I Just Want to Talk to You – further interpretations of the spoken word

30 03 2017

I was standing on the walkway to my house, okay, okay, so it was the entrance to the Inn at Queen Anne. A man walked up and said “Excuse me” I moved, he moved, we each guessed incorrectly, then he said “I’m sorry.” The funny thing is, I knew exactly what he meant.

A few nights ago, as I was returning from my ‘jam room’ – the place where I go play guitar next to Key Arena, I was walking ‘home,’ and I passed two (hetero-sexual) couples leaving the hotel. The first guy to pass me said, “Maybe I should go find a street corner,” perhaps inviting the second guy to say “Damn, maybe just a shelter.” The very last person of this quartet, a relatively cute blonde, sporting a Barbie pony tail AND getting away with it, nervously giggled: at least one of them showed humanity. 

These two ‘jokers’ didn’t even deserve a response, so the words which sprang to my mind instantly, remained unuttered: “Or, I could just go to my room.” Maybe they had never seen someone staying in a hotel who knows how to play a guitar, meaning they can’t afford to stay in hotels rock-stars stay in, or maybe they wanted to insult me because I’d sport more style than they did if I was dressed like Raggedy Andy on the set of The Walking Dead.

 Next.

 I’m 6’3″ and from what I have learned, I am taller than 95% of men in the world. Essentially meaning, I’m taller than 95% of the people in the world. The man who said “Excuse me”, was a good two inches taller than me, (but really skinny, so I’m sure I could have taken him) and – what he said.

Did I think that he was insecure? Did I think that he lacked self-confidence? As I mentioned earlier, I KNEW exactly what he meant, because I have used similar language in similar situations. What he communicated to me, as someone who ‘groks’ language was: “I’m right here. Be not afraid.”

Did I mention he was an African-American? Can you guess the ethnicity of the ‘jokers?’ So, a free translation lesson for all my friends: When someone speaks in a way that you may consider self-deprecating, or demonstrating low self-worth, consider these lines from one of my favorite poets, who also happens to be the god-head of guitarists incarnate – Jimi Hendrix: “I just want to talk to you, I won’t do you no harm.”

 




Big Heart, Empty Heart and Paradox

27 03 2017

Ursula K Le Guin, in her translation of Tao Te Ching, uses words and phrases most North Americans use in everyday discussion. I have been enjoying reading the work again, with her words in the order presented in Frank J. MacHovec’s 1962 The Book of Tao from Peter Pauper Press. MacHovec presents a non-canon order of the verses. Though I wouldn’t describe myself an insomniac, I often find myself awake in the middle of the night for hours at a time. Last night, as I was lying awake wondering what I ought to do to get back to sleep, I began reading verse 21. Le Guin’s calls the verse ‘The empty heart,’ her first sentence was remarkable for the significance it provided: ‘The greatest power is the gift of following the way alone.’ Already, the coincidence was humorous. She continues with the verse almost channeling another ‘master’ in a manner:

How the Way does things

is hard to grasp, elusive.

Elusive, yes, hard to grasp,

yet there are thoughts in it.

Hard to grasp, yes, elusive,

yet there are things in it.

 

I’m sure you remember how Yoda speaks?

In MacHovec’s translation, he divides the book into subject matter, which creates four books instead of two as is the traditional canon. The first, Tao, the second Teh. In his reorganization, verse 21 becomes the first verse in the Teh chapters. This is curious to me, since then each of the first verses in the subtopics Tao and Teh represents a paradox.

Verse 21: Le Guin

From long. long ago til now, it has kept its name. So it saw the beginning of everything.

Verse 21: MacHovec

From ancient times until now the signs have never ceased by which we can see the beginning.

and the paradox?

Verse 1: Le Guin

The name you can say isn’t the real name.

Verse 1: MacHovec

The Tao described in words is not the real Tao. Words cannot describe it.

 

If the name that you can say isn’t the real name, then why describe how long it has kept it’s name. Of course, I am immediately reminded of famous words of the Torah ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,’ and the traditional translation; ‘I am that I am.’ Another curious coincidence as Christ refers to himself as ‘The Way.’ However you wish to interpret these correlations, YHWH, the ebb and the flow, the Tai Chi, the opposites, they must always interact, as in a heart, to pump life, blood, chi, choose a word here that means to you life force. Big Heart, Empty Heart, try living without heart.

Verse 21: Le Guin

The empty heart:

The greatest power is the gift

of following the Way alone.

How the Way does things

is hard to grasp, elusive.

Elusive, yes, hard to grasp,

yet there are thoughts in it.

Hard to grasp, yes, elusive,

yet there are things in it.

Hard to make out, yes, and obscure,

yet there is spirit in it,

veritable spirit.

There is certainty in it.

From long, long ago till now

it has kept its name.

So it saw the beginning of everything.

 

How do I know

anything about the beginning?

By this.

 

1998 Shambala Publications




All Your Way

24 03 2017

A friend recently pointed out that I like to argue. Well, that may just be. My mother certainly thought that I would make a good lawyer, based on the types of objections I would raise to any of my parent’s regulatory attempts. The difference between arguing and debating, is recognition of fact and comprehension of a point validated or refuted. The funny part is the friend I was discussing with was actually ‘right,’ just not finding the words which allowed me to hear his point. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

The term ‘Devil’s Advocate’ is used to refer to people who point out the small percentage of situations in which the rules do not apply. (I am currently reading an excellent book on this subject, Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil, Crown 2016.) For the sake of fun, and to raise an interesting point about the dynamics of communication, I thought I would describe a possible situation in which communication is based on a relatively (pun intended) unanswerable physics question.

Negative Energy, or Dark Energy, vs. Light or Light Speed as a method of verbal communication. The basis for the next arguments are based on the tradition of the Macro reflecting the Micro, As Above So Below. Another friend and I were having a conversation about light and dark energy, in which he said he had read an article about how dark energy travels up to ten times faster than the speed of light. Though he didn’t source his claim, it was an acceptable fact to me based on my own reading, experience and observations. Michio Kaku, in the blog Big Think, lists 4 Things That Currently Break the Speed of Light Barrier. The fourth item he lists is negative matter. It ought not to take much of a leap to be able to correlate dark energy or matter to negative energy or matter; especially since I am taking the view of Devil’s Advocate for the purpose of this blog, it becomes obvious that they are the same principle, functioning under different names ( of course for the purpose of furthering obscurity.) Dark Energy, it turns out, makes up 68% of the Universe.

How does this relate to communication? From the ideas of Jagada Chandra Bose, who said ‘the true laboratory is the mind, where behind illusions we uncover the laws of truth,’ and the Moody Blues whose song ‘The Best Way to Travel‘ says essentially the same thing: ‘speeding through the universe thinking is the best way to travel,’  in her translation of The Tao Te Ching, Ursula K. Le Guin draws a correlation between the ‘untraveled and inexperienced’ poets Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson as examples of the lines which she translates as ‘You don’t have to go out the door to know what goes on in the world.’ Ch. 47. I believe that what we frequently describe as women’s intuition is a function of dark matter, or energy.*

How this relates to speaking, becomes ‘logical,’ especially considering the Greek term Logos, which means both the word, and reason. Since dark matter, or energy makes up most of ‘creation,’ and by today’s reasoning, humanity is unable to describe the behaviors of functions of darkness, it follows that the reasoning which exists in dark matter has no words. The other day, as I was playing a sudoku puzzle, I drew a nine in a square without expressing to myself mentally the logic for the decision. Curiously, the nine actually looked distinctly different than the other nines I had written throughout the sudoku square, from my observation, a part of my mind knew the answer. was unable to put it into words, yet was able to write the answer in the proper square.

Of course, as a musician, and a poet, I wish to still uplift the value of sound and music, yet, as some one who holds wisdom in a cautious regard, I can not honestly turn away the conclusion from my own experience. All of the current blog is just another way of saying what we all know, that we never know how the information arrives, just that when it does, it is important to recognize. I’d appreciate any thoughts, or feedback on these ideas, since the point of any writing is to communicate, and as the lines from Morphine’s song ‘All Your Way’ say; ‘On my dying day I might be able to say, On a still sea full of manly rage, On my dying day I might be able to say, I might be able to say, You know I finally see things all your way.’

 

*Please don’t get your knickers in a twist about this simple correlation. As mentioned, for the duration of this post, using the as above so below axiom, which allows a casual observer to note that the inside of a uterus is dark, while the seed from a man are millions, allowing for a conversational use of dark and light to be representative of the masculine and feminine forces which combine to form Captain Planet!




The Greatest Luxury

20 03 2017

It is difficult to look at oneself, and the decisions we all make on a daily basis which affect ourselves, our families and friends, and eventually our society, and future generations. Michael Franti has always been one of the artists which I have had a strong affinity for due to the directness of his lyrics, and a similarity in background. ‘Please let me confess before all the rest that I’m afflicted by this addicted like most in the U.S. It’s tough to make a living when you’re an artist, it’s even tougher when you’re socially conscious.’

If any of you are unfamiliar with his work, I suggest that you listen, any of his albums are excellent, his current band Spearhead continues his socially aware lyrics and with songs such as ‘Satanic Reverses‘, furthers the critique of the political climate in the U.S. with such clarity, it is almost prophetic.

This song, and this blog are about how hypocrisy has become standardized in today’s language practiced by the current administration under the phrase ‘alternative facts.’ If there is any doubt about how either of the front runners for the major two political parties continue to raise the double standard, just take a look at the news.

The DAPL has been okay’d again, in spite of the continued protests of the Standing Rock tribe’s wishes, the deportation rules have acted to allow far more expulsions than most other administrations. While executing the order was initially blocked by the courts, it is expected that another version written to specifically be legal in the views of the previous court objections. ‘Careerism, opportunism, can turn the politics into cartoonism.’

Since it is said that whenever you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you, it is only proper that I quote these lines from Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury as well, ‘the bass, the treble don’t make a rebel having your life together does.’  Keep the music alive!




One Nation – Under a Groove

15 03 2017

So wide you can’t get around it, So low you can’t get under it, So high you can’t get over it. These are the words that start the song One Nation Under a Groove by Parliament. There are a number of fabled cities or legendary realms which inspire, provide hope, and present alternative forms of thinking and solving present day dillemas. Tir Na Nog, Shangri-La, Shamballa, Oz, Over the Rainbow and A Separate Reality to name a few. Though Parliament/Funkadelic never specifically names a place, their philosophy is clear and music is the central theme. They refer to the source as ‘the funk’ and though it solutions can be found to all difficulties. i.e. ‘With the rhythm that makes you dance to what we have to live through, you can dance underwater and not get wet.’ – Aqua Boogie; ‘Funk not only moves, it can remove, dig?’ – P-Funk; ‘This is a chance to dance your way, out of your constrictions’ – One Nation Under a Groove.

These lyrics point out themes which have been discussed previously in previous Millennium Blues notes. Music. as a universal language provides not only communication between those without a common language, each frequency and rhythmic pattern hints at how to interact with the environment.  Consider the white noise of a waterfall, or the morning call of a rooster. Since these sounds travel as a physical wave of pressure, the vibratory rates are simultaneously influencing and describing the environment. Fairly cool, huh?

Of course, one wonders what is the environment of ‘One Nation under a Groove?’ I’m sure most reading this blog have been to a Parliament/Funkadelic concert. Remember the atmosphere at one of your favorite bands concerts? Everyone wants to be there, and is looking forward to hearing their favorite songs and having the emotional experience of being in the audience all listening to the same music. Of course, two bands which personify these ideas are The Beatles, and The Grateful Dead. There are several other bands which have gained followers, yet both of those have become legendary.

Will our nation ever be under a groove? As these times are a changing, according to the recent Nobel Prize for literature has stated, there will be plenty of opportunity to find out as bands such as Pussy Riot and Spearhead continue to bring about the influence of the muse, the funk and recognition of the true state of creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Sing Our Own Song

7 03 2017

I always find it curious to discuss intangible ideas with others who may not have had an experience of unity and connectedness. Personally, and as a musician, I prefer the word spirit, as it’s root in Latin is a reference to breath.

Once, while attending a church service at The Vineyard in Seattle’s U-district, the pastor made a request for anyone in the congregation to sing a new song. As it happened, I had just been working out lyrics to one. A number of people were present that evening, and a few sang some songs which I recognized. After a few minutes, I sang the words which I had  been mulling over, and there was an instant change in the atmosphere. Many of the people began to sing and chant, while others smiled and clapped in rhythm. It was a remarkable service.

I recently finished reading Working Class Mystic a spiritual biography of George Harrison by Gary Tillery. I was reminded of Mr. Harrison’s affinity and devotion to Krishna, and the meaning of the Bhagavad Gita – The Song of the Lord. Of course, as a musician, the interpretation of the Sanskrit term is intriguing, especially as Hinduism is one of the faiths which regard the beginning of everything to be a sound. Aum, or Om depending on the translation.

As singing a song is in fact an act of creation, then the Latin of ‘breath’ becomes as close to ‘a life giving force’ as most men will be able to obtain. (I hope the reason for singling out the masculine half of creation here is obvious.) What this means in terms of people gathering, or congregating, is that the opportunity to best be a part of creating togetherness is found in song. Singing together brings a state of unity that can only be created by singing together. To ‘conspire,’ to ‘with-breath’ becomes the natural result of popular songs leading towards a unifying emotional state.

This unity is so strong that the song doesn’t have to be a new song. A friend recently told me of ‘The Singing Revolution,’ in which the people of Estonia sang forbidden songs in order to free themselves of Soviet occupation. That song is a powerful and intrinsic form of communication is undeniable. That there are methods of unifying and building societal cohesion through song is also accepted.

As a devotee to creation through sound, I have a strong affinity to Freddie Mercury’s paean to sound ‘Radio Gaga‘ and it’s first and best broadcast medium: ‘You had your time, you had the power You’ve yet to have your finest hour Radio, Radio.’