It isn’t clear why you’ve been sent back. Maybe it was a cosmic accounting error, or a boon from a playful God. All you know is that you’re here again, walking the earth, having been inexplicably returned to the temporary and mysterious state of Being Alive.
But first, pardon me while I get a song stuck in your head… like, all-day stuck.
She could hear the cars roll by Out on 441 Like waves crashin’ on the beach And for one desperate moment there He crept back in her memory God it’s so painful Something that’s so close And still so far out of reach
~ Tom Petty, but you knew that
Tom Petty died in 2017—I hope that wasn’t a spoiler. It seems, based on my quick search, that his last public performance included this as the last song he performed. omg the feels. Stop, go watch that entire 7-minute video. If that doesn’t move you…
There’s a moment late in the video where the jumbo-screen behind them says, “without YOU, there’d be no US” — or something close to that second part, it’s obscured. I think that points to something exceptional about TPatHB. Forty years, and grateful for the experience of that specific night.
Now, reread the pull-quote and then read Cain’s suggested practice.
Music and exercise were inseparable for me. That is, until this past year. I can’t remember the last time I had music playing in the background while I exercised. And, strangely enough, I’m digging the silence. Here’s why you might hit the off button on your audio player too.
Two years ago I nearly became a runner. I was starting to run short distances pretty often. And I was always running with a specific music playlist.
But that’s the only activity I do with music— hiking, biking, rock-climbing… no music. Parkour? Absolutely not, because I need to hear the noises I’m making as part of the feedback. (Am I landing softly? What rhythms am I generating? How’s my breathing? AM I breathing?)
These days I’m doing everything—including driving long distances—in silence.
I have playlists for this exact thing. Hundreds of individual songs selected and shuffled, for very specific purposes.
Sometimes I go “hunting” to find new tracks for these lists; My Mac says my music library has 9,121 items, 26.5 days, 77.96 GB, and I have a “smart” playlist which grabs 250 least-recently played. It avoids some genres (like “Spoken Word” so it doesn’t pick out French lessons, etc) and it avoids any track I’ve one-starred (my way of saying omg no)… It’s basically an endless series of, “I forgot about that!” I often flip over to the original album, start from the front, and sometimes I add a track to one of my play lists.
What? Why? …best of both worlds. I have playlists that do what I need—hide the world, hide everything. And I’m continuously startled with delight by my tiny music collection.
St Burchardi church, in the eastern German city of Halberstadt, has played host to the performance since 5 September 02001 (the late composer’s 89th birthday), when it kicked off with 17 months of silence. Cage originally wrote ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) in 01985. Its maiden performance by organist Gerd Zacher lasted 29 minutes, but Cage didn’t specify a maximum, so in accordance with the piece’s title, musical scholars and scholarly musicians since decided to stage a multi-century version, approximating the lifespan of an organ.
Ok, but exactly how slow are they playing it? …the halfway mark is in 02319.
Partly I’m sharing this because it’s just really cool. But also because I like the mission of the Long Now Foundation; I agree [with them] that one of the key ingredients to solving mankind’s challenges is for individuals to be good at thinking long-term. Evolution has given us brains that are crazy-good at short-term—particularly acute, fight/flight type threats real or perceived—problem solving. But to figure out a good course of action day to day that leads to own’s own flourishing over your life is really hard. To begin to mix in what’s good for humanity is whatever-is-larger-than-really level of hard.
While “let it be” is profoundly wise in its own right, the passage above contains an idea even more powerful: we all suffer, and that brings us closer. No matter what differences people have, the one guaranteed common thread among us all is that we know what it means to lose and to grieve.
~ David Cain
Over the years, as my hearing has faded, I’ve still always had music. I think–but am not certain–that I appreciate music all the more now that I understand how poor my hearing really is. Sometimes I simply stop and take time to sit and listen. It’s not-at-all amazing that music is closely connected to emotion. It’s not-at-all amazing that emotion is a common ground we all share.
Another finding suggests that Geminiani was onto something. All of the violins included in the study displayed some sonic overlap with the sung vowels. But in the 1570 Amati and the 1560 da Salo, “every violin note appears to carry some degree of human vowel character,” Tai et. al. write in the paper. “This may have been one of the … goals implemented by Amati” when he was inventing and perfecting his design: to make the violin literally sing.
I don’t know why this struck me as amazing. I mean, sure, violins sound amazing, and playing them is subtly difficult. But the idea that someone sat down — in the 1500 — and said, “How do I make an instrument that sounds like a human voice singing.” Mind blown.
… the goal of aposematism is to advertise that, as a piece of prey, you are decidedly unprofitable for the predator. If a predator can easily recognize you (and other members of your species), and remembers getting burned during past encounters, it will quickly learn to stop attacking you in the first place.
~ Kevin Simler
Long [long!] ago humans stood up (makes us easy to see),
moved into the open grasslands (makes us really easy to see),
lost our claws/protective-thick-skin/fangs (makes us soft and easy to kill),
did NOT have tools other than rocks we could pick up (makes us unable to defend ourselves),
started singing ON THE GROUND (makes us easy to hear and find, NO OTHER ANIMAL DOES THIS),
… and then we took over the planet.
AND we are the only animal that uses RHYTHM,
ALSO, all humans dance (ever have the urge to tap your foot or more your head to music?)…
Wait, also, why do we always — every society, every religion, every military — ALWAYS retrieve/prepare/handle/bury our dead?