Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sr. Rosetta Tharp - Didn't it Rain

I know Sr. Rosetta went worldly but there was no one who played gospel swing like she did.

Hate Mail - Post Literate Brain Trust Speaks Again

SkepticTank  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 2 hours ago
His greatest retort to you would be to write an actual piece of music criticism. I'll bet he finds it way harder than it looks and well beyond his limited talents. It would be hilarious to see him try. A lot more fun than his endlessly recycled orations against the materialists.

Done that, dopes.

1.  Arthur Berger

2. Charles Tomlinson Griffes' Sonata

3. High Anxiety Bones' cd Too Scared to Play

4.  The Merling Trio Performs Works By Curtis Curtis-Smith

5.  William Bolcom Gospel Preludes

6.  World Premier of William Bolcom’s Canciones de Lorca

7.   Music of Kenneth Gaburo

8.   Imagining Arizona Dranes c. 1905-?

9.   Washington Phillips and the Harps of Gold

10.  John Lennon Is Dead His Song is Stupid

I could go on, there have been plenty more.  I didn't find it hard at all, but, then, I had written scads of papers on music in college, some for teachers far more exigent than I would imagine what passed for editors at that ad vehicle that .... Well, only if provoked will I go into that.   Don't mind saying they were wowed with my two papers in my senior seminar in music history, one took three classes to give.

I generally don't write about music I don't like or respect because so much of the music that is worth noticing doesn't get noticed or reviewed.  No one ever paid me to write a review of a disc or criticism of music.   Mind you, if any recording companies would like to send me free cds to review, I promise I will listen to them and if I like them I will write a review of them.   That is if I get to keep the cds.  If you wanted to tempt my integrity by offering payment I might agree to do that, but only for any recordings I actually liked.   But, alas, as the great American composer, Carla Bley said,  I could be corrupted but no one cared enough to make an offer.

Update:  Oh, and apropos of my earlier post, in that old review of Griffes' Sonata I heaped praise on a composer, one of the very few fine composers who was -- wait for it -- AN ATHEIST.  I could add this review I did of the atheist AND LOGICAL POSITIVIST!  Milton Babbitt.   I don't know but wouldn't be surprised if Kenneth Gaburo were an atheist, not to mention a number of others I've said nice things about.

Update 2:  Good heavens, what do you imagine being a musician or a music major consists of.   I don't think there has been a day in my life since I first started having a consciousness of musical form that I didn't do some analysis of music.  It's inevitable that someone who does music and thinks about it will hear music analytically.   If that's why I don't find it hard to write about music, I don't know, I didn't think about that until that idiot claimed it was hard.   It just came with the package of being a musician and I took it for granted, I guess.

The Physicalists' Dilemma

I said that Galen Strawson was a crappy philosopher because he is a materialist, or in his preferred construction a "realist physicalist" who has devoted a good part of his time to trying to invalidate the idea of free choice.  I've been through that so many times already, that as a materialist, OK, "physicalist" the possibility of free thought and free choice has to be attacked because those would be impossible if materialism were true.   Everything in materialism has to be reducible to matter-energy.  Really, they can't get out of the 19th century.  And the more recent pose of calling materialism "physicalism" that dodges the problem of old-fashioned materialism by deferring the definition of what the physical substance everything is by just claiming that everything has to abide by physical laws means that everything deemed to be real must be held within the nets of determinism,   That only makes their dilemma more obvious to anyone who thinks it through.

That is why those who push atheism, the real motive behind the banal trinity of "materialism, physicalism and naturalism" are continually trying to debunk free choice, free thought, the mind and consciousness, the most basic aspect of our existence, our experience of consciousness, can't be made to conform to their ideological support for their hatred of religion and God.

However, they always, always need and insist on exempting one thing or another about their own preferred areas of thought from their, otherwise, universal and iron clad rules of reality.   Especially those who call their ideology "physicalism" can't contain his debunking of free choice to merely that one area of our minds, insisting that the experience of free choice is merely illusion  while maintaining that any other area of our experience and the conclusions we draw from it are any less of an illusion.   Everything, from our perceptions of physical reality, to our measurement and counting of things, the logical analysis of those experiences, the descriptions that even the most rigorous of scientists might publish about them, to the conclusions of peers who read and agree with what they say are every much as bound by the same proposed disqualifications of the experience of free choice as Strawson and others insist that free choice is falsified by.

Those philosophers who debunk free choice, minds or consciousness, removing any possibility of transcendence from physical causation for those, has to grant themselves a logically incoherent exemption from their same insisted upon conditions in order for what they are saying to have any possibility of not also being an illusion.   They are merely producing a different set of experienced sensations caused by their own particular and randomly present chemical and physical constituents working themselves out.   As I've said before, if they are right, nothing any of us thinks or says can be any more true that what happens when you put an acid and a base together or melt an ice cube.   Their own framing could only be true if it were false.

Any philosopher who spends their professional life doing that without realizing the inevitable consequences of their position can't have thought very hard about the matter.

Hate Mail - What Did I Say About Him Not Reading It?

Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 20 hours ago
Morning, good people (and others).

And meanwhile, over you know where, you know who dismisses a brilliant New Yorker essay on Keith Moon because -- wait for it -- its author may be an atheist.

Anyone who wants to read it for themselves can see that I didn't say anything remotely like that.

I don't have any idea if James Wood is an atheist and didn't mention anything about that.  All I did was say he wrote a self-indulgent, irrelevantly name-dropping childhood nostalgia piece about him fantasizing to be a rock star like Keith Moon in a typical New Yorker style.  And that he obviously knew little about music, his piece had nothing to do with music.  That bit of hackery is the only thing by him I've ever read.  Brilliant, it waren't.

Galen Strawson, now, in his review of Wood's novel which I linked to he talked about atheism, I didn't.   Why would I have linked to a review by Strawson, well known to those who have any idea who he is as an atheist, if I were dismissing what someone said because they're an atheist?    Not only that, but Strawson is one of those materialists who calls himself a "physicalist", a position I criticized here last week and, as such, has attacked the possibility of free thought.   Yet I cited him and his rather unpositive review of Wood's attempt at practicing the art of fiction.  I think he's a pretty crappy philosopher but am prepared to read what he has to say as a literary critic.

I don't expect that Simels or the other equally lazy ditto heads at Duncan's "brain trust" (they really have called their chat room that) will bother reading this, either.   Just wanted to point out that I called it right.   Well, that is unless he did read it and he just lied to "the reality community" (another thing they like to call themselves) and they believed him.  Him!  if you can believe it.

Update:  Sims is now trying to wriggle out of lying about what I said because he said I dismissed, "a brilliant New Yorker essay on Keith Moon because -- wait for it -- its author may be an atheist."  Since Simels was a professional writer - in the sense that he was paid to write crappy reviews of crappy music - who slammed my writing, let me point out that his statement trying to back out of what he said backs up what I said.

 He didn't say that I "might have dismissed a brilliant ...  (yada yada) ... because he might have been an atheist".  Which is what he's claiming he meant now.

Won't read, can't think, can't tell the truth..... that pretty much sums up all but a handful of the bright no longer young things at Duncan Black's blog.  I really don't know how that handful can stand the place, most everyone else with any integrity left it long ago.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hate Mail - Let Mitzi Say It For Me This Time

Spirituals Afternoon - The Staple Singers - On My Way To Heaven

McBrien on Fridays - Pope Sixtus II

I didn't get a chance to look for a topical McBrien column for today.  Here's one that has some interesting history in it, bravery, self-sacrifice, and on the other hand, corruption and wickedness.

There have been five popes who took the name Sixtus (or, perhaps more accurately, Xystus). The first of the line did so because he was regarded as the "sixth" successor of St. Peter. He reigned from about the year 116 until about 125.

The most famous of the popes who took that name was Sixtus IV (pope from 1471 until 1484). He transformed the city of Rome from a medieval to a Renaissance city, built the Sistine Chapel (which is named for him), founded the Sistine choir, established the Vatican archives, and reorganized and enlarged the Vatican Library.

Unfortunately, he was also a blatant nepotist, having named six nephews cardinals. He established the Spanish Inquisition, annulled the decrees of the reformist Council of Constance (1414-18), that had brought an end to the Great Western Schism, was personally involved in the murderous Pazzi conspiracy, in which Giuliano de' Medici was killed and his brother Lorenzo was wounded, and reigned all the while as a Renaissance prince. The corruption of his pontificate prepared the way for the Protestant Reformation in the next century.

On August 7, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of another Pope Sixtus, Sixtus II (257-58), outstanding for his holiness and his courage in the face of certain martyrdom. Indeed, he is generally regarded as one of the Church's most highly venerated martyrs.

Sixtus was elected Bishop of Rome just as the emperor Valerian abandoned his policy of toleration toward Christians. He ordered Christians to participate in state-sponsored religious ceremonies and forbade them from gathering in cemeteries where they often celebrated the Eucharist together.

Sixtus II, however, was politically savvy enough to avoid unnecessary confrontations with the emperor, that is, until the emperor issued a second edict ordering the execution of bishops, priests, and deacons and imposing assorted penalties on laypersons. 

On August 6, 258, while the pope was seated in his episcopal chair addressing the congregation at a liturgical service in the private, and presumably safe, cemetery of Praetextatus, imperial forces rushed in and seized and beheaded the pope and four of his deacons.

It was said that the pope refused to flee to save his own life because he feared that the soldiers would retaliate by massacring the entire assembly. Two other deacons were executed later the same day, and the seventh -- the famous St. Lawrence -- was put to death four days after that.

Before his death, however, Sixtus II had successfully healed the breach between Rome and the churches of North Africa, Syria, and Asia Minor that had been opened by the dispute over the rebaptism of heretics and schismatics who wished to enter or be reconciled with the Church. 

Representing the tradition of Rome, Alexandria, and Palestine, Sixtus's predecessor, Stephen I, had opposed the widespread practice in North Africa, Asia Minor, and elsewhere of requiring the rebaptism of those who had been baptized by heretics or schismatics. The first baptism, the pope insisted, was valid but illicit (that is, sinful). The only action necessary for those who came into the Catholic Church from a heretical or schismatic sect was absolution by the laying on of hands.

The situation reached crisis proportions following a third North African synod which supported Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, against the pope. Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria intervened, urging Pope Stephen to adopt a less confrontational approach, but he was rebuffed. 

Had not Stephen died in the midst of the controversy and had not his successor, Sixtus II, reached out to Cyprian and the estranged churches of Asia Minor, probably by agreeing to tolerate the coexistence of the two practices, one can only imagine how the situation might have deteriorated even further. Cyprian's biographer would later describe Pope Sixtus II as "a good and peace-loving priest."

After Sixtus's martyrdom, his body was transferred to the papal crypt in the cemetery of Callistus on the Appian Way. The bloodstained chair on which he had been presiding when killed was placed behind the altar in the crypt's chapel.

A century later, Pope Damasus I (366-84) composed an epitaph describing the execution, and had it placed over the tomb. The name of Sixtus II was subsequently included in the first part of the Canon of the Mass (today known as Eucharistic Prayer I), situated between those of Popes Clement (about 91-101) and Cornelius (251-53). Significantly, Cyprian himself, and then Lawrence, the deacon martyred four days after Sixtus II, are listed immediately after Cornelius.

Sixtus II appears in one of the most famous and most often copied and reproduced paintings in the world, Raphael's "Sistine Madonna," or "Our Lady and Child with Sts. Sixtus II and Barbara."

7 / 30 / 2007

I think that on my next birthday I'm going to change my name to Xystus, once I figure out how to pronounce it.  I like how it looks.  

Hate Mail - The Tantrum Continues

1. I don't make any claim to be a writer.  I'm a blogger who has been in music for well over half a century.   I pretty much write the way I talk and think. 

2.  A writer, no matter how well he may write is still quite able to write ignorantly about music and they do, frequently.   If Wood wrote as well as S. J. Perleman (the apex of New Yorker writers) or Marilynne Robinson, the greatest living American writer, it still wouldn't give what he said about the art of drumming more credibility than what people who are in the business of drumming or the musicians they work with say.  Especially not a writer who is writing about pop music to revisit his reactions to music as a fantasizing 10-year-old or a hack whose personality has never developed past the age of 12 and who seems to be incapable of distinguishing between what is true and what he wishes were true because it would be easier for him that way.  

3.  I suspect I've heard all of Mitch Mitchell's recordings with Jimi Hendrix which were issued, one of my brothers was a big fan as were a number of my friends.   I never owned one of those albums or heard him live, mostly because I didn't go to rock concerts after the first one I went to, the audience were a bunch of jerks and I valued my hearing too much to make it a habit.  Despite the effect that studio recording can have on evaluating performing abilities, it's clear that he was quite a skilled musician.  I doubt Jimi Hendrix would have played with him if he hadn't been. "Are You Experienced," alone, shows he had more of a range than Moon.   "Fire", for example.  I listened to it right before I wrote this, probably for the first time in more than thirty years.  While I think the comparison with Elvin Jones is a bit far fetched (despite what Hendrix said, Mitchell was no Elvin Jones) he is clearly a far better technician and musician than Moon generally was.  

Do you know what the word "syncopation" means?  Do you know it when you hear it?   

4.   Once I heard the real blues  I didn't have much use for rock which is what is left over once you take everything interesting out of the blues.  Rock is what happens to the blues when it is dumbed down for a bourgeois audience.  I know that will hurt feelings but I don't lie about music.  When I heard jazz there was no going back to the pale, pale imitation.  If Elvin Jones had chosen to play rock he would have been the greatest rock drummer there ever was.  Moon's "rock power" is nothing to Jones' or, for that matter, Max Roach's musical power.  I would suspect the reason that Jones didn't go for the more lucrative form was that it wasn't interesting enough to contain his interest.   It certainly couldn't have contained his genius, though it could have imprisoned it until he couldn't have stood it any longer.  

Now, if you don't stop bothering me, I'll revisit exactly one year ago when you had a tantrum about "Dancing in the Street" proving you have no ability to imagine black kids going out and having a dance party without intent to riot, accusing such known "militants" as Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter and Martha Reeves of inciting violence when they were writing and singing a party song for kids who wanted to have innocent fun.   Really, that old myth about the "hidden message" of "Dancing in the Street" comes from the same mentality that produces the right wing cabloid attitudes that all black youth are rightly presumed dangerous and to blame for what comes to them.  Such crap is one of the results of having professional pop-culture critics without anything better to say and nothing in their heads except their ill informed prejudices.  

Update:  Elvin Jones had the ear, the knowledge, the technical ability and the inventive genius to have played any genre of music he chose to pursue. Keith Moon didn't, he could never have been a top ranked jazz musician BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE THE CHOPS FOR THAT ANY MORE THAN KENNY G DOES.  

Really, some non-musicians don't have the first clue about what it takes to play that well.   Including lots of critics.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elvin Jones - Three Card Molly

Elvin Jones, drums
Dave Liebman, soprano saxophone
Terumasa Hino, cornet
Kenny Kirkland, piano
George Mraz, bass

That's what I'm talking about.

Hate Mail - OK, I'll Take Up That Challenge

Oh, if only you knew how unimpressed I am with the New Yorker as I am with so much about what you consider the hub of the universe,  you would probably be outraged.  As you seem to spend so much of your time being outraged.  Some people do that since it's easier than knowing what you're talking about.  I'd have thought you might have gotten a hint when you had a hissy fit when I dissed Strunk White last January.   I read the article you challenged me to read. [ See Update]

Looking at James Wood's bio, I don't see anywhere that he's a musician.  He's a friggin' Harvard literary scribbler who barely can be said to have practiced the art he merely writes criticism about*.  And, as I've pointed out before, Aaron Copland, no inconsiderable musician or writer, himself,  said it best, when a literary man puts two words down about music, one of them will be wrong.  I'd say that was a generous estimate.  Woods'  childhood fantasies of being a rock star, just like Moon, which he seems the most concerned with in the piece, are about as banal an evaluation of a musician as I've read recently.   You might consider it eloquent, I consider it relatively valueless as compared to what the top level of musicians choose to do in their professional career, who they choose to play with, who they learn from and who learns from them.  More about that in a minute.

I really have no interest in James Woods' childhood fantasies or the irrelevant name dropping that doesn't seem to have anything to do with Keith Moon's playing or his career.  If you deem that to be eloquence, well, maybe you're more interested in childhood fantasies like that than I am.  I wanted to play like Rudoph Serkin but I didn't fantasize about it.

Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Art Blakey are all objectively better, more inventive and musical drummers than your hero.   Here's an interesting comparison of Moon to another famous rock drummer, Mitch Mitchell, from a website dedicated to drummers.

Mitch Mitchell...

As the drummer in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell was one of the greatest rock drummers of the 1960s. Mitchell's style was a blend of the abandon of someone like Keith Moon with the jazz complexity of a sticksman like Elvin Jones. While no one, including Mitchell, could match Moon for sheer rock power, it's also true that Mitchell had the technique to handle some rhythms and patterns that were beyond Moon's abilities. Mitchell was drummer on all of the Hendrix Experience's recordings and some of his post-Experience solo outings, and was still in his touring band when Hendrix died in September 1970...

Also, Hendrix has been widely quoted as once saying Mitchell was "my Elvin Jones".  I don't know if he ever claimed Mitchell was his "Keith Moon".  I've heard Mitchell, he was far more versatile than most rock drummers, but he could only be compared with Elvin Jones and it was only partially true.

Anyone who listened to the demonstration of Jones developing a solo on "Three Card Molly" in the documentary I posted the other night and who knew anything about music would see what I mean.   "Sheer rock power" doesn't make up for inability and Jones' melodic inventiveness, to a great extent his innovation, is unsurpassed.   If you think it's dissing your idea of the greatest drummer of all time by saying he's no Elvin Jones, the same could be said for just about every other player of the drum set who has ever held sticks, even some really good ones. The other two great drummers I mentioned in the beginning of this piece are some of the few who were in the same league with him.  

The same website, specializing in drumming, gives this merely partial summary of Jones' career.

Jones was discharged in 1949, returning to a Detroit musical scene that was as vibrant as any outside New York. His first professional job was at Grand River Street, where things went well until the leader absconded with the receipts on Christmas Eve, Elvin began to frequent the Bluebird Inn, where he was sometimes asked to sit in. He always refused, thinking "it was presumptuous to sit in with these musicians, because... they were the greatest people I knew." In time, Jeader Billy Mitchell hired Elvin, and in three years at the club he backed up visiting stars including the legendary Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Wardell Grey, and, for six months, Miles Davis. In Addition, Monday nights there were jam sessions Elvin organized at his home, Tuesdays a concert series near a local university, and Elvin and his brother Thad promoted Sunday festival-style concerts. The long list of musicians Elvin played with during this period includes Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, Tommy Flanagan, Pepper Adams, Barry Harris, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Lou Hayes and Yusef Lateef.

Elvin made his move to New York ostensibly to audition for a new Benny Goodman band. Instead, he ended up with Charles Mingus, and in subsequent years he developed his style with Bud Powell, Miles Davis, the Pepper Adams-Donald Byrd Quintet, Art Farmer and J.J. Johnson. He also had his first experiences playing with Miles' tenor man and the increasingly celebrated recording artist John Coltrane. After leaving Miles in 1960, Coltrane was touring in San Francisco with his new group when he flew back to New York to seek out Elvin. Elvin joined one of jazz' most celebrated alliances in, of all places, Denver, Colorado. Through 1966, Elvin contributed to some of the most controversial, influential, and ultimately important music in jazz. Among the triumphant recordings from his great association are "A love Supreme" and "Coltrane 'Live' at the Village Vanguard". About this experience, Elvin comments: "Right from the beginning to the last time we played together it was something pure. The most impressive thing was a feeling of steady, collective learning... If there is anything like perfect harmony in human relationships, that band was as close as you can come".

In March 1966, Elvin left Coltrane. After a brief European tour with Duke Ellington's band he returned to New York to begin his distinguished career as leader, with a series of innovative piano-less trios featuring Joe Farrell on tenor alto and flute, and one of several bassists including Jimmy Garrison, Bill Wood, Charlie Haden and Wilbur Little. Also in 1966 Elvin married Keiko, whom he met in Nagasaki, Japan. Keiko has become Elvin's partner in every sense: besides providing inspiration, she is also his personal and business manager. Keiko is involved creatively as composer and arranger; Elvin has performed and recorded many of her works, including "Mr. Jones", "Shinjitsu" and "Zange". Elvin has been heard on nearly 500 recordings, with no end in sight. He also made a temporary detour to Hollywood in 1971 to appear as the character Job Cain in the ABC Paramount film "Zachariah". Reflecting his deep commitment to the music ("Playing is not something I do at night" he said, "It's my function in life").

I doubt there is anyone in rock whose career can compare with Jones' for having some of the greatest musicians who have ever played Western instruments asking him to play with them and choosing to play with him when he asked them.

Sometimes a very talented performer dies young.  You have to judge their place in music based on what they did while they were alive, not on what might have been because that might just as easily not might have been.  The probability that would have been the case isn't negligible, though even that is irrelevant in making an evaluation.   In rock, dying through your own self-indulgence is too often seen as a form of cheap validation, quite often by comparison to the tragic deaths of really fine musicians such as Jimi Hendrix who also died young.  In Jazz that's not considered enough.   It's about the music.

* Galen Strawson's review in Woods' own paper, The Guardian, ouch!

Update:  I originally had a long section that went in here that gave my reasons for doubting that you had read the piece you challenged me with.  I might go into that later.  As for now, I'm expecting to be shown the proof that you didn't read what I wrote.

Using The Dead Against Themselves - Just Like They Did Dr. George Tiller

As predictable as the talking heads at FOX spinning the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, South Carolina for its racist hate campaigns, atheists on comment threads are using the dead against themselves in their own, continual hate campaign against Christians and religion, in general.  

Online atheism is the moral and intellectual equivalent of the racism promoted by FOX, it just has a different hateful goal. 

Almost Forgot

OK, looking at the e-mail, sifting out the hate mail that the filter didn't, there is this link to an article in the National Catholic Reporter about the unembargoed encyclical on the environment, the one someone in the Vatican leaked so the American etc. right-wing media could lie about it and vilify Pope Francis as he endangers extraction industry profits over the little matter of saving the planet.

This passage in the article jumped out at me.

As predicted, the issue may be new, but the theology is very traditional. The quotes from Saint Pope John Paul II remind us that there was more to John Paul than what his neo-conservative “interpreters” in the U.S. chose to highlight. Pope Francis quotes from his encyclical Centesimus Annus, writing, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in ‘lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.’” Likewise he quotes Pope Benedict XVI, who so far from the caricature of a reactionary, called for “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.”

Which reminded me that I forgot to identify the radical who said what i posted yesterday on the topic of limits of personal property,  the overriding common interest that limits the right to property by individuals and their legal entities.  It came from the official, Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued under those two arch-conservative popes, sounding on economic justice issues like people so far left that they'd never be heard on our freest press in the history of the world or even on many leftish blogs written by Ivy League economists.   And it's not the only place in the Catechism that not only sounds but, if put into practice would be ultra-far left, as, in fact, the foundation of all Christian theology,  the Gospels, and The Law frequently are, as well.  I could have quoted many other documents from many churches, going back centuries, updating the language, and what those said could be mistaken for radical advocacy for economic justice, more so than they do to those who are presented, blind, with language from the Bill of Rights.

The NCR article points out that Pope Francis goes outside of Catholic tradition to make his argument,

Interestingly, having cited his predecessors, Pope Francis gives even more attention to the writings of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who wrote, “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.” And, he cites the Patriarch on the call “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet.” I do not recall any previous papal document devoting such attention to a Christian leader who is not a Roman Catholic in an official document such as this. I think it is important to remember on all issues that Francis is always thinking in terms of ecumenical relations, that his commitment to restoring full communion within the Body of Christ is at the top of his list of commitments. Noteworthy, too, are the frequent quotes from episcopal conferences.

Now, that's a trend that we should all hope continues and expands.  Many, probably most,  religions in the Jewish, Protestant, Islamic mainstream have documents that make similar points, many with their own useful arguments and supporting citations.  If religious leaders got together and really put pressure on governments and corporations on this issue they might just save the planet and the human, as well as most other species.  It's a lot more important than the next focus of the webloid-blogloid 2-week hate.

I am going to wait to comment further until I get to read the encyclical.  Like other theological documents I've been reading the past few years, it should be well reasoned and documented.   High-end theology is generally far better sourced and far better reasoned than most of the junk the self appointed "rational community" churns out.   It is certainly better reasoned that a lot of the "science" that gets you on NPR and the other so-considered elite vehicles of our freest of all free presses.

Post After A White Night

Reading Gerald Cannon's Youtube comment, posted below, it made me remember a comment the blogger and my one time mentor, Echidne, of Echidne of the Snakes once made.  She said that when she was first learning English, which she writes so much better than most native English speakers that it should put lots of us to shame, the practice of capitalizing the personal pronoun "I" seemed egocentric.   If someone who had the distinction of being asked to play in Elvin Jones group is self-effacing enough to put it in lower case and someone who writes as well as Echidne does makes that comment, it feels kind of embarrassing to keep capitalizing it.   Maybe i'll start capitalizing the "U" in "Us" or the "Y" in "You" or, maybe not.   It would be a hard habit to break, i'd guess.  Though it would cut down on typos if i just used lower case for everything.  One thing is for sure, it would get more flack than possibly demolishing the possibility that the materialist model of the mind as a physical construct would, though that got plenty from people who either didn't understand the several points or just criticized it without reading it.   "It's haaaaarrrd!" was also heard.  Or seen since i had to supply the sound of their whining in my head.   i wonder how evo-psy would explain the evolutionary advantage of that faculty.  Then they can explain ear worms and why it is inevitably the lyrics to the most insipid songs that you only heard because your sister had the 45 and played it about ten times every Saturday until her next favorite awful song came along.  Do you know i know every word to.... Naw,  i couldn't do that the You.  Why those and not "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed" or an accurate version of the quadradic formula or something else that is obviously useful? 

I'm going to try to get an hour nap in before i've got to drag myself to work.  I'll figure out a strategy for how to get them to do all the talking today, later.   I'll post something before then. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Documentary - Different Drummer Elvin Jones

It's a bit out of focus but it's one of the better short documentaries about a jazz musician.  It shows, in music, mostly, why Elvin Jones was such an amazingly original and good drummer.

The comments have one by the fine Jazz bass player Gerald Cannon that says,

Gerald Cannon 7 months ago
 I was the last Bassist to play with Elvin Jones, i was with the jazz machine for about 7 years and i thought i knew how to play the bass before i played with Elvin .I was wrong i learned more about dynamics time groove and melody from Elvin than any band i had ever played with before him . I really learned to trust my self and my time with him he was a great man i miss him dearly . God Bless Elvin Jones 

Odetta - God's Gonna Cut You Down

I forgot to post a spiritual at noon so I decided to post this now.  Can it really be about sixty years since that album was issued?  How time flies and how it stood the test of time.

Hate Mail - I've got to go to work in a few minutes

but I want to say that Duncan Black could save himself some trouble by taking down the comments libeling me on his website, today.   I am reaching the limit of the testing of my better intentions in that regard.

Update:  I'm told that the question of a named person repeatedly libeling another named person on a blog has not been litigated for questions of responsibility, though that's not what I had in mind, it's worth thinking about.

What Radical Said This?

The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.

In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself. The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of the world, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.

Goods of production - material or immaterial - such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.

Note:  A few words have been changed that would give the answer away too easily, I will post any correct identifications tonight or tomorrow before I reveal the source.

Leonard Bernstein - Chichester Psalms

Soloist from the Vienna Boys' Choir
Wiener Jeunesse-Chor
Israel Philarmonic Orchestra
Leonard Bernstei

It seems kind of unfair that they don't name the soloist, as far as I'm concerned, his solo makes the piece.   And the harpists, as well.  

Just in case anyone was wondering what I was talking about in another post on Monday, here it is.  I think the second movement is probably the one most recognizable to the people who are aware of any of the piece.  It does just slip in under the fifty-year mark, this July is the anniversary of its first performance.  Leonard Berstein was notorious for being really self indulgent with other peoples' music but he has to be considered the authoritative interpreter of his own music.  And it is a pretty good performance of one of his best pieces.  

Here's the text from a website. 

Part I

Psalm 108, verse 2 (Maestoso ma energico)
Urah, hanevel, v'chinor!           Awake, psaltery and harp!
A-irah shahar!                     I will rouse the dawn!  

Psalm 100 (Allegro molto)
Hariu l'Adonai kol haarets.        Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.
Iv'du et Adonai b'simha.           Serve the Lord with gladness.
Bo-u l'fanav bir'nanah.            Come before his presence with singing.
D'u ki Adonai Hu Elohim.           Know ye that the Lord, He is God.
Hu asanu, v'lo anahnu.             It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves
Amo v'tson mar'ito.                We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Bo-u sh'arav b'todah,              Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
Hatseirotav bit'hilah,             And into His courts with praise.
Hodu lo, bar'chu sh'mo.            Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
Ki tov Adonai, l'olam has'do,      For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting.
V'ad dor vador emunato.            And His truth endureth to all generations.

Part II

Psalm 23 (Andante con moto, ma tranquillo)
Adonai ro-i, lo ehsar.             The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Bin'ot deshe yarbitseini,          He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
Al mei m'nuhot y'nahaleini,        He leadeth me beside the still waters,
Naf'shi y'shovev,                  He restoreth my soul,
Yan'heini b'ma'aglei tsedek,       He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness,
L'ma'an sh'mo.                     For His name's sake.
Gam ki eilech                      Yea, though I walk
B'gei tsalmavet,                   Through the valley of the shadow of death,
Lo ira ra,                         I will fear no evil,
Ki Atah imadi.                     For Thou art with me.
Shiv't'cha umishan'techa           Thy rod and Thy staff
Hemah y'nahamuni.                  They comfort me.

Psalm 2, verses 1-4 (Allegro feroce)
Lamah rag'shu goyim                Why do the nations rage,
Ul'umim yeh'gu rik?                And the people imagine a vain thing?
Yit'yats'vu malchei erets,         The kings of the earth set themselves up,
V'roznim nos'du yahad              And the rulers take counsel together
Al Adonai v'al m'shiho.            Against the Lord and against His anointed.
N'natkah et mos'roteimo,           Saying, let us break their bonds asunder,
Yoshev bashamayim                  He that sitteth in the heavens
Yis'hak, Adonai                    Shall laugh, and the Lord
Yil'ag lamo!                       Shall have them in derision!

Psalm 23, continued (Meno come prima)
Ta'aroch l'fanai shulchan          Thou preparest a table before me
Neged tsor'rai                     In the presence of mine enemies,
Dishanta vashemen roshi            Thou anointest my head with oil,
Cosi r'vayah.                      My cup runneth over.
Ach tov vahesed                    Surely goodness and mercy
Yird'funi kol y'mei hayai          Shall follow me all the days of my life,
V'shav'ti b'veit Adonai            And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
L'orech yamim.                     Forever.

Part III

Psalm 131 (Peacefully flowing)
Adonai, Adonai,                    Lord, Lord,
Lo gavah libi,                     My heart is not haughty,
V'lo ramu einai,                   Nor mine eyes lofty,
V'lo hilachti                      Neither do I exercise myself
Big'dolot uv'niflaot               In great matters or in things
Mimeni.                            Too wonderful for me.
Im lo shiviti                      Surely I have calmed
V'domam'ti,                        And quieted myself,
Naf'shi k'gamul alei imo,          As a child that is weaned of his mother,
Kagamul alai naf'shi.              My soul is even as a weaned child.

Yahel Yis'rael el Adonai           Let Israel hope in the Lord
Me'atah v'ad olam.                 From henceforth and forever.

Psalm 133, verse 1
Hineh mah tov,                     Behold how good,
Umah nayim,                        And how pleasant it is,
Shevet ahim                        For brethren to dwell

Gam yahad.                         Together in unity.

A Post Script To Monday's Post

I left out one of the larger problems for the materialist mind in my post the other day.  In addition to the materialists' proposed model of the brain having to construct exactly the right physical thing that would be the materialists' "real" idea, a physical construct, when, by their description, the idea couldn't already be present to inform the brain of how to do that, it would also have to immediately construct exactly the right physical construct to be the physical thing to be that idea before it existed in the brain.

It would have to know HOW to construct exactly the right THING, in all of its nuances, in all of its complexity, correctly to work precisely with whatever other THINGS our ideas, our methods, our previous knowledge were and to do all of this not only virtually immediately but by all practical purposes, immediately.

It would have to construct exactly the right form of thing to make no matter how new and novel the idea was, no matter how fantastic, if it were a thing never known of or suspected before or an idea which had never existed in a human or animal mind or, indeed, for ideas about "things" that were not part of the actual, physical universe.  And, remember, it would have to know how to do that even as it didn't have the information already present to do that with.

That would be as true of ideas we later decide are inadequate or wrong as it would ideas we, somehow, got right, immediately.  Don't forget that those decisions and whatever we might list as subheadings of those decisions are also ideas, are also THINGS that the materialist brain model proposes the brain constructs.  In order for them to work, decisions evaluating our thoughts would have to be correct, noticing that an idea has problems with it, also dependent on decisions and evaluations.

And it would have to do that, unerringly, continually, hundreds, perhaps tens of thousands of times a day.

What the "brain only" ideology does is attribute god-like powers to our brains that our experience, the thing which they propose is the product of their god-like brain, proves to be absurd.  It proposes that our brains have abilities that the materialists, themselves, would be the first to assert are impossible.  It is double-talk.

Their model mind, when looked at critically and in detail makes the "brain only" mind look like an extremely unlikely, even preposterous idea which its proponents have never really thought about very rigorously.   Its acceptance is a matter of faith is absolutely like the faith of those who conclude that the Earth and all of life were created in about 144 hours based on their founding a priori belief that the words of the King James translation of the book of Genesis are literally true. Only when it's materialism that is the a priori foundation of things, rigorous thought about it isn't permissible.   And their faith is protected by invoking the name of science.   But they aren't going to be able to avoid  these questions forever.

The old model of "Enlightenment" and, even more so, 19th century, materialist scientism has brought the world such enormous evils, eugenics, scientific racism which supported the then dying evils of  economic racism,  gender discrimination, the same with scientific support for economic inequality and castes,  the continual threat of nuclear obliteration, the environmental suicide that the extraction industries and others - including the nuclear industry - have made not only possibilities but which are actually happening and ongoing, that materialism's basic assumptions will be regarded rigorously as they have not been before.  There is no more basic problem with materialism than its demotion of people, even our minds, into mere objects properly analyzed in terms of efficiency and utility.   You might gain your iPhone but you've surrendered your soul.

Materialism is a totally unsustainable atheist faith that can't stand up to rigorous criticism.  Believe me, if you do criticize any facet of materialist religion you will evoke an angry response and shunning, you won't get much in the way of attempts at refutation because the idea of looking at their own faith critically at its foundations seems to have never occurred to them.   It is well past time that its true believers were forced to face up to the fact that their model is as absurd as it is, based in contradictions, illogic and impossibilities.   It rests on the hypocritical assertion that materialism, in the form of science,  is the crown of human intellectualism as it asserts that human minds are not free but are an illusion and an epiphenomenon of the random working out of local physics and concentrations of chemicals.  Under their ideological system, even the dignity they claim is rightfully owed to the science they revere is an illusion.  That's the result of their claims, not mine.  So don't blame me for that being a logical conclusion of their claims.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones - Naima

At a John Coltrane memorial concert.

Update:  Elvin Jones / McCoy Tyner Quintet - Sweet and Lovely

Pharaoh Sanders : tenor sax
Jean-Paul Bourelly : guitar
McCoy Tyner : piano
Richard Davis : bass
Elvin Jones : drums

Endless and powerful invention even with a banal melody like this one.  That's genius.

Sweet Honey in The Rock - In the Morning When I Rise - Spiritual at Noon

How Could Anyone Want This Religious Thinking To Be Excluded From Political Life?

Tuesday, being a full work day for me, I'm going to take the considerable liberty of posting Sr. Campbell's entire graduation address given at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific from May 2013, at the end of which she gave the poem posted yesterday, it is even more powerful in this context.

Holy Doubt

What an honor to be here. I love the color demonstrated in the faculty and the trustees' gowns, and I love the bright eyes and enthusiasm of the graduating class. I also love the joy and the enthusiasm of all of you here. That reading we just heard from Matthew, I think it's really fitting because, look at this: "The apostles were gathered together, and they went to the place Jesus had directed." Now, for many of us, people of faith, isn't that just what we have done? We have gone to the place where we've been directed. You have been led to be faculty and trustees. You have been led to be students and to be ready to take the next step. And, as I read this very last part of Matthew's Gospel, when you get to the part about "Go, therefore," I always think of the trumpets and the sound, the music and all the drama of being missioned.

But for the first time, as I was reflecting on this scripture I noticed something I had never noticed before, and that was, "But some doubted." And I realized that Jesus sends all of them. He didn't just say, "The ones of you that have really got it certain." He sent the doubters as well. And that led me to think that when you look at holy faith, this holy commitment, this sense of Christ alive in our midst, the other side of that very same truth is holy doubt. And I would like to spend a little time reflecting on holy doubt because, I think, for you as you go to ministry, for faculty as you continue to engage students, holy doubt is probably a treasured, important virtue that we often want to glide over.

Because holy doubt, I think, leads to the shared virtue of deep need. I know, myself, when I'm in doubt, when I have those moments of anxiety and I'm thinking, "You've got to be nuts, you know, you've just got to be nuts" – the fact is, it drives me to reach out to others. And as I reflected on this scripture, I began to think that the virtue of holy doubt is really the doorway to community. It's the doorway that leads me to connect with others. It's the doorway that impels me out of my pretty self-satisfied mountaintop to connect with those around. And, I believe, that it's Jesus who commands us to use our moment of holy doubt, our virtue of deep need. It's that that creates the baptism, the engagement, the knowledge of the Trinitarian God who loves us beyond all imagining.

And, Walter Brueggemann refers to it as: "That what we are called to do is to touch the pain of the world as real." I just call it, "Letting our hearts be broken open." And so I wanted to share with you some of the nourishment that I found for my holy doubt.

Last summer in Toledo, I met these two ten-year-old identical twins, Matt and Mark. They were the cutest little kids you could ever imagine. And they were at the Padua Center in Toledo. And you know how sometimes twins divide up responsibility? Well, they had clearly divided up responsibility. Matt was a quivering bundle of every emotion. I thought if I looked at him cross-eyed, he was going to burst into tears. And his twin brother Mark moved through the world with a certainty. And when I was introduced to Mark, he stuck his hand out, and I shook the hand of this ten-year-old boy. And then I found out from Sister Virginia that the two of them had been suspended from school for fighting. But, what happened was that someone was picking on Matt so Mark slugged him. He was going to take care of business and take care of his brother. And then, the kid slugged Mark back, and to everyone's surprise, Matt slugged the kid. But because of that they all got suspended, and they got into Sister Virginia's program for suspended kids at the Padua Center. And then, Sister Virginia asked Mark if he wanted to show me their clubhouse where they met. And it's in a 120-year-old rectory, up on the third floor, and luckily, I ride a bike in D. C. so I could keep up with Mark as he raced up the stairs. And, he showed me the classroom, and he pointed out the computers, but he said he couldn't turn them on because Mr. T. wasn't there. And I thought for a ten-year-old, that's a lot of discipline.

And then he showed me his papers and Matt's papers and the other kids' papers, and then he asked me, "Do you want to see something pretty?" A ten-year-old, asked me if I wanted to see something pretty. Well, of course, I was curious. So I said, "Of course. Yes, I'd love to." He walks over, throws open a door, flips on the light, and it was a newly refurbished bathroom. And Mark said to me, "Isn't it beautiful?" And what it was were these white tiles with a blue pattern. And the blue fern pattern on the tile, and the light played off of it. And then Mark says to me, "You can touch them if you want." And as he reached out with his finger and ran his finger over the tile, I thought, "For a ten-year-old who had gotten into trouble for fighting, who then the Sisters discovered was the sole caretaker of his bedridden mom who had MS and diabetes out of control, who these two kids were the only ones who cared for her, who cooked for her with microwave and tried to balance out her food—to have a ten-year-old in such stressful circumstances be able to see beauty. That nourishes my faith on the days when I think, "Oh, I just can't keep doing this." Matt and Mark were a holy gift to me. Out of my need to see something beautiful, I was shown it by them.

And then in Milwaukee, I met Billy and his family. Billy works for a company and his hours got cut back in the recession, and Billy and his wife are both working, but they're only making enough money to put a roof over their kids' heads and not food on the table. So, they use Food Stamps to pay for their food every day. And they come to St. Benedict the Moor dining room to eat in the evening. Billy said that his dream, his dream was to be able to buy his kids some brand new school clothes when they started school in September, but he's never been able to do that. Hand-me-downs were the best they could do. And then, I looked over and saw his son, a 14-year-old gangly kid who was eyeing his dad's roll on his plate. His eyes were boring holes into this roll. He clearly had had a growth spurt and needed a lot of food. And so, Billy finally says, "Okay, you can have it," and the kid pounces on it.

But I thought, what Eucharist for Billy as a parent. While he couldn't buy clothes that he wanted, he could provide food in creative ways. And then I thought, some people want to say that's a handout to Billy, but what I realized was, Billy's a working man. The reason he's there is he's making minimum wage, and minimum wage is not sufficient to both feed his family and keep a roof over their heads. And so, I realized the Food Stamps—and St. Benedict the Moor dining room—are also a handout to the employer. And then I realized it's also a gift to the consumer, because we as a nation have made choices to keep prices lower and wages low, and our people are struggling. Billy's need made me keenly aware that we are in this together. We cannot say we are separate from each other. We cannot claim that this is for them, and it has no impact on me.

Holy doubt leads us to know our integration as a society, and Jesus sends us to know that yes, indeed, we are baptized into this unity of oneness. This unity of oneness helps us know that we are never alone. "I am with you all days." It is to touch the pain of the world, it releases my doubt. To touch the pain of the world allows me to journey with others whom I would never have known otherwise. To touch the pain of the world releases hope into the darkness. And so, Jesus says, "Do all that I commanded you." Do it all, all of it. Hug the leper. Weep with the woman who bleeds. Stop them from stoning a few people. Do it all. It is doing this together, to be at the margins, is what you are called to be. It's doing it together, knowing that holy doubt is the doorway to my connection to you. And your holy faith meets my holy doubt, and it becomes like this massive jigsaw puzzle, and this glorious vision of being together.

And so, graduates, embrace your doubt. Delight in the darkness. Know that in the intimacy of wondering, "How in God's green earth did I ever get into this?" it is just there that the doorways open, that we make connections, that we know the deeper truth, that we, indeed, are not orphaned, and that our world is desperately hungry for what you bring.

And to end this, I would like to share with you a poem that I wrote on the last night that I was in Baghdad a few years ago before we invaded. And I have to tell you the scene because it's about holy doubt and holy faith. And we stood outside of our hotel, there was light coming from a plate-glass window, and there was a wedding party taking place on the sidewalk. And 11 of us on this journey quite like the Gospel we were reading. We were just standing there on the edge of the wedding party, watching, and they were dancing. And they had this old screechy violin and old accordion making music. What a combination. What they did was, they drew us in to dance in the wedding party. And I was feeling so honored. I'm a poet, not a dancer, so I was trying really hard. And while we were trying to do these folk dances, this man leaned over to me and said, "How long do my niece and her new husband have to live in peace? How long until you start bombing us?" What do you say? I didn't know. But what I knew is, in that wedding feast we were connected. In that wedding feast we were one body. And this is the poem that was given that night, and this is the poem about where you are going, what you are about to do. It's the poem of all of us being sent, and it's called Incarnation. It goes like this.


Let gratitude be the beat of our heart,

pounding Baghdad rhythms, circulating

memories, meaning of the journey.

Let resolve flow in our veins,

fueled by Basra's destitution, risking

reflective action in a fifteen-second world.

Let compassion be our hands,

reaching to be with each other, all others

to touch, hold heal this fractured world.

Let wisdom be our feet,

bringing us to the crying need

to friends or foe to share this body's blood.

Let love be our eyes,

that we might see the beauty, see the dream

lurking in the shadows of despair and dread.

Let community be our body warmth,

radiating Arab energy to welcome in the foreign

stranger—even the ones who wage this war.

Let us remember on drear distant days,

we are a promised Christmas joy

we live as one this tragic gifted life—

We are the Body of God!

Thank you so much.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bud Powell - Yesterdays

There aren't words to describe how good his playing was.

John Coltrane Quartet - Impressions

John Coltrane, tenor sax
McCoy Tyner, piano
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Elvin Jones, drum

Poor Coltrane, I'll bet he wished he could have played that duet with Keith Moon, according to a dolt who once argued that Elvin Jones wasn't as good as Moon.

Doesn't it make you pine for the days when "educational television" in the United States had such things on?  Back before it had lots of corporate money and PBS to guide it.

Update:   Afro Blue

William Bolcom - Three Ghost Rags - Daniel Berman, Piano Now with an update intended to annoy

The first one, Graceful Ghost Rag, might be the most famous piece composed by an American classical composer in the past fifty years.  It is a great piece but I think it's best heard with the other two.

This performance is good in that it doesn't forget these are rags, after all.  If I recall Bolcom took stylistically justified liberties in playing other peoples' rags, though I can't find that recording just now.

He's written a good number of rags.  Here's another, Lost Lady Rag, played by John Murphy.


I would bet there are more piano students, alone, who have bought, borrowed or illegally copied the music for and played Graceful Ghost than have bought borrowed or stolen and played anything by Phillip Glass or Terry Riley.  And that's just piano students.  And there are transcriptions of Graceful Ghost for a number of different ensembles, as well.   I believe Glass's most often played piece is the ensemble piece, Facade, from the relatively widely seen movie, Koyaanisqatsi, which might account for it being his most widely known piece, but I doubt most of the people who have heard it could tell you what it was called.   I can't think of a piece by Riley which has anything like a widely known title.   His most famous composition is "In C" which is less interesting than Kenneth Gaburo's "Flow of (U), neither of which is a serious contender as popular pieces, largely for the same reason.

I can guarantee you, any given year, you're more likely to hear someone playing Graceful Ghost in any music department's suite of practice rooms than anything from Glass or Riley.

I'd be very surprised if any serious commentator on classical music would hold that anything by either of those composers named in the comment is more well known.  The closest thing I can think, in time to it, are some of the pieces by Aaron Copland, from more than 50 years ago, or some of those classical pieces by Leonard Bernstein.  Arguably the dances from West Side Story (if you count those as classical, which I have no problem with) but they are older than that, too.  I can't think of anything Bernstein wrote after the mid-60s which have retained their popularity.   The quite beautiful Chichester Psalms might just squeak through on the time limit, but I doubt they are as widely known, either.

While popularity isn't the same thing as quality, I think Graceful Ghost wins on a combination of the two.  And I won't make my joke about the modern convenience of "minimalist" music which both gives and fails the test of time on first hearing.  OK, I just did.  If it's the minimalist composers you want to talk about, I don't think any of them are better than Steve Reich, who is an entirely different level of composer, he writes interesting music that surpassed the "minimalist" label a long time ago.  Perhaps that's who he meant, though I doubt any of his pieces has been more widely played and heard than Graceful Ghost.

In terms of quality of music, I think Bolcom comes out ahead.  After the death of Eliot Carter, as far as I'm concerned, he's the dean of American composers, if someone so informal and democratic could be thought of in such a hierarchical manner.  Off hand, I can't think of anything any of the others wrote that comes up to his solo music for piano, violin, other soloists, ensemble music, music for band, orchestra, voice, chorus and combinations of those.   I think he's definitely the most skilled of all of the living American composers I'm aware of, and there are a lot of good ones who are relatively unknown.  His friend, Curtis Curtis-Smith, for example.  But they don't tend to write easily ignored, wallpaper music geared to find a mass audience, if people who don't actually listen to something can be an audience.

You don't diss William Bolcom to me and expect I won't answer it.

Update:  So, I was right, he didn't know the difference between Terry Riley and Steve Reich.  What he doesn't know about classical music is pretty much anything you wouldn't read off of liner notes.  

Sr. Simone Campbell - "risking reflective action in a fifteen-second world"


Let gratitude be the beat of our heart,
pounding Baghdad rhythms, circulating
memories, meaning of the journey.
Let resolve flow in our veins,
fueled by Basra's destitution, risking
reflective action in a fifteen-second world.
Let compassion be our hands,
reaching to be with each other, all others
to touch, hold heal this fractured world.
Let wisdom be our feet,
bringing us to the crying need
to friends or foe to share this body's blood.
Let love be our eyes,
that we might see the beauty, see the dream
lurking in the shadows of despair and dread.
Let community be our body warmth,
radiating Arab energy to welcome in the foreign
stranger—even the ones who wage this war.
Let us remember on drear distant days,
we are a promised Christmas joy
we live as one this tragic gifted life—
We are the Body of God!

Thank you, Krista Tippett for that program, yesterday.  I'm reading everything I can find by Sr. Simone Campbell and it is leading me to think I should be risking reflective action instead of just writing.

Doing The Week in Pop, uh, "Culture" In About 20 Seconds

- What a convenient pose for a comedian to take whenever a joke bombs.  No wonder Jerry Seinfeld is taking it.  I never thought he was funny. 

- I am not qualified to judge what Rachel Dolezal did, it's not my right as a white person, it's the right of black people to decide that.  Other than that the only question I've got is if she did a good job.   

And I still never thought Jerry Seinfeld was funny.

Apparently Rachel Dolezal is the Josh Duggar of this week.

Update:  I thought Jerry Seinfeld was a douche bag before thinking Jerry Seinfeld was a douche bag was cool.   And I didn't think it then because it was cool to.   He is seriously not funny.   I'd as soon call David Brooks a wit. More about which, later in the week. 

I Don't See How Materialism Could Survive Either of These Being True

Or, Opening The Windows And Letting The Air In

You never know which of the ideas you've had that seem important are going to take and which aren't.  I once wrote a piece about the role the media pushing Republican irresponsibility on taxes and public works played in the Big Dig debacle in Boston,  which I thought was brilliant but which got no reaction. Oh, well.

I did, though, think the idea I had in April was quite important,  that the materialist "brain only" model of the mind would have had to include precognition or the brain would not have had the information to use to construct the correct physical structure to be the thing that is their real, physical, "idea", the thing that was the material which comprised the idea that we merely experience as an emergent or epiphenomenal manifestation of it.  "We" in that sentence, our entire consciousness being the product of all of those physical entities producing the continual series of epiphenomena that is our sense of us, the universe and everything.  

In short,  to make the physical structure for it to BE the right idea, our brains would have had to already know what it was making before it could make the right structure. 

If materialists' model of the material brain is true, I would like to know how the biochemistry of the brain could possibly construct just the right new idea in the brain without already having that idea present so it would make that idea and not some other idea, in real time, assuming a form that would be both biologically active and integrated to and with the appropriate ideas so that it could work with previous such entities to produce the coherent experience of thought in real time.   

The brain would have to not only know the idea BEFORE it constructed its physical form, the "real" form that was the idea in the brain or it would not know what to make.  It would be like telling someone to make the right thing without even telling them what kind of thing they were supposed to make.  There would not be enough time in a life time for our brains to get it right without that prescient knowledge, never mind in the split second such things happen in our experience.   

But, as it is,  materialists simply hate the ideas of extrasensory perception that would be necessary for their materialist model of the brain to be a reality.  I can't see how it isn't a Hobson's choice for them, either they accept that ideas are not the physical structures which they must be for their materialism to be a complete and, therefore, a valid system*, or they accept precognition or telepathy or clairvoyance which the brain would need to accomplish the feat which they claim it does, which would also challenge their materialist system and which they would fear would open the door to all kinds of other challenges to it.  

The idea I had the other day, that if the dream of the Ray Kurtzweils, turning our entire consciousness into binary code were possible, that it would, as well be a fatal blow to the materialist "brain only" model of the mind due to the mind being able to transcend the physical entity which such materialists demand it is in reality.  I don't for a second believe that the most enormous and fast computer that could be constructed could ever "download" a mind, a personality, or create one - I'm not a materialist or a cybernutcase - but the proposal, itself, is an even more basic challenge to that materialist dogma from within its own battle lines.  

If minds could survive such a transfer it would mean that it is impossible that the mind is dependent on the physical forms of the brain, it would have to be a transcendent entity that was not and possibly never had been dependent on any, specific, physical substrate.  The substance of the mind couldn't possibly be a product of a very specific physical form if that same mind could exist in another, radically different, physical form. 

If that were the case, I would think it throws the door on the possibility of the opposite of the materialist dogma to be the case, that it was the mind that caused the brain to construct forms in which ideas would reside in the physical world and that those physical forms are the epiphenomena, not the other way round and that it could reside in different forms and so was not the product of either physical substrate.   Since those physical forms are what science can grasp, since science can only deal with physical entities, the faith in science to reveal more about them than the nature of the physical part of it would have to be unfounded and the materialists' claims about minds, superstitious.  

Materialists, it seems to me, can't answer those two points, none has answered the first one in the past two months.   But I think they have to, eventually answer the first one and would have to be in the position of debunking the Ray Kurtzweil style claims about computers containing minds.  If computers could become intelligent, if they could become conscious, that, as well, would be an enormous problem for explaining human consciousness because it would have to mean that consciousness, as well, was a transcendent entity that was not dependent on a specific, biological, physical substrate or explainable by the evolution of the brain.  Computers don't evolve through natural selection, they don't evolve, the technology changes in response to the intelligent choices of people who make them.  If computers could make them, it would have to be through their own "intelligent choices" which, as well, were the choices of people.   Which wouldn't bode well for materialism, either. 

*  Materialism, "physicalism" "naturalism", all names for the same thing, has to be a complete system in itself or it fails.   They are a system which, a priori, declares the total and inviolable nature of reality and everything that can be known or experienced has to be held to be explainable within that system.  If even one thing can be found which is not part of their system, the entire thing is invalidated.   The old, 19th century materialism which is what even the "physicalists" and "naturalist" materialists really hold, has been dealt a body blow through both quite well established mathematics and physics, which hasn't kept many mathematicians and physicists from being materialists.  They should consider that their system is a humanly invented system and is likely to be as prone to containing contradictions as all other human systems.   They should spend more of their time dealing with that than attacking the reality of the consciousness with which they are thinking of schemes to invalidate the reality of their own minds.  It's a form of intellectual suicide that has led "the West" into a period of severe decadence since the late 19th century as the materialism of the intellectual class was already rotting things out.   Whatever light I can see in the past century and a quarter, has not come from materialism, it has come from the remnant of traditional morality in its ever expanding form, redeeming more of human experience through egalitarian applications of justice and moral obligations.

Update:  You're so vain you probably think this blog is about you.

I don't care what people who choose to be stupid think they think about what I say, anymore.  They aren't who I write for. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Y'a Longtemps Qu'on Fait d'la Politique Vingt Ans De Guerre Contre Les Moustiques

Les Soeurs McGarrigle

That line from this song always goes through my mind when I'm out getting eaten by mosquitoes this time of the year.  This year I figured it was as good as posting another "Hate Mail" column, too.  That gets to feel the same way.

"The Only Time I Get Tired Is If I Start Worrying About Me"

"Branding. Ugh."

I had not planned on posting anything today but then Krista Tippett had on Sr. Simone Campbell, most well known as the lead figure of Nuns On The Bus.  The program is of her on How To Be Spiritually Bold.   I have to admit that I'd never heard of her order before, her short history of its beginning in the 1920s surprised me a bit, it sounds like something about forty years ahead of its time.

MS. TIPPETT: And many of them, we've heard — well some of them, we've heard a lot about. And this is one of these branches that's, I think, you've made well-known: the Sisters of Social Service. It's a really interesting — you follow the rule of St. Benedict. But it's a community with a long history, a long lineage of this intersection of faith and politics.

SR. SIMONE: Right, right. Because our founding was really in Hungary in 1923, and then in Los Angeles in 1926. And our foundress, Margaret Slachta, was the first woman in parliament in Hungary when she was the head of our community. And the sisters there started the first schools of social work, started — organized juvenile detention facilities that were humane and educated kids. And our foundress, Margaret, said that, well, if God would — bless the people who wiped away the tears of people who suffered. Wouldn't God also bless the people who made it so that tears were not shed? And it was that insight that combined the charity and justice aspect of our mission. And for me, it's been really a wonderful adventure.

That was only the beginning of learning things.  One of the hardest was what she said about Paul Ryan,  who I'd have to do lots of work over before I could be as open to taking a compassionate view of as she does.    We all know we're supposed to love our enemies and pray for them but for me that is one of the hardest of all of the hard teachings.  What she says about what a horrible place John Boehner is in because he's the head of two parties in the congress and that means he can't keep the position he's always wanted more than anything, to be Speaker,  except by not doing anything, was an insight I'd never thought of before and probably wouldn't have.  He must know that he's going to be considered one of the worst Speakers in history.   He really has gained his world and lost his soul.   She also reveals why the mega rich want even more money that they'll never have life enough to use, the obsession to win that has come to mean to make the most money.   That is what's behind the world-wide corruption of politics to allow a tiny number of people to hoard more than half of the world's economic resources while billions of people are impoverished and even the American middle class has been suckered into thinking that's the way things should be.  She didn't mention how, in their desperation, they  have been suckered into blaming exactly the people who have the least to do with squeezing them dry.  

She even found inspiration in her group, NETWORK, being named as what's wrong when the Vatican went after the Sisters.  Sr. Simone is  a Zen practitioner as well as a Nun living what seems to me to be a good way to live the teachings of Jesus and the prophets.    She's got a great sense of humor.  That's important. 

Anyway,  you might want to to read the transcript of the show and to listen to it but to also listen to the unedited discussion.