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Exploring "Join The Dots"

Started by SueC, August 06, 2019, 14:28:23

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word_on_a_wing

Hi SueC, it's nice to hear more about you though I wonder if Admin should move some of these posts to the Introduce Yourself thread?
The idea of living off the grid really appeals to me. I met someone who designed and built a mud brick house in a rural Australian area and it was divine. Do you grow your own vegetables and have chickens (or other animals)?
I live on the outskirts of Melbourne, work in the public health system, and purposefully don't post too much more personal info or photos just because of my work role. For example most of my 'clients' are adolescents, and just a few months ago there was a young person I'd often see in the waiting room with a Cure t-shirt (part of me wanted to do this... 👏👍), but in the role I'm in it wouldn't be a good fit so felt myself a bit more like this...😶). ...This relates to a bigger topic for me, and one I'm trying to find the way towards.. how to live authentically while also being in a helping role (rather than feeling there is a split between who I really am, and the helping role).

Anyway, as I said it was nice to hear more about you, perhaps Admin can either move these posts or tell us where the most appropriate place for such discussions can occur, as it's not related to Join the Dots ...or maybe it is in some philosophical way 😉
"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."

SueC

Hello @word_on_a_wing:)  Are you home safe? Did you get purple legs?

Introduce Yourself threads are great for more extended discussions on this sort of thing, and maybe we can continue this on one, but... if this is Christmas and I can have a wish, I would really super appreciate if, when I start a thread, I can approach it in a way that seems right to me, without people moving posts they consider off-topic (at least not without talking about it until everyone is happy).  I write holistically, not in boxes, and subscribe to the philosophy that things are connected in complex ways.  I'm so, so not interested in presenting a boring, academic review of Join The Dots, but a personal exploration of it - because music is a very personal thing.  I want to show both sides of this equation, not just write something one-sided and conventional - so there's going to be Shakespeare, and philosophy, and classical music, and sciency stuff, and personal conversations and anecdotes related back in the writing, etc, and it all matters.  The way I see it, nobody is forced to read it if they don't like that approach - but obviously I don't run this forum, so if that doesn't work for the powers that be, then I'll discontinue with this thread, as I don't wish to upset anyone's applecart, nor do I wish to lose freedom of expression.  It's a tricky one.

It's interesting what you say about being authentic while also being in a helping role.  The systems that employ you in social work, medicine, education etc can be really prescriptive, but when you're actually interacting with people, there's plenty of scope for authenticity.  You can be kind and genuine in any of these places, for instance.  Other matters are more complex...

Yes, we do grow many of our own fruit and vegetables; but we don't actually have chickens, because we've been bartering our excess honey (we have a few beehives) for a friend's excess free-range eggs.  Funnily, we made a Woodrow style chicken dome back in 2011 anticipating chicken-keeping, which is still sitting there awaiting use; and if anyone asks us what it is, we tell them it's our meditation dome!  :angel

We also have cattle, horses, donkeys, a dog, and a lot of wildlife. 

Mud brick houses feel lovely - all earth-based buildings do, really.  They're a world apart from the ticky-tacky mainstream shoeboxes that have been built in Australia especially since about the 1960s... It's ironic that colonial houses were far better quality buildings, and far better designed for climate, and far more earth-friendly than what's being mostly built in Australia these days.

Maybe we can move these two posts off and get more into these things, and I can make a note in the last one with a link in it if somebody wants to interact "off topic."  How would that be, as a compromise?

Returning to topic next post - as I see it. :)
SueC is time travelling

SueC

I'm going to pick this up again with the idea of "headache music."  What happens when we plug our brains into different kinds of music depends on the circuitry in our heads - genes and environment affect the sort of brain we end up with - plus, as adults we have quite a bit of control over shaping our own brain in ways we want to as well, by deciding what sorts of environments we're going put it in, what sorts of tasks we're going to give it, what sorts of books and films and music and other cultural activities we're going to feed it, whether we're going to allow it sufficient sleep and recovery, provide it with good means of maintenance and repair nutritionally, etc etc.  It's sort of like looking after a very exotic pet, except that this pet sits in your head and drives you.

My exotic pet spits the dummy when things are too noisy in particular ways - too many decibels, too much banging and repetition, sounds that are grating, screeching, jarring, and otherwise unpleasant, or just prolonged exposure to relatively repetitive loud music, especially overcrowded music.  So that means I mostly dislike heavy metal and grunge because it sounds to me like car crashes and people who need baths, and screechy operatic solos especially when sung in high notes with vibrato, and rock and alternative music with sub-standard drumming (complex drumming and space in the sound makes my exotic pet happy).

I compared my exotic pet with my husband's, and his gets less headaches from music than mine, but the triggering factors are similar.  However, clearly not everyone has these, because much of what I classify as "headache music" sells very well indeed, and doesn't come with complementary paracetamol.

I tend to dislike headache music - no surprise - but even some music I really like can give me headaches if I listen for more than half an hour. I often have this problem with Pink Floyd's The Wall, for some reason, and with some of Big Country's songs, for example.

Even more weird is that the opening bass for Last Dance gives me instant nausea.  I first heard this song when we were watching Trilogy, and I actually had to leave the room for a short while.  It was just like if I'm in a small aircraft and the pilot does a tight descending spiral - I found that one out the hard way once, because it was a whale watching trip and we were still 90 minutes out from the airport.  With motion sickness, we know what causes it - it's an inner ear thing.  But how on earth can a bunch of notes on bass you don't find unaesthetic and on a song you actually want to listen to give you nausea?  The same thing also happened to me when I went to see William Blake's actual paintings in an art gallery on an overseas trip.  Swirling and nausea.  It probably goes back to brain wiring.

I've digressed into this for a bit really to make the point that our responses to music are very much individual, and often say more about our wiring than the quality of the music etc.  "I do not personally like" is therefore clearly not the same as "this is crap" - whatever we might have thought once!

So having said that, and stopped to think about complex interactions between brains and music, I can now also say "I don't like" with impunity, and without apportioning blame, and get back to actual songs.

Going in list order, after Scared As You is a song about as far from headache material as it can get for me:  The Big Hand is another musical watercolour, but not a happy theme.  There's ambiguity in what the actual big hand is - time (big hand of the clock etc), God, god, fate, drug addiction, etc - pick your reading.  I think it's actually useful when there's more than one way to interpret something, more than one thing you can see in it - it then fits more situations, and also invites comparisons between them, as in, for example, "How is the effect of time like XYZ?  And how is it not?"  That's excellent for getting people thinking and reflecting.  If as a writer you specifically don't want that to happen, then you have to be really unambiguous.  I like a good riddle, anyway.

A Foolish Arrangement is smack bang in headache territory for me, so I actually looked up the lyrics so I could stop listening to it trying to make them out.  And there's a riddle I'm going to leave for another day.

Doing The Unstuck is an odd one, to me.  Elements of it I like, others I don't.  The thing I like best about it is the music starting about 45 seconds into it, and for about a minute from there; then it crosses in and out of borderline headachy for me.  The topic isn't bad, the presentation of it just a bit Playschool though - remove the mild sexual references, and you can have preschoolers bopping along to this and singing the words.  Brett doesn't like this one at all, and when I talk about the Playschool vibe, he smiles and says, "Well, guess who is the Dark Wiggle!"   :happy

Purple Haze (noisy version) was the first song I discussed in this thread, and it's a firm favourite with me.  I've also warmed to the second version that follows on from it, but it took me a while, probably because I just wanted to keep skipping back to the one that strips the paint off the walls so well. :angel  It's sort of like appreciating different variations of a classical piece, the different emphases people make with their interpretations.

Both of us were already thoroughly familiar with Burn from the soundtrack of The Crow - and this is the song that made Brett first sit up and take note of The Cure (he had an OMG experience in the cinema and went to buy a few albums) and later on pass his enthusiasm for this band on to me.  Burn is one of the all-time favourites for both of us.  There's nothing about this song we don't love, and we were delighted when we saw that live on the Opera House live stream earlier this year.  Brett was going, "Look, it's a kind of flute!" ... I actually thought there was sampled birdsong on the track, before I saw that - that's really excellent mimicry.

You won't see the Bowie cover or the Dredd song in this discussion because I decided not to copy either of them over onto the iPod. ;)

It Used To Be Me is one of those songs that would make an excellent springboard for long, long discussions about human psychology, popular culture, personal responsibility, ethical conduct, people looking for gurus instead of carefully working out their own lives and thoughts, etc.  And it's funny how the ACO's Richard Tognetti can walk through a shopping centre without a cricket bat, and people will be polite and unobtrusive - the audience relationship is different; with classical and folk audiences there's more of a feeling of a level playing field between performers and audience, and there's just not that insanity.  It's popular culture that puts people up on pedestals - just like religion does, actually.  The results aren't pretty, and they're not healthy either.

I like Ocean, but it's a difficult one.  It's sort of like, "I'm playing the pipe, so you should dance."

This brings us to the last one I'm looking at from this CD - Adonais. I'm not that keen on it musically at this present time, but the lyrics make an A+ poem, as would be befitting all the references to canonical poetry, Shelley and Keats.  It's very beautifully put together, as words go.  The strings are a nice touch in the music.  Treasure is similar in that it's a very traditional poetry theme, and has string arrangements - but I really love that particular song.  Maybe this one will still grow on me; sometimes that can take time.

CD-2 next time!  :)
SueC is time travelling

SueC

CD-2

I've really been looking forward to writing this next part - the second half of my last post felt kind of like homework I had to get through - my listening has been ahead of my writing, and there's some songs I'm falling in love with on CD-2!  :heart-eyes

The opener, A Japanese Dream, has really got me at the moment.  I love the sense of barely controlled mayhem.  Listening feels like you're inside a giant snow globe that's being shaken up. Whee!  Let's go for a ride! :winking_tongue   I love the energy of this song, how its seems to thumb its nose at things, the somewhat manic, all-over-the-place, xylophone-conjuring keyboards, the general pacing, and the sheer impishness of the thing.

I'm very musically drawn to it, so it's on repeat a lot, especially if I need a bit more energy to do a physical task (like digging a drainage ditch; and Paris is excellent for lawnmowing and pruning ;)).  I remember, in my initial listening for the lyrics, going, "What have we here exactly?  Is this a little laboratory report?  Is it a hero's journey?  Both? Neither? An actual dream? What is it?"  The deciphering is always part of the fun.  I'm still digesting that one!

The next track, Breathe, I also clicked with immediately, even with the lyrics so muddled into the song on the car speakers coming back from another bushwalk that I couldn't initially make out more than that they did actually contain the word "breathe"... I loved the sound and feel of this piece, the same way I love the sound and feel of my favourite classical music pieces.  Robert Smith could have been reciting the telephone directory in this one; it would not have been an impediment to me.

...for anyone not in Australia, we have a show called Spicks and Specks, where teams of people engage in music recognition and trivia.  One of the tasks they face on every programme is that someone has to sing a popular song, but substitute the lyrics with random material that's put in front of them, and then the others have to guess what the song is.  Variously, the singers are singing from things like cookbooks, quarantine regulations, knitting instructions, etiquette and deportment manuals, famous novels, etc.  It really is hilarious, and as hard for the singers to do as for everyone else to guess...


Alas, Robert Smith was not reciting the telephone directory.  The lyrics do in fact go with the song, and it's a beautiful, almost operatic piece - I say almost because opera doesn't get this good, in my opinion, not even when you're listening to the Queen of the Night diving off into the deep end and creating one of the better moments in the genre - this song just really, really speaks to me on some very deep levels.  It's not just what's conveyed in the words, which in itself is beautiful; it's the associations that pop up for me.  I've spent a lot of time with animals and have been there on a number of occasions when animals I've known and loved for twenty, thirty years plus are drawing their last breaths, or about to.

The helplessness of sitting on the ground with an old mare with a brain tumour, whom I'd known from her birth, when I realised we weren't going to be able to stabilise her, and she had her nose in my lap, and I had my arms gently around her head, and said we would take care of her, and I was so, so conscious of her breathing, and that it was going to stop.  It's just this aching, helpless moment, this head-on collision with the mortality of a being you've loved, and the mortality of everyone and everything.  I first had my arms around a dying horse at the age of 13, the grandmother of the mare I just mentioned above, who had mothered me in some mysterious, but very real, ways in my own rather bleak childhood - she bled out from post-partum haemorrhage, and there was nothing I could do other than be with her.

Do that a few times, and you can't watch things breathe anymore without the acute understanding that one day this is going to stop.  On an intellectual level, I get that and I'm reconciled to it - I understand that this is the way it has to be, for some very important biological reasons, and I also understand that the beauty and extraordinary diversity of species on this planet could not be, were it not for death, which is one of the big drivers of evolution.  When I go out into the wilderness, I know I would lay down my own life in order for it to be, which makes it easier - and one day I will be called upon to do exactly that, because new life can't be born without old life ending.

But, on an emotional level, it's a different story when confronting the death of individuals you've loved a long time.  And it transfers even, and especially, to your closest relationship, when you're holding your very favourite person in the whole universe in your arms and you're so conscious of their breathing, and because you really, really know that has an end point coming, even if it's hopefully still more than three decades away - but because you know that, you also really feel how beautiful it is that they are breathing, and it can make you weep with gratefulness and amazement and joy and sadness, and in the acute understanding of the fragility of individual life.  So you love and cherish, all the more, because you know how it has to be.

The flash of light between eternities of darkness.  On the other hand, the darkness to follow is unlikely to be different to the darkness before, and I don't spend my life terribly bothered by my absence from history prior to 1971.  You don't feel that darkness, because you're not there; that darkness and you will never actually meet, because you no longer have a self then - as the Stoic philosophers said a long time ago.  It's the people who have loved you who feel that darkness.  But they can carry your light, if you pass it on to them, and the best way to pass on your light is to love others, and the best way to honour beings you have loved and lost is to carry their light.

This leads us smack bang and completely on topic into the next song on CD-2, A Chain Of Flowers.  This is why I'm writing this; I'd not in a million years spend so much time writing up something that didn't deal with things that really matter to me, and didn't make me think and feel and want to arrange words in the right way.  And I'm going to actually post this song, even though most people reading would probably already know it.  It's a very beautiful song, with very beautiful imagery, and it's better listened to than discussed further.


There's a terrible beauty in grappling with these things.  But there's also a gentle beauty, and a peace you can find.  And above all, there are so many deeply precious moments, exactly because there is an end point.

Here's another philosophical perspective on all that, which is interesting to think about:
https://dailystoic.com/how-to-not-fear-death/

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

I'm now going to jump out of order for a minute to have a quick look at Harold And Joe as the last song for today.  I want to mention it because it sounds like Robert Smith is channeling Lloyd Cole there! :)  It's so uncanny; if you'd just played me that song without telling me who it was by, this would have been my guess.  Even the singing is so Lloyd Cole, down in the basement and so stylistically similar here that I'm still double-taking.  I like it; and I still listen to a fair bit of Lloyd Cole as well, one of the outliers of the 80s - he always had interesting things to say in his songs, and was influenced by genres I don't normally listen to, but for some reason his music really worked for me, and still does.  It's very, very competent, and carves out its own niche.  Lloyd Cole was not the sort of artist who was featured on alternative radio stations in Perth in the 80s; they didn't touch him with a barge pole, considering him too pretty and too boy-band, both of which objections I think are rubbish.  Any similarities are merely superficial.

And now another drawer has opened in the cupboard in my head, and this brings me to...


Scenic Side Trip

I'm going to digress for a while to reflect back to being a teenager in the 1980s.  It was Thatcher and Reagan internationally (...and you thought it couldn't get any worse! :1f631:), and I was very conscious of what they were doing to the world.  At around age 14, formal operational thinking really, really kicks in, and an amazing brain expansion happens if you're in the right environment.  People often vastly underestimate mid-teens; I've read many wonderful essays by them, and heard them articulate thoughts that are deep, and clearsighted, and brilliant, and wise, and compassionate, and I've often said to them, "What happens to take that away, for a lot of people when they reach adulthood? Please hold on to this - because if you do, your generation will make a better world than ours has done!"

In the 80s, I became very aware of the military-industrial complex that so dominates our society, and of the sociopathic tendencies of many people who hunt out leadership roles, and of the all-pervasive materialism that was exploding all around me.  The mainstream pop music seemed to match the materialism and the shallow thinking - it was just a soundtrack to that.  And by the way, if you've not seen Ashes To Ashes (the UK version), you may want to check it out - it just brilliantly parodies the 80s, and the music selected beautifully supports the critique offered.



So if I was loathing what was going on in mainstream society in the 80s, I was logically also loathing, from around age 14, all the music that sounded like puppets to that.  Fairly or not, things like Duran Duran, Wham!, Cindy Lauper, Madonna, and the plethora of shonky electronic pop of the time.  Music that seemed to say, "Let's party while the ship goes down!  Me me me!  I've got mine, I don't give a damn about you!"

A Perth radio station called 6UVS-FM played alternative music, and had this request show.  People who grew up in the age of music-on-tap won't be able to fully appreciate the lure of those erstwhile request shows - back then, you were so much at the mercy of what people happened to play on the radio, and what you could afford to buy with your meagre kid budget.  So request shows gave you a chance to hear again what you couldn't afford.  But 6UVS-FM also had a twist to their request show:  You could call in and request that they destroy a particular record on air.  This was in the dying days of vinyl, which makes such a pleasing, visceral crunch when destroyed.  CDs just can't compete here!  There were a lot of requests for the destruction of Wham! records.  There was even a list, in the university charity paper that went around to the high schools, of "100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Listen To A Jason Donovan Record" - and one of the memorable items on that list was, "Rub Drano into my buttocks."  :rofl

So, the alternative music scene was a lot of fun like that.  You could vent your emotions amongst people who understood and were supportive.  And you didn't have to listen to a bunch of shallow, plasticky music - music that was all the rage at the time and you couldn't avoid because it was piped into shopping centres and all over the mix tapes that your fellow students brought into art class and mooned over.  In the wake of the ongoing auditory assault, you'd go home to detox and to seek out antidotes.  Hello, 6UVS-FM!  Hello, 96fm Especially For Headphones, and Sunday nights showcasing interesting new music! Hello, small music collection!  Hello, paper journal where I can construct my own alternative universe music awards, and write down anything else I want to!

There is a bit of sociology in this.  The alternative music scene had a tendency to attract people who were thoughtful and caring and didn't like a lot of what was going on around them, both on the macro level - the materialism, the waste, the collective narcissism, the short-term thinking, the leaders that had been foisted upon us, the destruction of ecosystems and cultures; and on the micro level - the classroom bullying, the ostracising of people from non-mainstream ethnic groups and people with different sexual orientations and people who simply thought differently, and if you were from a family where there was frequent violence and cruelty, and/or a huge deficit of love, as I was, as quite a few of us are, then that too.

To this day, I can tell more about people I've just met by asking them what they like to read and listen to, than by asking them about their daytime jobs or where they live.  Music and books and art are about the inside of people, not the outside, and I'm far more interested in what's really inside the tin than what's on the label.  If the label is showy, it's funny how often the contents are insipid.

It's not the 80s anymore, but we still live in an age of fakery, and still have many of the same problems, some of which are really coming home to roost at the moment.  There's that saying, Marry in haste, repent at leisure.  Well, doesn't that make a nice analogy for all sorts of macro things, just now!

I still listen to alternative music, and "alternative" alternative music, and it's still a wonderful antidote to the ills of this world, and a source of hope because it shows that not every human being is like a lemming, and shows there is much beauty and amazingness in this world and being alive, and it's also a fuel top-up for your intellectual/emotional tank on which you can go out and do useful things, kind things, constructive things, positive things, creative things, out-of-the-box things, so your own life can be an antidote as well.

There's a person's personal circle - the people we know well and love and cheer on, who know us well and love us and cheer us on - but there's also wider culture, including counter-culture, and the precious understanding, through books and blogs and music and film and art, that in the midst of this giant Titanic sailing full tilt for the iceberg while people drink champagne in the glitzy dining room below with their minds quite vacant, there are other people out there who think carefully and care about things, and don't like where the ship is heading.  In wider culture, we can also have moments of reaching out to each other.  If I've struck a chord with anyone, that's nice.  Hello, stranger, fellow human, you have my very best wishes for your journey, and my heartfelt thanks for the efforts you make to make a difference somewhere and to someone.  ♥

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

With all the thinking and feeling that's elicited when listening to something worthwhile and new to you carefully, this was always going to be an exploration and a map of a personal journey, not a dry song-by-song review.  I'm wanting to not just discuss music, but the emotional and cognitive effects it has on a listener, and how it meshes with the life and past experiences of a listener, and fits into the wider scheme of things, and how it matters.  I'm not doing this by putting headphones on rabbits - real or metaphorical - but by being the test subject, and basically journalling my experience out loud:  Join The Dots intersecting this particular brain, and everywhere that goes.

My normal modus operandi, for most of my life, was to spend hours writing this sort of thing in paper journals which I then locked away in the cupboard.  I started doing this as a 14-year-old.  Five years ago, I discovered community journalling on my home forum.  It's simply journalling in a space where other people can read what you write - and in community journalling, you "visit" each other and read and leave your own thoughts on what other people are writing.  It's more of a conversation than an isolated experience.  Also, I love reading, and am always grateful for people who'll care enough to sit down and write something that then engages and inspires me - books, blogs, articles, letters, poetry.  (I love Charles Dickens for that, and Emily Brontë, and Jane Austen, and James Herriot, and Rudyard Kipling, and Jeanette Winterson, and Joanne Harris, and Haruki Murakami, and JK Tolkien, and CS Lewis, and Jostein Gaarder, and Anna Fienberg, and Peter Høeg, and Kate Grenville, and John Wyndham, and WB Yeats, and ee cummings, and Judith Wright, and JK Rowling, and many others, including Cherilyn Clough from Little Red Survivor, my lovely writing sister Elizabeth Bouvier-Fitzgerald, and my Grass Roots and open-journalling communities; and I send big, respectful air kisses to them all, dead or alive. Mwah!)

I realised one day that I could return the favour, and started doing public writing, beginning with alternative magazines and then even open-journalling, once I got over the trepidation of revealing quite personal things about myself on the public record.  And then it goes "click" - and you realise that part of our problem in wider society is that we don't talk enough about the things that really matter, because they are so personal, and that really, all the books and music I'd ever been especially drawn to did exactly the thing I was frightened of doing myself, when I was away from the comfort zone of my paper journal and my own personal circle and my classroom groups.  There are such things as safe spaces to open up in - the mass media probably isn't one, although I know people who try, and admire that.  It's good role modelling, and the more it's done, the easier it gets for others.  Also, you can grow a teflon shield to go with your open heart.

We can't read or listen to everything that speaks to us, but we can make sure when we're reading and listening to favour things that are going to be nourishing to us, or at least useful in some way; and we can also make sure that when we're giving back, we're giving it our best shot to produce something from our own authentic selves that will strike chords with someone out there, get some people out there thinking and feeling and laughing, and crying sometimes too, because of how life is.  You can't hide your light without detriment to yourself and others - so bring it out and shine it on things, and help make flowers that may be hidden from your sight bloom in turn.  As others did for you.  ♥

I will continue with CD-2 next post - after a few days' break; other things to do! :P   At this stage, I'm not expecting another side trip this lengthy.  Probably a few little ones.  ;)
SueC is time travelling