It’s been a long time since I listened so much to music. Blogging is one of the reasons, as I enjoy spicing, illustrating, saving or mitigating words with some appropriate music. Another is my running on the same track time and again, which is much more pleasurable with music. So I’m no total stranger to the effect music can have. But, the below goes beyond my current frame of reference. It is so moving and thought-provoking that I have to share it:
Music restores Harry to himself, animates him, quite literally blows the breath of life into him, bringing him back into the person he used to be, restoring wholeness by coordinating him within himself and at the same time, with those around him. What do I find most thought-provoking about this? To explain I have to take a personal detour.
As a child of my time (we all are, inescapably), I was introduced to mysticism, eastern philosophies, meditation, in many different forms early on. That’s been a fancy ever since, but one that, after initially occupying a quite central place in my daily universe, drifted into permanent, sub or semi-conscious presence, so that I didn’t much engage with it. Largely because every particular tradition, technique, social circle that I did engage with seemed to turn stale quite quickly.
When entering university, the objectifying science on offer appealed to me, opening a very different window on reality, coming at it from the other end. My engagement with science has remained more explicit, but anyone following this blog will know of my deep frustration with how the traditions, techniques, and social circles of science do not live up to their own standards. Even a hero of mine, Daniel Kahneman is becoming doubtful if some of the science he’s basing his theories on can be trusted.
A common escape, solution (or whatever other label you prefer) adopted by Janus-faced fence sitters like me is to explore where the twain meet, but again, reading Tao of Physics kinda stuff inevitably turned stale (I didn’t even start down the track of Ken Wilber and his likes).
Now, where does this leave me? Given that Janus is an appropriate reference here (his wikipedia lemma starts off with: In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus...is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, passages, endings and time), I find Chuck Norris, painfully straddling the years, bearing all that unnecessary weight, but stoically hanging in there, an appropriately poetic, if somewhat fictitious answer (have been looking for an opportunity to smuggle this one in for a while…):
Reality is, the fancies danced their own thing – and I imagine often a two-some – not out on the streets but largely hidden away in the canyons of my mindscape, off and on popping up, alone, or hand in hand, in conversations with myself or good friends (runs and walks are great for that).
Anyways, the identity to which Harry finds the way home is right at that meeting point, or gate is better, because where the circle squares itself, we also leave the universe of language. And that makes any effort to describe/explain why this provokes my thoughts tricky.
So let’s keep it as close to home as possible: I experience the fact that it provokes my thoughts as a message from the canyons of where my game of marbles is at. I seem to lean towards the way of science, and I mean that in its traditional sense of discipline. My deepest intuitions seem more at ease with embodied, mediated awareness than with the neti neti of non-duality. At the same time I am absolutely convinced that my game of marbles cannot do without the challenge of the latter. Yes, the “I” is a concept, like any other, the richest, most consuming concept of them all. The one that colours our experience the most. But also the one that cannot be shed. And if it is, one becomes a very sad Harry (in my youth calling someone ‘Harry’ meant ‘stupid’ in a somewhat endearing way).
Time for some music to break through this word salad. Difficult to make a choice, but love seems to be the appropriate theme here. But that’s available in so many tastes.
Passionate, personal, suffering (watch how she entrances fellow singer Mama Cass):
Subdued, groovy, but also somewhat sad:
The eternal dance of mutual seduction and entrapment, with a humorous twist:
A different kinda meeting of souls:
And I could add countless other tastes, but all are embodied, mediated, because when this is all there is there is nothing to transcend, really.
Let me quote from Hofstadter‘s I am a strange loop: We draw…conceptual boundaries around entities at our own level. We therefore draw conceptual boundaries around entities that we easily perceive, and in so doing we carve out what seems to us to be reality. The “I” we create for each of us is a quintessential example of such a perceived or invented reality, and it does such a good job at explaining our behavior that it becomes the hub around which the rest of the world seems to rotate. But this “I” notion is just a shorthand for a vast mass of seething and churning of which we are necessarily unaware…But our own unfathomability is a lucky thing for us! Just as we might shrivel up and die if we could truly grasp how minuscule we are in comparison to the vast universe we live in, so we might also explode in fear and shock if we were privy to the unimaginable frantic goings-on inside our own bodies…Poised midway between the unvisualizable cosmic vastness of curved spacetime and the dubious, shadowy flickerings of charged quanta, we human beings, more like rainbows and mirages than raindrops or boulders, are unpredictable self-writing poems – vague, metaphorical, ambiguous, and sometimes exceedingly beautiful (p. 362-363).
Chockablock concepts, but it oozes wonderment, and stays rooted in this mass of seething and churning, that may hallucinate itself but in the meantime is materially at one with star-dust, bacteria, and viruses (as something I’m currently reading argues: it’s probably viral symbionts who were responsible for the first bodily sense of self, rudimentary immune-systems in bacteria). We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of our self, but we can enjoy the show.