Saturday, October 29, 2011

Expansion & Growth

Hexagram 42: I / Expansion

Whirlwinds and Thunder:
When the Superior Person encounters saintly behavior, he adopts it; when he encounters a fault within, he transforms it.

Get ready to ride a tide of accelerated growth toward self-actualization.
A joyful awareness of the best within you, coupled with an acceptance of your Shadow, will provide a greater repertoire, a much bolder vision, and new depth and clarity that will compel you to expand your horizons.

Hexagram 53: Chien / Gradual Progress 
The gnarled Pine grows tenaciously off the Cliff face:
The Superior Person clings faithfully to dignity and integrity, thus elevating the Collective Spirit of Man in his own small way.

Adaptability mixed with integrity will bring a calm, steady progress.
Move from your center, always faithful to your principles, yet with the flexibility to weather any tempest.
Yours is not a meteoric rise to the top, but the solid, confident footing of one who has a clear vision of what can be, and who is willing to climb the distance to reach it.
The oracle foresees companionship along the way -- a Divine comfort on any journey.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Phase Transition

Hexagram 63: After Completion.

"Nature knows nothing about fixed order like man does. ‘Everything in its place and stay there’ as if he is training his dog. Nature knows equilibrium, an organic interplay of all creatures, things, climates, everything. When one thing changes, everything moves toward a new equilibrium.
People who have a mind like nature are healthy, happy and good. When they are disturbed, their mind moves toward a new natural wholeness. They are not rigidly organized inside, they have an inner symbiosis of all aspects of their personality. It is a mind of Chan, of Zen." (from here)

I suppose it depends on how you interpret the result: "After Completion". The completion of one phase implies the beginning of a new one. So here I am. The essential thing to remember from this reading is that there is no such thing as true order: only points in time when things are more ordered than other points. In other words, you can spend all day cleaning your house and it will never be 100% clean. In fact there is no such thing as it. Only relative levels of dirtiness. Ordered perfection is a concept, not a reality. There is however, equilibrium. In all of the universe's natural chaos: this is true wholeness, ever-changing and shifting. I feel that I lean too heavily on ordered rigidity sometimes, but this is okay as long as it has a purpose that leads back to its opposite: raw creativity. Beautiful works of art, in truth, embody aspects of both. The best works, in our eyes, embody raw creativity. But in truth they arise filtered from a pool of raw works, just as a beautiful sound from a synthesizer comes filtered through a raw waveform. No artist made 100% masterpieces. As their receivers, we are only shown and only remember the best works.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Joseph Campbell - Indra's Net

Words: Joseph Campbell, The Power Of Myth

"Schopenhauer points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others. The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

"It's a magnificent idea - an idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can't blame anybody for anything. It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended.

"I don't believe life has a purpose. Life is a lot of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being. Just sheer life cannot be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it? My answer is, 'Follow your bliss.' There's something inside you that knows when you're in the center, that knows when you're on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you've lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don't get any money, you still have your bliss."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Steven Johnson - Emergence

Excerpts from Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson.

Quote by Gerald Edelman:

"Can a selectional system be simulated? The answer must be split into two parts. If I take a particular animal that is the result of evolutionary and developmental selection, so that I already know its structure and the principles governing its selective processes, I can simulate the animal's structure in a computer. But a system undergoing selection has two parts: the animal or organ, and the environment or world. No instructions come from events of the world. No instructions come from events of the world to the system on which selection occurs. Moreover, events occuring in an environment or a world are unpredictable. How then do we simulate events and their effects on selection? One way is as follows:

1. Simulate the organ or the animal as described above, making provision for the fact that, as a selective system, it contains a generator of diversity - mutations, alterations in neural wiring, or synaptic changes that are unpredictable.
2. Independently simulate a world or environment constrained by known physical principles, but allow for the occurrence of unpredictable events.
3. Let the simulated organ or animal interact with the simulated world or the real world without prior information transfer, so that selection can take place.
4. See what happens."


How different is this, really, from the real world as we know it? First, start with the Tao, fullness, undifferentiated pure matter-consciousness and absolutely nothing else. This is beyond concepts, thoughts, time, space, the forces of nature, and organic life forms. Spontaneously, on the quantum level, it begins to vibrate, creating diversity and variation, evolving and changing unpredictably. In Hindu mythological terms, Shiva begins her dance, the drum of creation beats unrelentingly. As this process begins, soon certain characteristics emerge from the chaos, cosmological terms that are found to be the same everywhere we can look: the fundamental forces of gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, the speed of light, et cetera. So we now have a set of constraints on the environment that emerged unpredictably from the chaos, and which continue to produce unpredictable events. We have learned that these characteristics are the way they are because all other possibilities fizzled out long ago, the universes that they created had a negligible lifetime, leaving only one universe that continued to evolve into one where living entities emerge. Given the set of constraints on the physical environment and the inherent unpredictability, the environment begins to interact with itself as life, it continues with the process of variation and diversity through genetic mutation and reproduction. Natural selection takes place by the continual process of the environment consuming itself as its multiplicity of temporary forms, in a constant feedback relationship to the ever-changing, unpredictable nature of the environment. Eventually, after eons of iterations, we are where we are now and when we are now, conscious human beings, free to stare at the stars and wonder about our origins, ask questions and pursue knowledge, learn, dance, and create. In other words, for better or worse, this is the Tao, this is Shiva in her dance of creation. Now, more than ever, we can "see what happens." The beautiful difference between us and the simulation is that not only can we see what happens, we can BE what happens.

This is summarized in the following quote from Jane Jacobs:

"Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance - not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole."

Remember always, strange as it may seem, it is our nature to be this way. The way is strange, the way is ever-changing, the way is infinitely complex. We all have a part to play in the way, and it is up to us how we play it.

"You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Quotes from Anatomy of the Spirit

Excerpts taken from Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss.

On the sensation of the individual self:
"The third chakra in particular resonates to the boundaries of the physical body. Are we physically strong or weak? Able or handicapped? Beautiful or scarred? Too tall or too short? From a spiritual perspective, any and all physical assets and limitations are illusory, mere 'life props'. Yet a person's acceptance of or resistance to them is critical to entering spiritual adulthood. From a spiritual perspective, in fact, the entire physical world is nothing more than our classroom, but the challenge to each of us in this classroom is: given your particular body, environment, and beliefs, will you make choices that enhance your spirit or those that drain your power into the physical illusion around you? Again and again, the challenges of the third chakra will cause you to evaluate your sense of power and self in relation to the external world."

On detachment:
"We achieve wisdom both through life experiences and by acquiring the discriminating perceptual ability of detachment. Symbolic sight is partly learned 'detachment' - a state of mind beyond the influences of the 'personal mind' or 'beginner's mind' that can lead to the power and insight of the 'impersonal' or open mind."

"The sacred truth of the sixth chakra is Seek Only the Truth. It compels us to search continually for the difference between truth and illusion, the two forces present at every moment. Separating truth from illusion is more a task of the mind than of the brain. The brain commands the behavior of our physical body, but the mind commands the behavior of our energy body, which is our relationship to thought of perception. The brain is the physical instrument through which thought is transferred into action, but perception - and all that is associated with perception, such as becoming conscious - is a characteristic of the mind. In becoming conscious one is able to detach from subjective perceptions and see the truth or symbolic meaning in a situation. Detachment does not mean ceasing to care. It means stilling one's fear-driven voices. One who has attained an inner posture of detachment has a sense of self so complete that external influences have no authority within his or her consciousness. Such clarity of mind and self is the essence of wisdom, one of the divine powers of the sixth chakra."

"Becoming detached and conscious means getting certain perceptions from our minds into our bodies. It means merging with perceptions that are truth and living them so that their power becomes one and the same as our own energy. Take, for instance, the truth 'Change is constant.' Mentally we can absorb that teaching with little difficulty. Yet when change occurs in our lives - when we notice we are aging, when people we love die, or when relationships shift from being intimate and loving to distant - this truth terrorizes us. We often need years to recover from some changes because we had hoped that it - whatever 'it' was - would remain the same. We knew all along that it would change, but we can't help hoping that the energy of change will pass by this one part of our lives. The promise of 'Change is constant' is that new beginnings always follow closures."

On consciousness and change:
"Consciousness is the ability to release the old and embrace the new with the awareness that all things end at the appropriate time and that all things begin at the appropriate time. This truth is difficult to learn to live with because human beings seek stability - the absence of change. Therefore becoming conscious means living fully in the present moment, knowing that no situation or person will be exactly the same tomorrow. As change does occur, we work to interpret it as a natural part of life and strive to 'flow with it', as the Tao Te Ching counsels, and not against it. Trying to make things remain the same is useless as well as impossible. Our task is to contribute the best of our energy to every situation with the understanding that we influence, but do not control, what we will experience tomorrow."

Don Juan on Knowledge and Path

Excerpts taken from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda.

Don Juan:
"To be a man of knowledge has no permanence. One is never a man of knowledge, not really. Rather, one becomes a man of knowledge for a very brief instant, after defeating the four natural enemies.

"When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize, for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.

"He slowly begins to learn - bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.

"And thus he has stumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: Fear! A terrible enemy - treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest.

Carlos Castaneda:
"And what can he do to overcome fear?"

Don Juan:
"The answer is very simple. He must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task. When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy.

"Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity - a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning, and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed.

"And thus he has encountered his second natural enemy: Clarity! That clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds. It forces the man to never doubt himself. It gives him the assurance he can do anything he pleases, for he sees clearly into everything. And he is courageous because he is clear, and he stops at nothing because he is clear. But all that is a mistake; it is like something incomplete. If the man yields to this make-believe power, he has succumed to his second enemy and will fumble with learning. He will rush when he should be patient, or he will be patient when he should rush. And he will fumble with learning until he winds up incapable of learning anything more."

Carlos Castaneda:
"...what does he have to do to avoid being defeated [by clarity]?"

Don Juan:
"He must do what he did with fear: he must defy his clarity and use it only to see, and wait patiently and measure carefully before taking new steps; he must think, above all, that his clarity is almost a mistake. And a moment will come when he will understand that his clarity was only a point before his eyes. And thus he will have overcome his second enemy, and will arrive at a position where nothing can harm him anymore. This will not be a mistake. It will not be only a point before his eyes. It will be true power.

"He will know at this point that the power he has been pursuing for so long is finally his. He can do with it whatever he pleases. His ally is at his command. His wish is the rule. He sees all that is around him. But he has also come across his third enemy: Power!

"Power is the strongest of all enemies. And naturally the easiest thing to do is to give in; after all, the man is truly invincible. He commands; he begins by taking calculated risks, and ends in making rules, because he is a master. A man at this stage hardly notices his third enemy closing in on him. And suddenly, without knowing, he will certainly have lost the battle. His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man. A man is defeated only when he no longer tries, and abandons himself."

Carlos Castaneda:
"How can he defeat his third enemy, don Juan?"

Don Juan:
"He has to come to realize that the power he has seemingly conquered is in reality never his. He must keep himself in line at all times, handling carefully and faithfully all that he has learned. If he can see that clarity and power, without his control over himself, are worse than mistakes, he will reach a point where everything is held in check. He will know then when and how to use his power. And thus he will have defeated his third enemy.

"The man will be, by then, at the end of his journey of learning, and almost without warning he will come upon the last of his enemies: Old age! This enemy is the cruelest of all, the one he won't be able to defeat completely, but only fight away.

"This is the time when a man has no more fears, no more impatient clarity of mind - a time when all his power is in check, but also the time when he has an unyielding desire to rest. If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.

"But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate though, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy. That moment of clarity, power, and knowledge is enough."


Don Juan:
"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

"This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

Monday, April 18, 2011

REVIEW: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Black Sun [Hyperdub]

Here's the review I wrote for Kode9 and The Spaceape's new album Black Sun, out now on Hyperdub. This review was published in the current issue of Big Up Magazine.


In the seventh year since the induction of "Sine Of The Dub", a forshadowing of the Hyperdub empire, approaches the second long-player from the magistrate of permutations of all things sub and bass, Kode9, accompanied by his partner in grime, The Spaceape. Its title: Black Sun, due for dispersal in April 2011. As if blown from a supernova, along with the once nucleic center of sound-crafters surrounding the birth of a sound called dubstep, have expanded into their own respective spaces and thus continue their pursuit of a unique atmospheric ambience, each their own manifestation of sonic
evolution. This has not been made clearer than in the case of Kode9 and Hyperdub, who have over the years displayed a metamorphic growth, needlessly dispelling passing imitators with its consistent diversity. With Black Sun, it is as if the music’s aura plays shadowboxing with an antithetical adversary, of a Sun from the other side, as Spaceape’s lyric urges, “we need to find the enemy…”

Wasting no time on introductions, Black Sun bursts through a cloud of smoke into an otherworldly soundscape of subterranean vibrations and analog electronic synesthesia. The percussion
is crisp and rhythmic, deliberate and calculated, often tapping into the recent schizothemia for Roland’s foundational drum machines. Add to this the return of lyricist Spaceape’s arcane subliminal
hybrid, fusing elements and tempossubjugation, and the presence of symbiotic synergy is undeniable. Stylistically, it stands as a transgenic floating between nodes of dubstep, grimey funk, and cosmic electronica into a unique blend of arcane tribal-futurism.

It traverses an invisible landscape of uncertain terrain; the listener has no choice but to trust the conductor of such an apparatus, making a journey with a certain suspension of temporal distance, into temporary dissonance, resurfaced by harmonic scintillation, harnessed by Spaceape’s subfocal
suggestion. Making an entrance on this album is also Chinese emcee Cha Cha, lending her own style to the album’s mesomorphic nature. The result is on the whole remarkably effective and inspiring of movement. Closing out the album is “Kryon”, a collaboration with Flying Lotus that resounds with
an alien tinge, echoing with a distant Spaceape: a beatless descent that tickles the dendrites, offering a glimpse into the vast panorama of possibility that awaits in the yet to be imagined.

Certainly unique, and at times simply weird, Black Sun is for the imaginative listener, the explorative dancer. Its progression from their debut album in 2006 is provocative and impressive; it manages to maintain its own identity and displays a personal transformation, the vital core remaining unsullied by the wear and tear of temporal and cultural propagation. The development is only natural: artesian, as if a foundation were lain to allow it. Whether or not this is the case in reality, it is the reason it captivates us.

-Alex Incyde

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things to remember

Three months on Maui. How do you describe that to someone? I've been pondering this ever since I got there, and now I'm back on the mainland, concluding that you really can't. You can, but not really. It goes like this: one day you're in New York, the next Boston, then Dallas, then on through the Maui time-warp, thousands of miles of ocean surrounding you in every direction, on an island grown out of volcanic lava, teeming with life everywhere you look, everywhere you listen. Three months have passed and what do you say??? I think the only way is to remember what stuck out, the bits and pieces you don't want to forget.

Remember: The Obama burger at Paia Fish Market.

Remember: The ridiculously coincidental meeting with Indi

Remember: The Cove at Baldwin Beach

Remember: There is a reason we love the beach: it is one of the most ancient things in the world, and the source of life as we know it.

Remember: Lockjaw, the 1990 Honda Accord.

Remember: "Simple and clear" - Raphael

Remember: Go with the flow.

Remember: "Shake out!" - Raphael

Remember hexagram 57: Sun - The gently penetrating wind, subtle influence

Remember: The Raphael Special 

and don't forget: "To heal is to make whole." - Raphael

Remember: "Tell me who you are."

Remember: True wisdom lies not in books, nor those who consider themselves to be wise, nor those who you consider to be wise. It lies in anyone and anything: in the experience itself.

Remember: "The ultimate ecstasy is in here." - Raphael

Remember: Polly the parrot
Remember: Manu the love-hungry jungle kitty
Remember: Indi the dog
Remember: Maggie, the alpha chicken
Remember: Wild Tina and her tiny egg

Remember: Teak temple sunrises 

and don't forget: Microcosm and macrocosm.

Remember: "Stop the world.
I am empty
I am absolutely empty
I know nothing, I receive everything
I know nothing, I receive everything." - Raphael

Remember: The music temple

and don't forget: Ti plant pipes.
"...Chuck Norris wrapped in bacon..."
"You turn my floppy disk into a hard drive" - Mark

Remember: "I am not fired, I am quit!" - Sergio

Remember: There is no right or wrong way of doing the dishes

Remember: "Feel your feet" - Raphael

Remember hexagram 53: Chien - Gradual development

Remember: Big buck hunter, Yogurtland, and Backgammon

Remember: Kids need hugs, not drugs

and don't forget: Romanesco - Fractal broccoli

Remember hexagram 32: Heng - Persevering, endurance, constancy

Remember: "Take what you get." - Raphael

Remember: Going all hunter-gatherer in the Ho'okipa cow pasture with Tommy

Remember: Flower farm party

Remember: Six hours work, six hours play, six hours sleep, six hours pray

Remember: "What you can't let go of still owns you." - Raphael

Remember: "If you want to make one perfect universe, you also have to make a million others." - Paul

and don't forget: Drinking the water straight from a coconut: nature's energy drink.

Remember hexagram 5: Hsu - Calculated waiting, preparation, patience

and don't forget: Safety meeting

Remember: Acknowledge your feminine side, your masculine side, your spiritual side, and your shadow side. All together, they are you.

Remember: The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Remember: In mystery there is beauty, and in beauty there is mystery.

Remember: Space creates time creates everything.

and don't forget: Build from the bottom up.

Remember hexagram 52: Ken - Mountain, keeping still, sitting quietly, doing nothing special. The action of no-action.

Remember: Looking for, but never finding exactly what we seek. As soon as we stop searching, there it is.

Remember: "Enlightenment is not something you achieve, it's something you remember." - Raphael

Remember: In the ancient Hawaiian tradition, "Before you can play a song, first you have to dance it."

and don't forget: Raphael's awkward massage class

Remember: It's not what you use, it's how you use it.

Remember: See yourself in everyone, see everyone in yourself.

and don't forget: The chicken sees

Remember: Existence and observation create each other instantaneously. Nothing exists before it's observed, and nothing is observed before it exists. They require each other.

and don't forget: The coral-eating fish caught by Tommy the fire-spinning spear fisher.

and don't forget: Josephine's delicious kiwi banana bread.

Remember: Embrace change like a mirror embraces its reflection.

and don't forget: Pushing one of the guests' brand new Mustang up Kutira's lawn

and don't forget: John C. Lilly's magical dolphin sheet

and don't forget: Where's Waldo?

and don't forget: Malio!

Remember: Snorkeling at Molokini crater

Remember: Iao Valley

and don't forget: Mustache party

Remember: The seven chakras

Remember: Life's most important things come in sevens, and sixes, and fives, and fours, and threes, and twos, and ones.

Remember: "What you maintain, also maintains you." - Paul

Remember: Humanity is not unnatural. It is in perfect accord with the evolution of nature.

Remember: The wise don't go out of their way to tell you so, they just are.

and don't forget: the whales at Little Beach

and don't forget: "Superego? More like stupidego!"

Remember: Create, refine, arrange, process

Remember: "Everything is a reflection of my own consciousness. I don't get what I want, I get what I am." - Raphael

Page of Pentacles - Optimistic beginning
Ten of swords - Having nowhere to go but up
The Star - Hope and possibility lies for those who seek it.
The Tower - anything built on an illusion will crumble.

Remember: The impermanence of all things.

and don't forget: Danny in the waterfall throne

Remember: Sweat your prayers - "Do you have the discipline to be free?"

Remember: the road to Hana
Remember: The accidentally perfect dinner party at the tree pavilion
Remember: "There's no snobby rum drinkers." - Amanda
Remember: Nick's showdown with the baby black cow tied to a rope by the ocean
Remember: The black sand beach
Remember: The secret rainwater cave 
Remember: The red sand beach
Remember: Nick crashing Lockjaw into the guard rail... "The Vannigan"

Remember: Human sacrifice to the gods of Oogoogaga

Remember hexagram 29: K'an - Plunging in, acclimating, flowing consistently, sincerity to oneself. The water period.

and don't forget: Polly doesn't know how to say goodbye.

and don't forget: "You guys wanna smoke some hash?" - Nick

Remember: "Bog indictment, ocean vindication" - Amanda

and don't forget: The world is alive, and you are in it.

Always remember: Be here now

and don't forget: Aloha!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Alan Watts on Nothingness

In addendum to my last post about nothing, here's something from one of my favorite speakers, Alan Watts. If you haven't heard (or thought) enough about nothing already, these are wise words.

"I've always loved weird things. I remember when I was a little boy people used to say Alan, you're so weird. Why can't you be like other people? Well I thought that was just plain dull, like having the same thing for dinner every day."

"Nothing brings something into focus"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Something About Nothing

From Nothing: A Very Short Introduction by Frank Close.

"Our immediate experiences are of bulk matter and our senses are blind to the existence of atoms, but clues to the restless agitation of the atomic architecture are all around. As I watch my plants grow I don't see the carbon and oxygen atoms pulled from the air and transformed into the leaves; my breakfast cereal mysteriously turns into me because the molecules are being rearranged. In all cases the atoms are calling the tune and we lumbering macro-beings see only the large end-products...

"Many physical systems do not show the fundamental symmetries of the forces that build them. Electromagnetic forces don't care about left or right, yet biological molecules have mirror images that are inert or even fatal while their originals are food or beneficial.

"Balance a perfectly engineered, cylindrically shaped pencil on its point. Turn around: it looks the same. This invariance when one rotates is known as a symmetry, in this case rotational symmetry. Balanced on its tip the pencil is metastable as the force of gravity will pull it to ground if it is displaced from the vertical by the slightest amount. The gravitational force is rotationally symmetric, which implies that when the pencil falls to the ground, no particular direction is preferred over another. Do the experiment thousands of times and the collection will show the pencils have fallen to all points on the compass, in accord with the rotational symmetry. However, on any individual experiment you cannot tell in which direction the pencil will fall; having fallen, perhaps to the north, the 'ground state' will have broken the rotational symmetry. Roulette is another example. Play long enough and all the numbers will win with equal likelihood; this guarantees that the house wins as the zero is theirs. But on any individual play, it is your inability to predict with certainty where the ball will fall that is the source of the gamble.

"In the example of the pencil, the state in which the symmetry is broken is more stable than the symmetric state in which the pencil was precariously balanced on its tip. In general, the laws that govern a system have some symmetry but if there is a more stable state that spoils it, the symmetry is 'spontaneously broken', or 'hidden'. So it is with a snowflake and water, or with magnetism of iron.

"You may cry foul at this point arguing that this is not really a failure of symmetry, but more a result of one's imprecision in balancing the pencil: 'The pencil dropped because it was not perfectly upright.' This is true, but suppose that it has been balanced on a perfectly engineered point. Even then, the atoms in the tip are in random motion, due to the heat manifested in their kinetic energy. This randomness means that the direction of toppling is random. You might agree, but suggest that we do the experiment at temperatures approaching absolute zero of temperature, -273º C, where the kinetic energy tends to vanish. Your gedankenexperiment supposes the tip to be engineered from perfectly spherical molecules, the pivotal one being frozen in place at absolute zero temperature where thermal motion has ceased. The catch is that the quantum laws take over. If motion has vanished, then position is unknown and the point of balance is itself randomized. If the point were precisely known at some instant, motion would be undetermined and the resulting imbalance unpredictable. It seems that here, and in general, the quantum fabric of nature enables high-energy metastability to choose a state of lower energy where the symmetry is spontaneously broken. Thus melting ice, or heating magnetized metal, causes the symmetry to return, but when allowed to cool again, the symmetry is broken with no memory of what happened before. The rule is that raising the temperature causes structure and complexity to melt away, giving a 'simpler' system. Water is bland; ice crystals are beautiful.

"The universe today is cold; the various forces and patterns of matter are structures frozen into the fabric of the vacuum. We are far from the extreme heat in the aftermath of the Big Bang, but if we were to heat everything up, the patterns and structures would disappear. Atoms and the patterns of Mendeleev's table have meaning only at temperatures below about 100,000º; above this temperature atoms are ionized into a plasma of electrons and nuclear particles as in the Sun. At even hotter temperatures, the patterns enshrined in the Standard Model of particles and forces, where the electron is in a family of leptons, with families of quarks and disparate forces, do not survive the heat ... the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force that controls beta-radioactivity melt into a symmetric sameness. Theories that describe matter and forces as we see them in the cold imply that all these structures will melt away in the heat. According to theory, the pattern of particles and forces that we are governed by may be randomly frozen, accidental remnants of symmetry breaking when the universe 'froze' at a temperature of about 10^17 degrees. We are like the pencil that landed pointing north, or the roulette wheel where the ball landed in the slot that enabled life to arise. Had the ball landed elsewhere, such that the mass of the electron were greater, or the weak force weaker, then we would have been losers in the lottery and life would not have occurred."

"Here I have come full circle back to my starting conundrum. If the spontaneous symmetry breaking had made other parameters and forces, we would not have been here to know it. This has given rise to the radical idea that there may be many vacua, multiplicities of universes, of which ours is the one where by chance the dials were set just right."

"An example here is of magnetized metal: heat it, destroying the magnetism, and cool it again. In one part the atomic magnets become frozen together pointing in one direction, while in another part of the metal they lock in another direction. This phenomenon is known as 'magnetic domain'. Could this be a model of the universe? Theorists have built mathematical models of the Big Bang, which have to agree with what we know and exhibit the 'true' symmetry in the early hot epoch. A general feature seems to be that such models imply that when cooling occurs from the initial symmetric state, there is a 'landscape' of possible solutions. When you view the entire landscape, you see on the average the original symmetry: like the orientations of the fallen pencil at all points of the compass, there are all possible masses and forces that are consistent with the original symmetry. What is true hereabouts, and in the billions of light years accessible to us, might be different elsewhere."


This can lead us to conclude that we experience the universe's current state simply because we exist. We see what we see because these are the only conditions that allow it. The possibilities held in every moment are reduced to a singularity by our presence. This is natural selection on the quantum level. We are birthed from the random: endless possibilities have come and gone in the wake of our presence, leaving only one experience of reality that is entirely observer-dependent. Randomness rules every aspect of our lives, but ultimately, only one result prevails that is dependent on our mode of perception. In light of relativity, every observer lives their own personal version of the universe with their own perception of time: our own place in a vibratory, multidimensional mandala. Though some of our experiences can overlap in symmetry, we find that we are God playing dice, the Brahman playing hide-and-seek with itself, creating uniqueness in every moment, now ad infinitum. We find polarities unified: chaos and order, difference and similarity, organism and environment, unity and separateness, something and nothing, as sides of the same coin. They create each other and depend on each other. All arises together, in and of itself.

Friday, January 7, 2011

In Motion

Where to begin? I say we can't begin, we can only move. I find this to be most apparent when we embrace our true nature: motion. In this instance, in travel. Going somewhere. Many of us choose to stay still, but in truth we are never at rest. Even when we think we are, or feel we are, we can't help but move through at least one dimension. In reality it is this motion that defines us: as the undefinable. When we travel, this is when we have the chance to embrace this truth of ourselves most intimately. Often a moment can never last long enough before it's gone, especially our most cherished ones, yet others seem to drag on forever: time stretches, melts and warps according to our mode of perception. If space is curved, then so is time. No matter how far we travel, we'll never get back to where we once were, we'll only get to where we are.

Lately I try to take the most pleasure I can in everything. Whether it's an assembly of friends over dinner and drinks, or getting stuck in rush hour traffic on the way back home, gazing down the endless stream of red and white lights under the sunset, or taking ten minutes to do donuts in an empty parking lot over freshly fallen snow, I take a moment to appreciate that it will never be quite the same as it is right now. So it's important to take pause and appreciate these situations, whichever form they may take. Whether it's talking with my Dad over dinner about a passing relative, recognizing how significant a life they lived, for better or worse, or seeing the distance between my parents grow with each day, and finally, truly taking to heart the fact that yeah, they're not meant for each other anymore, it's time for them to go down their own paths now, and that's okay. It's time to sell the house that my brother and I were raised in for our entire lives, and it's time for me to become more independent than I already am.

Whether it's the typical indifferent look on the train conductor's bearded face as he says "train to Boston" in his characteristic Boston accent, or a trained violinist playing classical music just for its own sake in the middle of the downtown subway, we should appreciate these things. You can't just expect things to stick around, because they won't, not forever. Whether it's having coffee and cookies with my aging grandfather, or petting my thirteen-year-old, fragile-boned cat, these existences are equally significant in that they will one day come to pass, as will I. It makes me grateful that I made the effort to spend time with my friend Josh (DJ Skunk), who last year passed away unexpectedly, because now those moments are the only ones we'll ever have, and all we can do now is be glad that we were there to have them, and to be thankful for the enormous, yet unrecognized influence he had on the growth of underground dance music in New England.

In truth, we never know what lies around the corner for us, for better or worse. Change comes often, and unexpectedly. If we don't do what we want to do now, we'll never be able to do it in quite the same way, ever again. There may be other chances, but why not now? If you truly feel it, do it. This is how I've made my decisions for as long as I can remember. Granted, maybe it doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. I think if your intentions are really pure, then there's no reason not to follow this method. It's what has made me who I am today, and who I am becoming. Whether it was saying to myself years ago, you know, I'm in college in Boston, and the world is too big for me to just stay here for the whole time. I liked British culture, so I went to London as a Goldsmiths College visiting student for three months in 2006. Right before I was due to depart, Josh played me some new records he had picked up: among them Loefah, Skream, Tempa, DMZ. I ask him, what is this? Dubstep. Oh, wow. That BASS!!!... So once I arrive in London, I'm hungry for more, and I pick up Dubstep Allstars Volume 4: Youngsta and Hatcha. Reading the liner notes, I realize, wow, this is happening RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. My friend Giuliana (who had just graduated from the our music industry program at Northeastern) takes me to FWD>>, and then to DMZ. Wow. That BASS!!! Here, smoke this......WOW... I'll never forget those moments.

Fast forward six months and I'm back in Boston, having reverse culture shock. The seeds of the city's own dubstep scene are just beginning to grow out of its drum & bass and UKG contingents, via the able hands of promoters Damian Silva, C Dubs, and recent Maui transplant Pandai'a. It will soon become Bassic, the city's most successful dubstep event to date... Meanwhile I am desperately trying to get myself back to London. Going through the limited collection of dubstep records I had brought home, I find the email addresses of every label I like: among them Random Trio, Chestplate, Dub Police, Tempa, Hyperdub, DMZ, Hotflush, and ask them if they are interested in having me work for them, for free, for six months, as I'm able to on Northeastern's international work experience program. After receiving a sparse response, I decide I need to go there in person and see what I can dig up. The perfect opportunity arises: my spring break and DMZ's two year anniversary party coincide, so in March 2007, I fly over for a visit.

That week, in an internet cafe, I get an e-mail reply from Paul Rose, aka Scuba, he runs a label called Hotflush, asking me if I can meet him at so and so pub at so and so time. He needs someone to help with publicity, promotion and general organization, so this turns into my internship. Meanwhile, I catch word on Dubstepforum that a handful of dubstep DJs from outside London are in town on Thursday, the night before DMZ, and were supposed to play at Redstar, a local night run by Letty Fox, but their venue shuts down at the last minute and they have nowhere to play. Naturally, I think immediately of Goldsmiths College Student Union, so I go to their office and speak to the music director, Wil Fincher. It just so happens they had an event fall out for Thursday, and he likes dubstep, so let's get these guys in and book a headliner. FWD>> is also that night, but fuck it. The line up is Loefah, Matty G and Nick Argon from San Francisco, Tes La Rok and Tommi Clouds from Helsinki, and Moldy from New England, with Emcee Child, a UK-born San Francisco transplant. The attendance of the night is surprisingly big, especially for being so last minute and the same night as FWD>>. I run into Kode 9 in the crowd, among others I can't remember now.

Fast forward again and I fly back over to London in June 2007 to start my internship, working out of a tower block flat in Bethnal Green, East London. The six months that follow is a whirlwind of activity: late nights, bass bins, dubplates, spliff smoke, going into a "deep medi", new faces becoming familiar ones, pirate-style Sub.FM radio shows from my room, Boomnoise, Sgt. Pokes, DJ Scientist, Skipple, Stanton, Ed Contakt, Jennifer, Rogue Star, Grand, D-Man, Braiden, Deapoh, Roko, Subeena, Ikonika, Ben UFO, Ramadanman, Markle, Farrah, Melissa Bradshaw, Rekordah, Heny G, Quest, Silkie, Oneman, Asbo, Loefah, Crazy D, Appleblim, Blackmarket Records, Georgie Cook's Drumz of the South night at Plan B in Brixton, Letty Fox's Platform 1 at Corsica Studios, Bert and Kid Cazual's Streamizm show in Brighton... all playing a part in one way or another.

It's over before I know it. Feeling like I could live forever in that world, in that time, I've only just begun to scratch the surface, things are continuing to develop further, but I have leave it all to go home to Boston and finish my degree.

Returning back to Boston is hard at first, but I start to get used to it. Bassic is beginning to become popular in the city, situated in a very Plastic People-like basement of Good Life downtown, and awareness of dubstep is growing thanks to the efforts of the aforementioned Josh Skunk, rest in peace you crazy mofo, Damian, C Dubs, Pandai'a, Scotch1, Dabu, G Notorious, Jam-2, DJ Flack, and Wayne and Wax. I soon become increasingly close with Josephine (Pandai'a), and our shared love for long hours of spinning records at home or on Sub.FM, often with Skunk, not to mention Jack Daniels and spliffs, eventually leads to Dave Q of the legendary Dub War night in New York City asking Josephine and I to play an opening set in April 2008, since its resident DJ, Joe Nice, is out of town. Also on the line up is Caspa, Matty G, Dave Q, and MC Juakali. This is one month before my graduation from Northeastern.

After my graduation, a summer of indecision, or slacking, leads to me decide that I need to go back to London. My plan is to go there with another six month student visa, get certified for teaching English as a second language, and work as a teacher while continuing to DJ. In order to get the certification that is most accepted in the UK, called CELTA, I have to take a one month course that just so happens to take place in New York City. So I sublet an apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, via a friend of Dan Goscombe, a fellow Goldsmiths traveler. While in New York, in one way or another, Dave Q tells me that if I was to stick around, I'm welcome to become involved with Dub War, as well as a new event idea we were brewing up: the NYC branch of Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder parties. This didn't end up happening, but I stayed anyway, because I felt that New York was about as close as I could get to London on this side of the pond. Maybe I was ready for New York, and maybe it was ready for me.

Fast forward two years or so, following my continued residency at Dub War and many other significant personal experiences that I won't get into, I'm still here in my current residence of Astoria, Queens, New York City, at present day, January 2011, standing at what I feel to be the threshold of a transitional period in many ways. Dubstep, what was born as a niche genre centered around a post-2000, post-UK Garage South London, is becoming a but a wave in the tide of a greater global movement that we are beginning to call "bass music". Dub War, after launching its first party in 2005 (a few months after the first DMZ event in Brixton), has taken an undetermined hiatus following the 5 Year Birthday party, chiefly due to the loss of a suitable home at Club Love in the East Village. From its founder Dave Q, a new night called Twisup will make its debut in the basement of Deity Underground in downtown Brooklyn on January 14th. More personally, as the parental foundation I was raised on for twenty-something years begins to change shape, but not strength, I meanwhile grow closer to Josephine, and we embark on a new phase through life in this new year. Though we may not always be close in space, we will always be close in spirit.

So where does this leave me? Over the last few years, though I have not found much in the way of what most modern Americans might call "success", that is, in the monetary sense, I have found something far more important: the ability to do what I love. Since returning from London, my musical interests have progressively changed from "what sounds are being made out there that I can get my hands on?" to "what sounds ARE NOT being made out there that I can CREATE?". Success, in this sense, began to take shape in the form of tunes like "Patter", the best tune I made in 2009, and that I played on BBC Radio 1 as my portion of Dub War's guest mix on Mary Anne Hobbs' Experimental show. More recently, "Axis", the best tune I made in 2010, was also played on Mary Anne Hobbs' show, by her own selection, and later was chosen by Paul Rose to be released on Hotflush Recordings in Spring 2011, as part of a full-length compilation entitled BACK AND 4TH, alongside an array of other producers of what is now called "bass music".

This finally brings me to where I am, here, now. On a bus from Boston to New York, to attend the 8th anniversary party of a foundational techno night called The Bunker, featuring Donato Dozzy and Optimo. I'm going here tonight because it's my last opportunity to experience the magic of a truly amazingly organized night of electronic music, with an attendance of a bunch of truly amazing people who really just love to get together, enjoy good music and dance. The last opportunity, that is, before I embark on my next journey, at noon on Sunday January 10th. First it will take me to Dallas, Texas, where I will meet Josephine, and spend a few days in her hometown, before we fly to Seattle, Washington to spend the weekend with a friend. From there we will connect through Portland, Oregon, and then on to our final destination of Maui, Hawaii.

We will spend three months on the island of Maui, smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, living at the Kahua Institute, a special tract of land that is off the grid, self-sustained, green, organically farmed, and owned by a married couple of spiritual teachers named Kutira and Raphael, who are also musicians. This will be my first contact with anyone that I would call "spiritual", whatever that means. My intention is to learn from them what I can, musically or otherwise, as well as meditate, read, write, sleep, dream, work, and generally just live it up to the fullest in paradise, alongside my best friend and love.

So that's where I'm at. Who knows where I began, and who knows where I'll end, but as we say, the point is not in reaching where you're going, but how you get there. It's the journey: it's in the motion.