Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bobbing | original piano composition




My 30th piano composition and my most technically demanding. The introduction is slow but the piece gains in interest eventually. I hope some of you enjoy its simplistic, bobbing charm.

Sheets here: http://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/195401.html

Audio here: https://soundcloud.com/scruffyowlet/bobbing-original-piano-composition

Friday, 16 June 2017

Welcome to my Channel | channel trailer




A word of welcome to new visitors and returning subscribers of my YouTube channel.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Wishful | original piano composition




My 29th piano composition. Like its predecessor, Riverflow, this one contains a distinct melody line, in contrast to the previous batch of compositions which were driven by rhythmic harmonies. I hope some of you enjoy it.

Sheets here: http://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/195254.html

Audio here: https://soundcloud.com/scruffyowlet/wishful-original-piano-composition

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

All Truth is Simple Aphorism


A particular aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche that has caused me a degree of perplexity for a number of years now I believe to have finally resolved.

The aphorism states:
"All truth is simple - isn't that a double lie?"
I provided a very unsatisfactory interpretation of this aphorism some years ago.

Anyhow what it says is that not only is all truth not simple - which it obviously isn't - but that the statement 'all truth is simple', presenting itself indeed as a simple truth, is also, in its form, untrue, i.e. a lie (at least according to its author). 

So 'all truth is simple' is a lie, something concealing the truth, not only in the content of what it is saying - because all truth is not simple - but also with regards to its form as a statement because if all truth is not simple, then the statement 'all truth is simple', presenting itself as a simple truth, is false and therefore proof that all truth is indeed not simple.

Emotions & Thoughts


As I've written elsewhere on this blog, emotions can be seen as the framework within and from which thoughts arise and assert themselves. 

That is to say, sad emotions give rise to sad thoughts, angry emotions give rise to angry thoughts and neutral emotions give rise to neutral thoughts. 

If it is a good idea to keep one's thoughts in good order, then this especially applies to one's emotional dispositions, since the quality and intensity of our emotions determine the quality and intensity of our thoughts.

In my writing Consequences of Worldview I wrote the following:
[I]t is advisable to keep one's thoughts in good order so as to be spared the throes of emotional turbulence - thoughts and emotions being mutually reinforcing though not identical agents - and its potential negative consequences for one's actions. 
This raises a question: if emotions are the framework and context within and from which thoughts occur, what is the impact of thoughts on the emotions?

This is a pressing question when there is so much noise at the moment about the importance of positive thinking so as to counter negative emotionality.

My view is that emotions hold sway over thoughts in that, for example, in a state of deep sadness triggered by an event it is very hard to think in a happy way. 

That being said good thought hygiene which avoids extremes, rumination, obsession and self-bullying - in others words, that aims at some form of neutrality if not jauntiness - will have a positive effect on one's emotions since it is clinically proven that thoughts have an impact on the quality of our emotions provided one is not already prey to an emotional state.

One thing that cognitive behavioural therapy helped me the most with - with regards to the clinical depression I used to suffer from - was to teach me how to correct and steer the thoughts that arose from my depressed state. The therapy entailed working with the thoughts as triggered by depressed states in order to make them reach a happier outcome and judgement (including on myself) than in their initial, un-edited state which tended towards self-denigration.

As one self-help author puts it, is is helpful to watch the thinker in us, i.e. to think about one's thinking in such a way as to be aware of the thoughts that pop into our head and monitor/edit them so as to spare ourselves stressful and therefore vulnerable emotional reactions through the agency of the cortisol hormone produced by the adrenal gland.

However, emotions are often triggered outside any conscious and deliberate thought pattern, particularly those of a sudden nature, which is why in such cases I recommend fully accepting the emotion rather than fighting it but still attempt to maintain, to as high a degree as possible, some free-will agency and editing power towards the content of the thoughts the sudden emotion gives rise to.  

In other words, it can be helpful, in as far as possible, to be an external witness to emotions and the thoughts they produce in ourselves - particularly when negative and stress-inducing - so as not to overly identify with said emotions and thoughts. Thus, I recommend allowing them their (hopefully) ephemeral say whilst not taking them too seriously or giving them more than their due as the objective, final truth. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Disagreeing with Thinkers


In what I believe was a review of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason on the website goodreads.com, a reviewer expressed the wise insight that we read thinkers/philosophers not so much to agree with them but precisely the opposite. 

It is in disagreeing with or at least qualifying and moderating the strong angles offered by thinkers that we may come to sharpen our own thinking and awareness of our particular sensibility, provided the disagreement or nuancing is the fruit of not a superficial, blanket rejection but a careful consideration and evaluation of the words - written or spoken - of the thinker in question.

In fact I have done this with great benefit to myself in the case of thinker Friedrich Nietzsche (Morality and the Big & Powerful and Relative Failure of the Nietzschean Project) - whose words I used to take as gospel initially and for a long while afterwards - and, to a lesser extent, by nuancing or qualifying Mark Passio's more extreme positions (Mark Passio and the Chess Game, Dual Nature of Natural Law). 

Thinking, like music, is never set for all time and is open to continuous interpretation, correction and amendment and to want to police thinking or bring it to a halt or stand-still, just like wanting to police art and bring it to a fixed state of existence, is to kill it (for, as Nietzsche wrote, life, which manifests in both art and thought, is that which overcomes itself again and again). 

I will view the 'thoughts' section of my blog as having been of some benefit to others if these others, in disagreeing with or nuancing my positions and angles - whose partial, biographical and flawed nature I readily admit (Disclaimer about this Blog - My Rubbish) - gain in self-understanding by their so doing.

And it could be said with some honesty that philosophical discourse, however well-argued, intricate, logical, sensitive and thoughtfully executed, is, at bottom, opinion-based (some would even say simply 'glorified opinion'), in the sense of offering one fragmentary angle out of countless other options on the mysteries and complexities of existence (for more elaboration see post Thinking v Opining).

Limitations of the Work Ethic as Moral Paradigm


The puritanical, capitalist work ethic is one of the most entrenched and powerful moral paradigms of the Modern World - 'moral' in the sense that it judges things in terms of 'good' and 'bad'. 

Whether one is employed or not, has a 'real' job or not, is an economic contributor or not, a 'taxpayer' or not (although see post Who are Taxpayers?), is a default and ubiquitous way of measuring a person's worth, so that activities not pertaining to monetary considerations and societal trinkets are often seen with a suspicious glance and commonly denigrated as 'self-indulgent'.

In my post Puritans as Self-Loathers? I suggested the psychological possibility that much modern-day, conformist puritanism could be rooted in self-loathing or, at the least, some pent-up resentment as expressed in much of the right-wing vote (Considerations on the Right-wing Working Class Vote).

In any case the ubiquity of the capitalist and therefore conformist mindset - capitalism being the economic system now in favour with which, by and large, all have to conform (see Truthfulness and Money) - is daily revealed by the question many if not most people ask on first meeting you: 
"What do you do for a living?"
As I wrote in The Superficiality of Normality, one of the key divides and conflicts that affects and has affected the human population is the one pertaining to the priorities of conformists as against the preferences of misfits. 

For the Daily Mail reading public, the work ethic is the criterion for measuring someone's morality so that the abuses of bankers, corporate owners and other 'hard-working' types, including in terms of something as harmless and mundane as drug abuse, is of no import as opposed to the inadequacies and said drug abuse of benefits 'scroungers' who are not employed although, like me, might apply themselves diligently in many areas (see post What is Work?) including in terms of voluntary, unpaid work.

The argument of this post, therefore, to say that the capitalist work ethic is a conformist (and, arguably, superficial) way of (morally) evaluating people and activities as opposed to other, less established ways of making moral judgements such as the one expressed in my writing How to Become Master of the World which puts thoughtfulness as the prime criterion for rightful, care-ful, action, conscious of its effect on others (an angle also put forth in my post Thought and Responsibility). I indeed define 'enlightenment' as treating oneself and others with care (Meaning of Enlightenment).

It goes almost without saying that, taken in isolation from other considerations, the puritanical work ethic can in fact be highly immoral if it is used, as indeed it is, to harm others, whether by shaming them for not wanting or being unable to work or by forcing them into a position of exploitative subservience, since undermining their conscious ability to resist the apparently self-evident requirement of selling one's labour to others to be able to continue to exist - employment as a form of modern-day (wage) slavery.

The work ethic as a methodology to enforce capitalist practices on people and as an instrument of incalculable mind control since repeatedly and constantly reinforced by mainstream political discourse says nothing of the harm actually caused by work itself, i.e. employment, whether it be the nature of the work in question, should it be of a harmful and violent nature (see, for example, Business is Business), such as practices employed by food giant Monsanto or Arms manufacturers, or the conditions that permeate the work context (see Culture of Fear in the Workplace) which have worsened over the years due to anti-labour, neoliberal policies and are in any event a huge component of daily human stress, agony, misery and even injury.

Post Scriptum: This blog post is of course very symptomatic of the privileged lifestyle and economic conditions prevailing on my person at the time of writing. For all that I do hope my argument transcends, at least in part, the singularity of my social and sociological position.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

John Barry: The Persuaders | piano cover




Piano cover of The Persuaders theme tune by John Barry and, as it turns out, a modest tribute to actor Roger Moore who died recently.

Audio here: https://soundcloud.com/scruffyowlet/john-barry-the-persuaders-piano-cover

Monday, 22 May 2017

B(oobs) & P(enis)



In the book Trivium: The Classical Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic & Rhetoric whose opening section is on euphonics, I couldn't help focusing on this particular insight.

The letter P - which is said to refer to the paternal, patriarchal, element - is rather shaped like a hardened penis together with its testicles.

The letter B which is said to be binary actually looks somewhat like a pair of breasts or boobs (a bosom) or even a a pair of buttocks known as a bottom. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Double Etymology of Religion



Some attribute the word 'religion' to the Latin relegere, to re-read, possibly due to a comment made by Roman author Cicero, but I agree with Mark Passio that the etymology of religare, which is morphologically closer to 'religion', makes a lot more sense.

Passio interprets religare in the negative sense of what ties, binds back, acts as a leash (the words ligature and ligament are also said to be related to re-ligare). This turns out to be an apt etymological understanding for his negative view of organised religion which he claims to be one of the main instruments of mass mind control

Indeed, in his introductory podcast on religion, Passio approvingly quotes Founding Father Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason):
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolise power and profit."
Despite the convincing appearance of Passio's etymology, especially in the context of his anti-authoritarian philosophy of freedom, the word religare has been interpreted by some modern scholars and my girlfriend as signifying an idea of re-connecting, re-tying, re-binding. This conception is in part expressed by esoteric philosopher Manly P. Hall in his book Old Testament Wisdom in the following way:
"Religions, as we know them, are human restatements of eternal principles."
This etymological understanding suits my girlfriend very much in so far as studying the Hebrew Bible has helped her re-connect with herself and her Jewish roots as well as bind her, as it were, closer to life. 

Thus, two points can be taken from this double understanding.
  1. Etymological arguments are interpretative and the interpretations chosen will likely be congruent with à priori sensibility as expressed in life preferences as well as a specific philosophical and sociological context, in that an anarchist conspiracy researcher will likely not take as kindly to religion as a theologian or religious scholar.
  2. In the case of the etymology of religion, which we traced back to religare, to bind back, a great deal of leeway is offered in whether one interprets 'binding' as having positive connotations - e.g. eternal principles that bind us as a human species, à la Hall - or pejorative connotations - e.g. a leash that holds people back from exploring their true consciousness, i.e. the church of their mind, à la Paine.  
For my part I am open to both interpretations as I see both good and bad aspects to religion and in a sense this double etymological understanding is a good example of how competing interpretations can both be valid in their chosen philosophical context (see post Both Parties Right in Disagreement).

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Why I Deleted My Facebook


In deciding whether or not to permanently delete my Facebook, one of the questions I asked myself is: do I value my Facebook-based relationships with other people more than no relationship?

In virtually all cases the answer was no, i.e. I'd rather have no relationship than a purely Facebook-based one.

I have deleted Facebook before but what has kept me coming back to the platform is the desire to share things, particularly things that I myself have created.

In the end though I felt that it is enough to share my creations through this blog, by email and with total strangers on YouTube and Tumblr. 

It has been said that Facebook makes you hate people you know (unlike Twitter which makes you hate/love people you don't know) and, as I've written before (Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes), Facebook is a great medium to realise how little one has in common with one's 'friends'.

Another issue I have with Facebook and social media generally is unless people provide an explicit context for their posts, the things people choose to put up are divorced from any sense of their reality and life-context, so that, for example, when I make an assertion on Facebook about a particular issue, no one has an inkling of how much thought I have put into it, reading it as categorical and arrogant, not of course having taken the time to familiarise themselves with my philosophy. 

Simply put, I do not feel I can transcend the way Facebook is designed and reach out to people; rather, I get a greater sense of a confirmation that we are all enemies based on context-less and perceived differences, including with our own friends and family, which is apparently the philosophy held by one of the brains that inspired the Facebook creators. 

In addition, due to lack of context, the things I choose to share, such as thoughts or conspiratorial angles, will be taken at face value when I myself do not take them at face value and my Facebook persona, i.e. the way in which people perceive me based on my Facebook activity, will be miles away from my own felt and experienced reality. 
"Notre personnalité sociale est une création de la pensée des autres." - Marcel Proust
It is sad that we feel ourselves in a position to assess a person's character and possible worth based on the minute expression of their being as evidenced by their Facebook or Twitter activity. 

All this brings me to a wider point of what media really do: they filter, i.e. mediate, reality in some way but often in a more deceiving than revealing manner. 

Perhaps a good way to gage whether to consume a certain form of media, be it books, TV or indeed Facebook, is by realising whether the way the medium filters reality is energy-giving or depleting, increases one's well-being or undermines it, enhances one's understanding or diminishes it or, in the case of Facebook, adds value to human relationships or destroys them. 

Addendum - Another key difference between Facebook and real-life relationships is that on Facebook everyone asserts himself, whether by sharing or creating, first and then decides whether or not to respond to what others have shared whereas usually in a real-life relationship both parties naturally seek to first find a terrain d'entente, i.e. a common ground of understanding, and then give their positions with regards to that ground. In that sense accusations of Facebook that it promotes narcissism, self-centredness and closure from others' reality have some foundation. 

Reading Early Signs in Relationships


As I wrote in my post Relationships, general compatibility, whether of sensibility, personality or temperament, is an important component when we choose to involve someone in our (romantic) life. 

In discussion with my girlfriend, with whom I enjoy a very happy relationship, I hinted at the possibility that many of the signs of whether a relationship will work or not are present, if not at the beginning, at least very early on.

For example, our subconscious mind may pick up on an incongruence in sensibility or communication in the early stages of a relationship or even consciously perceive outright problems such as insensitivity or faithlessness but many tend to lie to themselves, thinking that these problems will magically solve themselves or lose in moment as the relationship gets stronger and more official.

Yet it seems to me the reverse is more usually the case. What one perceives as small problems at the beginning, which manifest in minor mood swings and arguments, will gain in momentum as the relationship progresses, especially when the romantic/erotic love aspect of the relationship has faded away or, at the least, substantially subsided.

Things that annoy one about one's partner, I venture to say, tend to gain in focus with time rather than diminish, especially when illusion has given way to reality, including that of unbridgeable incompatibility. 

All this to say incompatibilities and incongruences in our union with another do not magically disappear when one chooses to officialise a relationship, such as at a wedding ceremony or a Facebook update, and while being married to someone may increase one's sense of security of not being cheated on, this sense of security is of course belied by the widespread nature of marital adultery.

Of course, reading the signs about others is a hard-won and perfect-able skill which unfortunately may come too late, especially when one has fallen for an apparent soulmate who turned out in fact to be a psychopath playing one's psychology like a grand piano, e.g. by deliberately acting like a mirror for us, our emotions and needs. 

This argument points to a phenomenon I expressed months ago (Invisibility of Nature's Laws) in the following way:
"In terms of psychological laws, all that is suppressed and kept buried will likely come into manifestation after a period of time and all that is present in the invisible realm will enter the visible so that, for example, hostilities and incompatibilities between two friends or partners will eventually come out into the open."
In other words, it is perhaps worth paying attention to what lies beneath our purely conscious awareness, including in our relationships with other people, and try and reach into our subconscious mind by intellectual or introspective means which, as I have recently discovered, can come to save a friendship or relationship if all the unsaid, sometimes negative, chemistry is brought out in the open to a conscious, verbal level where both parties are in a position to gain in mutual understanding.

Reading the signs others communicate, verbally or non-verbally, willingly or unwillingly, can of course also be gained from studying body language and facial expressions which perhaps too few of us take the time to do, unlike professional FBI agents and TV personalities like Derren Brown.

In that respect, professional con artists and scammers know how to manipulate others by understanding the laws of (body) language and how to make others feel at ease and in control so as to better dupe them. 

Reading signs also very much applies to occult/esoteric symbolism which has a habit of hiding in plain sight in an often mocking, taunting way with regards to the non-initiate of the secret and largely hidden Mystery Traditions.

To conclude, a degree of vigilance is in order, not only when it comes to the early stages of a relationship, but also with regards to human predators. For it is better to be vigilant from the start to avoid potential misfortune than suffer misfortune and thereby become hyper-vigilant, with all the neurosis, isolation and unhappiness this state of being can cause.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Political Views & Identity


It's occurred to me whilst in conversation with a friend that the reason people get so hot under the collar when it comes to political views, whether right-wing, left-wing, anarchist or statist, is that it forms a part of their identity, their basic sense of self as a human being, so that when attacking or even merely inadvertently upsetting those views they take it as an affront on their person rather than merely on their opinions, i.e. angles on things.

The same is often the case of religious and atheist affiliations which often form a part of a person's identity and indeed one could make the point that political views, because they so often require belief as opposed to doubt, are quasi-religious in the meaning they give a person. 

I venture to say here, however, that I do not take a high view of 'identity' since I interpret it as relating to the lower, egoic self, as opposed to the higher, more illumined self which accepts diversity since in tune with the Whole which sustains the apparent separateness of human beings, the illusion of separateness being seen as the source of all evil in some ancient Eastern traditions (according to Manly P. Hall in his Lectures on Ancient Philosophy). 

Things that have helped me in overcoming too high a sensitivity when my philosophical/political attachments and views are challenged are
  • the insight that I might be wrong and have been wrong in the past
  • the insight that everyone is journeying, whether consciously or not, wether actually ascending, stalling or descending, up their own Mountain of Enlightenment and therefore that people with particularly abhorrent views may grow out of them in time and that lower forms of consciousness co-exist with higher ones as they always have done in history.
  • the humility that comes with my own experience of identity, whether it be my conservative, pro-capitalist, pro-US imperialism, anti-French views that I held when I left school - views which I find particularly flawed, immature and mind controlled now (I was very influenced by The Economist newspaper and interpretations of my life experience - see Experience as Interpretation) - or my more left-wing views that developed later to reach a point now where, despite all the reading and thinking that I do now, I do not identify with any views in the sense of having my ego, my sense of self (low form of identity) at stake in them.
Identity remains for me symptomatic of an emerging mode of consciousness - whether it be attachment to a nation, an ideology, a particular people, race or religious creed - that has yet to free itself from the false self, i.e. the ego, and therefore has yet to experience what Manly P. Hall calls the second birth that follows the first, biological, birth, which is in fact a death (of the ego) in favour of a realisation that puts oneself in touch with the higher Self rooted in the All, i.e. Being, and which therefore sees the metaphysical unity amongst the apparent, physical, diversity. 

Addendum - The same friend I had a conversation with, on reading this, said that political views can be moral views - not just any views - and I wholeheartedly agree. That being said moral views can be seen as an expression of higher consciousness rather than being part of egoic identity.