I quote: “Strange Loops involving rules that change themselves, directly or indirectly, are at the core of intelligence (Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter, D.R., Vintage Books. 1979).” I think I think and to find out I look upon all thinking from the Gödelian perspective of incompleteness theory which states we KNOW we do not know everything–so what do you know–nothing–and everything. I think. Unexpected connections natural to logic and illogic alike are reconnected or connected for the first time or connected in a meaningful symbolic manner inclusive of the inability to include everything.
We argue about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and constantly redraw the line separating artificial and intelligence. You can hear it in the music. Tensors hold spacetime to a gravitational mold. Strange loops relate all territory to all non-territory repeatedly to create choral harmony when we see that all tonal and microtonal interactions relate through such interactions.
Hofstadter refers to a golden braid that is eternal and golden. He could not be more optimistic as he defines music as logical and illogical, sometimes at the same time! That memory is fluid becomes a proof of Strange Loops’ insistence on the relativity of synthesis, of the incompleteness of analysis. If every memory is a composite of sensations, emotion, feeling, and so forth which can and must be rearranged if for nothing else to make room in our brain for more memories we are talking about an efficiency with a range of from poor to excellent…and beyond but never reaching perfection.
MetaHoloConsciousness might or might not be present but this does not matter if and only if the observer lifts self above experience and reflects upon it, able to include and to extricate self from the memory. The memory reconstructs itself according to the theory of Strange Loops. Something important becomes irrelevant and the irrelevant emerges into consciousness. The reason to have a meta relationship with reality makes for a reason to have consciousness.
These connections need to be expanded. I realize much of what I say in the above paragraphs make intuitive sense to me but may not connect to others unless you share my worldview. I apologize for my obtuseness. There are just so many ideas and so few ways to express them in words. Perhaps that is why music to me makes more sense than verbal expression.
I will write some more as soon as these ideas begin to gel and hopefully make more sense to you, my long-suffering reader.
I just have to say something in words. This has been a productive creative period of my life. Yes, I still use words. But for the past five months I have been on fire—Amitabha and I are both playing with fire.
It all started when I broke my leg, or to be specific, the distal end of the left femur, on my way to see FunHome with Judy and Shira, my wife and kid. It was the day after performing with the great OG—Larry Roland’s Neo Urban Folk Project with Mike Wimberley on drums and Waldron Ricks on trumpet. We were in the Arts4Art Compassion Is Justice Festival and January 5 we played a couple of hot pieces including dancer Tyshawna. So I was feeling good until I hit the pavement after tripping over a curb the next day. The radiologist at the ER got the diagnosis wrong when he provided a negative diagnosis for bone fracture. In fact I went for five days thinking nothing was wrong and could have done some serious damage if I had put any weight on that left leg. So when another doc took his own x-rays and found a “hairline fracture” and asked if I wanted to go to a nursing home to recover (we declined) I ended up needing a wheelchair and a soft, moveable cast for eight weeks. I barely left the house except to make doctor appointments and to initiate physical therapy (again). My trauma surgeon refused to operate, saying at the same time I was the only person who broke a femur he had ever seen who did NOT require surgery because my femur didn’t shatter. Question: why am I always the “interesting patient” who doesn’t comply with any of the rules?
I began zoning out at the piano and a structural chordal concept introduced itself to my fevered brain. And that was it! The changes began morphing into a piece for renaissance jazz orchestra for which I had written back in the ‘70s for my group, Free Energy which consists of a reed, brass, string and rhythm section. Only it was over 40 years later, the computer has been invented, and I’m now working with FINALE, a computer music software. It was off to the races. I decided to name the piece in honor of my broken leg: C# or Bb, See Sharp or Be Flat. The next piece to surface is in five movements which I name The Old One.
My unconscious decides to name the fantasy group I have to form to play these compositions the Accidental Orchestra (I wake up in the middle of the night with “accidental” in my mind) because firstly, tripping and falling is an accident, secondly it’s a musical pun on accidentals—sharps and flats, thirdly it is an ode to my neighbor, composer John Cage who collaborated (upstairs from my apartment at Westbeth) with choreographer Merce Cunningham who utilized chance techniques, aka, accidents, as part of his process (as did Merce when choreographing), and finally, accidents are a subset of the quantum physics concept of superposition and are chance events because they are random. Are you with me on this quadruple musical pun?
Then the fun part began—asking cats to join up. First I had to have a project so I decided to record the Orchestra at Systems II in Brooklyn where Billy Stein and I recorded our Intervals cd in 2013. I ask Jon Rosenberg, the engineer on that date, to work with me. Jon makes it all seem like it could happen and gives great advice and suggestions. Then I need people. The first to respond are Steve Swell and Jason Kao Hwang who recommend friends of theirs. Then I ask Richard Keene, Eliot Levin, and my buddies in the New York Free Quartet, Chuck Fertal, Steve Cohn, and OG—Larry Roland. Warren Smith, followed by Badal Roy, Mike Wimberley, Vincent Chancey, and Michael Lytle, then Waldron Ricks, say they’re in. Now I have a reed section, brass section, rhythm section, and bass section. But I’m going to need to fill out the string section. Joining Jason Hwang, Charles Burnham signs up as do Bob Stern and Carol Buck. I’m now down one violinist and I need a conductor (still). John Shea agrees to conduct, making a connection back to the original Free Energy and then Tomas Ulrich and Carol Buck come on board as cellists. Rosi Hertlein becomes my third violinist. And I’m done. Now the hard part—getting a rehearsal schedule from 20+ of the most successful and busy musicians in New York.
The Accidental Orchestra: string sextet–Jason Kao Hwang, John Burnham and Rosi Hertlein (v), Bob Stern (vla), Tomas Ulrich and Carol Buck (vc), Larry Roland (b), brass–Steve Swell (tb), Vincent Chancey (fh), Waldron Ricks (tpt), drummers–Warren Smith (perc), Badal Roy (tabla), Chuck Fertal (d), Michael Wimberley (djembe, perc), and reed players–Richard Keene (oboe), Elliot Levin (f), Michael Lytle (bc), Ras Moshe (ss), myself on Bb clarinet, Steve Cohn (piano), Billy Stein (guitar), conductor–John Shea. Jon Rosenberg is the recording engineer.
All this takes place as the New York Free Quartet rehearses and records a cd at Tedesco Studio. That is a trip too. Every one of my horns (flute, my new Bb clarinet, soprano and tenor saxes, bass clarinet) go into Perry Ritter’s repair shop and come out perfect. That’s May 3, 2016. Now I’m mixing it down with John Shea who mixed the first NYFQ cd, Free Play.
So I have just (I think) finished C# or Bb. The first four movements of five of The Old One based on my readings into the Qabbala, Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead are (more or less) finished. It is entitled The Old One as an homage to my cousin, Albert Einstein, who referred to God as the old one. It has a completely different feeling from C# and is very intense. I think I’m beginning to discover how to write for strings. The process is taking me over.
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this before, certainly not in public in a blog post. I hope you see this less as blowing my own horn and more as expiation, explanation, imagination and creation.
All this is prelude to saying something that I think about from time to time—why did I survive? Why did I become that “interesting patient?” How did I pull through getting so sick that, aside from myself, some felt I was not going to make it? Last year, in January, 2015, I got really sick with a bacterial infection, became septic, got a UTI, and went to the hospital—twice because it invaded my nerves, nervous system, and every joint I had ever injured making them so inflamed that I had inflammation arthritis—similar to getting arthritis over the years, except this went down in 48 HOURS. It caused extensive neuropathy and my hands became completely numb. I can tell you that streptococcus G is so rare no one has ever seen it before. Because I was now an “interesting patient” doctors lined up outside my hospital room to examine me three at a time. Yet I never doubted I would make it.
The struggle I have waged with the complete and total support of my wife, Judy, daughter and son Shira and Ari, friends, and the team of docs Judy and I assembled resemble the dream team of the basketball players in the Olympics. They—the most thoughtful, problem solving, and, yes, creative group—kept me alive. They supported my irrational goal which is to completely recover EVERY faculty, regain ALL my strength, and honor my desire to ski again. Music becomes my therapy—by practicing instruments I can no longer feel because of neuropathy (nerve damage) I re-teach my brain physical sensation. But what is most amazing is the obdurate will that never questions that I will, with effort, get back. Call it Spirit.
Now that I—just when I am starting to feel better—broke my leg and can’t leave the house but feel relatively healthy I start playing the piano, which sits in my living room relatively tuned and sort of ready to play. Well I take three days to tune it myself by ear, then begin composing large pieces on it and on a midi-keyboard directly into Finale.
The first piece is basically honoring my desire to never fall again, which I entitle C# or Bb—See Sharp or Be Flat. But then I begin reading Rabbi David Cooper’s book about the Qabbala, God is a Verb. This re-introduces me to a previous lifetime of intense readings into Qabbala, The Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. All of which inspires me to compose another of my Jewish pieces, which I call, after my cousin Albert Einstein’s referent to God, The Old One. Here are the names of the five movements of The Old One: I Inception/The Mind of God; II Bridge; III Tree of Life/Qabbala; IV Bardo Thödol/Tibetan Book of the Dead; V The Old One.
I am beginning to ask more cosmic questions. Will I drop dead the second the last note is written? I don’t think so but my unconscious has already named the renaissance jazz orchestra the Accidental Orchestra. How do I make it to this point if not to write more music? And is this the final religious piece I compose? Or am going to record my choral piece inspired by a poem by Louisa Strouse Boiman, Forget Being Born Remembering, written when Judy and I moved into her father’s house to help him live with respect and comfort during the last seven months of his life? I have to think I am surviving for a reason and that reason is to compose music expressing my spiritual desire to understand the depths of the human spirit.
Creative restructuring of our planet appeals to my fellow musicians and me more than anything I can think of. Instead of putting the arts last, the arts should come first. Our country is the most creative country on earth and we have been going down the wrong path for years. It is time we restore arts programs, build new ones, buy art materials, musical instruments, pay arts educators well, and generally take advantage of the American gusto that has built up business and so that the arts become a priority. I want to return to the days when Louis Armstrong was a musical emissary to Russia, when the Dance Touring Program brought dance to small colleges throughout the US and supported them on State Department Tours. I advocate doing the same for music and dance now and it is the major reason I am applying to American Music Abroad.
I wrote a doctoral dissertation on Intuition and Creativity so I have studied creativity scientifically. Creative forces are constructive, bring people together and solve all kinds of problems. Creativity takes on cultural forms, of course, and yet there is a universality which is expressed in the folk tradition. I see this tradition as part of World Music, World Beat, and folk music. Jazz is a form of urban folk music. Beginning in the ‘70s I began searching out and playing with musicians from around the world to learn from them and to use scales and meter that catch my ear. Now I want to reestablish cultural ties that have become frayed and politicized, bring creative people to the fore, give them credit, and put them in charge of things to establish unity and purpose in the arts and to make things peaceful and harmonic.
What if nonlinear mathematical equations known as chaos theory may be applied to neuronal development, behavior, and the mind? I am not talking about religious chaos, Jungian chaos, good and evil chaos. I do not like the descriptor “chaos” because nonlinear equations produce what appear to be chaotic flutter, arrhythmia, turbulence, lightening, and other phenomena which are less organized than so-called order would predict stability to be. Yet there is stability in nonlinearity. If I call personality determinants such as ego “attractors,” then other nonlinear psychological organizations are also attractors. Chaos theory defines strange attractors as stable and deterministic patterns that cost a system less energy and do not repeat themselves. Can psychological strange attractors be described by the nonlinear mathematical formulae which chaos theory utilizes to create strange attractors and Mandelbrot fractals?
I want to study this problem and if anyone can make a scientific contribution to this issue I will pay extreme attention to their comments.
There I was, stopped for speeding on the West Side Highway for doing what I have always done—keeping up with traffic. Two days later, stopped for speeding on Rte 28 for passing by going faster than the speed limit. As I explained to the cop, it’s only logical to get in and out of the passing lane decisively to avoid hitting him. One more stop in the next 18 months and I’m busted–license pulled for 6 months.
After the anger, or rather as a result of it, my behavior was re-assessed, and my mind made up. No tickets for a year (and a half). But how?
I soon realized there was a connection between the two events. In both casesI was doing what I had developed over the million miles and accepted as common practice and suddenly all that I had developed was called into question. So, under the gun, my mind was made up. Drive exactly at the speed limit. Ignore other drivers who buzzed by me, flashed their lights at me for driving to slowly, and never modify my behavior except to avoid an accident. Stay street legal.
The result of this change was profound. By ignoring all my well-learned instincts I avoided multiple traffic stops (the cops were out there like flies laying eggs on rotten meat, drivers infested with flashing lights, embarrassment, angry wives or husbands, and big fines). One person in a Mercedes thought that my being in the passing lane driving the speed limit was just TOO MUCH and kept flashing his headlights until I pulled over after ten minutes of matching the speed of a tractor-trailer who also was driving the speed limit but one lane over on the two lane interstate. And by driving in the far-right lane, not one but two cars pulled out in front of me, I being in this unused-to lane since I was now the slowest car on the road. BUT, I twice slammed on my brakes and arrived home safely—totally fried.
After sleeping ten hours I am still stewing. My life has changed. Now I am following the rules, different rules from those I developed over a million miles analyzing traffic-generated pressure waves, intuiting what will be the faster lane, and taking the occasional risk to save a minute — systems that seem to me adaptive and efficient but get me into trouble with the law. Exceeding the speed limit to make a safe pass? No brainer. Staying with the flow of cars? They’d have to stop everyone so there is no danger of being stopped. I have a litany of reasons which in the harsh light are nothing but excuses for doing exactly what I want to–get there as fast as possible.
NO MORE TICKETS. Or as Burton Greene once told me wisely, the the mind of the pilot goes faster than the rocket ship. The time”wasted” spent driving legally frees me to intuit unimaginable things faster than the speed of thought–a dutiful rebellion. Improvising faster than the speed of thought. Spiritual life without the spirit. When the Captain says “engage” my superluminous mind, not my spaceship, will approach warp 11.
Twenty-first century science, and physics in particular, might have walls around itself. Only when the old farts die off will science be able to accept what is apparent to the younger farts, that determinism is relative. It is seductive to think that theory can control everything, and that there may be a theory of everything and all that. I believe we are seduced by what I consider to be a bubble of determinism. I can look into the immediate past and see what caused this or that to occur, and I speculate as a futurist into what stretches out in front of us based upon the principle that the past predicts the future. Can I say the past is illimitable insofar as I can link causally everything that made this moment in time be what it is for me in my relativistic frame? I think not. And the same argument appears to hold for the futurists among us. Therefore, if causality and determinism have a place in logic we cannot assume direct links connect everything into the past and into the future; we live in a bubble of causality.
What lies outside the bubble? Or, for that matter, what permeates our bubble universe of causality? Is random “behavior” the rule and no potential for certainty exists? Well—yes and no. If the scale is large enough the probabilities mount up and random transmutes into certainty. It looks like we are going to have to get ready for surprises in the middle area. Things from our lives may “happen for a reason” but the extent of the reasonableness escapes us. I cannot conform to the teleological force of the “reason” because there is not enough data to prove or to disprove that behavior—the rule of the hypothetical-deductive foundation of science suggested by Karl Popper.
Just know we are related and on some sixth level connected. It is neither the totality of the hologram nor the linearity of Euclid but some “third” (or fourth, or fifth) thing which I can “see” if I do not focus my eyes too closely on the nearest object.
Sorry to say, tonight’s concert at Piano Magic had to be cancelled due to a structural problem with the floor and will have to be rescheduled. So: CHARLES DOWNS (RASHID BAKR) 4TET
SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2014
PIANO MAGIC, 718 READE STREET, TRIBECA, NY 10007
Michael Moss (tenor sax), Mark Hennen (keyboard), Emma Alabaster (bass), Charles Downs (Rashid Bakr) (drums)
Part of a SIX GROUP new music extravaganza, the Charles Downs 4tet will offer a Coltrane inflected set
WILL NOT BE APPEARING TONIGHT.
I’m changing. Up till now I’ve insisted I did not have the self-promotion gene. This gene is not expressed, i.e., functional. Time to express it. In the interest of playing more music in front of others. Widening my field of music means playing music I haven’t played in years. Been working with phenomenal vocalist Lex Grey and incredible drummer Sonny Rock up in the Catskills which extended into sitting in with more rockers up there like Tas Cru and Murali Coryell. Re-entered the new music downtown NY scene–playing with Rashid Bakr/Charles Downs’Centipede with Ras Moshe, Larry Roland, Billy Stein, Matt Lavelle. Sessioning with Steve Cohn. Getting down with Mel Nusbaum, Billy Stein and ZONE. Put out INTERVALS, a cd with Billy Stein that breaks down all the barriers. Ready to do it again. And working with and putting out a cd,New York and Me, produced by NY/Santa Fe storyteller Regina Ress. And the third cd, Natural, that came out this year on old buddy Mike Mahaffay’s label in a group called the Willamette River Pirates caught me playing with the West Coast new music scene. Also curated the first night of the 7th Annual Westbeth Music Festival and played in four different groups including ZONE, Michael Moss / Billy Stein Duo, Dave Mann Mannmadesound, and The Raytones. And, released two YouTube videos of Billy Stein and myself.
Next up a west coast tour in the spring. Billy Stein and I are performing March 20, 2013 with my old buddy pianist Jack Bowers in the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Reaching out to other venues on the left coast.
Coming to my point…. My self-promotion gene is starting to express itself, as am I. I’m composing new music and want to share it with others. You can purchase INTERVALS on this webpage. I’m playing with as many people as possible. Help me climb that mountain. I’m itching to expand.
Michael Moss Billy Stein performed Pyramid on August 3, 2012 at the WestbethMusicWorks First Fridays Concert Series. Moss Stein released their duo CD, INTERVALS, August 26, 2013, available at CDBaby and iTunes.