synthetic zero


June 28, 2006

There is a tremendous power (which is not a power that can be owned) in allowing the unknown to flow into and through your life. It may be the single most common and most problematic mistake that we often make is to fail to respect the unknown. Interestingly, while it is always worthwhile to investigate the unknown, it is not possible to transform it entirely into the known --- and if we don't keep that in mind, we blind ourselves.

June 21, 2006

I sent my friend Shauna this book by Frank Zappa because I thought it had a lot of great advice for everyone (I highly recommend this book to anyone), young and old, but especially for people who are into music, as Shauna is a jazz student now. She loved it, and quoted this passage on her weblog:

The most important thing in art is The Frame. For painting: literally; for other arts: figuratively - because, without this humble appliance, you can't KNOW where The Art stops and The Real World begins.

You have to put a 'box' around it because otherwise, WHAT IS THIS SHIT ON THE WALL?

If John Cage, for instance, says, "I'm putting a contact microphone on my throat, and I'm going to drink carrot juice, and that's my composition," then his gurgling qualifies as HIS COMPOSITION because he put a frame around it and said so. "Take it or leave it, I now WILL this to be MUSIC." After that it's a matter of taste. Without the frame-as-announced, it's a guy swallowing carrot juice.

So, if music is the best, what IS music? Anything CAN be music, but it doesn't BECOME MUSIC until someone wills it to be music, and the audience listening to it decides to PERCEIVE IT AS MUSIC.

Most people can't deal with that abstraction - or don't want to. They say: "Gimmie THE TUNE. Do I like this TUNE? Does it sound like another TUNE THAT I LIKE? The more familiar it is, THE BETTER I LIKE IT. Hear those three notes there? Those are the three notes I can sing along with. I like those notes VERY, VERY MUCH. Give me a beat. Not a fancy one. Give me a GOOD BEAT - something I can dance to. It has to go boom-bap, boom-boom-BAP. If it doesn't, I will HATE it VERY, VERY MUCH. Also, I want it RIGHT AWAY - and then, write me some more songs like that - over and over and over again, because I'm REALLY into MUSIC.

She IM'd me about this passage: "I want to take so many people, and smash their heads against that page repeatedly."

June 18, 2006

I realized again recently how much my thought process depends upon conversation. I grew up having interesting conversations constantly with my family members. Now, I seek out people with whom I can have interesting conversations --- not only, I realize now, for the existential pleasure of the conversation, but because it helps me to think. i often start with a vague idea and find it crystallizes only when I start to discuss it or defend it to a friend. So much so that I feel I am literally a different person with each person I am with --- there is a special version of Mitsu for everyone I know. It's radically different --- not because I am trying to adapt it to other people, but because people draw out different things from me.

Many of the entries in this weblog stem from conversations I've had with friends or family.

June 14, 2006

Almost forgot --- saw a remarkable, beautiful film, Three Times, by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. It's stunning both visually and thematically, it is a monumental work, moving, and expertly crafted; the three segments of the film done in such radically different styles that demonstrate his breadth of scope as well as his sheer capability with the camera and with his actors. Worth seeing at the IFC Film Center right away --- it ends tomorrow.

June 13, 2006

I really like what Amber wrote in her latest post:

It is always the middle that one searches in one's activities, for the world is perpetually starting and ending at every point.

There is no life, no beauty, no spirit, in the deluded searches for closures and origins....

Like a surfer, it is always a question of inserting oneself into an already existing movement, and like judo, one uses a greater strength, not so much against itself, but for oneself: glide, fall and slip, but never posse/s or control: one's finite activity is always against an infinite multifarious background of sublime passivity:

"There's no longer an origin as starting point, but a sort of putting-into-orbit. The key thing is how to get taken up in the motion of a big wave, a column of rising air, to get into something instead of being the origin of an effort". (Deleuze)

What I like about Amber's writing is how she places philosophical ideas in a very embodied, visceral context; as I was saying to a friend the other day, philosophy has to get into the marrow of your bones. Ideas are physical.

And: check out my friend Karina's words. She's a young college student living in central Massachusetts, working her way through school. From this poem:

I have learned that there is nothing to learn, acquire, only add and add and then subtract and subtract.

I have learned that my unlearning is a process without direction.

The ticktock of the wall clock is backwards and unkind.

She always seems to be bursting with intense intuitions about things that are so hard to say, so hard to even think, yet not only on the right track they're at the crux of something monumental.

It occurred to me recently that New York, while it is fast, is also very slow. It can take so long to travel tiny distances (cross town during rush hour) that this ends up causing people to actually expect slowness --- to put up with it. It's a kind of rushing, impatient sluggishness --- but it persists, often, even when it's not necessary. Some New Yorkers, admittedly, are masters of efficiency (particularly bagel shop employees...) but many New Yorkers seem to take their time doing things, whether it's repairing something for you, answering a question on the phone, or just walking or driving down the street. Yes, walking or driving --- in my experience people in, say, Portland walk much faster on average than people do here (my friend Monty was visting from rural Oregon and one of the first things he noticed about New York was how slowly people walk here...) The same goes for driving --- there's a veneer of frenetic movement but if you look at your speedometer, it's often under 20 mph. And this happens even when there's no traffic at all --- how many times I've missed a light stuck behind a vehicle crawling along at 15mph in a 30 zone for no apparent reason. No --- New York isn't nearly as fast as it seems --- in fact, quite the opposite.