Active Listening

music

I keep wanting to call this “Deep Listening’ but really it is “Active Listening” My friend Nitzan spends an hour every day actively listening to music. This is not music as background music, like what I am doing now as I write this blog post. He was once a DJ and he used to run a record label, so there is that history that I feel is important to include.

When I first heard this I thought -wow – I need to do that. Didn’t happen. I suppose when I was flying a lot and on client sites I could have done this a bit more easily. Right now, it is difficult for me to carve out this time. Maybe an hour is too much, or maybe an hour alone is too much, or maybe an hour where I have to select all the music and some is not great is too much, or maybe and hour where all I need to do is listen is too difficult (I cannot write my thoughts!). If I wanted to reflect on music what I would do is listen to an hour of music, have my somatic experience, and then listen again and engage the conscious mind to reflect and write.

This week I listened to four renditions of Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tárrega. This is a recording played by Segovia. It is my favorite. His tremelo is the best! the must natural that most integrated. What do I love about it: The moderate to slow pace, the variability of tempo – this gives the piece a sense of depth, accents on particular notes throughout, bass notes and even higher notes. The tremelo and bass notes all sound cohesive, Depending on where you pluck the strings the sound can have the timber of different instruments. But here it all sounds like guitar.

The Christopher Parkening example I am listening to feels like the tremelo is on a completely different instrument from the bass. At first I thought that this was a guitar piano duet, with the bass notes places on the piano! Also there is a certain mechanical feel to tremelo… it seems on a different timescale than the bass.

The John williams recordig I am listening to is very powerful. The notes sound very and it is faster than the Parkening and the Segovia.

My second favorite is Julian Bream. First I love his ending. My least favorite ending is the Parkening. The Bream recording also seems a bit faster to me and I like the variability to the tempo of the bass notes but the consistency of the tempo of the tremelo. The tremelo also is not too tinny it has a certain richness. My favorite starts of to the piece are the Segovia recording and then the Parkening. They begin on a strong base note and the slowly bring up the tremelo starting very softly and slowly becoming louder. the Bream and Williams start out of the gate with the bass and the tremelo at similar speeds and volumes.

Anyway I am not a music writer. My music education has many gaps although I am really good at site reading guitar music. It is part of my over all ability to site read – like site read ancient greek and latin. Is it really important to be able to site read or to be able to study something become great at it and do that well – not just be good in the moment when something random is thrown at you. We really cannot pick those things that are natural talents so we can just appreciate them for what they are and try and take them for what they are.

Anyway I want to do an experiment where 4-6 people get together for 90 minutes max. They each bring a piece of music under 10 minutes. We all listen and then we have brief responses. I want to try this once. If this sounds interesting to you, or something you want to participate in, leave a note, or a heart or something

Cultural Posture

art

I have been taking the workshop offered by ritual as justice after hearing Tada on a podcast. Today I was reviewing some of the videos and Tada kept mentioning the body and cultural trauma as well as colonial imperialism. I am going to try and write down some takeaways that I really find helpful and I apologize if I get these incorrect. These are not my ideas, but study, to parapharse Paulo Fieri , is a political act. So this is study and dialogue with the practices and ideas of the ritual as justice school.

One example I remember is the movement from the traditional robes of Asia allows energy to circulate from the Hara (belly) and the heart, and the brain. In the west however we have pants and a shirt and heart is prioritized where as the lower body is cut off. There is no grounding. The colonial project and the attire of pants and shirts spreads this embodied trauma.

The western loss of access to the Hara, to the lower part of the body is a form of trauma, it is an expression of trauma and in the western imperialist imposition of this attire to further traumatize the body of the oppressed. Tada refers to both the individual body (now in a suit perhaps), and the cultural body (the supply chain that makes the suit, the coffee and grain supply line that overcompensate for a body deprived of Hara).

We are learning all the different ways that imperialism might be overcome, through active resistance, through community and networks of care, through study, through witnessing, and through body practices (somatics).

DeFi

art

I am participating in a DeFi workshop this week. I have been involved in crypto for a long time and I have a lot of crypto posts here. I am also collaborating with artist Mary Ellen Carroll on a quadratic voting project related to crypto. It is four sessions. There are a bunch of developments in DeFi that I have not been following and really do not want to have to poke around to curate myself. Also I like learning in small groups like this. The first workshop session was a bunch of review but it filled in a lot of blanks that I had forgotten or – gasp- never knew.

The two big ones are:

Nakamoto’s consensus:

This is the practice in bitcoin of defaulting to the longest blockchain. The idea is that most of the compute power went into the longest chain so we can trust it.

Unpacking the Nonce:

It means “the one” but in cryptography it means the “number used once”. When we are “solving problems” to verify a block in the blockchain. We are calculating the nonce. There is also there great book that was referenced in the class on a minimum viable blockchain.

Thats all I got for today. I am tired.

Foreground and Background

art

I am going large scale. This is not that. This is like 24×18. Once crit I got was that this was a drawing and not a painting. The reason why was that the image sits on the background.

This is a fair criticism. And I have been thinking about it. How do I integrate the foreground and the background. How do I move the painting away from this realm of dichotomies and just work with the field. I am into fields, morphic fields, color fields, quantum fields… manifolds (are these fields).

Also I think of the idea of vibe or ambiance. What if instead of lines and points we focused on fields. Fields are what cause lines instead of lines that create shapes. As I was meditating on this I thought of cave paintings…

Then I thought of the dead. And I thought of Jung. and I thought of the knowing field in family constellations. And I thought perhaps these paintings are paintings of a field of one of these fields.

How DevOps is Like Painting

art, code

This week I am doing a client presentation The presentation is about basic devops practices and why they are important, how the client is adopting them in certain areas and where there is room for improvement.

DevOps is something that I am actually very passionate about. In the early days of programming there was a distinction between the creating of the software (software developers) and the deployment of the software (the system admins). This created for software development a two culture system as well as a linear system.

In dev ops, deployment is part of software development process – there is no more sys admin. This is a small distinction but it has outsized ramifications. Often times small changes in a system can have the largest impact. I think of it akin to accupuncture or accupressure or various martial arts where you make small subtle movements but they have massive impacts on your ability to be effective.

Why is this the case?

Well we can talk about systems, and with systems everything is interconnected so instead of finding the biggest problem point we need to find the most salient or impactful point.

We can also talk about inner systems (like inner martial arts) or invisible systems. This is the idea that there are some processes that are not apparent until we begin to perturb the system then we realize they exist indirectly and we can learn to control or exert pressure on these systems.

We can also talk about

With DevOps we move from a linear mode of working to a cyclical way of working. Why is this? What is really happening? Well we move from a sort of fordist conveyor belt notion of manufacturing that centers on the belt, to a pipeline notion of manufacturing that focuses on the widget. Rather than have pieces on a conveyor belt that different workers apply functions to. Someone introduces a new widget (an artifact) into a system… the system is a gigantic statemachine that applies tests to the widget. Depending on the result of the tests the state of the widget changes – from dev to testing to security to deployment… Depending on the state, different tests are applied. If the widget fails a test then the developer creates a new widget (artifact) and it goes into the system.

What we are doing is changing the state of something that is immutable… the software artifact. It is cyclical in the because a state machine is an infinite loop. It never ends. A conveyor belt has a beginning and an end.

Immutability is core to dev ops, but really cloud native computing. With cloud native devops there is no longer the sense of editing. When I deploy something I deploy the software along with the infrastructure – I create everything all at once. If I redeploy I remove the old environment (and artifacts) and then redeploy the newly created infrastructure with artifacts. Nothing ever changes. We just create or destroy.

Painting is similarly immutable. I was in a crit session, and someone brought two versions of a painting. This is impossible, said the crit leader (or she said something like that). Paintings can only have one state. This is different than say a novel or the written word, or something with versions. And while I can have different versions of code artifacts, with immutable infrastructure I only have one deployed version. Redeploying the a new version creates a new state of affairs in a way that is similar to painting, or overpainting, on a painting – AND different from editing a poem, story, essay, or book.

Bibliomancy

writing

I purchased a large book of poems by Louise Gluck and this was the first poem I read in the collection. It is called Matins. Matins is the first liturgy (Christian) of the day, celebrated from midnight to dawn (I think). I am currently doing a yoga Sadhana at 4:30am every. morning and yes I am virtue signaling. The 2 hours before sunrise are called the ambrosial hours – those are the best times to meditate apparently for some supernatural reason. This past week I also listened to a random video by Sadhguru on waking at 3:40am. Bibliomancy is when you flip randomly, or guided by the invisible hand of fate, to a section from a book and use this for prophetic ends.

I love the first lines “forgive me if I say I love you.” I once said something a bit more weaselly than “I love you.” I did want forgiveness for saying this. I felt sort of caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar and this is what I said. Sometimes you can’t say things like that – true or not. Is Louise lying here? She writes that she can’t love what she can’t conceive so is it the case that the object of her love is powerful and that she is panicked? (also I love that we use a k when adding ed to panic)

https://www.tasteofbeirut.com/hawthorn-berries-zaaroor/

This is the hawthorn. It is a symbol of transformation. It also is good for heart disease.

This is the foxglove – also good for heart disease. Foxglove symbolize magic, intuition — apparently bees and faeries like foxgloves. They are lovely and have a sort of gradient coloration sometimes. (Inconsistent!)

“Is this what you mean us to think, does this explain the silence of the morning, the crickets not yet rubbing their wings, the cats not fighting in the yard?”

Sigh!

I know what this means, I can feel it, but I cant explain it. The beginning of things, the beginning of meaning, the beginning of disclosure before there is anything to disclose.

Apparently Gluck wrote another poem called Matins as well. Maybe she wrote many. Maybe these are prayers.

Proust and the Underworld – the first 4 pages

art

I have been wanting to reread Swann’s Way for a while. This is perhaps a strange desire during a pandemic, but time feels different, and Remembrance of Things Past is about the experience of time. I picked up the newish Lydia Davis translation and off I went this evening sitting by the fire with my kids reading aloud Swann’s Way. I told the kids if I read 4 or 5 pages to them a day, we will be done in 3 months.

I have two sons 7 and 8, and my 7 year old asked if this was a tutorial on how to fall asleep – touche!

Yes and no. Why so much time about falling asleep? What is it about sleep? It is the liminal, the threshold. Proust describes the journey into sleep as metempsychosis / transmigration of the soul. This is referenced in Joyce’s Ulysses and DFW Infinite Jest Madam Psychosis, I was wondering what other novels reference metempsychosis and guess what – there is a web page for that.

Proust is our psychopomp (escorting souls to the underworld). Going into dreams, into memories, into fantasies are forms of transmigration of the soul.

Whenever there is a journey to the underworld, there is always a map. You cross a river, or you go up a mountain. The underworld has a geography, a landscape. As such your body has an orientation to it. However, your body in the underworld is not the same as your body in the physical world and the landscape of the underworld is of a different materia than the landscape of the mundane world. Also Proust gets sexy on page 2… did not register this the first time I read it. I wonder if this was scandalous or a literary risk at the time.

There is a discussion of while in dream space of the immobility of things, the ability to locate limbs, the position one falls asleep in, the ability to tell time while sleeping, or while drifting off to sleep.

And then I remembered I wrote something about night recently!

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. A panther, a black panther. Also called a Puma. The Runa Puma that all the wanna be shamans talk about these days with metaphysical anthropology and misapplied theories that make the academics unhappy, but creates food for the mystics. 

“Life changes fast” was unintentionally plagiarized by Joan Didion from Ferris Bueller’s day off. “I’m pretty much fucked” is something I say at least once a week even without being stranded on Mars and if… if I say this sentence with my children I must stutter and apologize and come up with a different word.  “Blocked, I mean blocked.”  Blocked is not a synonym for fucked, more of an antonym for fucked. In fact, I am not sure why “I’m pretty much fucked” is considered negative because of the history of sexual violence. It should now be reclaimed in our new sex positive society of our own creation. 

But the night did breath through the apartment like a dark animal. It was hiding in pockets. Night was not a blanket that covered the bed and the night table and the overused microwave and the underused cast-iron skillet. Night existed first in the damp spaces like the steam pipe in the bathroom bubbling with condensation. 

 You can’t see a dark animal but you can hear his breath. Night is a man – tonight. His name is B and I can feel his finger trace lightly trace the curve of my waist up to my shoulder . So obviously night loves me – tonight – while I sleep. Half asleep really. 

What others gifts does night give? There is a dead fish in the mouth of this puma. Definitely dead.  The eyes already turn to glass and the blue gray scaly skin is broken and I can see the red blood and an oozing of something unappetizing. 

It’s too late for me to prepare this fish. It’s not much of a gift either. S and his friends prepared a fish dinner feast once with a fish like this and they all contracted Hepatitis C.  I am not quite sure how that works causally. I do believe in the germ theory of disease and I also believe in terroir. 

The Panther puma night drops the fish by my pillow. And breathes deep into my face. He licks my face with a scratchy tongue, that is also dark night. I reach my hand out to stroke fine thick dense bristles and her back arches. 

Night is now a woman. Why am surprised? No man has ever hunted for me. 

 And of course women are better hunters.   The night puma panther brings over a very sexy white negligee…neglected and drops it by my pillow near the dead fish now laying in a half moon. B breaths deeply next to me, night does not bother him. 

I slip on the white smooth crepe de chine negligee, now a short and tank pair. Strong and heavy, and slightly damp and the enormous black puma panther walks towards the door silently with her big black light paws padding for me to follow.

Poetic Operations

writing

When Quarantine started I began reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses in that the bathtub (the Mandelbaum translation). Then i started putting the videos on instagram. This was not me being sexy. I mean I am a middle aged mother of two after all. I was just combining reading, with bathing, with performance… something for pleasure during the apocalypse I had no plan.

Then I thought Ovid …. Covid. Then I thought about found texts, cut ups and mash ups, and then I thought about erasure poems.

What is an erasure poem? It is a poem where you remove words from a text to create a new poem. An excellent erasure poem that I return to is R E D, an erasure of Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Chase Berggrun.

That painting above I consider an erasure. Here is the original one:

Painting is unique in that this painting that I erased no longer exists, where as the original text of Dracula, erased with R E D, still exists. That is why I love painting… there can be only one.

But like I said an erasure is one of many different operations that one can perform on a text. Others being mashups or cut ups. I have Paul Griffiths’ let me tell you here as well. It is a book that is written from the POV of Hamlet’s Ophelia with the words that Ophelia speaks in Hamlet. I hope the word “rue” is there, because it is a special plant to me. I also found a very beautiful choral piece adapted from the book:

More on poetic operations, I am reading Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote, and i have no idea what the operations are that she uses, but I know they are there. This may be an example of quantum operations or operations beyond the algorithmic operations of the erasure. Here is a good essay on Acker’s process.

So back to my Ovid in the Bathtub. This is a very neptunian exercise, transformation through dream and deception. Metamorphoses is a collection of tales about violence towards women, so it even more strongly echos R E D. I am talking above about processes not about the product. Although the works themselves are fantastic, my favorite is Acker, I cannot separate the process from the product. It is all of a piece for me. The score and the performance of the score.

So Back to Ovid in the bathtub. I propose a poetic operation work based on The Metamorphosis of Ovid

Title:

her C(ovid)

Table of Contents:

Book 1: Roo

Book 2: C(arcas)

Book 3: Narc

Book 4: Vulna

Book 5: Proton

Book 6: Psyops

Book 7: Plague

Book 8: Le()d

Book 9: Anus

Book 10: Fate

Book 11: Death

Book 12: Eros

Book 13: Ulysses

Book 14: Mona

Book 15: Cages

It will probably change. I sort of want to create a grammar for this. Something involving () as you can see. That is a very programmer thing to do. It is because I am inspired by LISP, and really Scheme.

Things that look like network diagrams

art

I was reading Da Vinci’s notebooks and I came a cross a number of things that look like network diagrams or circuit diagrams. What are these things? They are cross sections of building facades, floor plans, flows for aqueducts, sketches for river systems.

This is a painting I did recently. What is it? It is abstract. It’s nothing but color. It does resemble a circuit diagram or perhaps tubes, but what was I doing while I was painting this? I was thinking about lines, shapes, colors, relations. It represents something inside me, the symbols of my unconscious and perhaps something about this collective moment in history. I was struck by how similar this design is to the drawings of cross sections and aqueducts.

Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks that when you have trouble creating a composition for a group of people or a battle scene look at a stone wall. The stains, the color, and so forth will call in you a certain composition and from this you can be inspired. In abstract art it is the opposite. We are creating the stone wall from which other people will derive inspiration. The stone wall happens from chance not from intention. Each line in a painting is a result of a decision. What goes into that decision, maybe it is very algorithmic like Sol Lewitt, maybe it is based on something random like throwing yarrow sticks and the i ching (like John Cage’s compositions). However this is all visual representation of decision making.

Each decision has an impact, just like decisions in the real world. There is no undo, there is no erase. The only way forward in painting is through. This reminds me of the law of karma, every action will have a reaction. Every paint stroke painted on the canvas (or in this case newsprint) will leave a mark.

I am part of a bunch of sense making groups. I am not sure why. I sort of can make sense of the world, but I am metaphysically curious. In the words of Robert Anton Wilson I enjoy exploring different reality tunnels. The crises in sense making is really stemming from a crises in decision making or not knowing how to make a decision. There are so many ways to make a decision when you think about it. I just discussed two. But we can vote, we can make a logical proof, we can do a simulation, so many different things. Painting is the art form of decision making. It is about where should I put the paint, and once I put the paint down, does it work and where should I put the next piece of paint.