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Driving today, alone on the road in the dark, navigating the roads of a foreign land, I opened my CD jewel case (yes, I still own some of those things) and found it empty. Annoyed, I turned on the radio which happened to be set on a classical music channel. And to my surprize, the strains of Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque rose from the speakers. I was stricken with a surfeit of something indescribable and tears welled in my eyes. How can it be that my life, so insignificant and random and meaningless to most others, so very small and unrecognized, can still contain so much? When I think of all the people I pass by with their own lives, I ask myself – what have I not seen? What kind of wonder, terror and beauty do they know and hold that I do not know of? How many little surprizes fill their lives to bursting?

From one foreign land to another; in time I will be traveling to two very different nations, but both with a recent history of genocide. How many lives lost that so many know not of? How many tiny hidden everythings were buried in those mass graves?

Sometimes I love and hate my life in equal measure. The older I become, the keener the edge of my finitude. There are days when I feel that I cannot bring myself to do what my heart demands of me and that I was simply not built to have such a brutal, fearless organ.

But it is nice to be surprized.

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Where ever trans-Saturnian planets figure prominently in a chart, the native is going to have to deal with impersonal forces. Today I’m analyzing two extremely similar charts of two gods of alternative rock from the 1990s, both of whom had a big, fat Pluto-Uranus conjunction sitting on the ASC: Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan.

Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana, was considered the voice of a generation. He died in 1994 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, joining the notorious 27 Club.

Billy Corgan is lead singer and guitarist for the alternative rock band, The Smashing Pumpkins, which recently released its latest LP, Oceania. He is the sole remaining member of the original band lineup.

I don’t know what it’s like to have two heavyweights sitting on top of my ASC like that, but it can’t be easy to handle that energy without becoming, I don’t know, a total megalomaniac. Or maybe… a rock star. By the way, for the Pisces haters, Cobain and Corgan are another two examples of Pisces suns being pretty badass, accomplishing extraordinary things and sharing their incredible gifts and talents with the world.

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It’s been a year and a half of regular meditation practice and I’ve noticed that naturally, I’ve begun to gravitate toward experiences that I suspect are serving as compensatory developments to the zen. I think that I was getting too deep, too quickly with the meditation for my conscious mind; I always had this strong feeling of my everyday consciousness always scrambling to catch up to parse, digest and integrate new experiences, of always lagging behind and standing on the brink of being overwhelmed. For awhile, my solution was to basically avoid meditation outside the sangha group in an attempt to slow the pace down – not avoiding mindfulness mind you, but any kind of extended, deep concentration. However, lately, I’ve begun to ever so slowly to try to get back into it while balancing it all out with compensatory practices that I’ll call the anti-sage meditations, because none of these practices support the cultivation of wisdom.

OBLITERATION OF THE EGO THROUGH SOUND

via society6/BLCKBTY

Enough preamble. Last night, after a particularly gluttenous omakase meal at one of TO’s top three Japanese restaurants, I stayed out until 3am dancing to Daedelus, whose music I have adored for a decade. He’d tweeted earlier in the day that he was going to try a new sound – I had no idea how different it was going to be. His tracks last night were just as dense as they had ever been, but so much fatter, just a tsunami of sound towering over you to completely own you. His usually clever and whimsical tracks took a darker turn, and with the volume so high, it was almost unforgiving, dominating.

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Of all the great modern American composers, my theoretical favourite is, and always has been, John Cage. I say theoretical because while I have an affinity for Cage’s ideas, I do so enjoy listening to the likes of Reich, Riley, Glass, etc. much more. Cage was very into zen, which informed much of his approach to music and composition.

Art may be practiced in one way or another, so that it reinforces the ego in its likes and dislikes, or so that it opens that mind to the world outside, and outside inside. Since the forties and through the study with D.T. Suzuki of the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, I’ve thought of music as a means of changing the mind. I saw art not as something that consisted of a communication from the artist to an audience but rather as an activity of sounds in which the artist found a way to let the sounds be themselves. And, in being themselves, to open the minds of people who made them or listened to them to other possibilities than they had previously considered.

Which all seemed well and good theoretically. Listening to Cage was always an intellectual exercise for me and to be honest, I never experienced the perceptual changes he described in the quote above. That was, until I forced myself to attend a Cage tribute concert, celebrating the man’s 100th birthday, exactly 91 minutes in length.

An hour and a half of Cage’s work in all of its counterpointal, dischordant glory. I had worked very late that evening, my vision still occasionally blurring from staring into a screen. I was alone and had bought the single ticket, an impulsive decision, on my way home. My mind, exhausted, almost immediately rebelled against the sounds. I’m so tired, what was I thinking coming here? I don’t even like listening to Cage, etc. And then, in a fit of annoyance: This is just fucking noise! Thankfully, knowing the exact time of the concert gave me the mental security I needed to counter my discomfort.

And something very funny happened as I walked home through familiar streets. It was raining, and the sounds around me, suddenly all seemed to come alive: the patter of rain on different surfaces, the whooshing of tires over wet asphlat, the sound of my heels against the ground, snatches of conversations in different languages flowing around me. Hearing was not the only sense that was affected. I was arrested at how the city lights played off the movement of the water on all the concrete and pavement, how the drops of water on the lens of my glasses distorted the images. Everything mundane took on a fascinating quality and I walked home, as if high. High off an overdose of John Cage.

One may fly is one is willing to give up walking.

Happy 100th, Mr. Cage and thank you for blowing my mind.

So one of my favourite sonic inventors, Daedelus, has written an album called Righteous Fists of Harmony about the Boxer Rebellion and links this to the GD. Download the mp3 of the track in the first link if you’re curious!

Now if only I could make out all the lyrics. I had a lot of difficulty with the greyed out words.

Order of a day to come/thus the end, begins. Darkest star have said eon Cast a stone, the night. With the centre flown on high /head nor talons/what will be the end? How can the rising sun/night is still /enter god behold. Calms the dawn/golden dawn/darkness turns to day.

Order of Golden Dawn/eastern rising sun/Boxers Rebellion/fists of righteousness

Here the warning bloody red /morning sky/soldiers now beware. Drink the tea, liquid shield, food invincible. Elixirs/poured aghast, all that’s left undead. Soldiers tasting drug and steel, slumbering, rise again, begin.

Attractive things that once repelled me:

blue cheese
chubby men
travelling without plans
cold winters
monogamy

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Original Title: more TOOL artwork, Joshua Davis and a tangent
Original Post Date: June 26, 2006 @ 1:42pm

frieda

Frieda Kahlo

Joshua Davis of praystation, once-upon-a-forest, dreamless.org and k10k fame posts some unused artwork for the toolband.com revamp that was never used on his blog.

I once attended a lecture by Davis and to be honest, I can only vaguely remember what he talked about save one thing. When most artists and designers talk about inspiration, they’re going to talk about who they admire. They’re going to tell you about the art that resonated with them. They’re going to give you a list of who they think are great and who you need to check out. But Davis said something different – he said it was the art that he hated that he would absorb himself in. When he came across Pollack, he hated him and then promptly tried to find as much material on Pollack as he could. And I thought, ah yes, we could all do this. When faced with irrational aversion, what if we pressed forward?

Now I should make it clear that I don’t think everything you dislike need be explored. Only what is irrational, only that which holds the charge of a psychological complex if you want to be Jungian about it. For example, I know perfectly well why I dislike listening to Shakira or say, reading something by Prof JP Rushton, or eating fast food slop. I doubt there would be much to gain exploring that which I already understand. However. When I first looked at the Thoth deck, I hated it. When I first learned about ritual magic, I thought: how ridiculous.

Now look at me.

When you irrationally hate or fear something, it has power over you. It seizes you, posesses you, grips you. Now, what do you think would happen if you learned to grip back?