Archive for the ‘Musical Linguistic Objects’ Category

Peter Panic = Susto

September 1, 2008

From Jaime de Angulo:

I want to speak now of a certain curious phenomenon found among the Pit River Indians.  The Indians refer to it in English as “wandering.”  They say of a certain man, “He is wandering,” or “He has started to wander.”  It would seem that under certain conditions of mental stress an individual finds life in his accustomed surroundings impossible to bear.  Such a man starts to wander…

He will speak of what is on his mind to no one, but anyone can see that he is not all right.  He is morose, uncommunicative.  Without any warning he will get up and go.  People will probably say of such a man: “He has lost his shadow.”



The concept of susto functions as an etiological category. When a person suffers from certain forms of social dysfunction — listlessness, depression, lack of motivation — family members or a healer search the past for a frightening event that may have caused the soul to leave the body. Thus, when persons believe that they are performing their social roles less adequately, according to their own criteria, than others in the community, the illness category of susto provides an explanatory framework within which to conceptualize their experience and seek appropriate healing. Perceived social and personal failures are attributed to a culturally defined sickness. [Susto]

Drinking ayahuasca provides the shaman with information concerning the current location of the lost or stolen soul — where it has fled or been hidden away — and the progress of its return in response to the calling song. It may take hours or days for the soul to make the return journey. Don Emilio Andrade tells of singing back a stolen soul. Suddenly he saw a road, and in the center of the road a small shadow. As he sang, the shadow became larger; when the shadow was just six or seven meters away, he saw it was his patient. The soul entered into her through the top of her head, and at that moment she awoke. He continued to blow tobacco smoke on her, until she was completely recovered. [Steve Beyer]


August 31, 2008
A Virus Worth Spreading

A Virus Worth Spreading


Ground State Training: Learning the Ways through the Garden

August 31, 2008

The Sixties Style Sheet

LSD settled into the era of materialism, a realm of science and rationality, the land of stimulants and alcohol.  That alone made it revolutionary.

To begin with, this world has a different kind of time.  It is the time of biological rhythm, not of the clock and all that goes with the clock.

Alan Watts, the Joyous Cosmology

And there was a seeming fork in the path: one way eschewed the past, embrace the Future, the apocalyptic, the New Age, Aquarius, a new calnedar, a radical rupture with history, messianic, into the heavens – space colonies.

Better living through chemistry.

The other way turned to the earth, to the old ways, seeking models in pre-industrial cultures, tribe, tradition, anthropology, plants.  Land.

Another Iteration of Fork’d Path Garden

[Starting at least 4000 years ago] Yogic techniques developed to include a broad array of practices, from the subtle breath control of the pranayana schools to the bhaktic ganja smoking of the saddhus, from the alchemical energy transmutations of the sexual tantras to the bare-bones, stripped-down mindfulness practice of the Buddhists.

Two advocates discuss their ways


SIMPLICIO, a practicioner of the poison path

SAGREDO, a practicioner of a traditional meditative discipline, let’s say, Zen


SIMPLICIO: We’re for doing it the easy way.

SAGREDO: The Same.  What could be easier than the direct and immediate practice of ground state training?

SIMPLICIO: True, if it works.  But for how long do you have to do it?  Years and years, I’ve heard.  And some never get it.

SAGREDO: It’s the same with your way.  But even those who do not attain True Enlightenment find some peace and inner serenity through our way.  Even their health generally improves.  They are less predatory and more compassionate.  They laugh more, and have more poise.  Can the same be said of your way?

SIMPLICIO: Yes… well, for some.  For others, not, I admit.  I’ve seen some who have followed our way for thirty years emerge as Great Egocentric Assholes.

SAGREDO: (Sigh.)  It’s the same for us, I’m afraid.  And the always feel so righteous about it!  Maybe we should talk about our successes.

SIMPLICIO: I’m for that.  Some of our adepts are so advanced that they look like ordinary people.  You would never know, unless you are an adept yourself.  Like ordinary people, but maybe with an extra radiance.  Otherwise they are like everyone else: a doctor, a mother, a professor, a contractor, a farmer.  Like others, but probably with a double life – besides the day job they may have a life in the arts.

SAGREDO: Or in a spiritual practice.  Sounds like one of ours.  We like to say, “in the world, but not of the world.”

SIMPLICIO: Yes, the other world teaches us that.

SAGREDO: Tell me, how would you characterize the difference between that world and this one?

SIMPLICIO: In the other state one can experience the Unity, and the truth beyond selfhood.  Also, one can see beyond the perceptual mold that we, collectively, have reified.  How would you state it?

SAGREDO: What ‘other state’?  It’s right here…  You see the intrinsic problem with your approach?

SIMPLICIO: You tricked me.  You set me up.  I’ll get back at you when it’s time to dance, instead of this Zen stuff, like being wise.  But let me ask you, do you find that there are some who are so ensared by the Illusion that they haven’t even glimpsed that there is anything else?

SAGREDO: There are many such.

SIMPLICIO: We have the edge, that way.  Our poisons have the power to crack open the World.  The experience shows people that there is more to the world than they could ever have imagined.  And it works on almost everybody, even the deeply cynical.  Is it not a good thing to crack open the world?

SAGREDO: Yes, if it sticks.

SIMPLICIO: We say that it is the sticking that is the problem!  In our ordinary mind we forget, we say “it’s this,” or “it’s that.”  That is the frozen part, the ice cubes, the seeming.

SAGREDO: Touche.  You set me up.

I saw sagredo bow, and simplicio bow back.  I blinked and they had merged back together, into Salviati, who was lounging at the base of a tree, just loafing, chewing on a spear of summer grass.



New English Alchemy

August 24, 2008

“My mind has never felt quite so much like an arrangement of cranks and gears,” Daniel says.  “I decided what I was going to do quite some time ago.”

“But people have been known to change their minds-” says the reverend.

“Am I to infer, from what you just said, that you are a Free Will man?” Daniel inquires.  “I really am shocked to find that in a Waterhouse.  What are they teaching at Harvard these days?  Don’t you realize that this Colony was founded by people fleeing from those who backed the concept of Free Will?”

“I don’t fancy that the Free Will question really had very much to do with the founding of this Colony.  It was more a rebellion against the entire notion of an Established church – be it Papist or Anglican.  It is true that many of those Independents – such as our ancestor John Waterhouse – got their doctrine from the Calvinists in Geneva, and scorned the notion, so cherished by the Papists and the Anglicans, of Free Will.  But this alone would not have sufficed to send them into exile.”

“I get it not from Calvin but from Natural Philosophy,” Daniel says.  “The mind is a machine, a Logic Mill.  That’s what I believe.”

“Like the one you’ve been building across the river?

“A good deal more effective than that one, fortunately.”

“You think that if you made yours better, it could do what the human mind does?  That it could have a soul?”

“When you speak of a soul, you phant’sy something above and beyond the cranks and gears, the dead matter, of which the machine – be it a Logic Mill or a brain – is constructred.  I do not believe in this.”

“Why not?”

Like many simple questions, this one is difficult for Daniel to answer.  “Why not?  I suppose because it puts me in mind of Alchemy.  This soul, this extra thing added to the brain, reminds me of the Quintessence that the Alchemists are forever seeking: a mysterious supernatural presence that is supposed to suffuse the world.  But they can never seem to find any.  Sir Isaac Newton has devoted his life to the project and has nothing to show for it.”

[Quicksilver, 65]

The birth and infancy of Science [Mathematics and Natural Philosophy] coincided with explosions of novelty within the Christian community of Europe and the colonization of North America by English Emigrants in the 1600’s.

Alchemy is Science with the goal of Spirituality.  In esoteric terms, alchemists are after the transmutation of matter into Spirit.  In exoteric terms, they seek to turn Shit to Gold.

There was a general fever of materialism in Europe and England during the so called ‘age of exploration.’  Colonists established transoceanic trade routes by which to move gold, rubber, sugar, tobacco, tea all over the world.  Various slave trades were set up and developers established habits of unwise earth exploitation.  GEOLOGY comes out of a need to know more about the exploitable properties of the earth.  In English, the infinitive verb To Mine does double duty, referring both to the act of extracting materials from the ground [Let us Mine] and to the act of taking the materials as one’s own property [It is Mine].

Out of Geological Mining Technologies came discoveries of fossils that gave my ancestor, in the 1850’s, awareness of forms of Ancient Life [and subsequently theories of Evolution] that threw his Theological Apparatus into Tailspin.






The Next BIG [BOOK?]

August 20, 2008

What is a Big Book? And what are some examples?

The 2007 Esalen Conference on Evolutionary Metaphysics was centered on an essay contest. Eight proposals were submitted to describe what the next Big Book would be like. But what is a Big Book? Throughout human history revolutionary books have rocked the reigning intellectual consensus and brought forth radical new ideas and visions, which eventually were incorporated into the broader culture. When historians look back in time, they can see pivotal moments when bold new ideas created a ripple effect that eventually changed the course of history. To give the reader a feel for some Big Books in human history, here are five examples:

1. Nicholas Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium

2. Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Mind

3. Darwins’ Origin of Species

4. Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine

5. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions


Beginning with Ken Wilber’s framework for the evolution of human consciousness, this essay investigates the critical threshold crossed around the year 500 B.C.E., when human consciousness in the Western world transformed from a predominantly oral and tribal framework to a largely written and abstract one. This transformation has been called the birth of the mental-ego—i.e., the birth of an autonomous, willful, and uniquely individual consciousness. Yet, in the Western world this birth was inextricably influenced by a completely novel literary invention—the Greek version of the alphabet. Living at the precise moment when this new invention was rapidly proliferating throughout ancient Greece, the Western world’s most famous philosopher, Plato, posited his ontology of human disconnection from the sensory world. For Plato, the “real world” is the abstract world of transcendent Ideas, of which our sensory, human world is only a pale reflection. The following essay asks, then: is it just a mere coincidence that the world’s most abstract literacy tool (the Greek alphabet) and the world’s most abstract and disembodied philosophy (Plato’s theory of Ideas) just happened to flourish in ancient Greece at exactly the same time in history?

Why this is Important Now and in the New Age

I want to focus on the appearance of the issue of Alphabetic Literacy in the New Age Discourse, taking the tack of Poletti’s essay as an opportunity for distributing knowledge across disciplinary boundaries.  TRANSDISCIPLINARITY.  To ask whether ‘it is just a mere coincidence that the world’s most abstract tool, Literacy’ just happened to flourish at the same time as… is naive according to Apparatus Theory.  Which is not to say that Poletti is far from the mark, only that he’d probably be very interested to learn from Apparatus Theory that Electracy [electronic writing/composition] is as different from Literacy as Literacy was from tribal Orality.  The transition from one apparatus to another is entirely commensurate with the much decried transition into a New Age, which is why I’m interested in how thinkers in the New Age movement approach writing, publishing, the dissemination of information, etc.

Why the next big BOOK is the wrong object of speculation

The next BIG WRITTEN THING will emerge up and out of the complex of distributed biotechnological activity called the Internet.  It will be open source, available for remixes and re-interpretations, available for global participation and thereby fundamentally different from the previously mentioned Big Books.  This doesn’t mean it won’t be Big and as important in the process of metaphysical evolution as all the Bigs before, just that it will read different.

The Next Big [OTHER]

Maybe it’s time to forget writing, or at least the writing we’re used to. The internet will play a part, but writer’s have to work to connect their writing into the networked apparatus of the Big shift underway.  Industry, economy, advertising, technology, environmental awareness, pharmacology, collective dreaming.  Formulation of the Next Big [Other] is a portion of a transdisciplinary apparatus shift that is underway all over the planet and the next BIG WRITTEN THING will figure [into] the global media sphere.

The Signifying Monkey-Devil’s Opposable Green-Screen-Thumb: not sewing, but felting a rhizomatic seed for an electronic Lurning Man event

August 19, 2008
The Imperative is GO GREEN

Devil's Thumb will go GREEN


Derrida’s chorography [and Ulmer’s by extension] (using an actual place as the inventio of a discussion) recalls Plato’s use of the landscape in the Phaedrus. Socrates goes outside the walls of the city, in order to discuss the lessons in rhetoric that the latter has learned from the sophist Lysias.  They find their way, as if by accident, to a significant spot…

… [it is no accident that] the landscape occupies a much more significant place in the Phaedrus than anywhere else in Plato.  Nor is it accidental that the story of Boreas is told while Socrates and Phaedrus are taking a walk along the banks of the Ilissus, or the story about the metamorphosis of the crickets while both of them are lying under a plane tree luled by their chirruping voices in the midday heat of a southern sky.  All these things belong together.  Hour and place, along with the mythical tales, form the actual and symbolic landscape of the work.  (Friedlander, 190)


Socrates compares the written texts Phaedrus has brought along to a PHARMAKON: a ‘drug’ or ‘medicine,’ – a philter which acts as both remedy and poison….  This charm, this spellbinding virtue, this power of fascination can be – alternately or simultaneously – beneficent or maleficent…. Operating through seduction, the PHARMAKON makes one stray from one’s general, natural, habitual paths and laws [strange attractor].

Jacques Derrida, Plato’s Pharmacy

The primary poison is the Word – the Pharmakos – the one who stands-in-for.  All other poisons function through this one, the signifying poison.  Signifying monkey.  Jesus should have been stoned, not crucified.

Pharmakos also meant ‘poisoner,’ and ‘sorcerer,’ and ‘magician.’  Plato banned the pharmakeus, the shaman, from his Republic in 480 BC.  The Chinese kicked the shaman out of the government in the first century, along with her whole family.

Standing-in-for, the Logos.  Morphine wearing the mask of endorphin, tetra-hydrocannabinol dressed up like anandamide.  Molecules standing in for stimuli: sensation symbolized on the cortex, rhodopsin a metaphor of light.  Intellect is mediated and mediator, a mapping of pattern to patterns of ions, ratios, concentration of amines, layers of neurotransmitters themselves in flux, charged and shaped by emotion and memory.  Mind acts it out, moves mountains, changes its own environment, altering the very reactions that led to the alteration.

and that’s a good trick

Patterns, likeness of pattern, and some analogous likeness of likeness: the swelling of sound in adagio and its neuronal reflection.  The great bead game, poetry is poison – echoes of phonemes, ghosts standing in for ghosts.


My proposal for an electronic monument is to set up a series of VJ performances in green light on the surfaces of Devil’s Thumb [light is highly LNT].  People observing the performance from the suburbs of South Boulder would get a low resolution sense of the Collective Signifying Monkey-Devil’s Opposable Greenthumb, and people watching the performance at the thumb itself would glimpse the content of the projected video images, which could include remix mash-ups of global-environmental music-thrillers (Koyaanisquatsi, Baraka, Manufactured Landscapes) and a video collage concerning the disappearance of Lance Hering from El Dorado Canyon in 2006, among other things.

A relay for remix source material:

The electronic monument would convey its meaning via fractal resolution.  In other words, it would offer similar meaning structures across different scales.  Viewed from far away, the message would be general – Devil’s Greenthumb.  Viewed from closer, the message could be more specific – remixed image content developed by individual VJ’s.  If the performance were allowed to happen a few weeks in a row, it would be ideal if people who saw the program from the suburbs one week were lured out of the city toward the mountains the next week by the Devil’s Greenthumb, making it a veritable Strange Attractor.  The added benefit of this electronic monument’s location is that people who are lured toward the Strange Attractor are lured out of town, at night, into the psuedo-wilds of the hills, where they might very well encounter various forms of the Other.

Then, one day, walking the usual route across the Shadow Canyon ridge heading West toward the Continental Divide, a restless spirit took hold of him.  It was as if he were walking into yet another phase space he had no control over…  Within ten minutes he was at a thin oval-shaped cave.  A green and yellow and red tapestry of lichen surrounded the cave entrance.  From where he stood it looked like an enlarged vagina with technicolor pubic hair.  He thought he smelled the dank erotica of a woman just come.  Closing his eyes and breathing in deeply, he felt an uncontrollable urge to masturbate out in the open air [this is PANIC masturbation, the vice of the shepherds in the hills.  In this version, the wind whipping through the hills is pheromonal medicine woman scent].  A rush of blood funnelled straight to his cock and he pulled it out softly taking hold of it and slowly jerking the entire shaft imagining that all of Nature’s open space was his to jizz in….


The Medicine Woman explained that the psycho-pharmakinetic effect of acidophilus mixed with a special legume grown near the Aztec ruins in the Yucutan would provide him with the necessary proactive stimulant one needs… She said that the Mexican bean was responsible for activating the latent Sexual Blood (she used the term Sexual Blood as if it were a way of life).  This activation caused a mirrored aphrodisiac effect.  Instead of producing in the person who took the drug an incredible urge to screw anything that had a genital attached to it, the intaker of said drug would emit an aura of irresistible libidinal energy that would make certain select Others mad with the prospect of screwing IT... Once one took the drug and started encountering Others who were interested in becoming IT by physically loving IT, then one was allowed to share the secret of Sexual Blood with this Needy Other.

Sexual Blood is the product of a poison, a pharmakon [which can be words whispered on the winds, but can also be vegetal matter].  We can wonder about the percentage of people who’re turned onto Sexual Blood by abstraction/poetry/signification alone, by the pharmakon WORD, logos.  But let’s get materialistic about it.  Let’s get away from monkey signification production, even if we always have to come back to it.  Let’s focus on breeds across the boundaries of reproductive isolation, inter-special production of hybridized affect.  The growing growing grown concern for the earth and the problems that arise around the cultivation, commodification, and transportation [read Capitalistic Control] of plant life is reason to focus on the public policy issues in the green material dimension of the production of so called Sexual Blood.

Phaedr. What an incomprehensible being you are, Socrates: when you are in the country, as you say, you really are like some stranger who is led about by a guide. Do you ever cross the border? I rather think that you never venture even outside the gates.

Soc. Very true, my good friend; and I hope that you will excuse me when you hear the reason, which is, that I am a lover of knowledge, and the men who dwell in the city are my teachers, and not the trees or the country. Though I do indeed believe that you have found a spell with which to draw me out of the city into the country, like a hungry cow before whom a bough or a bunch of fruit is waved. For only hold up before me in like manner a book, and you may lead me all round Attica, and over the wide world.

Ethan Brand is an aspiring alchemist, which is to say a pseudo-materialist, interested in the transmutation of matter into spirit, the emphasis in the case of Sexual Blood being the green matter at hand [the Devil’s Greenthumb, another version of the hook shaped alien appendage].  What matters, in this register, are the organic conditions under which the strange attractor expresses itself.

And, despite the sprouting of fractal ferns and algorithmic roses, there are no plants in cyberspace – not that one could eat, anyway.  Nor in the noosphere.

Song Forms – Musical Linguistic Objects

August 12, 2008

Every culture has singers, musicians – ones who make beauty with sound – the beauty of music is order.

The ceremony started with a metallic triad, each wave-length with its own phase.  When each one pierced the space by itself, they sounded in major relation, but when they sounded simultaneously their collective phase-decay turned their relationship minor.

The ayahuasquero sang plant songs…

some of which I could interpret with language [vibration to spanish to english] – some of which I could isomorphically map and make mean – some of which I could translate into the english lexicon – some of which were at least partially mappable onto consensual physical space, linear time, familiar stellar bodies…  One way to describe these songs is ‘addressed to Humans’ – ‘this is what I have to say to you’.  These songs were built with hope and encouragement.

Reina del amor, hija del sol,
que viva en una estrella…
Mañana es otra dia
Que vive la alegria

and others felt like pure buffoonery.  One icaro especially commanded that I produce reverential short-burst laughter every time its strange central object assembled, each time it bubbled tumescent gobbledygook, like fungus out a trunk – and these descriptions are just partial isomorphics, they don’t preserve very much of the information at all… These were the peak experience, the singular magic, the farthest from ordinarily available consensual space, the most ‘Other’ worldly, like ‘Look Human.  Listen Human.  This is what I am’ – ‘this is what I sing to myself’.

And the punctuation was air – there were blow darts, hyper-dimensional air trajectories through space, replete with loop ring emanations and round ends, like mist dropping horizontal on arcs.  Others were thumpy, blunt, padded air caps.  Others were like the whistle trails of fireworks and smoke-snakes.  I wonder now whether these were protective measures, boundary establishments.

Arkarta in the Quechua language means “defense” (J. Szeminski, pers. commun.). I questioned each of my four informants about their arkana. Don Jose told me about four of them: huairamanda arhana, yahtamanda arhana, yahumanda arhana and meolinamanda arhana. Huairamanda arhana is a hurricane which will blow away his enemies. The other three are defenses against enemies coming from the earth, water and air. He describes them as darts which were given to him by his murraya or spirits. On the other hand these spirits guard the place where he is taking ayahuasca.

The instruments were multi-sonorous – each one a bunch of things shaken all in concert.  Aggregate instruments.  The main shaker sounded at least 5 rhythms with each shake.  There was also a rattle that sent multi-scalar elliptical-complexes [like an antony gormley sculpture] through the space.  Another was a shimmer-shell cloth that glistened waves.

”]Musical ObjectsWhat isn’t at all clear is the method of the ayahuasquero, the way all these elements are sequenced and directed.  [Songs the plants taught us…]  He told me that whatever I saw was conditioned by my archetypes, and I believe him.  I wonder what these songs are like for him – I imagine he is closer to the ayahuasca and farther from archetypes and that his situation lets him sing the plant [the plant to sing through him] in an open, indeterminate way so that all us peons can make our own meanings, salves for our own wounds.

I guess I’d be interested to try to apply the concept of chora to thinking about the relationship between ayahuasca and the ayahuasquero…  The issue seems to be the degree to which any given human translates the ayahuasca’s message into their own archetypes via partial, contingent, conditioned isomorphics – hypothesis = the ayahuasquero does this to a degree approaching zero.

At one point, fairly early on, I felt the tops of things fizzing off, up and out of the frame.  I wondered if this was the general transition from nature-culture to techno-culture… But I couldn’t really know anything about this.

Before I started feeling ayahuasca, my mind was racing through all of the things I think I can say about myself… The micro-narratives that course through my neural net all day were buzzing conductive business as usual.  I understood this to be my introduction of myself to ayahuasca.  ‘Things’ didn’t start ‘happening’ until I gave my attention to the songs.  “I stop combing my mind so my thoughts can lock“.  At first, I was surprised by the delicacy of it all.  At first it was small angular screens, like a bay of cockpit windows with diamond lattice plasma curtains, flashing and waving colors.  All I could think to give them were smiles and small gasps of awe.  Very gently, their borders pushed and the frames gave way to extension.  I did have some comparative thoughts, like, ‘My goodness.  Some things are so crude, so gross, so loud, so noisy.  This is gentle, extensive but very manageable.’

Other people were making noises in the dark.  The belches and digestive cavern echoes were very interestingly qualified by the delicacy of the ayahuasca and the brilliant supra-intelligent order of the songs.  I took very much joy in sensing the arrangement of the ayahuasca, but I also felt worried by the suffering of the other humans and even thought that it might be impolite to experience so much joy in the same room as what sounded like agony… When I realized that I felt this way, I told myself that every person has their own suffering and it shouldn’t take the place of others’ joy.