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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009, 3:27:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2009, 3:34:30 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Alan Alten -- The only thing that matters is to like eggs, and the grandeur of the conception. And the immaculateness of the ovulation.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009, 8:22:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2009, 8:39:54 PM PDT
Wm. Yate, many thanks for the thoughtful reply to my post on Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2. I had actually prepared a longer reply earlier, and I'd thought it was posted, but it must have been the case that an interruption in my Internet connection swallowed it. Anyhow, I certainly appreciated your pointing out other parts of the piece I should pay attention to, and I'm glad we agreed about the second movement as well.

Re Peeperkorn, I think your assessment of him as "perhaps a man so truly saturated by the fullness of life . . ." might be right on. I say "might" just because I would have to reread the novel before saying almost anything about it with confidence. Best, AA

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009, 8:27:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2009, 11:32:20 PM PDT
M. Zehnder says:
Will,

I didn't really think you were diminishing the Brahms movements, I was being slightly jocular about it, and simply wanted to attempt the sort of "reminding" which Aggie preemptively delivered to you. =)

I have just got into Stendhal, bought both Life of Rossini and Le Rouge et Le Noir, which I can't wait to dive into. Just from my brief reading of Life of Rossini he is one of my favorite writers. His vocabulary, and expression is always cacophonous, jocular, charming, and witty, not to mention rather insightful. He is a pure joy to read. I cannot imagine anyone thinking of him as a soap opera writer...

On opera and Wagner: First of all, I appreciate the suggestion, and it seemed to me that Das Rheingold would be a particularly great work [and believe me when I say I do not care to start with 'light' stuff ever, but rather always go for extremes], but I have a peculiar habit of avoiding listening anachronistically to pieces like that, so I will start at the beginning and work my way there, no matter the ardor of the task. I had been planning to head into the ring anyway, and this confirms my intuition to be on the right track. I am eager to get into it since idols of mine have been so taken with him, Nietzsche to the point of thinking he was almost the only music worth listening to [if only he had heard Boulez eh?], minus Liszt and Chopin, although, if I am remembering correctly, he ends up da[m]ning late Wagner and Liszt for their conversions to Christianity, so it looks like humble Chopin wins in the end. Nevertheless, it seems Wagner cannot be overlooked, even with my usual aversion to vocal works [though Bach's Mass in b minor has helped recently].

Now, my offer of music sharing always stands, and may be especially useful for some more extreme pieces, so never hesitate to ask, for, as I have said, I am more then happy to oblige!

That Chekhov anecdote is rather amusing, hah, I feel like "Worse then Shakespeare!" should be a T-Shirt of some kind. I should mention that I don't think that highly of Tolstoy though. I am one of the few people in the world who thinks Dostoevsky absolutely crushes him. But, I need to go back to him and give him another chance probably, just not War and Peace...anyway... I think that you have the idea basically of what I meant by externally internal sketch though. I shall be happy to explore Pynchon further with you as at least a part-time companion of sorts, to be sure.

I am really happy to have meant such an insightful Dicken's man, because secretly I think I always wanted to like Dickens, but couldn't possibly convince myself he was worth liking at all, and of course everyone else just shouts at you when you suggest that Dickens was anything less then God you know...So I am truly grateful for the guidance you have bestowed.

I am glad I could pique your interest enough in Russell to browse for the book. If nothing else I think you will enjoy his chapters on Being, Time and Space, which I may presently be writing papers on actually. It'd be great to have someone who was reading it to run those papers by if it happened you found a copy sooner rather then later, although that is quite beside the point. I think you will end up being pleasantly surprised though. Just don't feel the need to read it all linearly.

Well, today in my lecture I was able to infer some clarifications of my Spinoza views. It turns out it's not so clear as I thought. First though, an attribute of substance is part of the essence of substance, while a mode is that which is conceived through substance. My analogy for this is to think of a cartoon, a simple one with thought bubbles. The thoughts of the characters you draw would be a mode, so would the characters themselves. The substance would be the lead from the pencil used to create the cartoon. In this way you can see that there is no fundamental existence of the specific characters, or thoughts in the cartoon right? So modes can be destroyed, but the lead won't go out of existence. Also, the linearity of the panels is considered to be impossible to remove, that is where space comes in. No matter what cartoon you draw the is always development in space. Now, I was wrong to say space is an attribute of substance though, in fact, it appears that space just is substance for Spinoza at this point. This just means you cannot conceive of a substance without space. You can't conceive of the cartoon panel, or, more importantly, the lead without conceiving of space. Does this make any sense? If not I will try to think up some better analogies, I am still going over all of this myself you must realize.

However, one thing that I must point out is that Spinoza's substance is not abstract at all. Spinoza does not believe [as do I] that non-extended things exist. Spinoza is basically a materialist, except for the fact that he is a property dualist. But his substance/mode relation I think easily explains this away. In the cartoon you can easily see where the thoughts and the bodies of the characters are both modes, yet we might still refer to such and such character as having both certain mental and physical qualities/properties without any issues at all.

You seem to think that the "real" is not reducible to the "material" and I would like to ask you to explain that because I don't see how everything cannot be reduced to material extension of some sort. If you think Spinoza believes in non-extended Cartesian minds, you are mistaken I'm afraid. Being a mode of a substance inherently implies extension.

I see your point about the repetition now, and I am glad it is taken as a positive instead of a negative. In fact we are beginning to get into how Spinoza may be locked into saying that modes do have necessary existence as well...it looks like it is going to be a wild ride to try and get hi out. I just presupposed today's lecture in my last post, as luck would have it.

Anyway, I think I answered most of the fundamental questions you had about Spinoza there. I will conclude by saying that I do not for a second believe there is any such thing as "empty space" and I do not know what "empty space" would even be actually, if it was a literal term. Maybe if "empty space" is something like dark matter then I will buy it, otherwise, I have no idea what the phrase "empty space" denotes.

Wow, it would be a real coincidence if we had actually seen each other without even knowing it! [or would it? I am a firm believer in Synchronicity actually...]. Have you ever been to the coffee house The Grove on Fillmore? That is where I primarily hung out, though a lot of rather disgruntling things happened [to make light of it] during that week which virtually incapacitated me for much of it. Still, I will probably end up going back in a month or so after finals so perhaps then.

I figured that an English major was kind of a joke, but it's good to see you are taking full advantage of all of your university professors. That really does appear to be key. I just wish it were socially acceptable to somehow end up friends with professors. I am not quite sure how to affect such relations though.

I am glad you see philosophy and literature as not mutually exclusive. My friend once told me he never read literature [fiction that is], to which I asked why he had Kafka, Dostoevsky, Joyce, etc...books on his floor? He replied that those were works of philosophy [and, to an extent, poetry]. But I personally am of the opinion that philosophy is the root of all disciplines, and is not wholly exclusive from any of them.

In my high-school reform plan, which I laid out several years ago, I introduced several years of rigorous philosophy courses. I imagine the world would be a much better place if education were actually set up to educate. I may just be crazy though.

I shall be happy to conduct this conversation further via email though.

Anyway, my "business acumen" may or may not exist. Business sense comes fairly "naturally" to me I guess. I remember I started out rather money-grubbing in life, because my first business experience was when I was very young, and the Boy Scouts, of whom I was a part at the time, had decided to give cash incentives for selling popcorn to raise money. Well, at the time I very much wanted an Xbox, so I bought the maximum amount of popcorn from the Boy Scouts, and sold it at a 100% markup at supermarkets, so that, plus the 10% cash back kickback of sales let me purchase the Xbox, Ps2, and Gamecube; I remember all of the kids thought I came from a rich family, for none of them could comprehend how I should have gotten all three game systems otherwise haha It's very odd that I have become almost the opposite of that now, and instead aspire to be like you and Etha, an aesthete.

One thing though, is that I am more jaded then you realize. I am full of life on these forums because this is one of the only places in the world I am happy. Not that I inherently live a depressed life [nor do I ascribe a negative value to depression], but I have been through, it seems, more then most people go through in a lifetime already. Unfortunately, I am back to zero after my insane journeys. I literally have pretty much nothing now. I've lost all of my money, all of my looks, my health, any love I had...I do still have two good friends, but that is about the sum total of my possessions now. I can't say it's the easiest thing in the world to cope with; but thanks to Cage, Wilson, Pynchon, Nietzsche, and Zappa, I virtually came to commune with the essence of life instead of with the surface levels, and probably saved my own life in that way. Now I can, for the most part, let things go, but I wasn't always that way, and I still have to live with a lot of pain, both physical and emotional every day of my life, and it appears that that will never go away; I have decided though, that I am meant to suffer, and that, by my suffering, the universe is forced to balance itself out, therefore my suffering de facto provides someone else with a vast amount of happiness, and that's enough for me now. I used to want to be rich; now I just want to read books and listen to music. I don't do anything; a girl in logic class today thought I was joking when I said I discuss logic at parties...hah I'm an old man already, and a stick in the mud you know, I've long since realized that romance is gone, and I'm an artifact of a different time. So it is not for me to do anything in this reality, even if I do have secret personal goals of what I want to give to the world.

Anyway, I do not think visceral pleasures are precluded at all; I just haven't found crazy enough ones outside of those with a few close friends. Parties are full of idiots that I can barely stand to talk to anyone anymore at this point in my life, and there is always horrific music [to me almost everything is at this point, I am severely elitist when it comes to rock music]; yet, it is strange, because I still fundamentally enjoy talking with people very much. I like to learn about other people, but I enjoy one-on-one situations, so parties do not intrigue me. I've been to the hippest of the hip parties too, and I have never found them to really be worth my while. I go to watch over my friend mostly, and believe me, he is extremely vulgar, in a way that I am sure eclipses any Russian vulgarity even. Most people cannot tolerate my friend, but he is a genius, dysfunctional, yes, but a genius; probably the next Henry Cowell; he's largely responsible for my development as an aspiring aesthete.

Now, if I could go to parties like those described by Pynchon, where Schoenberg's quartets are played, and people are f[u]cking everywhere, and drugs are just lying about, people are cuddling in beds, and random intellectuals are wandering throughout...well, I would almost certainly go to those parties I guess, so if you know of any like that, let me know.

I am going to have to educate you in the ways of Zappa I can see. My favorite critic, responsible for my controversial views [well, I had the most controversial ones before him actually], recently released his list of essential classical pieces and multiple pieces of Zappa made the list =) If you have not heard The Grand Wazoo, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, and host of other works by him you are missing some of the best music ever crafted in my opinion. Zappa was my first great musical love, so I am at least partially biased I suppose, but still, I think his genius is undeniable. But then again a lot of people think the beatles "genius" is undeniable, and I have never seen, nor heard anything that would suggest to me that they had even begun to approach genius territory.

But it seems obvious that you are a rock traditionalist, and usually I end up scarring those people off, and I'd much prefer to not scare you off since our other discussions have been so terribly pleasant, so I will leave it at that for now.

Regards,

- Micah

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009, 8:31:33 PM PDT
sharp9, re rereading "Dune," check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/03/09/opinion/09opart2.ready.html?scp=3&sq=gygax&st=Search. This cracked me up when I first saw it, and I immediately showed it to one my friends, whom I played AD&D with when we were kids, as well; he also thought it was hilarious, and in fact at that moment also was rereading "Dune."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 1:49:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 2, 2009, 2:17:31 PM PDT
William Yate says:
Micah: I'll tackle the Spinoza first. First off let me apologize. I was talking about Spinoza without referring to the text, and it's been a while since I actually read him. My problem is NOT with the mode/attribute distinction but with the substance/attribute one. Sorry for being misleading. But the problem remains essentially the same, just with different labels.

Your cartoon analogy doesn't work for me, but that's okay; what matters is that it works for you. I would warn you, though, that all analogies are of merely heuristic value when it comes to philosophy, and in this resemble Wittgenstein's ladder. In the long run, no philosophical concept can stand on the basis of an analogy, but must be accepted on purely intellectual grounds. You provide what I think is an example of the way analogies can be misleading: "In the cartoon you can easily see where the thoughts and the bodies of the characters are both modes, yet we might still refer to such and such character as having both certain mental and physical qualities/properties without any issues at all." The analogy shows thoughts and bodies to be identical because they're both made of "lead," and lead is a physical substance. But you then transfer this idea of a substrate of uniformly physical stuff from the analogy to the philosophical problem, and thus conceive of thoughts as being made of physical stuff. But this is only true of cartoon thought boxes, not human thoughts. So, while the cartoon analogy may help you make sense of the way substance is at the bottom of both the physical and the mental, it surreptitiously and erroneously imports the idea that substance must be physical.

"an attribute of substance is part of the essence of substance, while a mode is that which is conceived through substance." A mode _is_ conceived through substance; but I think it's too quick to say that attribute is the essence of substance. Take this quote from Spinoza's correspondence: a thing "is called attribute in relation to the intellect, which attributes such and such a definite nature to substance." So an attribute appears to be our way of thinking substance. Insofar as we think of substance accurately, attributes correspond to substance, but if there were no intellect to relate to substance, substance would still subsist without attributes. It would not, I think, exist without modes: modes do not, like attributes, depend for their existence on an intellect (thus my ontology/epistemology distinction). True, substance exists through itself alone, but it's hard to see what this existence would look like if it (substance) did not have modes (that which depends on substance for its existence). This might be easier to see by recalling Aristotle's definition of substance as the subject of predication. What kind of subject is a substance that lacks all predicates?

Which brings me to my next point. You say "space just is substance for Spinoza at this point." But to say that substance is space (it can't be the other way around, since substance is the ultimate subject of predication) is to give substance a predicate, namely "spatial." Now whether you call it "space," "material," "extension," or anything else, to say that "substance is X" is to say that it cannot be what it is without being X. But this is to say that substance cannot be conceived through itself, and must be conceived through X (space, in this instance). Yet we know that substance is that which is conceived only through itself. So if substance must be spatial, it cannot be substance, and if space is substance, it cannot be spatial. To say, then, as you do, that substance is inherently spatial, is to add a completely alien definition of substance. And when you say that "you cannot conceive of a substance without space," you're begging the question: it's not a matter of our _intellect_ conceiving of substance, but of substance conceiving itself.

And when you say that "Spinoza does not believe [as do I] that non-extended things exist," or that "Spinoza is basically a materialist," or that "if you think Spinoza believes in non-extended Cartesian minds, you are mistaken I'm afraid. Being a mode of a substance inherently implies extension," you're doing the same thing: if Spinoza thinks non-extended existence is impossible, then he's saying that "substance is extended (material)"; and again, this is to limit substance to one of its predicates.

I might take another tack and say with Spinoza that substance has infinite attributes. This is derived from a variety of definitions, postulates, and propositions (by the way, I'm just as troubled by the definition/postulate distinction as by the substance/attribute one: any thoughts?), so if you doubt this claim you'd be better off working through it with your professor than with me. Once you're convinced of it though, it follows quite naturally that space is only one of an infinite number of attributes. To limit substance to one attribute (space) is to negate the very idea of substance. So I think you must be wrong when you say that "Being a mode of a substance inherently implies extension." Mind is one example, and it is the one we naturally think of; but for Spinoza, there are an infinite number of others, all "non-spatial" in the sense that they wouldn't be the attributes they are if they were spatial (for then they would just BE "spatial"). Spinoza certainly thinks that the attributes "mind" and "body" are coordinated, but this doesn't mean they're the same. His explanation of this coordination, I _think_, relies on their common source in the one substance God. You can think of the explanation of this coordination as Spinoza's response to the same problem that, e.g., Malebranche answers with the doctrine of occasionalism, or that Leibniz answers with that of preestablished harmony.

"I do not for a second believe there is any such thing as "empty space" and I do not know what "empty space" would even be actually, if it was a literal term. Maybe if "empty space" is something like dark matter then I will buy it, otherwise, I have no idea what the phrase "empty space" denotes." Empty space is Newton's conception, which I like to analogize to a bucket that various objects can be dumped into. Descartes contends the opposite, saying that space is relational, which means that space exists only as the relation of spatial objects to one another. Kant rejects both, and his transcendental aesthetic is motivated in no small way by his attempt to reconcile the two. I don't know much about dark matter, but my guess is that it would be considered just one more kind of physical thing, whatever its idiosyncratic properties.

It'll take you a long time to get to the Ring if you take Wagner chronologically, and I think this would be a mistake: even if you start only with the works that have achieved repertoire status, you could easily dislike all three; besides which, the Ring is one of those works like Karamazov or Proust that you wish you had somehow been able to experience in the womb, so that you could spend the rest of your life going ever deeper into them. If you're at all like me, you'll spend the rest of your life begrudging Dutchman, Tannhaüser and Lohengrin for making you spend another year or six months without the Ring (which would be a shame, because they all have something to commend them).

Nietzsche does end up condemning Wagner for his Christianity, but this is only a part of his larger critique of Wagner as a decadent. I love when he says: "My greatest experience was a recovery. Wagner is merely one of my sicknesses." (Very reminiscent of Stephen Dedalus's famous quip about history, don't you think? But Joyce was a Wagnerite and reader of Nietzsche, so he may have even had it in mind...) But Nietzsche retains too much of the dialectical spirit of traditional philosophy to merely turn against Wagner; he also says, practically in the same breath: "Others may be able to get along without Wagner; but the philosopher is not free to do without Wagner. He has to be the bad conscience of his time: for that he needs to understand it best." I'd send you the mp3's to the Ring, but I bought it on iTunes, and they don't allow you to share (one of the many reasons I stopped buying there). (Also, I think Nietzsche may have loved Chopin, but in his revolt against Wagner, he seems to have taken up Bizet as the new ideal: thus the opening sentence of the first section of The Case Against Wagner: "Yesterday I heard - Would you believe it? - Bizet's masterpiece, for the twentieth time.") I share your aversion to vocal works, but this is irrelevant in the face of Wagner.

Thank you so much for your music sharing offer: it's absolutely mutual, only much of my collection comes from iTunes, so there are problems. But I can let you know what's available to share through email.

Even if I don't find a copy of the Principles (which is quite likely, since most bookstores appear to have replaced the literature and philosophy sections with Harry Potter sections), I'd love to read your papers on them. It might actually give me a better idea of whether I really want to undertake the full commitment. (I've also done some copy-editing, both professionally and for friends, so I'd be more than happy to check for grammar and syntax, etc., if you'd like, while readind them, provided I haven't left for Petersburg by then [not sure I'll have access to a computer there].)

I don't think I've ever actually been to the Grove on Fillmore, though I've spent a lot of time in the area, the park nearby, and the bookstore across the street (Books, Inc., I think). My ex-girlfriend loved the Grove on Chestnut and either Scott or Pierce, so I spent more time than I'd like to recall there. I loved the atmosphere and setting, but it appeared to have an all-granola menu that I couldn't abide by, and the coffee was mediocre. We'll certainly have to meet up if you come back up here after finals, though this, like the disgruntling things that happened to you there, are probably best left to a private email.

We appear to have similar feelings about the literature/philosphy nexus. But for me at least, it's not just a matter of philosophy, qua discipline of disciplines, being a part of everything. I think that literature about literature, literature about philosophy, philosophy about literature, and philosophy about philosophy, are all working on similar problems. Philosophy of aesthetics is just more systematic than the other two literary options, so I tend to focus on it in particular (another interesting question: is philosophy of aesthetics different from literary criticism? And is so, how?). For this very reason, I've spent a lot of time on Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, which is ideal for these concerns since it's a work of philosophy and literary criticism written as the autobiography of a major poet (he even steals whole pages from Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism).

It's true, I'm a rock traditionalist, as I am in everything else; but I will look into Zappa more (I had the first Mothers of Invention album in middle school, but it didn't make much of an impression at the time, and I've since lost track of it). And you needn't worry about scaring me off with a dissenting opinion: the most ingenious tortures of the Spanish Inquisition couldn't get me to renounce the fact that the Beatles were geniuses and that John Lennon was one of the greatest and most humane human beings ever to grace the planet with his presence: if canonization were freed from the albatross of the church, Lennon would be first among saints. In the beginning of his solo career, Lennon wrote music of a deceptive simplicity and purity that would have made Picasso envious. I can't think of another work of art where a man lays himself on the line, his faults, his failures, his fears, his anger, his love, so shamelessly and unreservedly as Lennon does on Plastic Ono Band (maybe Fellini's 8 1/2 is a distant, and stylized, second). (Plastic Ono Band certainly can't be accused of the pop appeal that might be what turns you off to the Beatles. Though for me, the Beatles are the apotheosis of pop music: the difference is in whether you interpret this as transcending pop, or as being its worst symptom [sort of like Wagner and decadence]. In either case, John Lennon is a world-historical genius.)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 1:51:25 AM PDT
William Yate says:
Aggressive: I'm very grateful to have met someone else who loves the concerto as much as I do. I'm sorry I didn't get to see your more detailed post, but I will never again forget that moment from the 2nd mvt., and I have you to thank for that.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 2:25:57 AM PDT
Thomas E. says:
Well, this is embarrassing... I'm reading Philip K. Dick's "Valis". And I thought it was for the first time, but I'm gradually coming to believe that I've read it before, finding familiar passages all over the place. Bought it only a couple of years ago, so I must have read it not long after, and then completely forgot everything about it. Strange. It's a very distinctive book, so I should have at least remembered reading it. I'm not yet 30, so it can't be problems with my memory, can it? Maybe I had a fever when I read it, or perhaps I read it in my sleep. It happens.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 2:38:26 AM PDT
William Yate says:
Thomas: Is this your first foray into Dick? The Valis trilogy was almost my final stop, and I think this was fortunate, since only my love for his other stuff kept me going through Valis and especially The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. I think Dick was a very sad man, and the great power of his work resides in the implacably loving human spirit that shines through his struggles against depression, disillusion and isolation; but I feel like the sadness gets the upper hand in the more autobiographical Valis trilogy. My favorite are The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich, and Ubik (the latter for sheer pleasure reading).

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 4:59:57 AM PDT
Dmitri says:
I've been reading "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross. I guess I am really behind the times as far as current reads. According to the tons of notes on this book it came out circa 2007.

I very much enjoyed the first chapter. It's says that Caruso sold over a million records and was the first to do so. That the RCA Victor Machine costs a whopping $200.00 when it came out.

Relative to music it focuses on three titans: Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, and Arnold Schoenberg all alive around the turn of the century. This is in the first chapter. That other Richard...Wagner is also talked about and almost worshipped in the Germanic speaking world according to the book. Mahler makes the famous statement that his music is not for his lifetime. I guess Schoenberg heard this and took it to his own heart.

I am in the second chapter called Dr. Faustus. Schoenberg had seen a decline in European repetoire of new music in the 19th century. Since people no longer wanted to hear new music he thought why not make make music that other composers wanted to hear. This all begins the thinking I take it towards the 12 tone system. His use of sparse forces for instance in the Chamber Symphony No.1 was also "future" influenced as he thought that there would be fewer players to play his music. This is all according to the book.

Actually atonality, dissonance, or the lack of tonality seems to be the focus of Richard Strauss operas beginning with Salome. Of course R. Strauss gets his ideas from Wagner. So there is a lot of talk about Wagner even though the book is about 20th century music in the first chapter.

The book is a teaching book, but so well smattered with anecdotes that you don't even feel like you are learning something new. I guess it is only knew if you haven't read twenty similar books on the same subject. I can't imagine better writing. It is very engaging especially for someone like me with undiagnosed ADD or ADHD. I hate reading, but this book makes it easy.

I should also say that composers where received like head of state back at the turn of the 20th century. Richard Strauss was invided to talk to Theodore Roosevelt. He also visited congress and had a new composition called "Symphonia Domestica" played. It turns out that a department store in New York actually gave space on it's roof so that Strauss' music could be heard.

The book also talks about Mahler coming to America. Alma gave the German press fuel to write anti-American editorials about how well received Mahler's music was in America. It turns out this was more of distraction for Alma having an affair than anything else.

I love this book and just had to drop my 2 cents in so far.

Fred

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009, 6:11:31 AM PDT
Thomas E. says:
William: I've read one other Dick-book, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. That I remember very well! I can see what you mean about the sadness in Valis - it's tempting to read it as some kind of self-biography or maybe self-therapy.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009, 7:12:01 AM PDT
Alex Fields says:
I'm reading Reed's "Mumbo Jumbo" and next, probably on to some Foucault.

Posted on Apr 3, 2009, 7:30:55 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
"Remembering Wagner", first-hand accounts, to track down what he said about Mendelssohn and "Fingal's Cave" (he liked it) to help out on the Amazon.co.UK threads, where a correlation was suggested between the Dutchman Overture and the Hebrides. Either way you have to wipe salt spray off after the first waves. A Scottish poster in Glasgow had actually been out to Fingal's Cave twice and gave a good description of it, the wind, and the rough water. Then a bit of Robert Haven Schauffler's old-fashioned biography, "Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music" (1927 centennial year of B.s death), mainly for the appendix of works, opus numbers, dedicatees, and dates of composition and publication that I got wrong on another thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2009, 11:19:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2009, 11:29:29 PM PDT
M. Zehnder says:
Will,

We may have to postpone the Spinoza debate because it looks like we differ about dualism. I don't believe that non-extended things, i.e. non-material things exist excepting in the property sense [which is Spinoza's view].

If you could explain to me what it would mean for something to not have extension, which would mean body, it might help me out. I don't know what it really means to be non-extended, it seems like a fairy-tale notion.

My cartoon analogy isn't meant to be perfect, just a kind of helpful guide. I would like to know how you read Spinoza as not a materialist though. Substance is infinite and extended by nature. I am not sure how this doesn't imply everything is material. If you take the lead analogy too literally then maybe it seems inherently wrong, but how else would you explain thoughts exactly?...Imagine trying to produce thought bubbles for lead characters without the use of lead, or anything else...how would you do it?

Anyway, what you may be right about, and I am still not sure, is whether modes and substance really are necessarily linked. I think it is. If substance exists, then modes necessarily exist in a relatively necessary causal way.

The rest modes [hence matter] can "be destroyed", by the way, is not because they literally can be, but they change form. Obviously actual destruction would imply substance being destroyed, but the formations can change, so what we call things can be "destroyed".

But, I'll wait to talk about more until we've settled the materialist issue. I think that if you assume Spinoza is a dualist it makes him impossible to understand, so I am interested to hear how you can give this interpretation of him, because I just can't see it I suppose =/

Ok, moving on. I actually meant listening to a pice of music out of order but I thought that Das Rheingold was the 2nd or 3rd part of the Ring not the first...since it is the first, there is no reason to not just tackle the Ring head on. Would it be bad to make it my steady listening over my several hours of commute each day to school, or do you literally have to sit down for a full fifteen hours to appreciate it?

I've never listened to Bizet, what masterpiece was Nietzsche referencing, do you know? I have to think about the idea that the philosopher cannot live within Wagner. I wonder if he means literally, or figuratively. If he means it as a kind of metaphor for philosophers being inherently tied to radical art, then it makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, I am not 100% sure what he means by that quote. I feel like being able to see Wagner in Nietzsche's time must have been a wholly different experience though. Hearing music in general must have I guess, but it seems like going to see the Ring and such works back then really would have been a kind of mystic experience, a shocking, and infinitely intriguing experience that would have unraveled the mind in a way that would have been essential to a philosopher like Nietzsche, in which case his quote makes sense for the time. What do you think?

On music sharing: Yes, iTunes has been a bi[t]ch about that, but recently they have been converting everything to iTunes Plus which means no locks on the music =) The Feinberg sonatas, for example, have no locks on them. Of course the locks on those files have always been easy to get rid of, just tedious, hah.

I'll definitely be happy to share the papers, it will probably give me more motivation to have a decent peer-review then to do it for school hah I bought my copy off Amazon, most bookstores only cary the shorter work Introduction to Philosophy of Mathematics.

When/why the trip to Petersburg?

The Grove on Fillmore does not have an all-granola menu at all, so I am not sure it is the same place, in fact, The Grove is practically a restaurant. The coffe may not be the best in the world, but I wouldn't call it sub-par. It's a cut above anywhere else I've been in SF [not really too many other places though]. Do you have a preferred coffee place in SF? The one thing I hate at socal is the complete lack of coffee houses. Starbucks is literally as good as it gets down here. I've never understood that.

When I mentioned philosophy as the tree of everything, I didn't mean to preclude your idea about literature and philosophy being the same. I agree. That is why I have mentioned before reading Kant as poetry and Pynchon as philosophy. If you think about it authors are the real philosophers. Hardly anyone really reads Kant. Many, many more people have read Dostoevsky and been impacted by his work you know. It seems like, oddly enough, when brilliant minds are freed from the "necessary rigors" of philosophy papers, they actually end up being *more* profound then the "official" philosophers a lot of the time. Personally, I would have a much easier time reading Malbranche as part of a joke Pynchon was making or something, because I can barely stomach him a lot of the time.

By the way, I finally was able to start Gravity's Rainbow today, and I urge you to read V ASAP, because, at least thus far, I feel as if V is an entirely different side of Pynchon, his more serious side if you will. I can see where maybe you feel like Pynchon is more about "just being funny" from the language of GR. V. seems more "grown up" to me [kind of ironic since it is the earlier work]. This is only an initial impression, but I really hope that you will get a copy of V. soon, I think it will change your view of Pynchon.

Zappa is kind of odd. His first albums did not make an impression on me until I heard his later albums; it's kind of as if it takes hearing his more *advanced* music to appreciate what he was doing on this early albums. In the history of rock music, his first three albums are impossible to overlook though, as they were doing stuff that had never been done before. The tape manipulation on an album like We're Only In It For The Money are the equal of anything coming out of the Darmstadt school I think, and those albums were some of the albums that invented the concept album.

But, that being said, his really interesting music is basically classical and jazz, not so much rock. Something like Burnt Weeny Sandwich, or Hot Rats are exposes in jazz melodies, while Weasel's Ripped My Flesh is a deconstruction of free jazz; then The Grand Wazoo kind of comes out of nowhere as a collaboration of jazz, rock, and classical composition that is one of the most purely pleasant musical experiences ever made. Then there are the host of albums like One Size Fits All where he plays with a much more advanced rock band and set, what should have been, the standard for all of rock and/or pop music ever. If it had been the standard, I would probably listen to a lot of pop music, but alas. Then there are also the collages; Lumpy Gravy, and especially his film concept Uncle Meat, which is something like Wagner's Ring for the Rock generation so far as I am concerned. Then, of course, comes his orchestral music from his rock songs transcribed for orchestra on albums like Orchestral Favorites, to his serious classial compositions like The Perfect Stranger, conducted by Boulez, and his wokr performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, to his final work The Yellow Shark, which contains some of the most inventive, imaginative, and wild orchestral music ever recorded. And his electronic album Jazz From Hell, for which he won a grammy, oddly enough.

Zappa probably shouldn't be viewed as a rock artist I guess, it makes it unfair. Although, if rock music had followed in his footsteps it would have probably become something truly prodigious I think.

Anyway,

it looks like you are referencing the Plastic Ono band, which isn't part of the beatles so far as I know. You also seem to be referencing lyrical content, which I find to be awkward because lyrical content has nothing to do with musical quality so far as I am concerned, and I don't see how it would.

I'll have to ignore the 8 1/2 comment, because I consider that to be the film equivalent of The Brothers, and to be, at least for now, the unquestionable number one movie of all times.

Maybe the beatles are the apotheosis of pop music, but that's why I don't care for pop music. If Zappa's pop had been the apotheosis I'd probably love it hah It seems like the beatles are what lead to n'sync, and britney spears and her ilk in the modern age, so it's hard for me to get into that kind of movement. I just don't get the appeal I guess, at least not musically.

And if we are talking lyrics, none of these people have ever appealed to me. I used to be part of that whole "emo" movement, purely for the lyrical content, but not for musical content. Nor do I find that acceptable social music. I don't understand how you can listen to deeply personal lyrics in popular music exactly, I mean, the songs that have meaningful, soul-piercing lyrics are not songs I would ever listen to around other people. I rarely listen to music for lyrics now though, I find music itself to speak much louder then words. The only person who has ever wrote truly bewildering lyrics to me is Captain Beefheart [well, Dylan too I guess]. His lyrics have meant more to me then anyone else, and they are sung in one of the most unique voices in all of musical history. I rather consider his lyrics as abstract poetry on the level of Eliot or Pound then rock lyrics though. The content is not necessarily something I take into account about his music, but it's nice I suppose. I would have to think about other lyrics I care for. The only vocalists I like tend to be very unique vocalist: Mark Stewart, Tim Buckley, Dave Thomas, Damo Suzuki, Robert Wyatt [btw, if you really like pop music his album, Rock Bottom, is often argued to be the ultimate pop expression, and others along those lines like Zappa or the singers he gets].

I don't know what you really mean by "world-historic genius" but I can tell you that I am not interested in historical geniuses at all. If someone is a genius, then it shows no matter what; if someone is a genius because he historically is considered one, then I don't care about him much. I am perfectly willing to disregard tons of people as geniuses who most consider it outrageous to so disregard. Consider the fact that, until just recently, I had considered Dickens to be a hack. This is not an opinion taken to be "normal" by most people hah

Anyway, it's probably best not to get into it too much, but I've never had as much of a quarrel with Yoko and that work. If you are mostly into that stuff, I feel like it's a whole different argument then saying you like the beatles, since that isn't really the beatles. But however it goes I suppose.

Cheers,

- Mich

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2009, 11:21:55 PM PDT
M. Zehnder says:
"Well, this is embarrassing... I'm reading Philip K. Dick's "Valis". And I thought it was for the first time, but I'm gradually coming to believe that I've read it before, finding familiar passages all over the place. Bought it only a couple of years ago, so I must have read it not long after, and then completely forgot everything about it. Strange. It's a very distinctive book, so I should have at least remembered reading it. I'm not yet 30, so it can't be problems with my memory, can it? Maybe I had a fever when I read it, or perhaps I read it in my"

I find similar things happen to me, when I have assuredly never read a work before. It's very odd, and I don't know how to explicate it. Although, it extends beyond reading, to other areas of life. It's like deja vu that can't possibly be deja vu...

I've never really understood it. It seems like there must be something to it.

Glitches in the software simulating our digital world?

Probably so.

- Micah

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009, 12:36:01 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 4, 2009, 12:49:52 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009, 2:18:04 AM PDT
William Yate says:
Micah: I'm not sure what you mean by "property dualism." Could you explain?

"If you could explain to me what it would mean for something to not have extension, which would mean body, it might help me out. I don't know what it really means to be non-extended, it seems like a fairy-tale notion." I would suggest thoughts as an example of non-extended things: since you don't believe in the latter, I take it you believe thoughts are entirely reducible to neuron activity? (Incidentally, your response leads me to think you felt my take on your analogy was slighting: it wasn't meant to be at all. I'm glad it helps you work through the issue, I was just warning you that NO analogies are perfect when it comes to philosophy, but are instead, as you say, "just a kind of helpful guide," which is why I praised their heuristic value. They only betray you if you take them literally and draw philosophical conclusions from them.)

"Substance is infinite and extended by nature." Substance is not essentially extended for Spinoza: his definition of substance is "that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself; in other words, [it is] that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception." Not only does the word "extended" not occur in this definition (which means that substance can be defined without reference to extension, and is thus external to it), but "that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception" explicitly excludes, e.g., the "conception" of extension. I think you might be misled by the use of "substance" in modern parlance.

"The rest modes [hence matter] can "be destroyed", by the way, is not because they literally can be, but they change form. Obviously actual destruction would imply substance being destroyed, but the formations can change." Agreed; I never debated that point, only that "destruction" is the appropriate word, given the indestructability of substance. I don't mean to split hairs, but you never know what ramifications the implications of a definition can have down the road in philosophy, so I try to control them as tightly as possible (which I guess amounts to saying that I don't believe there's such a thing as hair-splitting in philosophy).

"I think that if you assume Spinoza is a dualist it makes him impossible to understand." I don't think he's a dualist: substance has infinite attributes, so he's more like an "infinitist." Mind and body are just the two modes we finite creatures are aware of.

"Would it be bad to make it my steady listening over my several hours of commute each day to school, or do you literally have to sit down for a full fifteen hours to appreciate it?" Absolutely not; I haven't even listened to any of the operas in one sitting except for Rheingold, but I do try not to pick up again mid-act. This is easier for Rheingold than for the others (e.g., Die Walküre, Act 2, which is not only massive but arguably the least exciting act in the Ring) since it's so short. The only problem is if you drive and don't speak German you won't know what's going on.

"I've never listened to Bizet, what masterpiece was Nietzsche referencing, do you know?" Bizet died young and left little, so the only undeniable masterpiece he left was his opera Carmen. It's an incredible work, I wish I hadn't got it on iTunes so I could send you the links: but you've heard some of it already (the Overture, the Havanaise).

"If he means it as a kind of metaphor for philosophers being inherently tied to radical art, then it makes a lot of sense." He might mean this, depending on your interpretation of the term "radical art," and upon what its tie to philosophy consists in; in a general sense I would agree, but the idea would require further definition. But I think Nietzsche's point was that Wagner was this great genius who was at once so brilliant and such a product of his time (which Nietzsche calls "decadence") that he couldn't help taking this decadence to its furthest point and its logical conclusion. So for the philosopher (read: Nietzsche), Wagner is inescapable because he is the mouthpiece of the times, and the philosopher's job is to diagnose and counteract his times. But I must admit I'm a little fuzzy: after listening to all 32 hours of Wagner, I somehow haven't taken the time yet to reread the pertinent Nietzsche. (Like you, I often wonder what it would have been like to attend the world premiere of the Ring; but perhaps we're idealizing the past: undoubtedly the technical aspects of both musical performance and stagecraft have improved considerably since then. I think I read somewhere that in Wagner's time, the dragon was essentially a couple guys in a bad halloween costume.)

Wow, I didn't know that about iTunes plus. Are you sure? I know some of my stuff is iTunes plus but I think it is still locked... I've heard you can override them, but I don't have the technical savoir-faire to even know where to begin.

Petersburg is an unfortunate necessity because grad. school in comp. lit. requires you to know three foreign languages, and I can't really say I know any. I can read Russian fairly well at this point, but I need to become semi-fluent so I can worry about Foreign #2 and Foreign #3. Besides which, Russian is my major focus, and I don't know how much longer I can take not being able to read Karamazov in the original.

I was being sarcastic and hyperbolic about the all-granola menu at Grove: I was just taking a shot at the hippie-atmosphere (for that matter, I don't really object to hippies: I just like making fun of things). It's definitely the same place as the one I went to on Chestnut, I passed by the Fillmore one all the time, just never went in. Unfortunately starbucks does seem to be the best bet; as a native NY'er, I'm constantly complaining about the lack of good coffee, pizza and bagles.

"It seems like, oddly enough, when brilliant minds are freed from the "necessary rigors" of philosophy papers, they actually end up being *more* profound then the "official" philosophers a lot of the time." Absolutely. Not that the rigours of philosophical development don't improve the work of the minds that gravitate to philosophy over literature. I think they both work on the same problems from different angles.

I will definitely get a copy of V. I've been meaning to ask you whether it was that or Vineland you liked. You'll get more out of GR than I did too, because I think there are recurring characters and even recurring plots from V. in GR. (I probably would have stupidly given them away here, only I couldn't remember what they were.)

Thanks for the Zappa info; I'll have to copy and paste it into word, since it could be a while before I get around to it. But I'm not blowing it off, I will listen to him eventually.

I was referring to Plastic Ono Band for the most part, and though I think it's admirable to separate musical and semantic content, I'm not sure it's entirely fair in the long run. But that's a whole 'nother issue. (Also, Lennon had a habit of not attributing meaning to his lyrics in the conventional sense, so he might be on your side here, though Plastic Ono Band is deeply meaningful.)

I'm rather amazed you think 8 1/2 the Brothers Karamazov of film: I do too (I even push it on people as obtrusively as I do with Karamazov: I've had much more success with 8 1/2). I wonder what the connection could be? It's a bit much for just a coincidence...

Any favorite scenes, by the way? Of course, every moment is pure joy, but whenever I hear the name 8 1/2, I tend to see the flashback explaining "Asa Nisi Masa" (which I didn't get until I watched the commentary track on the Criterion dvd: didn't get the meaning, that is; I always got the scene), and obviously that most perfect and beautiful of conclusions. Also that wonderful scene just before the end where Mastroianni is driven to despair by the impossibility of finding anyone to play any of the parts, ends up hanging the critic in his imagination, and is only saved at the last moment by the first entrance of the "real" Claudia Cardinale. (I read an interview recently where Charlie Kaufman said he'd never seen 8 1/2. This has to be a lie: it's like Nabokov saying he'd never read Kafka after writing Invitation to a Beheading.)

"It seems like the beatles are what lead to n'sync, and britney spears and her ilk in the modern age, so it's hard for me to get into that kind of movement." (Shudder.)

"I don't know what you really mean by "world-historic genius" but I can tell you that I am not interested in historical geniuses at all. If someone is a genius, then it shows no matter what; if someone is a genius because he historically is considered one, then I don't care about him much." I was just being hyperbolic again (got to stop doing that, it doesn't come across online). It's a Hegelian term, which I really only used because of its extravagance (what's bigger than Hegel?). But even such hyperbole is just more insufficient approximation. I agree too that Plastic Ono Band isn't much like the Beatles; I love the Beatles just as much as John solo, but I just thought Plastic Ono Band had a better chance of making an impression on you than, e.g., Rubber Soul. But it's no skin off my back if you just plain don't like them; I'm just glad I could talk you into Dickens (potentially).

Posted on Apr 4, 2009, 2:23:25 AM PDT
BGroovy2 says:
I studied voice for many years with a protege' of Cornrlius Reid so I figured it is about time I start reading his books.
I finished up "Bel-Canto, Principles and Practice" and am currently reading, "Free Voice, A guide to natural Singing."
I recommend this series of books to any vocalist that wants to impove their voice without enduring all the snake oil that comes from the vocal instructors of this era!

Posted on Apr 4, 2009, 2:23:36 AM PDT
BGroovy2 says:
I studied voice for many years with a protege' of Cornrlius Reid so I figured it is about time I start reading his books.
I finished up "Bel-Canto, Principles and Practice" and am currently reading, "Free Voice, A guide to natural Singing."
I recommend this series of books to any vocalist that wants to impove their voice without enduring all the snake oil that comes from the vocal instructors of this era!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009, 3:29:11 AM PDT
M. Zehnder says:
Will,

Property dualism, to explicate it in the simplest way possible is simply the belief that we talk about mental things, mental qualities, and physical things, physical qualities, but, so far as I an tell, you do not believe there is actually any difference as to what the underlying form or substance of these things is, i.e. it is the same thing. It could be relabled as Linguistic Dualism I guess, because it essentially says "we talk about X qualities as mental, and Y qualities as physical, even though they are both just qualities of the same ultimate substance", at least that is how I interpret it. So we might talk about something being "mind related", like a thought, or idea, or a mental state, and then we might talk about the qualities of a rock, or violin strings, and we could say these things have differing qualities to them [the former mental, the later physical], but that ultimately there is no distinction between what underlies the substance of these things.

I wasn't sure if your critique of my analogy was slighting, I was trying to reaffirm that it was not gospel truth [what is?], but only a heuristic novelty, as any good analogy. It's hard to convey thoughts any other way sometimes. I do not really see how thoughts can be non-extended though. I am fairly certain quantum science will find this out pretty soon. My friend recently mentioned a physicist in Japan who did experiments with thought and found that thinking certain thoughts about glasses of water showed structural differences on the atomic level of the different glasses, but I cannot find the info online unfortunately. However, I do not think that thoughts are truly non-extended or non-physical, nor do I necessarily think they reduce strictly to neuron activity [not only neuron activity anyway]. When Dylan said he took his songs from the air, I think that he may have been literally correct on a quantum level. I think that the "collective unconscious" may turn out to be something that is very much real, and that ideas may turn out to be as "real" as anything else, science just has to catch up to philosophy [as if always the case historically].

On the definition, you are right, I thought it included extension for some reason. I suppose it is because I cannot imagine non-extension. I literally do not understand what non-extension is. I cannot even conceive of it, it's like trying to think of a square circle for me. I am not sure how to do it. I can understand Spinoza from a field theory perspective because substance reduces to "energy", but energy is inherently linked to extension. I understand a lot of people like to go about touting field theory as proof that "everything is nothing", which is what you seem to be arguing, that substance is just an abstract notion...but I don't really understand what that means I guess. How can everything be nothing? Maybe it is, fundamentally. I mean, nothingness may just be substance, so that everything does proceed from nothing, but ultimately then nothing is still SOMETHING.

Maybe I am misled by modern parlance of substance, but I don't know how else one would conceive of it. If substance is not at least just energy, then what is it? I mean we're positing the underlying form of all existence, or, all existing things, so how can that possibly be just some abstract thing? I just don't know what it means. How can you explain to me something without a body or any way of knowing it? Suppose you try to explain to me what a thought is without describing neuron activity, relation to brains, or any of the attributes of a thought...you wouldn't even be allowed to say "it's what's in your head dummy!", how then will you explain to me what a thought is?...will you just say "it is a thing"? That doesn't seem very useful. Otherwise, if you explain all the properties of a thought then it looks like you've definitely described something, and if you just say "well that is non-extended" but you described it the same way as an extended thing, then I can call anything non-extended or extended such that the two reduce to the same term, right?...

I admit, I am baffled by the idea of non-extension, if you can explain it to me it would greatly help. It would be especially nice if you could avoid reference to thoughts or ideas. I would like, for example, to know what a non-extended chair would be? I myself cannot even begin to know.

Well anyway, you conclude with this line: "Mind and body are just the two modes we finite creatures are aware of." Which is essentially property dualism, so it looks like we agreed all along, I must have just muddled my language up hah.

I think hairsplitting in philosophy shouldn't be allowed, but it often is. I forget who said it, but it was said that if philosophers just gave definitions of their terms, and arguments, there would be very little debate in philosophy. Instead philosophy thrives on "hairsplitting", muddled definitions, fallacies through use of prose writing, etc...kind of funny isn't it?

I think that that fact, in a big way, is what makes literature as profound as philosophy, and why taking an English major is probably a good idea. Because philosophy and English [or just language] intertwine so closely at this point that they are inseparable. Literary figures and philosophers do attack the same problems from different angles, but sometimes from the same angles. After all, Lewis Caroll, and Dostoevsky come up in philosophy and logic courses somewhat often you know.

I did mean V., not Vineland, as I am reading Pynchon in linear fashion. I do think that several themes reoccur in this book. I already know that Kurt Mondaugen reappears. I hope his place in GR is as dark as in V. His scenes in V. were practically a Fellini film.

With that, Fellini's 8 1/2 and the Karamozov connection is quite fascinating. I really must begin a study and figure it out. I guess it stems from an overall feeling that Fellini is the Dostoevsky of film, and 8 1/2 is his masterpiece, as The Brothers is Dostoevsky's. Dostoevsky was said to have been a playwright author though, and it does seem as if both Fellini and Dostoevsky develop their characters in similar ways, and they have a knack for creating realistic, yet impossibly deranged, romantic characters that you are forced to fall in a kind of sick love with.

My favorite scene in the movie is probably the most *trivial* scene I guess. It's the one with all of the extra's in the wide-pan shot, with Rossini's overture to the Barber of Seville playing [first time I heard that piece actually]. Something about that scene is so perfect...not that the whole film isn't...but that is the one scene I will never be able to erase from my mind. The camera work, the self-critic, the painful detail of the shot [it's been said, as you know I'm sure, that Fellini's real stars were his extras]...I cannot really explain it, it is simply a transcendental moment for me. I also love the scene were he puts that eyeliner on Claudia in the bedroom telling her it needs to be sluttier. I love all of the scenes with Claudia and Guido though; Claudia is my perfect woman basically. Although, it is hard to see Claudia because she reminds me, very excruciatingly so, of someone I've lost in my own life...but then that is part of the allure as well.

But anyway,

I'll be happy to provide Zappa mp3's if you like, when you have time.

The issue of hyperbole has been lost on me on these forums quite often. I don't quite get what you are approximating to with the term because I don't know what you mean for me to reduce the Hegelian term to...to something like, so long as you've been alive, in your personal history Lennon is a genius? I mean, it's a very obscure reduction it seems like. You will have to forgive me though, very much humor, hyperbole, sarcasm, etc...is hugely lost on me because I analyze everything so much.

Well, you were correct to think of the Ono band as being a better impression then the beatles...but it's kind of a psuedo-strawman type of thing to do I guess, haha It doesn't matter to me though. I am familiar with all of the "best" beatles material and whatnot, I'll just never be into pop music like that I guess.

On the issue of separation of musical and semantic content...I do not see how semantic content can possibly impact musical content. I guess it may be able to in pop music where the object is to get you to sing along and whatnot, but that is more a marketing issue then a musical one. Good music does not tie to semantic meaning at all so far as I can tell. I should say that I compare all music to all music at this point, so any rock group doesn't get a break, anymore then when I evaluate Schoenberg.

I'll finish on the Wagner note, wondering if the plot of the Ring, or the actual content of any opera really matters? Thus far I have listened to all my opera without librettos, and the ones that are good seem to stand alone on their musical qualities. I don't see where having a good story would exactly enhance any of them. Maybe Schnittke' Life With an Idiot...but I'm not sure.

So I don't mind not understanding Wagner while listening, it is the music I am interested in, not the story.

Sometimes I wonder if we romanticize the past too much too...but if the past writers are true to form at all, then I think not. I do love my laptop, that's true...and I really like being able to have so much music, literature etc...that would have been in short supply back then, but on the other hand, the nature of everything back then, from the dress to the music seems to have been of the nature of taking exceedingly more pleasure in things in a holistic way, to really experience each experience. Now we are forced to read so many books, listen to so much music, etc...it's impossible for us to understand the visceral impact that getting to see someone like Wagner, after somewhat prolonged absences [cruel torture by today's standards of immediacy] would have been like, even with hokey dragons and such.

Your point about artists V. philosophers is fascinating and largely explain my own self, for I strive to be both an artist and a philosopher, which places me at odds with myself. I cannot help but be a product of so many things as an artist, but as a philosopher I seek to break apart all of these things...I think that what Nietzsche should have said is that it is, or wil become, necessary for great artists to become great philosophers and vice versa. It is an interesting opposition though.

One often wonders what kind of art is truly appropriate for philosophers, if ever any. I feel, very often, that my view on any given piece of art is vastly different from most people's, although it appears very similar to the two people I know who resemble myself.

Anyway, I am not sure why going to Petersburg to learn Russain is so terrible, or unfortunate, as I would relish the opportunity. I have been meaning to learn Russian. I need to learn something quick for graduation sadly, so it will probably be Japanese...but eventually it does seem essential to learn German, Russian, French, etc...and, I have recently felt, Polish as well, probably Czech too.

It seems like learnign Russian will be a wonderful experience. One of my professors who loves Dostoevsky told me he learned Russian to read Th Brothers, and he said even muddling through it, it was like a whole new world, just explosive in its depth, and color. I can only assume that Russian is one hell of a romantic language, which is shocking considering the environment...or is it? It seems like there is a correlative relationship with oppression, depression, etc...with great artwork. Russia, having been so miserable, has produced an absurd amount of the world's finest art in nearly every area it seems, so it is probably only natural for them to have such a [supposedly[] romantic language.

What is your take on that?

Regards,

- Micah

Posted on Apr 4, 2009, 5:57:20 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Alonso and other Roberto Bolano fans: New York Times and (Manchester) Guardian cite Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia as saying manuscripts discovered in Spain may be unpublished novels left behind by Chilean author Roberto Bolano, who died in 2003.

Sorting through his papers they found novels titled "Diorama" and "The Troubles of the Real Police Officer". Also documents that may be an additional volume of "2666", the epic 900-page novel published in the US last year. New works by Bolano continue to be found since his death; a previous unpublished novel "The Third Reich" was acquired at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October. The literary agency representing Bolano's estate declined to comment to The Guardian. As information, all quoted from the NYT. Saludos, and be well.

Posted on Apr 4, 2009, 7:06:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 10, 2011, 10:28:16 AM PDT
Edgar Self says:
I'll post this here, and in as many other places as I can, because it surprised me so much. Here it is: In the four years Mahler spent in the US, he managed to perform ALL of Bruckner's symphonies. He also provided in his will that the royalties from the sale of his own music should be used to publish and promote Bruckner's.

MUCH LATER EDIT: This is arrant nonsense, based either on Alma Mahler's lies or her bad memory. Mahler performed at the most one Bruckner symphony in those four years.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009, 7:42:31 PM PDT
Alan Alten says:
That 's a wonderful story Piso,and Bruckner was such a humble man that I'm so happy that he was the recipient of Mahler's kindness---even though he was not around to enjoy it. Alan Alten

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009, 8:28:57 AM PDT
Piso, re Bolano, this is very interesting and good news. He is probably my favorite writer right now. So even though there should always be some reluctance about publishing something the author himself may have decided not to publish, I will almost definitely want to see whatever there is.

"2666," which I have not read yet, I thought was supposed to have been whole and published in an approved form, albeit posthumously. So I wonder what this new volume might be. Perhaps something he considered including and then cut.

Part of what makes all of this stuff very interesting and appealing is that Bolano was clearly a writer who didn't leave his creations behind. He would rework certain themes and characters: "Distant Star" is basically an expansion (and believe me, I don't mean that in a pejorative way) of the last story in "Nazi Literature in the Americas," and "Amulet," which I also have not read yet, is supposed to be an expansion of a passage from "The Savage Detectives."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009, 8:41:19 AM PDT
Thomas E. says:
Finished Philip K. Dick's "Valis", for the second time. Slow to start, but very intriguing from the halfway-point and outwards. Now, for something completely different. I have a volume with three of Knut Hamsun's later novels: Growth of the Soil, Wayfarers and On Overgrown Paths, and will try to read all three in succession. I like his earlier novels, especially Hunger.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009, 8:46:12 AM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Aggressive Arms re Roberto Bolano, right. I've only looked into a few of his books and haven't read anything yet, but an old clssmate who is nearly bi-lingual in Spanish reads and loves him. I'll get around to him. Alonso is still to be heard from.
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