Archive for August, 2007

Tuba as metaphor

Posted on August 31, 2007. Filed under: Music, Musings |

When I was about 8 years old, my parents bought me a recording called “Tubby the Tuba”, with music by George Kleinsinger, written in 1945.  Apparently, “Tubby” was a familiar story, although new to me.  My mother told me she had played Tuba in her high school band.  (All the other instruments had been taken)!  This album was special because the stories were beautifully narrated by Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney.  Unlike a lot of other recordings, this one has not been transferred to CD format, so I have not been able to locate a copy, other that at “vintage” record stores.  However, I did come across a video of an animated movie of the story, starring, remarkably, the voices of no less than Pearl Bailey, Jack Gilford, Hermoine Gingold, and Dick van Dyke (as Tubby)!  There is also a recording called Manhattan Transfer Meets Tubby the Tuba.  I’ll need to look that one up.  Although, at this point, I’d love to see the movie, I’m glad that as a child, I was introduced to this story as an audio-only recording, reminiscent of the radio shows of time gone by.  This way, I was able to use my imagination to visualize Tubby and his friends.

Tubby is a member of a miraculous orchestra wherein all the instruments have personalities and can talk.  Tubby is one frustrated little Tuba, though, because he never gets to play his own melody.  All he ever gets to do is play a boring, repetitive bass line.  The flutes have beautiful melodies (and never let him forget it), and he feels the violins are just show-offs!  When he tries to play a high, delicate little melody, he is rejected and made fun of by the conductor and other instruments.  Tubby is so unhappy that he decides to leave his orchestra, hit the road, and find his own song elsewhere.

He comes across a marching band, and is, at first thrilled by this-so different from his home orchestra!  But, he soon realizes that in the band, too, his part is only to back up the other instruments with his “oom-pa-pa, oom-pa-pa”, and decides to continue his search.  Tubby has other wonderful adventures on his journey, but to sum it up, he finally throws himself down, wearily, in a forest by a pond-and there he hears the most beautiful melody ever.  He discovers the lovely melody is sung by a huge bullfrog, and wonders if the frog will share the melody with him.  The frog is happy to share, and, elated, Tubby takes his song back to the orchestra.  The other instruments are so delighted they want to try Tubby’s melody, too.

I well remember Tubby’s song.  The plaintive melody nearly broke my young heart with its sadness, beauty, and then hope as it modulated to a major key near the end.  These wonderful, funny “Tubby” stories introduce kids to the sounds of various instruments and to different musical genres-orchestral, jazz, marching band, etc.  There are other pieces written to teach kids about musical instruments, most notably Peter and the Wolf by Serge Prokofiev and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten, but Tubby is my favorite.  I could always identify with the frustrated little Tuba who felt he didn’t fit in, and who wanted to express his creativity in his own way.

It’s true that orchestral works featuring the Tuba are rare.  Both John Williams and Ralph Vaughn Williams have written pieces entitled Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, and there’s a fascinating recent concerto by Samuel Jones which was inspired by the wind tunnel, used for scientific experiments, at the University of Washington.  You can hear Tubby’s story (narrated by Victor Jory) at this website (about 10 minutes long).

May each of us find our own melody.

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Relativism all over again

Posted on August 30, 2007. Filed under: Musings, Philosophy, Science, Spirituality |

This post decided to write itself after a friend’s inquiry and a few other posts caused me to ponder yet again the topic of Relativity. The friend said he’d heard that I consider myself a Relativist, and would I explain, please?

I generally don’t favor labeling myself, particularly with words ending in “ist”, “ian”, “at” or “ant”. I’m relatively sure I’m a human. I have a bit of a moral code, which is maintained by me at my own expense, and based on wisdom gleaned from many traditions, cultural conditioning, and even thinking about it a lot. Having said that, I do find that among the philosophical positions on offer, the term “pragmatic relativist” fits me the best.

I enjoy operating much of my interaction by at least considering what is known in our culture as the Golden Rule. I appreciate that this “rule” has been around for millennia, and is represented in many traditions. The preceding link gives access to the language of thirteen of them.

I don’t reject or employ any course of action, or method, or system based on moral principles or usefulness alone. My relativity comes into play when I choose to view each situation independently, and consult my own guidance for the appropriate stance for each.

When I was quite young, I kept company with a friend who wanted to discuss philosophy. Great! Love it! But when I would express my views, this person would sometimes call me a “dirty rotten relativist” and declare discussion was no longer possible. Well that was true. Said “friend” soon became—not one. But the interaction did get me to inquire into philosophy and meaning. If someone was calling me names, I at least wanted to know what they were talking about!

My understanding of “relativism” begins and ends with science, with a visit from philosophy in the middle. The Principle of Relativity existed in science long before Einstein’s famous equation and the Theory of Relativity. The Principle states that any law of nature should be the same at all times; and scientific investigations generally assume that laws of nature are the same regardless of the person measuring them. Ironic, given today’s theoretical physics experiments indicating the observer having a profound effect upon the observed.

Science did obtain the term “relativity” from relativistic philosophy. A decent introduction to the philosophy is here. I find myself most in agreement with the views of Richard Roty, towards the bottom of the article. He claims that nothing meaningful can be said about Truth. I also enjoyed the section titled “Relativism: pro and con.” I agreed with most of the points made in the “con” part, but did not consider them “cons”! They tend to back up my position.

It’s fascinating that philosophers and scientists have both disliked sharing the same term for their viewpoints, and believe the science and the philosophy have nothing to do with each other. It seems that the more the field of physics is probed, the more it resembles philosophy. I look forward to a time when the philosophy and the science cannot be distinguished.

I believe that relativistic philosophy has no quarrel with traditional religion, although I often read that relativism is the enemy of values and religion. I close with a quote from Bradley Lacke’s review of Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air (love that title!):

You cannot “dis-prove” relativism. Relativism is not a truth-value system. Relativism is not a hypothesis or a theory. You cannot employ logic puzzles and make generalizations about what “relativists do” or “say”, or point to “inconsistencies” in a relativist’s actions, and say that you have refuted relativism. Relativism is not a platform or party line. Amen!

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Is it just Me…Out of my Body?

Posted on August 28, 2007. Filed under: Science, Spirituality |

One of the hottest Internet topics over the weekend was the “discovery” by “scientists” that “out-of-body experiences” can be “induced”.  You will see by my overuse of “quotation marks” that I have some “opinions” about “this”.  (OK, I’ll stop with the quotes).

The most balanced article (in my view) on this was by Scientific American.  I appreciate that while their piece described the two recent studies well, they also point out neither of these illusions precisely match the classic example of the out-of-body experiences reported by patients near death who say they floated out of their bodies but were able to continue observing scenes from above or elsewhere in the room.

I was amazed, although perhaps not surprised, by the flood of comment from the secular scientific community indicating that these studies are a validation of reason and sense, as opposed to, apparently, religious hogwash, superstition, and new-age nuttiness.

I am all for scientific research.  I’m not opposed to metaphysical opinion.  I don’t proclaim a conclusive point of view on whether or not out-of-body experiences are Real.  It could be argued that a virtual reality experience is as real as a Real experience in that the experiencer is experiencing it!  However, that’s up to the individual to decide.

As I was getting ready to post this piece, I came across a post by fellow blogger MrGnome, and am grateful for his input.  This person is a Real Scientist, and I enjoyed the fact that his article pointed out the scientific applications of Virtual Reality research while still allowing for other explanations for consciously experienced phenomena.

The thing that struck me when I read the actual experiments, and the reports of the feelings felt by the test subjects, was that, if anything, they’ve presented even more support for the non-locality of consciousness.  The studies show that our Self, or Consciousness, does not necessarily reside exclusively within the body.  (Please see Dr. Dean Radin‘s  and/or  Dr. Bruce Lipton‘s work).  I thank the British and Swiss experimenters for offering additional evidence!

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If you like “I Can Has Cheezburger”(TM)…

Posted on August 24, 2007. Filed under: Musings |

You might like this book.  Called Cat Getting out of a Bag and Other Observations, it has very little content other than pen and ink drawings of a cat’s life as observed by her human.  Misty, like many cats, sometimes exhibits “Mistyfying” behavior.

This link is to Powell’s.  Also available at Amazon and many other places.  If you somehow, possibly, have not come across ICHC, it’s here.  Enjoy!

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Are We Music?

Posted on August 22, 2007. Filed under: Music, Science |

With all the discussion going on about Quanta, in science, or Energy, in transformative therapy, or Vibration, in music, I found myself delving into an extensive paper that extends String Theory (physics) to Chord Theory (us; you and me, as dimensional vibratory constructs).  The paper is a long read.  Let me just make a few comments here.

The author relates many anecdotes about human and natural behavior.  He stresses serendipity in his stories.  I believe he means to illustrate the connectedness of everything, along the path of a search for a “theory of everything” beloved by physicists.  He states there is much more involved in the theory than “just” physics, though.  He brings in topics such as “love, faith, truth and beauty“.  His chord theory postulates that we can “tune up” these areas of our lives any way we like.  The universe is malleable, and no elements more so than we ourselves.

The author says that “all is vibration” [maybe], and therefore is Music [hmmm].  I would tend to agree (see previous post on Crickets, Plants, Water, and Black Holes all making Music).  However, what that “means” is certainly subject to individual interpretation.  If you like anecdotes, give this read a try.  Let me know what you think!  Chord Theory

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Staying Positive in a Strange Universe

Posted on August 18, 2007. Filed under: Science, Spirituality |

I choose to believe that our universe(s) is/are supportive of our conscious growth.  Since I can choose my beliefs, why wouldn’t I want to choose that?

A bunch of bloggers have already posted the following, but I couldn’t resist adding my two (relative) cents:  Scientists have observed phenomena that moved faster than the speed of light!  The article is cautious, but hopeful.  The Telegraph (UK) has another take, and a great picture of Einstein.  So, are there indeed no constants in the Universe?  As much as I love science, I don’t need it to prove anything to me.  I mainly navigate reality by making it up as I go along.  A great quote from a novel I read (alas, I forget which, now) is “I knew it was true, because I made it up myself.”  This has become a semi-mantra for me recently.

I’m about to delve into sociology and group theory, a little bit, here–I don’t usually go there, but life circumstances have brought them to my attention.  I have been deeply involved in a couple of non-profit organizations for some years.  I’ve managed to achieve high-level management functions in each (Board officer, or otherwise “authority” figure).  This year, I walked away from one of the groups, and, conversely, watched as several Board members walked away from the other, while I stayed behind.  So much of all this shifting activity was from deep unhappiness (not necessarily mine).  Both groups had failed to live up to the high standards of the people who left them.  There was a lot of self-righteous posturing in both.

I now attempt to detach myself from the emotional tornados, and ask myself:   “Does contributing to this organization make me happy?  Does being here support the congruency of Who I Am?  Am I glad to see the other members, and am I supportive of their goals?”  If I can genuinely answer “Yes!” to all three questions, then, I feel, I am in the right place for now.  If not, I need to be elsewhere, both for my own conscious expansion, and for the good of the group.

Do these questions apply to all relationships, too?  I would think so.  Do I have the courage to always implement them in my personal life?  –I’ll get back to you on that.  Cheers!

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Music in Computer Games

Posted on August 17, 2007. Filed under: Games, Music |

I was thinking back on why I liked particular games (lists of my favorites are posted in previous entries in my “Games” topic) and a very strong and nearly essential component for me is the Music.  The Zork games all have great music, particularly Return to Zork;  and Syberia I & II do, as well.  In  Amber, Journeys Beyond, the music is absolutely essential to the stories.

Some of the best music, however, is in games that have little or no other sounds, i.e. no spoken dialog, or not very many sound effects.  My favorites among these include Other Worlds—the music was haunting, and stayed with me for a long time–however the author says that the music not original.  It was very well chosen.

Deirdra Kiai has contributed wonderful original music to her games.  The Jazz score in Cubert Badbone, P.I. added greatly to the noir feel of the game.  Each location had its own theme, which reinforced that location in my mind.  It got even better with The Game That Takes Place on a Cruise Ship.  Although I thought the graphics and story were really good, again I felt the music clinched the deal.  For instance, in the ship’s video arcade the graphics were minimal, but the sound effects and funky music convinced me I really was in an arcade.  The jazz club in the same game was beautifully rendered.  If you visit, be sure to listen to the band’s number all the way through.  There’s a keyboard solo and everything!  I read an interview with Ms. Kiai in which she said music was not one of her strong points.  I beg to differ.  This woman knows jazz.  And disco!

Then, there’s the weird and wonderful Out of Order.  Again, there’s an original theme for each location.  Author Tim Furnish reports that he has had mixed reviews of his game music.  I, for one, think it’s brilliant.  I particularly enjoy the Ragtime score in the pub.  There’s something not quite…traditional about it, which fully supports the off-kilter experience we are having along with the game’s hero.  If you go to the pub, please do stay for the whole number.  Where does Mr. Furnish get some of those chords?  I also like the corridor theme.  All the music in the game greatly enhances the immersive experience.  I cannot stress this enough, especially after reading one review of Out of Order stating that the music is “annoying and repetitive.”  The reviewer actually suggests turning off the sound to make playing the game tolerable!  Arrrghh!  Obviously I don’t expect everyone to be as much in love with the score as I am, but to TURN IT OFF!  I might as well turn off the dialog captions, too.  Maybe 1/3 of the game for me was delighting in the music.

OK, enough ranting.  Just let me close by saying that music can enhance many kinds of experiences, and at its best, contribute to life being more than “just a game”.

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Crickets Sing….As If

Posted on August 14, 2007. Filed under: Music, Science |

As if…I wasn’t already awestruck by the connectedness of all things, I was introduced to cricket song in human time: “…the sound of…crickets [has been] slowed down to match and mirror the length of the average lifespan of a human being. The angelic chorus you hear accompanying the sound of the crickets is NOT a synthesizer or a chorus singing. It’s the crickets themselves (slowed down) creating the effect.” Here is a link to a one-minute sample cricket song.

One of my favorite Star Trek episodes, called “Wink of an Eye”, proposed that an alien race had become “speeded up” due to radiation, to the point that they could not be seen, and only barely heard, by our friendly Star Trek crew. The “sped-up” people sounded like insects to the crew—just the opposite of the cricket effect described here.

As if…I didn’t find it challenging enough to interact with my fellow humans, I’m told we can communicate with other (non-human) manifestations of consciousness. There are researchers who have placed electrodes on plant leaves, and recorded and amplified their sounds. Many of us are familiar with the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto on communication with water. My jury is still out on that, but I’m certainly open to it.

As if…I hadn’t felt I’d worked hard enough to accept the possibility of talking to crickets, or plants, or even water….I learned of a NASA project which indicated a measurable sound coming from, of all things, a black hole. The link points to an article about the black hole sound, and a visual representation of sound waves coming from it. It doesn’t contain the actual sound, though, as it’s at a far lower frequency than humans can hear.

To those who would say we are discrete, individual entities, making our way in a cold uncaring universe, I would respond….As If!

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We moved time, literally.–I’m not kidding!

Posted on August 13, 2007. Filed under: Science, Spirituality, Travel |

Just returned from the Noetic Sciences conference. (Noetics is a branch of philosophy concerned with the study of intellect and thought). Had a fabulous mind-bending/expanding time. Topics discussed will fuel this blog for some time. I didn’t know we attendees would get to participate in one of Dr. Dean Radin‘s notorious experiments. We now believe that clock time is not static (see earlier post “There’s No Time Like Physics” for more on this) so Dr. Radin decided to have us all see if we could affect the passage of time with our collective intention. I know this sounds way-out, far-out, hippy-dippy—-but that’s theoretical physics for you. We put our intention upon a desire to hear continuous cricket song (yes, that’s cricket song–more about why and how tomorrow) and preliminary results appear to show an effect upon the passage of time. The experiment will continue, with lots more trials. And, for the first one, I was there.

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Noetics are Calling

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: Science, Spirituality, Travel |

I’m off for 5 days to the bi-annual Institute Of Noetic Sciences conference. IONS is an organization that applies cutting edge scientific research to consciousness! I get to bask in the latest findings of Lynne McTaggart (The Intention Experiment, The Field), astronaut/founder Edgar Mitchell (The View from Space, The Way of the Explorer), Dean Radin (Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds), and many others. I’m looking forward to sharing the adventure.

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