Melosophia – presentation

The word Melosophia (one of my word-inventions, others being “ononism” [wanting/ demanding to be online all the time — never, even for a moment (God forbid!) being off-line] and “interligence” [the intelligence engendered when we harmoniously connect our minds together) refers to the combination or fusion of music + philosophy. Let us even dare to use the w-word: wisdom. It´s not dangerous, it doesn´t bite. Let´s get used to it and use it freely, as once the old Greeks and others did.

Sophia = wisdom

There are other old, archaic words for what this is about, but melosophia is a new word. Why a new one when there are old ones? Because old words, as often happens, are weighed down with associations that are no longer relevant, often academic, dry, dead.

Here follow my musings about Musica humana (one of the old words, from Boethius), the concept of musicality applied to everyday life, of musicians as well as non-musicians.

Also some practical methods for applying this “musicality”. Deep water, in other words. One of the favorite terrains.

I start by posting two older, rather abstract, texts of mine. Much water has passed in the Danube since I wrote them, new insights have been won since then. “Music tasting” for example is practical (and enjoyable) Melosophia.

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Musical favorites: Frank Sinatra

There is so much to say about Sinatra. I use him constantly as an example when working with singers, not opera but musical singers. One can, and should, learn a lot from the white king of jazz, the short guy with the lazy voice. (I think he was my height, and also the same Fach (baritone).)

I make a distinction between receiving music as just sound, and receiving it as a package (sound, plus visuals plus thoughts about the music / song / artist). Admittedly Frank is somewhat of a package for me, which doesn´t mean that I don´t enjoy him also as just sound.

The way you wear your hat
The way you wear your hat…

I must mention also what I call the Sinatra-effect; namely that (many) songs sung by Sinatra are so heavily associated with him that if someone else sings the song — My Way, New York, New York, Strangers in the night — the (adult) listeners think “Ah, a Sinatra song”.

He had a talent (genius) for making definitive versions of songs. He was almost a thief in that way, and that is what I admonish my singers to also be. Sing the song so that you own it, so that it is YOURS. Not like a library book that has to be returned within a month.

Enough pedagogics.

I will point to three darker Sinatra songs here. The first one, since it is Saturday night. “Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week” is a great self-pity song (at least once a week).

The next song I hated the first time we met. What a ridiculous song, I thought, silly organ and all. That was until I read the words, and started to listen to HOW Sinatra sings it. Then aversion turned to deep appreciation.

There is nothing nice or polished or “crooner” about this one. Sinatra sounds raw, naked, almost desperate, a natural fish in these gruesome waters. Ridin’ high in April, shot down in May

The title of the third song is written on Sinatra´s gravestone, and might be written on mine too. “The best is yet to some” is not really dark but a slick, sophisticated, hard to sing Cy Coleman song with a fantastic arrangement by Count Basie. Try it at home, lovely intervals!

We’ve only tasted the wine / We’re gonna drain the cup dry.

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No vibrations are good vibrations

Here is a very clear thought I just read: Mind likes to vibrate. These vibrations (thoughts) may be good or bad, may be seen as positive or negative, but vibrate they will, or want to.

“Good vibrations” with the Beach Boys, with its strangely beautiful Theremin vibrations (Sol Sol Fa Mi Fa) is a great piece, but these are not the vibrations I am thinking of. Life itself is probably just vibrations, on different levels.

No, there is something you could rather call shaking. Most of us are, in James Bond lingo, shaken and stirred. Our thoughts and ideas and fancies and attractions and repulsions like to vibrate, to shake us. This can result in a sort of mental / spiritual seasickness.

Seasickness is probably not enjoyed by anyone. But the “Shake it, baby” of Mind is. Like some insect who jumps this way and that, we enjoy flying in all directions, drawn or propelled by this impulse or that Hot / Cool link. (Social media are experts at inspiring us to JUMP LIKE INSECTS.)

So, the “Shake it, baby” of Mind is enjoyed, until it isn´t — until you tire of your boat being tossed this way and that on the stormy sea of Mind. Until you no longer see it as a sign of being “active”, “dynamic” and “alive”, but as seasickness.

Then you might want to anchor your boat and go ashore, to stand still on Terra firma. You will still vibrate, still enjoy good vibrations. (Possibly you might want to skip the excitations bit.)

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Why learn the rules if you are going to break them anyway?

Learn the rules so you can break them is such a boring piece of folk wisdom.

Why learn the rules in the first place then? Photography can be such a redneck conservative domain, respecting, even worshiping all these FINE RULES.

As a truly modern writer wisely observed: “All the rules that the sphere of painting discarded already a long time ago (Renaissance rules about proportion, etc.) have been taken over by photography as the Sacred Word.” Amen to that.

If you learn the rules in order to be able to break them, the risk is that you will turn into this all to common anomaly: The law-abiding, well-behaved anarchist (LAWBAN).

Just trust your eye. If you have an artist in you, your eyes already has “rules” inside it. The eyes and your inner esthetic / chaotic sense will guide you. If you don´t and then try to add rules from the outside — see the former paragraph.

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Detta är ett intressant ord. Som hälsningsfras tycks det vara en förkortning av “ödmjuke tjänare”. Av vilket det bildats diverse kortformer: tjänare, tjäna, tjenis, tjenis p*nis, samt den kanske roligaste, mjukis.

Saken handlar också om kronor. “Vad tjänar du?” eller “Hur mycket tjänar du?” Bägge dessa frågor fokuserar på lön och pengar.

Men — man kan besvara den frågan lateralt, kanske med “Mammon”. Eller “Konsten”. Eller “Det sköna”. Då handlar det inte om pengar utan om att tjäna något.

I det första fallet handlar det om vad som kommer till oss, “inkomst”. I det andra om vad vi sätter över oss — ett ideal eller högre princip — och hur vi blir tjänare till denna ovanför oss liggande realitet. (I Mammons fall lite tveksamt med “ovanför”.)

Man kan som sagt göra en syntes av de två aspekterna. “Vad tjänar du på att tjäna konsten?”

Svar: I kronor räknat ganska lite just nu, men jag börjar blir en smula rik på ödmjukhet, och Musan kastar vänliga blickar mot mig ibland…


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Sherlock and I (bored)

ONE SIMILARITY between Sherlock Holmes and me is that people probably think that we live fascinating, or at least very interesting, lives, while we are terribly bored most days of the week.

I sure am. And not only in the week, I would say most days of my life.

My friends, especially those few who have nine to five jobs, might protest. “Let ME tell you about boredom…!”

We probably talk about different things. The boredom of a steady, monotonous job is alleviated, perhaps every day even, by “entertainment”. You put your day job aside and do things that are fun, relaxing or at least somehow different. You probably also see other people at work, which I don´t. Most of my days are lonely (lonely can be wonderful or terrible company) and I can´t say “No, I am not a composer and writer, that´s just my job.”

Anyway, I am on to this great insight that I am bored most of the time, and that boredom is a central factor in my life. There are so many things I´ve done in life just not to be bored — and so many other (often productive and useful) things I didn´t do, only because they were boring.

Boring is like a traffic sign, and in this case I have been law-abiding.

Of course everything said in French sounds fancier than in English or Swedish but the pangs of “l’ennui” or “spleen” might have been just as painful as ever banal boredom was. Especially for sensitive folks like Baudelaire.

I begin to realize the strength, the acid strength of it. Thinking back on my life I have been severely bored, probably as a child but even more as a teenager when moving to Sweden. Ursäkta Sverige, but there is so much boredom and boring things in Sweden that if I could exchange the moments for coins, I would be a millionaire… in a country of millionaires.  (I am certainly not the only non-Swede to feel this way.)

There is even a Latin word for fear of boredom: thaasophobia. Boring.

What is less boring is to slowly realize what a dark and truly heavy cloud boredom can be, how it weighs us down as lead. I am especially thinking of a friend that suffers a lot from this disease. He goes into heavy depressions which I think come from lack of stimulation.

I used to say that there is no excuse for being bored; you are doing something very wrong then. Not so sure about that now. And we don´t need to talk about depression. There is an everyday, “normal” level of boredom.  Some common antidotes are

  • Facebook
  • television
  • eating
  • sitting at a sideboard café (my personal favorite)
sideboard cafe
“Café Terrace at Night” by van Gogh

Another non-boring observation has to do with enthusiasm. I believe it can be a reaction against boredom, even stem from fear of boredom. It need not be a wholly positive energy, it could be based on a running away from-impulse.

Another one: Folk wisdom has it that “one needs to learn to be alone*”. Yes, yes, we´ve heard that one before. Silly thought! One = alone. One is the loneliest number, as Three Dog Night sang.

I believe that many a “one” accepts loneliness, and boredom, far too easily. One can mistake this acceptance for strength or “stoicism”. How noble! But what if one is just wasting precious time,  throwing away one´s life? Perhaps non-acceptance is the only wise choice.

Enough, time to put down my pen.

No, I wasn´t ready yet.

What makes Sherlock bored is the lack of a juicy mystery to sink his teeth into. I cannot claim the same excuse; I have mysteries galore to wrestle with, am presently knee deep in one of them, the dark side of music.

No, there is more to it than lack of mystery, probably lack of company.

More needs to be said about boredom´s relation to loneliness. Much depends on the quality of our circle of friends. If they are not stimulating, and we see them a lot, we will cherish loneliness. If they are stimulating and we see them seldom, the opposite.

With the possible exception of those rare hermit personalities I believe there is almost a self-poisoning mechanism in action here. Being “all by myself” for a long time makes me rust. Even a short visit to Lotz Terem makes me fresh again — for a while.

Variatio delectat, but more than that. Change (an important part of which is company) may be not only delightful spice but a basic staple need for humans, at least most of us. Surely for me and maybe even for Sherlock. I mean, he always had Watson to turn to and solving mysteries involves meeting a lot of people. It´s the wait that is lonely, not the hunt.

I will go so far as to suggest that loneliness can kill. Not being lonely, but feeling lonely. In that sense I believe Facebook can be a kind of medicine. And, just like other modern medicine men, Mark Zuckenberg (the sixth richest person in the world, even richer than the Koch Brothers thanks to Facebook earnings) sure knows how to cash in on the disease, this widespread loneliness of our modern world.

A friend of mine some years ago critically called the Internet “one big cry for help”. There is a grain of truth in that exaggeration. Maybe one should say a cry for company. But luckily we need not expose our solitary nakedness. There are smart and sophisticated ways of saying “I feel lonely”. Like posting a picture of our yummy dinner or a cute pet. Or writing a blog post.

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Gap the mind

Trying to understand “Mind” (in the sense that Tolle and others are using the word) and trying to distance myself from it is one of the most important items on my shopping list.

Why? Conflict of interest. Mind has its own interests and agenda, it very often fucks up my life (but not only mine, it is generous…).

I notice that Mind is an “out-thinker”. It thinks out things, ideas. These ideas seem smart and intelligent (to mind!), but seldom lead to harmonious results. For one thing, they are stubborn and inflexible. Much more like stone than water, the favorite element of Taoists.

Mind writes in stone and has a real hard time changing or erasing the writing.

“But stability is supposed to be a good thing, no? Look at skyscrapers, they must be very stable to withstand strong winds.” (says Mind)

But skyscrapers don´t go down with grace. They collapse and explode, while softer, more pliable things just f l o a t  to the ground with hardly a scratch.

“Here lies one whose name was written in water”, the epitaph of John Keats, points to the real  strength of water (even though Keats probably saw writing in water as a weakness). Far better for a poet to write in water than in stone.

“They stoned him with a memorial” said a clear-sighted writer, an observation applicable to many an artist that has floated to the surface, like cream. Whipped cream.

But let us not slander stone. It has its place, its beauty and its love. Let me just remember, and remind Mind, that am flesh and blood and ether, not rock.

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Men are jpg, women are raw

Binary distinctions, like in the headline above, have a great attraction. Everybody likes to say that they REALLY can distinguish between good and bad, black and white. The other, less flattering side of the coin is that then they only see two colors….

Anyway, how are men like JPG and in what way are women RAW?

Shooting in JPG, most people say, is limiting. What you see is what you get, but not much more. With RAW format, however, many things are hidden in the picture. These little secrets and surprises can be brought out later, during the editing process. What you see is much less than what you can get.

I am mainly writing about faces now. A man has one face (two if he is a drag artist or cross dresser.) But a woman often has no face at all.

That might sound shocking, and is of course a bit exaggerated. (Face spying, I mean face detection couldn´t work on women if that was totally true.) It is better to say that she has many faces, none of which can be called her one, real face. Which is the real color of the rainbow? (Perhaps the color of air…)

I am for example thinking of beloved A. P. Montata, who at one moment is a child, then a wise woman, deep as a river, a practical, super efficient no-nonsense businesswoman, a worried soul, or a free spirit beyond looks and words. All of her different facets has a different face. And voice. And emanation.

This certainly doesn´t sound like a JPG.

No, this is the mysterious RAW copy out of which derives, flies, floats a whole gallery of small identities, a cluster of feminine beings and creatures.

More Photography and Images

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