Divinations Revisited, No. 4: Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman at Challenger hearingAnother character who always drew my attention, and therefore had to be reckoned with in words, somehow or other. I hugely enjoyed his two two books, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? when I read them years ago. After all, how many scientific geniuses have also been bongo players and safecrackers?

Richard Feynman

Before the spin un-densing,
 the Point pre-exclamation
  rockets into Being…

I Galaxy’s Child

We are each part of that Point, you and I
Nothing has ever changed that possibility
Which clusters do you romp now?
No local group could contain you -
 drummed back into the Continuum -
  which mortal constraints fall to next?

You, non-locally connected,
 splash color on the radio days
Bongo boy, never still, ever fresh,
 awash in today’s drum machines
  that would drown me out in my turn

Let’s continue the Infinity Drumming Circle,
 be Shiva’s dance band
It wouldn’t compute, but
 large-scale fun!

II Knights Errant

We each lie in that shadow, you and I
 of the day everything stopped -
  music, and time,
   rhythm and life everywhere
Before the neutrons – radiant active dancing,
 the Sun’s extermination
  shatters into Mourning…

Kind humans vanished in that fireball
What kind of humans vanquished them?
What? on Earth?
My Goddess, man – what have you done?
What twisted Genesis -
 oh, never mind, but never again!
How turned such genius evil?
Who turned Truth to such murder?

Why couldn’t you just
 have made better windmills -
  and then lanced those,
   instead of boiling the Yellow Sea?

You roasted in that secret, unjust desert
Charged with a mission,
 fission for an Enemy
Somebody’s gotta pay – now
Everybody
will have to pay – ever after

III Courting Jester

Before the seatbelts unfastened,
 the point of exploration accelerates
  and rockets into Oblivion…

We each aspire to this distinction, you and I
All-knowing Fools would be
You modeled the part,
 shook your bellcap
  at the king/idiot/bureaucrats
Become the true Challenger in that official mock-up
 (another bloody infernal farce fiasco)
Did you find some solace, some redemption?

Whatever parts you engineered
 took a smash when you dropped the rubber ring
  into that glass of cold water
   televising one more official couldn’t-care-lessness

Confused genius, creator/destroyer -
 your stories are lovable/laughable
You’re a polyrhythmic sandwich
 we’ll never quite theorize out
Like a Black Page – tricky to read

(5/14/96)

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Divinations Revisited, No. 3: Luna Vita

This poem was published three times, making it one of my best-received. Another sad character study, like (though more unlike) Twilight Child; this described a flesh-and-blood person, not a fictional one. Between these two and Camille Claudel, there was a clear insanity theme running through my mind in those days. Hmmm… must’ve been my day job.

Luna Vita girl

Luna Vita

Twilit, waiflike, as last week
Shrouded in meager, chilled black
Slept you? where? and this night?

Straggly runny hair
Omni eyes scattering
Focus-free, restless, fleeing
As your minimal shuffle scuttles
Escaping – what?

Surely not my sympathetic ear?
Hateful thought: I can do no thing
Can’t know your need – you’re not telling
I won’t hear of madness -
 fantasy convenience!

How dimmed your Luna strength?
Who damned?
Luna substance reflecting
 empty uncaring neon our blank faces
Your warm halo obscured
Your wild quarter-moon face -
 half mystery – half heartbreaking luminosity
  too clear to feeling eyes

Adrift through inner city space
Random crash some distant, freezing corner
You’re not circling me – are you?

Leave the clouds – hiding your shadow
Embrace your earth – sing your own light
Your ecstatic erratic self
A goddess now closed to us all
 regardless we see you

Some little thing -
 maybe a cup of tea
  could be your world now
Wait! It’s not all cold!

(3/14/94)

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eyes cast down Interview by Headphonaught

Many thanks to Thomas Mathie for posting this interview and for his nice support! The original post is here.

Thomas, aka Headphonaught, is a music lover, artist and designer, and keeper of the We Are All Ghosts netlabel, the Circumambient podcast and the Nanolog blog. Don’t miss his interview with my colleague Scott Lawlor.

Seven questions with … Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down

There is something wonderfully spiritual about some forms of ambient music … I find these forms reach into my soul like no other music. The music may be created to be spiritual and then again it may not … but, due to its very nature, it is possible to project a spirituality onto it whether it be the deeply meditative of certain longform drones or the wildly joyful of more upbeat, trancey sounds … this is my ‘worship’ music now.

One proponent of this form of ambient music is musician Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down. His contributions to the Free Floating winter compilations all|is|calm are exceptional. I have recently obtained a promo copy of his latest album – Divinations – and look forward to digging into that.

As is my way, I asked Moorcroft if he’d be interested in answering a few questions for this ol’ blog. I’m delighted to say he agreed.

———-

1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Greg Moorcroft. I use the artist name eyes cast down. I am a composer, musician, recording artist and live performer. I work primarily – though not exclusively – in the ambient-atmospheric world.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just released Album #2, Divinations, on my Kalindi Music label. Album #3, Pastimes of Creation, is very nearly finished, so that’s the priority now.

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
My main man is Steve Roach, whom I hugely enjoyed interviewing three years ago. His music provides an endlessly-deep well of inspiration.

- Name a place that has inspired you.
I love getting out into nature. The most inspiring place I’ve been to is Cranberry Lake Park in upstate New York, on a camping holiday.

- Name some “thing” that has inspired you.
Drumming. I go to a monthly group, which is tons of fun. I really should take my portable recorder next time, because some good grooves often magically appear.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
The word “drive” says it all. I have to make music. I don’t have any choice about it; it’s in my bones. I love it. I would do it for myself alone, if I had to, but being able to share it is better.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
True spirituality, which requires humility; love, which can grow only from that point; the courage to undergo necessary introspection; and a delight in the amazing power of Creation, of which I aspire to be a medium.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
In this sense, “community” means “kindred spirits” who value the music as I do – as critically important, as soul-shaking, ritual, deepcore magic. It’s fantastic that such a community exists; for me, its hub is the Relaxed Machinery community.


7) What is next for what you do?
The next project is either: begin recording Album #5 (which is entirely written), or finish writing Album #6 (which is half written). After those are both recorded, I think it will be time for the Concerto for Ambient Orchestra project. That is going to be … something other.

———-

Thanks Greg.

The first four tracks of Divinations were all released on Free Floating netlabel – Conceptionall|is|calm 2011all|is|calm 2013, and all|is|calm 2012 - with the final piece, Ensō (a live laptop/softsynth improvisation with Avian and human voices added during postproduction in May 2014) originating from an art show in May 2012.

I’m glad to have all these tracks in one place and recommend you check out the album: Divinations.

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Album #2: Divinations – Reflections on the Creative Process

Album cover: Divinations by eyes cast down

Design by Greg M, Photos by Greg M & Dasi.

I’m delighted to announce the release of my second album. Divinations is now available for download from my Bandcamp page, and will be available on CD soon.

Divinations includes five serene, pure atmospheric pieces, created mostly on synths. These pieces were all groundbreaking for me, in various ways: Exquisite Divination of Patterns was my first laptop-softsynth piece, and Snowdance in Starlight features my first use of acoustic guitar in an ambient mode.

Track listing:
1. Exquisite Divination of Patterns   11.26
2. Crystalline   11.36
3. Radiant Perception   10.08
4. Snowdance in Starlight   11.18
5. Ensō   28.04

Divinations is specifically geared to meditation, yoga, tai chi and similar activities, along with health and wellness spaces of all kinds. As usual, the music is suitable for background or deep listening, as you like.

The first four pieces were released on various compilations from the excellent Free Floating netlabel from 2011 to 2013. These were released for free distribution under Creative Commons (with full attribution, no commercial use and no derivations), and that commitment is honored here with free downloads of these four pieces and a pro-rated, bargain price for the entire album.

These pieces go together so well that I’ve dreamed about gathering them together, since before I was even aware of it.

The final piece, Ensō, is a live laptop-softsynth improvisation from an art show in May 2012. Avian and human voices were added during postproduction in May 2014.

The Japanese word “Ensō” means “a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create” (more details in the Wikipedia article). This idea continues the theme of “reflections on the creative process” which informs Exquisite Divination of Patterns and Radiant Perception, and suitably closes the several circular paths which led to this album’s release.

Please visit the album’s release page. I hope you enjoy the music!

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Divinations Revisited, No. 2: Ivory Sunrise

Piano - Ivory SunriseOn further review, a couple of the poems in the old Divinations series turned out to be publishable as they were… This one speaks to my musical vocation, which bloomed a little late – but at least it has

Ivory Sunrise

Old worn wooden shell
Dingy clapboard cage
 with radiant ivory egg
Piano in the house

Upright proud, beckons still
 begging no one
Calmly anticipates – nothing

Hinged bench opens to discover
 piles of printed music
Books and booklets -
 songs, anthologies

Boy exhumes a song page
Assumes the position
What are all these dots?
Chooses some keys
What are all these tones?

His mother could play
 but never did
  nor encouraged him
Later claimed the Fear of Pushing
Never breathed a word
Pianissimo so silent
 sits unplayed
It’s a boy’s life

As a dying sun fades
 so dimly yellows that page of music
Never moving, never played

As the house ages badly
– balding shingles
– windows blurring
– beams creaking
Piano, ever silent ever proud
 stands resolute without age
Piano in my home

My children in this house
Ancient groaning structure
 on its last knees
Piano in silence crying rescue
Smooth finish tickles their touch

Daughter, firstborn
 delights in a certain note repeated
Deep yellowed sheet music
 crumples to flakes

Son, unborn musician
 singer in the dark
Gleeful palms an unknown chord
Ferocious playful exuberance
Over and over he will play!

Windows blasted from their frames
 glitter darkly in the dead grass
My children laughing, I join them
 and we bash out our exultation
Piano singing shouting screaming
 its joy its release as well
Self-discovery, self-expression is our forte

This house of silent chaos
 can stand no more
Crashes down around us
Topples to earth
 impotent to prevent any more
Hopeless, unable to harm us
It is a dead thing
 best given proper burial

Even this shell collapsing
 can’t drown our ecstatics
Dust of old silent shrouds
 tarnishes nothing here now

Three children one child
Four voices one voice
All set free turned loose
 upon suspicious persons
  unsuspecting culture
   and all-knowing Creation

(9/17/94)

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Farewell Kitty: Why Every Car Needs a Little Red Flag

That is one tasty-looking squirrel

That is one tasty-looking squirrel…

Kalman Cat left us in mid-April, just a few days before his 18th birthday. When we left the house early that morning, he was fine. When my wife returned home around 10am, he was breathing rapidly, very uncomfortable and – most unusual for him – completely withdrawn. His heart was giving out, and the animal instinct to die alone overpowered his attachment to my wife and I. We stayed with him all evening and into the night, until his last breath around 2:15 a.m.

Two years ago, Sandor Cat’s six-week decline meant that his passing came as a relief. This time, the suddenness of it was more of a shock, though in hindsight there were a couple of signs that the end was drawing near. Fortunately, Kalman’s suffering was comparatively brief.

Kalman: Sophisto-Cat

Kalman: Sophisto-Cat

We were fortunate to be present so that we could help both our boys through their passing in the auspicious Vedic way, and have reason to believe that they both have obtained human forms for spiritual advancement.

In his later years, Kalman Cat gave up his detached and aloof manner, becoming completely attached to my wife, to the point where he just had to be in physical contact several times a day. Anyone who’s ever spent 30 seconds with a cat knows that they are shameless; Kalman was beyond shameless in begging for attention. He also made sure to demand some Dad time each day.  He liked to play a little rough; when we could get him to bite a little, he enjoyed it the most.

Kalman & Mom

Kalman & Mom

You had to hear him playing with his toys to believe it: he would carry a sparkle ball or catnip pillow around, or drop it on the bed, and yowl at it – declaring it to be utterly owned – in this unearthly voice. He would play cat-and-mouse with his sparkle ball, pouncing, releasing and recapturing over and over. Several times a day, he would bring a vanquished toy to one of us as an offering, to show off his fearsome prowess. We have some hilarious videos; maybe we’ll share them someday.

So now it’s just the two of us. The absence of pets is a major adjustment, which will always have both convenient and melancholy aspects, but the loss of a beloved and loving companion naturally overrides the rest.

Kalman's DL

The next day, stopped at a red light en route to the crematorium, a funeral procession crossed our path, every car bearing a little red “Funeral” flag. It struck me immediately: every car should have one of those!

We’re all driving toward the same endpoint. These material bodies are all temporary, like clothes, and eventually have to be discarded. We move on, leave them behind, and take up new ones, according to the Law of Karma.

So it begs certain questions. Where are we going, and to what purpose? What will we do with the time, and this rare human form, which we’ve been given?

Denial will not help us; we have to face reality. There’s no other way to solve the problem.

It would be more accurate to say that we’re all racing toward the same endpoint. The pace of life for most people in this age is frenetic. Everyone is scrambling to pack as much enjoyment into as little time as possible. More sensations; more thrills; more intensity; more, more, MORE – all to avoid facing the emptiness within.

It’s all skimming on the surface, like those water bugs. We can’t really live on the surface, though we fool ourselves into thinking that we can. We must go inward; we must go deep. That’s where the work is to be done, and the truth to be found.

Kalman in Basket 1 - Apr 8-12

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Divinations Revisited, No. 1: Galileo

 

Justus Sustermans: Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636

Justus Sustermans: Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636

Early in this blog’s life, I posted five poems from the mid-’90s, which I collectively call Divinations (after the book that would have contained them all). If you missed them, feel free to filter using the “Poems” tag, and there they are. (One of them, Camille Claudel, is far and away my most popular post, with nearly twice as many hits as the runner-up.)

Those five, out of the total of 25 poems, were the ones I could publish unchanged – without undue embarrassment – nearly 20 years later.

Recently re-reading Galileo, always one of my favorites, finally alerted me to the fact that some of the poems were worth revisiting, with a view to some judicious editing which would magically make them publishable.

In this case, “judicious” meant: excising an entirely separate autobiographical strand which had no place in this poem. Mr. Galilei stands quite well enough on his own.

A shout-out here to my esteemed musical colleagues Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel, whose song Galileo (from their wonderful album Legends) is referenced herein.

Galileo

Miracle glass lift your skyward eyes
 cross voids of open mind expanding space
Now our Earth moves!
The tremors some feel
 you radiate at storm centre
  as Copernicus’ heretic sun

Eyes holy-papered o’er
 they fancy you a vandal
Your lenses hurled in church
 smashing mighty bloodstained glass

Author before authority -
 dare defy such certain personnel?
Trembling at a moon imperfect -
 untheoretical, O heretical!

Frightful impossible Jupiter’s moons
 disarming Biblical canons
Loathsome spotted sun
 a blight to the pious smug

Questions like yours find
 their answer to the Renaissance Man
  in that cold windowless chamber
Eager shapes of tongue control
Cutting-edge theocracy
 doth thumb its screws at truth

Naive champion of sense
The dogma-fat hunger not
 for knowledge as do you
Urban sub-fools roll
 their blackballing eyes

Such creatures, blind to themselves
 expect history to remember them
Laughable, idiot’s demand!

True human peaceful mind
 vindicates in honest time
Damns you not for surface surrender
 to faceless shadow torturing fear

Blameless, violated genius -
 sit you in the sun you raised
  meditating on betrayal?

I hear that sunlight: high F-sharp
 sung by a violin across centuries
Lovely song in your name
 reverse Time’s arrow to free you

Healing sun, heart of our world
 honour your courage
Cleanse your damnation
 facing down the murderous
  structure of history
Hear you sir, this absolution now?

(3/24/95)

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