The Photography Paradox

About a year after my brain injury, things had improved and stabilized enough for me to consider finding something to do with myself.  We had a good, although somewhat out of date, 35mm camera.  We had gotten reasonably proficient with it years before, but had been in the closet for longer than we had used it

Over that year, I had learned the path to relative success with tasks was to break them down to their simplest parts and then to stretch their execution out over as much time as possible. Continue reading “The Photography Paradox”

A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not

Listening to music is difficult for me.  Many aphasiacs find music soothing, even helpful in increasing fluency.  I find attending to music at least agitating, and it can easily lead to serious sensory overload.

My understanding is that music and speech processing use both unique and shared brain areas.  So my experience of music as an intense version of  listening to another person talk makes sense. I might compare it perhaps to the pain of moving with a significant musko-skeletal impairment.

At any rate, I ran across a video of a string quartets performance of Andrew Greenwald’s A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not.  Back in the day, we listened to a pretty wide array of music, so I had some context for this.  What I found interesting was that it is pretty easy to imagine that many/most people will hear this piece kinda as I do now – irritating noise.

Making my way though it, I can hear that there’s much more to it than that.  In pre-injury days I probably would have found it quite interesting musically.

Now, experiencing it as irritating noise, makes it easier for me to listen to than a more conventional piece.  In fact, I can appreciate it spatially quite nicely.  The title certainly suggests that Greenwald intends the piece to evoke conceptual and  spatial experiences as well as a musical one.

In an interview, Greenwald does discuss this along with a wide range of issues including the relationship of the score to the performance, intention to execution, and the aesthetics of composition to those of listening.  Some short excerpts are as follows.

I started out interested in noise vs pitch.

there’s no rhythmic in a literal sense.  (Interviewer: It’s a weird spatial thing you’ve got going on). Right.

(talking about the gap between his intentions, whats on the page, and actual performances) I have control over the general temporal landscape and also the verticalities.

invariably both (aesthetics and practicality of the score) have a level of presence no matter [how] my aesthetics tell me to align myself.

people who are even non-musicains,people want to see what’s going on (and want to see the score) 1:001

Is it acceptable for things to be inscrutable, or do we want clarity?

You create some kind of wrapper or container that allows people to see something unfold…that there might be some kind of truth behind this overwhelming aural experience..

audibly perceived form containers that are put around things that embrace the larger polemic.

You’re the only one that will know it’s the simpler thing

the simpler the better!

creating forms and creating algorithms that are easier to hear and not harder to hear.

I found video of 2 separate performances of the piece.  One shows the quartet performing it.  The musicians wring the sounds from their instruments as much as play them or sit, looking at the score, not playing.

The other provides the score pages that correspond to the portion of the piece being played.  Here the silences that are part of the piece are presented as (relatively) empty score pages.

Together, the two present many of the issues Greenwald discusses.  In turn they are relevant to thinking about and describing my relationship to stimulus in general and music in particular.

The Ephemeral Cyborg

Szpilman-award-logo[1]

The Szpilman Award is awarded to works that exist only for a moment or a short period of time.
The purpose of the award is to promote such works whose forms consist of ephemeral situations.  Szpilman Award

I first became aware of the Szpilman Award a couple of years ago. I found the concept interesting but up until now haven’t been able to organize myself to execute a project for it, and to then submit an application.  First prize includes a 10 day trip to Cimochowizna, Poland, a village in a Polish national park.

Saturday, I sent in my application based on my recent Post #74.

The selection of past winners of the Award have shown the jury to be every bit the quirky bunch one might expect in such a project.  So any application constitutes an improbability at the outset.

Adding to this for me and my poor damaged brain, making such a trip would entail managing a sensory assault and overload I can barely imagine. It could only result from the realization of a set of cascading improbabilities that in itself would result in an example of the ephemeral sublime.

This element of sublimity is missing from the Szpliman description, yet it is implicit as the defining feature of art that is eligible for the award.

After all, to the extent that anything exists, it exists ephemerally.  In past posts, I’ve discussed the Buddhist presentation of Emptiness.  The causes and conditions supporting an object or process are all always changing, are ephemeral, as is their result – the object or process.

The view-point and the time scale one uses in considering something determines whether it seems to exist for a long or short time.  Seen from the perspective of cosmic time, all of human existence is ephemeral.

The implicit presence of this kind of time scale as backdrop is what makes the “short time” of the ordinary sense of ephemeral mean something worth mentioning at all.

I wonder, for example how much of the experience of the users of ephemeral social media includes some sense of the sublime.  Does a cyborg using Snapchat experience a glimpse of cosmic time hitting Send?

Cyborg Writing: Unbecoming

Look: In my mind is a single flowing page, constant, unbroken; when I write it pours out of me. Not seamless but nearly so. It might be more seamless still, in time; there might be no more walls, just me and my words and the world. I reject the idea of “age-old”. What age? How old? Better to ask what the words look like when still inside, how they flow outward, what they look like when they are at once inside me and inside you, (Sarah Wanenchak, Cyborg Writing:becoming the Tools – Cyborgology).

See: In my mind are scraps, paper, crumpled and torn, neurons interrupted by infarcts and lesions, lacking object permanence to the illusion of the self that seems to have a voice of its own although its seems to be my voice (there’s that “my,me self” again) when it comes out of my (sigh) mouth in fits and starts, then sometimes, like somebody turned on some big ol’ reel to reel tape recorder (is this In Real Life Fetishiizing?) with a bad motor and when its done I sit there dazed and somebody takes the reel and puts it back on the shelf in my head and I look and wonder if anyone involved understood anything of what whoever said whatever they said or wrote or thought.  Better to ask were there any words at all.

Winter Solstice

Last night , Karen, Emma and I drummed for the return of the sun.  It’s our Winter Solstice custom, a Shamanic ritual of remembrance and looking to the future.

Well, almost.  Last year, through inertia perhaps we didn’t do it.  And sure the hours of daylight got longer anyway, but it was a rough year, there was much darkness in our minds.

I think we have to have a more elastic sense of causality in these kind of things.  A sense of karma across a continuum of awareness expressed maybe in units of lifetimes, extended in the rebirth of an unaware non-self.

So last night we drummed, around a single candle, instead of our usual fireplace fire, welcoming the four guests, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, the Spirits of the Place, and the Beings each of us have a special karmic connection to, each of us expressing in rhythm, frequency and volume something as ephemeral as a lifetime, as solid as daylight.

It will be a good year.