Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Space Oddity

During today's monthly hair multi-coloring experiment, PURE ECSTASY rained down upon me as we listened to Bowie's entire Space Oddity album for the first time (for me) since high school. I am meant to be rinsing now, but I refuse until I finish writing this. tempers flare at my stubbornness. But WHY ELSE am "I"? If not for this? This glorious and magnificent work of art; in so many ways. Fuck my hair. Let it fall out. Fuck time tables and deadlines and schedules; in light of this feeling.
Tony Visconti and David created such a timeless cohesive & passionate epic w this one. Bowie is still channeling a lot of Dylan here. Only hints of Ziggy can be heard, but only w the hindsight we possess now. His voice is still high nasally free & full of heart hope & passion. The lyrics as well. More pot and LSD than booze and cocaine. It's intriguing how we are able to discern things such as that. I miss that voice of his. I long for it to return; though intuitively conjecture it most likely never will.
The arrangement & production of each song perfectly fit what they are, what they were meant to be. No cynicism yet, none audibly or viscerally overt at least. (Personally this is, for me as an artist, the thing I detest the most about contemporary popular rock music and the scene that surrounds and creates it. Think any local music scene U.S.A.; or MTV's annual VMA awards show... How are we even meant to breathe freely in such small minded shallow competitive and materialistic confinement? Let alone feel free enough to create heart based or soul revealing works of art?)
These are simple songs; but no less impactful; innocence is still apparent. A raw human naivety and vulnerability in the songwriting and vocal delivery. Bowie's and Visconti's harmony vocals, child-like fresh, clear, clean; chill evoking. A strong sense of excitement innovation & experimentation to the production. Psychedelic folk pop perhaps best describes the genre or style of the songwriting -- but filled with a high-art occasionally near operatic drama in the production; (someone is taking risks here, excited, ambitious, taking a stand, attempting to leave their mark...) It hints of what will come with their arguably best album to date, Diamond Dogs, (and to this listener one of THE greatest musical albums of all time in the canon of human history). Nothing like this remains in popular music today. Nothing even close. The confines of popular music won't allow it.
As a child I listened to this album every single night before falling asleep for a solid year or two during high school. No one my age understood or could relate. It was old. Dated. Classic rock. Ancient. Bowie had long since gone dance-pop and worse by the time I as a boy had discovered him. But I didn't care. I heard and felt the same thing in his music as I did in Dylan, Bolan, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed or the Beatles and Stones. It was visceral, emotionally moving, life changing. Something was missing in the music being created while I was growing up. It still is.
Perhaps that period of time in popular music -- '59 to '79 -- will forever be considered the only moment that music was allowed to rise to its full peak potential artistically. There are many variables responsible for it, many reasons one could cite for this possibility. Or perhaps it's just me and the few others who feel the same. After all, this is admittedly an entirely subjective thing. Impossible to prove. Worthless to debate. One is aware of that. And yet still feels compelled to defend the point to the death.
One of the most fascinating side effects of the experience was observing the reactions and listening to the comments made by others while we listened (even as casually as was necessary because of the inherent focus required for professional hair coloring... They could ONLY listen casually, matter of factly; and it was their first time ever hearing this album). Their surprise at how similar the songwriting and singing sounded to mine. I never thought about it before. It happened before I became self aware as an artist. The influence and inspiration. It must have seeped in. Soaked in. Taken root. And then slowly oozed out. Sometimes overtly. I can hear that now. But only as part of a much bigger-picture amalgamation comprised of so many artists. Never deliberately mimicked another artist. There were always too many. And too much going on inside my own head.
But it did get me to thinking. Perhaps the music we crush on the most as children becomes the foundation of who we are as artists ourselves. We have the time and energy and desire to afford to do nothing else but obsess over music (if that's your thing, which for me it was, more than any other one thing... (Sports and athletics with others? Or science and technology...?)) And for the rest of our lives out it pours. All based on those most formative years of ours as children. Definitely worthy of exploring further. Another post though.
For now the most important thing is to acknowledge how incredible this one simple glorious collection of songs is, to place this flag solidly in the moon and pierce its surface for all time. Music is more than music. More than the chords or the notes or the shapes we randomly assign them. It is indescribable. It is the highest form of art. Art the highest form of human expression. The most sincere representation of human feeling and emotion. Space Oddity, one of the greatest human works of art, reminded me of that today. And for whatever reason I am left unreasonably and irrationally moved to tears, overjoyed, grateful and inspired.
We may turn out to be nothing but human in the end. But through music we are able to transcend whatever limitations we attribute to this confounding mysterious possibility.
More later. Your thoughts as always welcomed.

- Posted by The Ambassador using Blogpress on an iPhone

Sunday, April 28, 2013

We the Human Battery

Part I (first draft)
Everything in the known universe -- specifically things on earth that humans can relate to more readily -- requires power or energy to function or operate. When we think of automobiles or houses, offices, machines small or large, even simple things like flashlights or clocks require some type of power source that provides energy. Throughout human history we have been remarkably resourceful in inventing new ways to provide power to the objects in our lives that are most foundationally important. Hand crank radios, batteries, windmills or dams that use the power of running water, to name but a few, come to mind.
Oftentimes I think of these things when contemplating the larger question of what powers US. What energy source powers human beings...? We know of four primary forces in the universe -- electromagnetism, gravity and the weak and strong nuclear force. Then there are the more well known Newtonian forces such as centrifugal force and entropy etc. But none of these help to explain the energy or force that gives human beings power. From the moment we are conceived we exist as a living functioning operational system. Much like any other device. We breathe. Our heart beats. We blink. Our organs function on automatic performing thousands of processes as if programmed like a computer program. We move, able to move, in an infinite variety of ways. And yet we have still yet to discover what energy source provides us with the power to do these things.
Sometimes when i stop and just stand or sit and feel the life force within me, for lack of a better way of putting it, I become obsessively mystified by this question. It has to be something. From our tens of thousands of years of experience attempting to invent different methods to power external devices around us we have learned this. All things need an energy source to power them. All things it appears except living beings that is -- (for one could say the same thing about any other organic living species as well...) We, along with all the other beasts of the earth and living things seem to operate on some kind of invisible or undetectable energy source.
Yes, food and water provide us with energy which we label "calories" and time has proven that human beings cannot function properly or even live for long periods of time without these basic energy sources of food and water. By now though one realizes that we are speaking of something much larger than foodstuffs. This seems to be something more akin to a kind of electricity. An electrical power of some kind.
I think of it in terms of WiFi or Bluetooth or wireless technology. Things like wireless phones or computers that access the internet through WiFi. We don't have to plug these things into anything and yet we are able to power them up and operate them with no cables. What exactly are we as human beings accessing wirelessly in order to power us up and stay powered? What enables us to move? To think? To breathe? To have heartbeats? We have no batteries to speak of. (the human heart perhaps, but that's reaching and misses the point). Even if we did have some type of internal batteries to speak of, batteries have at least two distinguishing features that we simply don't possess internally to hint at such a thing: they need to be initially charged with energy from some external power source that they can then store; and they don't last for long periods of time without being replaced or recharged. Neither of these distinguishing features of what we know as "batteries" bodes well for any kind of battery theory internal to the human body.
One considers the so-called "breath of life" theories that have cropped up throughout human history in regards to theological ideas, deities and the like. It is no wonder that we have always felt an innate desire to create gods since we first became self aware. Who wouldn't? What wouldn't? We have absolutely no idea where we came from or when we got here, nor why we are or even who we are. No idea what our purpose is or how we are even powered. We just are. The myths and legends and theories abound. Of course they do. It is a rational reaction to existing and not knowing why.
(I am personally always amazed at other humans' ability to take on beliefs with such strong conviction about our origins and the various gods that we've created throughout our history. I prefer to keep things more open. Wait for it... Evolve... If there's one thing we've learned about ourselves through even a minor study of history it's that we are usually wrong in our theological and cosmological assumptions no matter how solidly held the beliefs might be at the time. (Tens of millions of us have believed in literally thousands of different gods and creation stories over the last few thousand years. So there's not much to stand on there empirically.))

Part II
At some point in the not too distant future human beings discover the power source which we are accessing wirelessly so to speak that provides the energy that enables us to function and operate -- just as common household items do with electricity or batteries. It is some kind of force, a power source, something self regulating and self sustaining. This does not imply it is intelligent as we are, nor even conscious or self aware as we are. Those ideas for better or worse are wishful thinking. It could be nothing more than the same kind of energy they powers stars like our sun. I would not call "the sun" intelligent, nor assume it is conscious or self aware. It might be. But I'm going to bet it's not.
Once we do discover this power source that breathes invisible life into all living things we will be able to harness it for a variety of things historically unheard of and not even thought of yet. We will actually use our own bodies to power everyday items and devices like our smart phones and automobiles. Of course our smartphones by this point will be internally implanted devices capable of myriad functions and automobiles will be more like hovercraft or small jets. But that jumps the gun a bit.
(Insert the inevitable and obligatory memory of the various Matrix Trilogy memes here...)
The real juice of the subject -- the thing to get amped up about -- is that the human body itself is a remarkably powerful energy source, albeit a mysterious one presently. But there is no reason we should still be debating which is the better option between destroying the earth through the use of fossil fuels, coal and fracking for natural natural gas or so called green energy like biodiesels such as giant crops of sugarcane or corn and the like. All have their place surely. Wind and solar energy seem to have potential. But not when considering the population growth of our species combined with the limited amount of space we have left on planet earth. The math just doesn't add up.
We must start to explore the inherent energy that is the human body. The living breathing magical battery-like organisms that we are naturally. We most likely hold more potential to power the world around us than anything else we know of. You walk into a room and the lights and air conditioner kick on. Step into your car and drive it as far and as long you want to by simply plugging yourself into it. Or you power it wirelessly. Take your pick.
One could go on forever of course. The idea of the smart-device implanted in the human body that does everything that a laptop and smart phone does now plus acts as a health monitor and healing device to improve health, ward off illness and extend life -- and furthermore is entirely powered by the human body -- isn't too far away. Five years perhaps...? (We will call this "getting augmented" -- like how being vaccinated is viewed now -- or perhaps even "getting jacked in" like the matrix (but I doubt that. We won't really be getting jacked into anything. We will actually be jacking things INTO us... Human batteries)).
I must admit I am more than a little excited to contemplate that many of us are well beyond young enough to assume that we will see the advent of such advances. And these are just the random and momentary musings of one man. I can only imagine what miraculously inventive and imaginative ideas in this field are being designed this very minute by more capable minds.
More later....

- Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Why is America so inane and ignorant? Terrence Malick's latest film TO THE WONDER is as always a masterpiece. Deep, ponderous, thought provoking and featuring breathtaking cinematography. Yet it opened to less than a whisper and went straight to DVD and OnDemand. IRON MAN 3 on the other hand wi surely open with a half a million dollar box office on its first weekend.

The same for CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, the film based on Iranian expat Marjane Satrape's graphic novel of the same name. THIS btw is one of the best films one will ever see. Both movies are in french with subtitles and perhaps that's part of it. No where else in the world does one find a people so devoid of knowledge of other languages or cultures than in America.

What is this strange fate of the Americans? Why is it? It is said that the United States is in possession of the best university education system in the world today. People from every country on earth travel to America to attend the colleges and universities and yet the majority of them then immediately leave once they graduate. This implies potentially at least that there is a high level of intelligence to be had in the States. And yet it is difficult to access most of the time in one's day to day surroundings unless one is very focused to do so, vigilant.

There is more. The struggles for the simplest things politically that many must endure here because of the large majority of ignorance. But I am alas still watching this glorious film TO THE WONDER. More later...

- Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone