Archive for June, 2016

Shiny Stuff

 

Americans are obsessed with shiny stuff:  gloss, smoothness, polish, superficial flawlessness. New cars are shiny, magazines are printed on shiny paper, music is aurally spotless to the nanobeat with many layers of sound to cover up imperfection. Art museums celebrate machine-made art valorizing Murakami and Koons a generation after finish-meister Andy Warhol made factory shine cool. The printing industry and commercial photographers make shine a religion. Legions of sunday painters obsess over old-fashioned mimesis and then spray their realistic works with retina-scarring high gloss varnish. What are we trying to conceal in this shine-fever? this runaway myth that closes all doors to the uncertain and ambiguous? Are we trying to conceal a gutted humanity? residual guilt and horror from 220 years of slavery? some unspecified emptiness? Americans obsess over gloss as if we were a single generation away from life in an earthen hovel. Shiny stuff  being the only refuge from a collective memory of struggle with physical cleanliness.  The problem with shiny stuff is that in our effort to obliterate imperfection we allow a smothering imperfection of a deeper, indelible order to prevail. We live in glossy denial of our human touch, our marks, our brushstrokes and our striking of the drum behind the beat. The trace of our imperfection, the evidence of our uniqueness as individuals is erased by shine.

Paul Cezanne is a charter member of the Titanic Twelve because he put an end to shine in painting. Adding a final coat of glistening varnish was the sign of a finished painting from 1412 to 1912. The Titanic Twelve put an end to gloss. Neither Joyce nor Pound shined their words. One isn’t immediately attracted to their words and there is nothing like twelve tones in a musical composition to take shine away.  Cezanne’s late paintings, and the Cubist work of Picasso and Braque it inspired, destroy resolution, polish, shiny stuff. This principle of modernity still perplexes and frightens most Americans. Cezanne’s lesson has been unlearned. We are inundated with shiny stuff. Supermarket fruit and vegetables are polished to flavorless glow. A multitude of supermarket packages scour our brains with shiny, glaring color. Pop music is polished by sound doctors until the music sparkles with vapid aridity down to the 1/1000th beat. Movies,  television shows and video games sparkle and shine. Botoxed, lifted, puffed skin glistens, teeth glow to the point actors illuminate a set by opening their mouths. Late night TV stage sets- theaters are train wrecks of clashing, saturated color and polished form – see: Colbert renovated Ed Sullivan Theater.

We swim like a school of seduced, drugged, woozy fish following an endless array of spinning lures dipped in shiny stuff. The attraction to shine lives deep within the brainstem, conserved for 100 million years. It’s pre-human, pre-mammal. Fish go nuts for shiny stuff and we kill them with it. We were attracted to shiny stuff before we crawled out of the sea. Are we force-fed or do we demand shiny stuff and its specular reflection, a shiny feast of TV, movies, magazines, kitchen appliances and cars? If it doesn’t shine, it’s not finished. If a micro-flaw remains, truth will enter and destroy the beast. Humanity might escape and accidentally nurture someone’s soul. It is vertebrate nature to be attracted to shiny stuff like gold and silver and sparkling stuff like diamonds and fireworks. This attraction to shine goes deeper than being American, deeper than being a guilty Judeo-Christian polishing everything that will take a shine. We are seduced by shine.  To be seduced is to be duped. A shiny mediocre plateau is often  mistaken for the destination, missing a deeper worth. Unripe, unfinished stuff is shined to hide its blandness, inferiority, the faux. Shine is sprayed or rubbed on to fool people. It is a short circuit. New things shine. We love new things: new cars, new guitars, new songs with shiny sounds.

We live in the age of the polished turd. Ideas, products, images, and stories are shined until antiseptic, soul-less – dead. Information issuing from the corporate beast must be shined, made palatable and seductive for the children of global capitalism. Shine glosses over banality. Shine reveals indefensible assertions, fear of ambiguity, fear of open-ended soul-power. Why is Cezanne widely acknowledged as the greatest painter of our epoch? He faced down the purveyors of the myth of shine – the paradigm of shiny shit. He showed the world something deeper, better, more honest and thus, more beautiful. Cezanne’s ragged, open-ended late landscapes and still lifes invite the viewer to participate in the dance of creation, to “finish” his paintings in our hearts and minds. In Steve Earle’s great anti-establishment anthem “Copperhead Road”, his rebellion is most deeply expressed, not by gunning down a Federal Agent but by his shooting of a coat of primer on his Dodge, a black matte finish where shine goes to die.

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6/14/2016    9:42 AM

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Fractal Taxonomy

 

Fractal:  A repeating pattern that displays at every scale. Fractals are not limited to geometric patterns but can also describe processes in time, sounds, structures and two dimensional arrays.

Taxonomy:  The science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups. Organisms are grouped together in taxa ( singular: taxon) and these groups are given a taxonomic rank; groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a supergroup of higher rank, thus creating a taxonomic hierarchy. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the father of taxonomy. Linnaeus developed a system known as Linnaean classification for categorization of organisms and binomial nomenclature for naming organisms. The Linnaean system has progressed to a system of modern biological classification based on the evolutionary relationships between organisms both living and extinct.

Human taxonomy:

Domain:     Eukaryote

Kingdom:    Animal

Phylum:    Chordate

Subphylum:    Vertebrate

Class:     Mammal

Order    :    Primate

Family:     Hominid

Genus:     Homo

Species:     Sapien

To do: Rather than think of a hierarchical taxonomy, imagine that the linnaean pattern exists at each level from deep within the species-clade up to and possibly beyond, the domain-kingdom.  Working our way down into deeper levels of G-rev causality ( Genetic revision). Continuing deeper within an organism,  after the individual member of the species,  we enter successively smaller realms of genetic causality:  the organ (orgum), the cell (cellum) , the chromatin (chromum), the DNA, RNA ( protum-as in protein), individual exons (Genum), base pairs and single bases (Parum)

Genetic material not at DNA-RNA ( tidum-as in nucleotidum), single atoms in their entirety (unitum), electrons (electrum), protons and neutrons in their entirety ( nucum), quarks (quarkum) pi-mesons, leptons etc. (mesum) particles or waves comprising radiation (wavum). Every level that can sustain a genetic revision ( G-rev i.e. mutation) event is assigned a linnaean name. For Darwin, evolution centered on the individual organism – the locus of natural selection, for Richard Dawkins, it is the Gene, Gould argues for the species as the locus of speciation. Any level, from the pi meson to the clade might be the locus of an effective G-rev ( mutation) i.e. a potential starting point for speciation. Assign a Linnaean name to each one of the possible sites of causality. Acknowledge them all. Each level of this expanded, fractal taxonomic array has local fractal logic; i.e. each level becomes the center of the taxonomic hierarchy. Naming is an important step in understanding.

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JB Questions and Observations:

  1. Key thinkers are like air conditioner expansion valves – a small but significant player in a system that transforms that which comes before into something new. If dealing with human thinkers as expansion valves, the transformative genius becomes an archetype. An HVAC expansion valve turns liquid into gas which absorbs heat. Confusion is heat in human affairs and will be intermittently absorbed-transformed.  Looking at the 8,000 year continuum of building in the Anatolian village of Catal Huyuk, dwellings evolve into precursor temples and over 700 years of refinement, the iconic Parthenon emerges as the summa, the apotheosis, a single building as an expansion valve, coloring all buildings that follow.  Literature begins with stories around a paleolithic campfire. These primal, mythical stories evolve into Greek drama then into Ovid, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare on into archetype-expansion valve Mark Twain from whom all 20th century literature has evolved. Expansion valve icons are geniuses by definition. Call them EVs (expansion valves). Not every genius is an expansion valve but all expansion valves are geniuses. See “The Titanic Twelve” JB essay #65
  2. Last common ancestor of woodchuck-opossum?
  3. Lincoln’s  greenback issue  was the largest act of faith in the history of the United States of America at the time of their introduction in 1862 – ironic that this happened during the Civil War.
  4. We read, see, hear over and over ad nauseum about strictures laid upon a population by one religion or another and of the resulting physical, moral, social, spiritual, intellectual and political paralysis. People cocoon themselves with confining filaments always and in all ways, no church necessary. Religion becomes a phantom excuse for timidity, cowardice, conservatism;  the confusion and fear of a constricted life but without religion,  people would be immobilized altogether.
  5. “Each work of literature teaches us how to read it as we go along” – Prof. Thomas C. Foster
  6. Irony is the ultimate sign of the Postmodern. Irony is by definition multivalent i.e. the stuff of multiple readings.
  7. See: JB essay “Taxonomic Gearbox” Feb. 23. 2015

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June 9, 2016    11:28 AM

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Loopy Canary and Key Lime Pie

June 4, 2016 – notes ( reggae or calypso)

Loopy canary….. key lime pie

My woman’s gone fishing with a gulf stream guy

She hooked a prize tarpon she rides in in like Sherman

papayas gone rotten  crawlin with vermin

Her diet’s been missin’ cobalt and Niacin

She lounges ’round laughing at the latest Carl Hiassen

Blabbin’ ’bout our moonlight cruise to Barbados

She’ll parade around naked –  display her tomatoes

Humid bananas….. read ’em the riot

the fruity air’s thick….. the shadows are quiet

I’d ask for some pie but the price isn’t right

my tangy refuge from weirdness of life

The pie situation that plagues this dark island

a cruel estimation of a key lime nation

Here comes Old Cracker – there’s Auntie Karen 

smell of burned sugar….. nobody’s sharin’

Bonfire on back nine – cane field-a- smokin

Egret ain’t singing- nobody’s jokin’

Recall Boca Chica? – you marched in like Forrest

burned things worth savin’ – your dog needs a florist

Your fruit’s crawlin’…..decaying tonight

Where’s my loopy canary – and my key lime pie ?

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Gnat’s Pajama Music-BMI

jim.blake@gmail.com

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