in place of a narrowly focused single time zone. A balanced time perspective will allow you to flexibly shift from past to present to future in response to the demands of the situation facing you so that you can make optimal decisions.” twotheories blog
The four panel valence differentiator of Boston Consulting Group fame, (or what I term the four square matrix,) and the circular cycle used to show both a linear course of change and a completed course of development, are both the main forms for schemas which I collect.
Here are a bunch of such schemas. My aim here is to create a temporary counterpoint.
Captain Beefheart was asked what the greatest concert he ever saw, and he answered something like this:
Thelonious Monk was to play a solo piano concert at an old Victorian theatre in San Francisco. I got to my seat and waited for the concert to begin. On the stage was a glistening Steinway. On it was stood a beautiful bunch of flowers in a large crystal vase. The lid was open and framed the vase of flowers. The lights softened and from stage left strode the tall Mr. monk. He slowly approached the piano, stopped, looked out at the audience, took a few steps to the piano, grabbed the prop for the lid and set it down. The lid of the Steinway came down and it caused the vase to tumble backwards onto the piano’s strings with a striking eruption of sound.
Monk took a step back, turned to the audience, turned away and walked off the stage. The sound was still reverberating.
This graphic itemization is a precise folk catalog. It is normative and counter-reactionary given our current climate. Thank you for taking back the concept of alpha male; as far as this goes. Following from Luce Iragaray, I would hope there is a sorting through and beyond the androcentric claims. However, the boys of the alt-right, gamergate, red pill culture, are irredeemable. The Alpha female and her practical divinity remain in the shadow of the rude boy culture of our present and presentist problem.
(My fascination with the masculinist ideologies followed from my learning of the alt-right and the culture of so-called neo-reaction. This all was a consequence of my hoping to track cultural trends during the several years of the recent presidential campaign. Even though the religiously self-indulgent Trump is not in anyway a credible icon of the goal-oriented masculine idealization on offer from the arch masculinists of the alt-right, all of the rightward aggression found at the level of the aggrieved white male, follows from Trump’s racist and misogynist call to ‘reaction.’)
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
Two weeks ago Nicole returned for her second Freeplay Softball league outing and, I believe, got five hits in six at-bats, including two doubles and a triple.
I don’t ever go on about my positive progression away from my mediocre mean, but on Sunday I struck out for the first time ever in Freeplay Softball, and only for the fourth time in over 3,000 career at-bats stretching back to 1971. Since I keep track of my yearly performances, it seems this was the first strikeout in around 2,700. This goes to show you that the scale of context is all important in determining whether someone is using statistics to present a positive or a negative.
You throw the sand against the wind
And the wind blows it back again.
The idea that what one has long held of a person is apt to stop one’s eyes and ears. —Marcel Proust
The self is a metaphor. We can decide to limit it to our skin, our person, our family, our organization, or our species. We can select its boundaries in objective reality As the systems theorists see it, our consciousness illuminates a small arc in the wider currents and loops of knowing that interconnect us. It is just as plausible to conceive of mind as coexistent with these larger circuits, the entire “pattern that connects,” as Bateson said. Do not think that to broaden the construct of self this way involves an eclipse of one’s distinctiveness. Do not think that you will lose your identity like a drop in the ocean merging into the oneness of Brahma. From the systems perspective this interaction, creating larger wholes and patterns, allows for and even requires diversity. You become more yourself. Integration and differentiation go hand in hand. From: ‘World as Lover, world as Self’ — Joanna Macy