Sunday, January 31, 2010

Music is drugs...

Believe me when I tell you, music is drugs. When you listen to music deeply (hell, even superficially) we all know that it can have a completely transformative effect on your psyche and so by proxy, your behavior. Consider dance. (Ever watched people dance with no audible music? See the drugs at work?)

You can be listening to a song and if it's the right song and you're open to its transformative patterns, well then, you will be doped up on music. You will have surrendered your consciousness to the attractor field suggested by the song.

What's interesting about this is that someone plugged into their iPod can walk into a corporate meeting, shut off the iPod, and proceed to behave in a manner that others might misperceive as total jackassishness, simply because that person's being is still in sync with the music and not the "vibe" of the room. (And trust me when I say that the random, mixed vibe of the meeting room is generally a million times less affecting than the heavily curated and carefully aligned energy patterns of the song.)

All of this is good news really. As drugs go, the effects and side effects of music are generally benign. In fact, I'm a strong believer in music therapy. One of my goals in life is to create a mobile music therpy unit where upon I can pull into a town and get to work restoring souls, putting people back in touch with their core selves by playing certain carefully selected pieces of music for them. Doctor Gazpachot will prescribe the vibes, baby. Step into my carpet lined van and let the headphones do the driving... Wait, not like that. I'll have a white lab coat on. Respect.

("Libera Me, Donime" by Ernst Reijseger, Mola Sylla & Voces de Sardinna, headphones a must, careful: potent stuff!)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tarkovsky's walls...

There comes a time in every creative person's life when they need to seek out the pendulous and oneiric Russian soul of Andrei Tarkovsky. Last night's double bill of Zerkalo (Mirror) and Nostalghia at LACMA provided just such an opportunity for a surprisingly large crowd. The big screen is a must for his films, not only for the scope and color, but for the experience of passing through these alternate universes together with a room full of willing strangers.

There are countless cinematic details in his films that cling to your mind like burrs from a country hike. You might not even notice them stuck to your gray matter until a few days later. For me, it's his walls. Every structure in every Tarkovsky film has the most fantastic textured walls. They are full blown characters, as craggy, nuanced, and expressive as the faces of his heroes and heroines. Look out for them when you make your pilgrimage into his work.

(Sorry not too many walls in this clip, but still nice to see, no?)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad vs. Kindle...

iPad is nice, but still wouldn't want to take it to read a book on the beach or anywhere with outdoor light for that matter. Kindle's non backlit e-ink technology is the way to go here. Still needs a year or so to iron out the kinks and add color though. Of course the backlit/e-ink combo is best. iPad Hybrid Mr. Jobs?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eye in the sky...

The ring around the Moon (seen here last night in the California desert) is caused by the refraction of moonlight (reflected sunlight) from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of the ice crystals creates in an illusion to us Earthers: the light appears to us in the form of a ring (even though light is being refracted every which way).

It's always jarring to remember that what we see is only one tiny perspectival sliver of all the reflected light around us. Have a look at a hologram (there's probably one on your license). This will give you a cartoony sense of the three dimensional matrix of possible light reflections that defy our subjective point of view.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I am here...

This is Sagewater. A very special place I return to again and again.

(Photo by the beautiful and sage Rhoni Epstein)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hosting a Soul...

So clear to me, in moments, that the unconscious or soul (call it what you will) operates from another dimension outside of our time and space. I can literally feel this aspect in me straining to get something across, struggling to activate what it can not touch, like a well-meaning ghost in a fifties b-movie. Of course I'm the one characterizing it as a struggle, namely because I can't understand its intent. Really, I'm struggling to know its mission. On account of this growing awareness, I'm feeling more and more like it's my job to create a conduit, or at least find a way to be a more sympathetic and accommodating host to this force, so that it can apply its knowledge to our world. It seems to know something I don't.

(painting by Paul Jenkins)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sea lions...

These 600 pound beasts will gracefully hurl themselves off of steep, jagged cliffs to slaughter a passing manta ray or rescue a swimmer in distress. Strong enough to kill a killerwhale, gentle enough to carry a newborn infant to shore from the deck of a sinking fishing trawl. Found primarily in the small islands off the coast of East Africa, Sea Lions have also been spotted roaming the rooftops of skyscrapers in urban areas of Europe and North America.

("Girl with Lion" by Javier Pinon)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The thrill of unexpected color is everywhere.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Steady as she goes...

The balancing act is easier if you know you aren't going to fall. Is this what hypnotism is for?

So much of life is accompanied by vertigo - the feeling that you're about to fall into a gaping abyss, the feeling that you might jump, and/or the realization that there is no abyss and that you might just crumple to the floor instead.

"Ignore it," says Bolderdash. "Why let such things into your mind? You need all of your energy to live, to move forward, why do you insist on tearing the floor boards out of your boat and then moan about sinking?" To which I reply, "How can you deny the vastness of the universe and the folly of our certainty?" To which B says, "Man, you gotta rethink this thing now. Just because you can perceive a bigger picture doesn't mean you have to carry the universe around on your shoulders. Perhaps it feels honest to embrace hopelessness and letting go, but isn't that just a side effect of an obliterated focus and a shaky horizon line?"

How does an earthquake survivor in Haiti allow himself to bulldoze bodies into a hole today? Is it the hundred bucks? Or is it the unswerving determination to move forward?

Bleak thoughts and the rush to find their opposites on this rainy Tuesday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A short delay in mind time...

Paraphrasing the "mind time" related discoveries of the late Benjamin Libet, a pioneering scientist in the field of human consciousness, goes something like this: The conscious human mind takes half a second (500 milliseconds) of brain activity to register awareness of an event, whereas it appears that the unconscious mind responds far more quickly.

This is obvious, think when a car swerves into your lane while driving, you respond in far less than a half-second, but the question is - who is responding? Think of champion tennis players at the net volleying back and forth - half a second of processing time would make for lots of missed tennis balls. "A series of experiments have shown that we register unconsciously a whole host of things which may influence our response to events but which never cross the threshold into consciousness," writes "Peter" the author of the fantastic Conscious Entities site. Life is literally passing us by folks.

Sticking with the tennis match, does this mean that in a fast game our unconscious minds are the ones playing and our conscious minds are always a half second behind, merely observing ourselves play? Is our conscious self really just a spectator of our immediate experience on a short delay? Are we slaves to an unconscious we can't control? Is free will an illusion? Dr. Libet wrestled with this problem and came up with a rather amazing understanding of it.

"On the tennis court," writes Peter, "we would find to our surprise that we returned a serve competently before we actually saw the ball, and certainly without thinking about where in the opposite court we might want to put it. Our conscious and unconscious behaviour would be strangely unsynchronised. Libet's hypothesis was that conscious awareness is subjectively referred backwards in time. We consciously perceive the stimulus as occuring at the same moment it registers unconsciously, even though it doesn't in fact enter our awareness until it has persisted for half a second. Subjectively we backdate it to match the EP (evoked potential) at the beginning rather than the end of the 500 millisecond span."

What a hall of mirrors! "Be here 500 milliseconds from now" is the bumper sticker. Our daily functioning seems contingent upon our not thinking too hard about the precise moment. Let the tools do their tricks, you don't want to know how sausage is made. But as our world speeds up, one wonders at what point our own wiring will simply be unable to keep up with the technology we're building.

Read the entire article here.

("Nude Descending a Staircase" by Peter Jansen)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The tools we need...

Remember... The symbols invent us, not the other way around.

("Beverly Hills Oil Well" by Paul Gachot)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is nothing sacred?

As a boy in knee socks, a favorite story from the new testament was Jesus and the Moneychangers. It's a completely punk rock moment and resonates to the core of my disdain for marketplaces.

To recap: Jesus wanders into Herod's temple and finds the courtyard area filled with livestock and little improvised booths manned by so-called money changers. Jewish law stated that Jewish/Tyrian money was the only coinage that could be used in temple ceremonies. Therefore the more plentiful Greek and Roman coinage that was in circulation had to be exchanged.

Jesus starts asking a few questions and figures out that the exchangers are making a tidy profit from the transfer of funds. This pisses him off beyond belief and he basically throws a complete shit fit, knocking over booths, throwing trays of money in the air, and stirring the livestock into a frenzy. "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" he screams. He grabs a whip and literally drives the moneychangers out of the temple. In the gospel of Luke it states: "The crowd were so in awe with Jesus that no-one could be found to assassinate him."

For me this is a parable about the commoditization of the soul. Our vanity and our practicality drives us to turn every aspect of the human experience into something that can be ascribed monetary value and bought and sold. Christ drew a hard line here - do what you need to do to make a living, but don't mess with the soul. The mysterious source of life, the gift of creativity, your connection to the collective consciousness and the cosmos itself is not yours to hock for a few shekels.

I can't find the source of the above picture, but from what I can tell it's no joke. You can find it earnestly displayed on Christian web sites under titles that ask readers to Pray for these Businesses. If Jesus catches wind of this stuff, be prepared for some digital table flipping and livestock stampeding across your web browser. Then again, one could argue that Christ is the CEO (emeritus) of one of the biggest businesses on earth: The Church.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of all places...

It's just too horrible. Haiti was truly the last place on Earth that needed a disaster. Nature's cruel streak is not to be undersold.

Text “HAITI” to “90999″ to make a $10 donation.

It charges automatically to your phone bill and is completely safe.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stairway to heaven...

You may or may not know that Bill Gates released mosquitoes into the crowd at last year's TED conference. He was trying to recreate at least one condition of the developing world. "Not only poor people should experience this," he said unscrewing the jar of whining insects. While Mr. Gates was making a point about malaria, his gesture, today, reminds me of something far more local. In short: my life.

These are happy days. Sarah and I continue to find new ground, and our free time together has never seemed more alive and sparkling. Work is good. Friends are challenging, entertaining, and full of poorly-masked love. Venice is a dream within a dream. Family grows closer and more wise with age.

So why this burbling underlying feeling dread and encroaching anxiety?

I'm learning that the price of all this contented present is a blurry, less touchable future. When I was miserable, the future was all I had. It was crystal clear. I lived in it. The present was a condition to be endured.

Now the future seems hard to summon. The big dreams have flattened into digital files lingering on my desktop. I want to dive in to them more than anything, but the plate-spinning act of the present keeps me busy. When I think about the future, when I yearn to work on the dreams, all the small niggling demands of the present descend upon me like a swarm of mosquitoes. It's not that these are so important, many of the things I occupy myself with are quite stupid or mundane. But what is important is that they command my attention and distract me from my dreams - just as the mosquitoes can distract you from a beautiful summer sunset.

I won't etch all this in stone. Just a blog entry, a comment on a current configuration. And I'll say this: Anxiety beats depression any day.

I never had to build a bridge to my own future. It was always upon me in an imagined form. Today imagination alone fails to sustain. I simply fall through the cloud that once held me high up in the stratosphere. I know I can't buy a stairway to heaven, but maybe I can borrow one? I promise to return it.

("Umschreibung" by Olafur Eliasson)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Elvis Bowie...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Choose life...

The good Dr. David Hawkins puts forth that the human "body can discern, to the finest degree, the difference between that which is supportive of life and that which is not." I'd like to believe that this is true and I consider myself in touch with this instinct. What's interesting about Los Angeles (and other major urban centers) is that you encounter people on a regular basis for whom the opposite seems to be true. A photographer friend reminisces fondly for the days when the air was more polluted. You meet people for whom Diet Coke and fast food are part of a religion worth dying for. I see lit cigarettes flicked out of driver's windows on a regular basis. Why?

It seems true that the body can instinctually tell what's life affirming from what's not. But where the body sees things in black and white, and knows who's naughty or nice, the mind, and specifically the ego, plays fast and loose.

There are urban dwellers who fear and/or dislike the entire concept of nature, who go out of their way to (futilely) assert themselves "above" it or away from it. There are people who profoundly dislike themselves at a level they simply can't acknowledge. They flip the equation so that their systems are following a "death instinct." There is a plague of professionalism that squelches our natural instincts so that we may serve an economy. There is a culture of cool that puts a premium on self-destruction. Romantic notions of death and decadence linger as mysterious doppelgangers to the banality of life.

Choose life. Choose death. I choose not to paint myself into a corner. I'm an equal opportunity experience monger. To be clear, my soul yearns to live, but every now and again I honor my ego's desire to flirt with the dark side. But if the will to live aligns with all that is good and the will to die aligns with the opposite, then evil starts to look like a minority aberration, a sickness if you will, rather than the entire other side of the coin.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Toward a more forward backwards...

(from "H3" by Grupoderua)

Monday, January 04, 2010


Happy New Years to all. It's been four plus years since this blog was conceived, and I still have no sense at all as to what kind of life it leads beyond my fingertips. It doesn't matter. I do it for the sheer joy of setting a feedback loop in motion between my consciousness and my computer and out into the digital cosmos - perhaps encountering a consciousness or two along the way. (Where does all of this digital information go by the way?)

Anyhow, I resolve to find the strength and the discipline to separate the dreaming from the doing in the areas that really matter this year. And to wisely manage the various life forces needed for goals, survival, and basic cosmic existence. I ask for your support in this dear universe, dear readers, dear friends!



("I, the world, things, life" by Jacob Dahlgren)