VOID ( VOID ( SOLID ( SOLID ) ) )
VOID ( POINT ( VOID ( VOID ) ) )
Final verse of the final chapter of book one. We have lift-off, the dimensionless point is no longer imaginary but has been transformed into an insubstantial nothingness possessing location in three-dimensional reality. The smallest distance it can travel is within two parallel lines that will meet again at infinity. Book 2 will end with the point begetting a second point, the line of infinitessimal length no longer imaginary, transformed into a quantum of energy possessing direction in three-dimensional reality.
The other day I downloaded the complete discography of Neil Young. I’m listening to my favourites play list as I’m writing. I speak as someone of the same generation who never really bought into the hype. When “After the Gold Rush” became a cultural icon of cool, to be found in every half decent record collection, I denied the temptation whilst secretly desiring it from afar and then Harvest elevated him to godhood and I lost interest. I knew it was crap but what isn’t when it comes to the great in popular music; it’s the panache or style in which it’s done that counts, it has to sound authentic and fresh, as if for the first time. And so the art moves on, revolution in evolution, evolution in revolution, the interplay of cyclic and linear movements, spiralling transcendentally whilst referencing the past. I eventually succumbed with two later albums “On the Beach” and “Zuma”, that I played non-stop for a few days until I accidentally left them on a London tube train. Neil and I then parted company but now I am re-acquainted. Many lives later, the broadway shows that punctate existence with those moments of ecstasy and agony that give life its meaning and we meet again. As with all the greatest of artists, in telling their story they present a mirror, the personal and universal narratives become one and we are validated. All is subjective, an illusion, I know; the experience is magical it’s not real, reality is never that intense. When the Shaman enacts the movements of his prey in the hunting story, for his enthralled audience the actor and the acted become as one in the performance, disbelief is suspended, they see him as transfigured and in the entrancement see through the charade to a deeper meaning.
Do I feel guilty about this downloading? Sure I do but I won’t let it get me down. He’s a kindred spirit. Some of these albums bombed on release because he rode his tiger creativity to places the audience feared to tread. His single-mindedness of purpose in harness with a healthy contempt for fame, renders the music spontaneous and real as only the genius unaware of their genius is capable. If I hadn’t downloaded I’d be the far poorer for the loss. It doesn’t mean I would have bought the music legit, I don’t have the cash, and that’s the rub. Perhaps the monasteries with their monopoly in the reproduction of hand written manuscripts sought legal redress against the printing press? Their pursuit of profit disengaged from the project to maximise wealth. The business reduces itself to a money machine and then lose sight of the product, process gives way to stasis, they fail to adapt and die. Digitally recorded media no longer requires a medium. Wax drums, Vinyl, cassettes and compact disks, they were the bridge not the destination. The record companies are defying the market force that states: ‘the cheaper the product the better it sells, the more you sell the cheaper it gets’. As with the printing press, sell one or sell a million, the initial outlay remains the same. In this case no need for paper, no materials required, it’s digital, it’s electronic and with increases in broadband rates even downloading will appear quaint and old fashioned. Bulk consumption means wealth where none had come before, and all with the click of a mouse. If the customer is always right, embrace the change don’t fight it. Personally I’d invest in radio, Spotify or whatever the platform, successfully generating income from advertising by playing the music for free and in so doing spreading the word
Neil Young is doing ok, he has a bob or two. I know two people who recently bought premium copies of Greendale, the genuine artefact, legit and across the counter because I won’t stop enthusing about it. Neil may be living in a 60’s time loop, still in touch with the sheer magnificence of the counter-cultural dream but as I see it that makes him true. In contrast to the false and phoney, the make believe of ourselves we’re forced to project to garner acceptance, selling ourselves just to get by, Neil is that rare human being of either sex, a man true to himself. The under-stated Apple motto of “think differently” – with its “don’t be afraid, dare to” as the un-stated subliminal sub-text – reminds me of that 60’s cult film Putney Swope and the following declaration, “I don’t want to rock the boat. I want to sink it.” Neil was paid a lot, enough to grant him freedom to follow his path whilst young enough to still be looking. The catch is in dealing with the fame, it’s not about the money. In these days of austerity measures in the wake of financial collapse and a background of insatiable consumption killing off the planet, the focus of attention on widening wealth differentials, once more draws attention to the promise of a post-scarcity economy, doing more with less, as espoused in the ‘everything is possible’ utopian undercurrent that gave the 60s its point of leverage for change. The rubber band connecting rich to poor, sooner or later the stretching generates a recoil. The fear of the rich is in the snapping, of there not being enough wealth to go around so hang on to what you’ve got, you earned it. For the poor it’s the converse, the rubber band is a spring, it never snaps, it’s a dream of enough wealth to go around, enough to dispel the fear of theft. Where the logic of the profit margin demands a world of competing forces, the principle of wealth creation is to maximise the benefits of co-operation. Compete to make the rowing team and compete as a team to wins the boat race but on the boat itself it’s the working in unison for a common goal that leads to excellence. People need to hear and then listen to the songs “See the sky about to rain” and am I “Too far gone for you” with far more urgency than they need obsolete technology predicated on limiting their ability to do just that? The cat’s out of the bag on that one. Pandora’s box contained all manner of havoc and mayhem but its greatest gift to life’s drama is the forlorn spirit of eternal hope, almost forgotten, knocking to get out.