Sunday, 30 October 2016

Note on The Shining

Kubrick's The Shining is a much analysed film - from both an academic and an esoteric viewpoint - and I can't do all its suggestive intricacies justice in a short blog post. For that the documentary film Room 237 is a most worthwhile watch.

That said, I think it can be safely extrapolated from the film that the haunted hotel is nothing other than an allegory for the United States of America, built as it is on Native American burial grounds and itself reap with Native American decorations as evidenced throughout the feature. 

The USA strike me as a relatively uprooted nation which was built on land that was ancestral to an indigenous people and has made full of adoption of the technological and ahistorical way of life. 

There are elements of the film that make covert commentary on the history of the United States, such as the Gold Room scene where the bartender refuses Jack Torrance's cash as it is not backed by the gold standard - an important moment in American political history - or even the alleged debunking of the moon landings in terms of Danny's Apollo 11 sweater and the room he is supposed to avoid. 

Is modern day America haunted? I would argue that David Lynch is the great film-making genius of capturing the phoney unreality that lurks under the airbrushed façade of mainstream American culture. What Lies Beneath, the title of a nineties horror flick starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, is the perennial question to be asked concerning the so-called 'Leader of the Free World'. 

Indeed, what lies beneath Hillary Clinton's icy smile and Donald Trump's skin tone? An enlightened land full of morality and justice or a darkened dystopia full of lasciviousness and violence?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Close Family

From left to right: my mother, my half sister (different dad), myself and my father. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Beatles: What's in a Name?

The Beatles band name was originally spelt the Beatals. 

The Beat-les is a great name for a Rock band because it has the word 'beat' in it, as in rhythm, as well as in the sense of defeating the competition in the music trade: Beat-All.

And of course the beetle is a ubiquitous black insect which fits in well with the early Beatles black tie outfits. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Puppet Monst Gardens

Artistic Statement

As philosopher Martin Heidegger points out in one of his many lecture courses, there is something so immediate and easy about applying the word 'expression' to artistic accomplishments and activities and yet it could be argued to be a hollow descriptor. 

Indeed, expression could be said not just of art, but of someone cursing, of a dog barking, of a child laughing, of a politician talking and so on. It doesn't really capture something essential and specific to artistic creation. 

Of course I'm the first to admit that it is a handy word that captures a basic idea of pressing something outward from within and I suppose artistic creation does involve an element of that. 

However if I were to choose a word that captured the intent and venture of artistic doings it would be the word statement, understood not just politically or verbally, but as a usually autocratic assertion of a quantum of energy and life force that occasionally transcends the destructive element of the creative deed. 

Be it a piece of music, of architecture, a movie, a piece of visual art, a comic strip, a poem, a piece of literature, even a video game, all communicate a ready formed état de faits, that is, a statement occurring within the world that can take on a life outside and beyond the creator's inner life at the moment of inception and completion. 

I would argue further that the more successful an artistic creation, the more it transcends the individual creator and reaches the imagination and sensibility of the spectator or listener, giving him a moment of self-release, of losing him or herself in the (hopefully) open-ended statement that has been made by the artist, perhaps in a fleeting perception that all things are connected and our lives, however disparate, are interlocked and intertwined as members of the human species. 

Artistic expression or, as I prefer, artistic statement would thus contain in the best of cases an element of expanding consciousness, which is none other than the force of love as opposed to fear (which in opposition to love is the force that shuts consciousness down). 

Great artists could therefore be argued to be light workers in the sense of bringing illumination to the darkened minds of individuals trapped in conventional ways of thinking. It was indeed Heidegger who defined art's task as setting truth to work, truth being understood widely as that which is, Being itself. 

To be sure, not all art is light work expanding consciousness and sometimes art can be used to darken minds and contribute to the obscurantism, i.e. the general state of unenlightenment, of the world. Thus, artistic statement can be employed both to reveal or to conceal; in the first case the statement smacks of magic which influences change to occur with higher will (natural law) and in the second of sorcery which influences change to occur with selfish will (ego).  

As students of the occult will know, symbolic knowledge can be used for good in the sense of expanding people's consciousness in which case it is light occultism or, on the other hand, can be used to manipulate and control others in which case it is dark occultism. 

This is all very Star Wars I'll admit but the dark and light sides of the force exist here on earth for those who have understood the allegory of those movies allegedly set in a galaxy far, far away. Art does not escape this duality in nature and can partake of one or the other or even both sides of the force depending on whether it springs from the polarity of love or the polarity of fear. 

So, to conclude, even though art may initially be a form of expression for creators, it is ultimately the statement it represents in the world that determines its position regarding the love-fear polarity, the light or the dark side of the force, the illumination or the darkening of men's minds. 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Enthusiastic Amateur

The word amateur is regularly used disparagingly of individuals who are less proficient in a given art form, ignoring the fact that we all start out as amateurs in whatever walk of life we choose to get involved in. 

But the word amateur does not, etymologically, mean a noob for the Latin root of the word, amo, means to love. If you're an amateur in a given trade you are, linguistically speaking, a lover of that trade (but presumably not professional and disabused enough). 

I should know. I'm an amateur pianist, an amateur poet, an amateur drawer, an amateur philosopher but I feel no less worthy for all that. In fact I prefer the word enthusiast to the word amateur because it captures the original sense of the word amateur without the negative connotations. 

In short: enthusiasts of the world unite!

Relaxation as Remedy, Means and Goal

If neurosis is the enemy, as I've written below, relaxation is the remedy. It is both the means to overcome neurosis and the goal in the sense that the best results in any activity, creative or mundane, are achieved whilst being relaxed. 

In other words, making effort is a good start but if you manage to combine effort with being relaxed you're on to a winning ticket in so far as execution and performance are concerned. 

Of course, in order to be relaxed you need to first fully accept yourself for who and what you are, in both your strengths and weaknesses.

And accepting oneself requires, to a degree, knowing oneself.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Time to Conclude: Neurosis as Number One Enemy

I will repeat myself because this is the one insight I think this entire blog - which covers all my work as a thinker and artist, introspectively and creatively - has been building up to. 

The number one enemy of humanity is neurosis.

After a decade and a half of plumbing the depths, of studying myself and others, of looking into the darkest corners of human existence, of undergoing my own mental health problems, of testing society's and my own personal limits, the statement above is the conclusion I have reached concerning the human condition. Mental and emotional well-being should be the number one priority of every living man and woman. 

For the record I use the word neurosis in the broadest possible way as including all forms of anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt, self-loathing, delusion, superstition, tension, obsession, envy, control freakery, hang up, awkwardness, trauma, mania, bigotry, hatred, rage, depression, suicidality, loneliness, resentment, lethargy and addiction (which is often symptomatic of neurosis). 

Now, being (largely) free of neurosis may not be the purpose or even the meaning of life but it is the sine qua non for the emergence of mental appeasement and the ability to engage in magic, that is to say, the art and science of influencing change to occur in accordance with (higher) Will (i.e. Natural Law) which is the only counterbalance to the use and abuse of sorcery by the powers that (should not) be, sorcery being the exact opposite of magic, namely the art and science of influencing change to occur with (selfish) will (ego). 

That, if nothing else, is the essence of my contribution to the so-called wisdom of the ages. Become well and as un-neurotic as possible, which is to say as relaxed as possible, by whatever means (intellectual, financial, social, cultural) at your disposal. What worked for me was looking at truth square in the face, making my peace with it, learning how to be relaxed, and moving on from there. Perhaps this is the route to be favoured but I can't claim that what worked for me will work for everyone. Discover your own method of getting well (method coming from the Greek for '(along) with the path, the way' - μετὰ όδός) and you will appreciate what I'm saying.

It could be surmised from what I've just argued that serenity and relaxation are directly proportional to one's level of enlightenment and it may be that the one true purpose of enlightenment is the attainment of what is commonly known as peace of mind. Without peace of mind little to nothing of value can be accomplished and made to manifest in the human spiritual world. 

On that note, to use a French expression, avis aux amateurs! (send out to the fans!)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Puppet Monst Looking After My Sheet Music

Puppet Monst, still in his fluffy youth, sat on top of the piano. He's lost a lot of fur since then but has lost none of his cuteness for all that. 

The Real "Draw Me Like Your French Girls" Puppet Monst

Puppet Monst is still very young in this photo. He's shed a lot of fur in his more mature years. 

Puppet Monst at School

Life's a...

Life's a bitch... errrr typo... people are bitches.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

My Top Ten Piano Composers and Why Chopin is Last on the List

Piano music, be it classical, jazz or pop is one of my life's great loves. However Chopin's piano music does very little for me, even though I acknowledge that it is beautifully crafted and the love affair of many talented pianists. 

I can't entirely put my finger on why his music largely leaves me cold but, for want of a better way of putting it, I'd say it lacks a certain tonic crudeness that I love to hear in the compositions of a Bach, a Haydn, a Mozart, even a Schumann.

Music is about energy and I for one tend to derive more energy from works of the baroque and classical periods than the romantic and contemporary periods much as I adore some pieces from these last two artistic developments in classical piano.

I would rank my top ten (classical) piano/keyboard composers as follows:
  1. J.S. Bach: I simply have derived so much energy, inspiration and cheerfulness from so many of his pieces that this is a no brainer.
  2. Haydn: Haydn's piano sonatas have a purity, a playfulness, a clarity that I find more appealing somehow to Mozart's or even Beethoven's, which carry some of their characteristics. 
  3. Beethoven: Beethoven's early piano sonatas are what I like to call "Haydn on steroids". My favourite Beethoven sonata is the Pastorale (op.28). I also like Sonata no.24 Für Therese and the all famous Pathétique, especially the first and last movement. I also love the middle movement of the Moonlight. However there is plenty in the Beethoven piano sonata corpus that I find inordinately dull. I only like one of his Bagatelles, the B Minor one.
  4. Mozart: I like the early Mozart piano sonatas for their cheer and classical purity but, as I said, I take more to Haydn's classical period sonatas than Mozart's. I do have a weak spot for some of Mozart's more famous (and ever so slightly cheesy) sonatas as well.
  5. Schumann: Schumann produced an inordinate amount of bland piano noise but occasionally generated true gems such as the first Fantasie stucke Des Abends as well as a very invigorating piano sonata (his first). And of course I'm rather fond of Arabeske and the first four pieces of his Symphonic Studies suite.
  6. Mendelssohn: Mendelssohn gains a place on this list by the sheer beauty of the first Song without words (which I intend to learn) and I also love the Midsummer Night's Dream Wedding March, a piano solo transcription of which I happen to have in my collection of tunes to learn
  7. Schubert: I don't care much for Schubert's piano sonatas (apart from the pearls that are the A minor one, no.16, and the B flat one, no.21) as I find that he constantly repeats chords making them beyond dull in some cases. But I love a couple of his impromptus (the second one from the first series and the first one from the second series) so he's earned a place on this list.
  8. Berg: like Mendelssohn this is on the strength of a single piece, namely Sonata Op.1
  9. Liszt: I love his first piano concerto perhaps second only to Bach's first keyboard concerto and the Sonata in B Minor contains some exquisite moments. I also enjoy his transcriptions of Beethoven symphonies, as I've heard them played by Glenn Gould. 
  10. Chopin: Chopin is last on this list but I do have time for some of his Etudes as well as his first Polonaise. His first Ballade also contains an amazing passage even though I don't take to it that much in its totality. Most of the Nocturnes are also delightful and I for one prefer intimate Chopin to virtuoso Chopin. I find that I have long overdosed on the Preludes and never much liked them to start with. 
Addendum - Having recently discovered the sonatas of Scarlatti and some keyboard pieces by Handel I would have to add those composers right after Bach, thus demoting Liszt and Chopin at the bottom to 11th and 12th place respectively.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Intelligence and Neurosis

Intelligence as a conductor for neurosis? 

The Enemy is Neurosis

Having long thought about it, I'd say everyone's number one enemy should be neurosis. I know it is mine.

Social Media and Mental Health

I can imagine social media being bad for people with low self-esteem and who are vulnerable to political toxicity. 

Pointlessness of Voting

I don't vote because someone always gets voted in.

Political Views

Political views = neurotic views