Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mixing Part 3: Nietzsche, Crowley and the Will to Power

This episode of Learning To Mix is an overview looking at the mixer as an artist and how that might affect the world at large. 

 In the codes that structure noise and its mutations [i.e. music] we glimpse a new theoretical practice and meaning: establishing relations between the history of people and the dynamics of economy on one hand, and the history of the ordering of noise in codes [music] in the other; predicting the evolution of one by the forms of the other; combining economics and aesthetics; demonstrating that music is prophetic and that social organization echoes it.
 - Attali, Noise

We affirm the ability of music to produce large and small scale changes in the world; actual changes.  The amorphous violent war/jihad of terrorism from any kind of ideological fanaticism also declares a war against music.  This is vividly shown toward the end of the documentary, Music In Mali: Life Is Hard, Music Is Good in the segment on the takeover of the north in Mali by Islamic fundamentalists.   We see that imposition of Sharia law attacks, arrests and stops the production and playing of music there. A singer gets told, " we will cut out your tongue if you continue to sing," so she flees to the south. This exposure of  musicians reacting to life in a country going through coup d'etats and fighting a war poignantly illustrates the inverse relationship between music and war.

Music that becomes Art acts, it doesn't react.  It acts by staying true to its creative, exploratory aesthetic, staying true to itself, forging new tracks, lines of flight to other realities.  Music can act as a non-bloody, non-killing war machine against terrorism and other destructive insanities and pathologies just by existing and proliferating, generating affective force.  How this might get accomplished follows below.   In Noise, The Political Economy of Music, Attali hypothesizes that at one time in pre-history music was ritually used to channel violence away from war and destruction  into sound spaces of equal intensity.  To verify that he says would require an in-depth analysis of music and myth and admits that virtually nothing is known about the status of music in society during that period. I do know that you can't play or fully listen to music when local human bodies are busy fighting something.  Music requires physical non-violence to be made and heard.

My instrument is a tool, an object… used to build, construct and deconstruct…
used to express ideas, options, light, dark, make it rain…
Art is not a mirror, it is a hammer.

                                                              - Bill Laswell, 2015

Music of a certain aesthetic becomes a powerful weapon against the facism and strictures of the State, any State of  Control upon others, in that, among other things, music inspires individual will and self-determination over one's destiny, freedom and liberty. Music provides the opportunity for gnostic breakthroughs - direct experiences of profound wisdom and understanding that greatly accelerates spiritual intelligence.  A gnostic moment at a Who concert is documented here.  Obviously music has a multiplicity of uses, functions and possibilities.  It can act as a legominism, an artifact encoded with esoteric data which can be unlocked with the right combination of mood, posture and emotion - finding the right mode of receptivity to receive the encoded data.  In other words, music can be psychometrized to great advantage.

We note with interest the Amnesty International music concerts organized by Bill Graham  that brought an All Star show of Western rock music to the Soviet Union and Poland about 6 months or so before the Solidarity movement accelerated that lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.  Those concerts apparently contributed significantly to opening the floodgates of Western culture and goods into the Eastern Bloc.  Hilary Clinton remarked to a CNN interviewer that Solidarity leader Lech Walsea told her that the desire for Western culture is what ultimately brought the change, the people demanded the freedom to participate in the world economy.  The instigation of the collapse of the Soviet empire seemingly had nothing to do with political diplomacy which only facilitated it after it was in motion.   It started with the will of the people who somehow, for some reason ( rock concerts?) took it upon themselves to create and follow enough avenues demanding freedom that the politicians had no choice but to respond.

Will to Power

"Will, this is what the liberator and the messenger of joy is called '
- Thus Spake Zarathustra

Nietzsche expanded upon Percy Shelley's line, "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" to include all artists.

In Nietzsche, "we the artists" = "we the seekers after knowledge or truth" = 'we the inventors of new possibilities of life."

... art is a "stimulant of the will to power", "something that excites willing."
 - Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche & Philosophy

In his philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche viewed the world as a dynamic play of forces ("all sensibility is a becoming of forces") beneath the phenomenal world habitually represented to ourselves through various linguistic models, maps and metaphors.  This view of forces looks at 'things' as constantly changing processes in motion in energetic states that more closely follow the models described by Relativistic and Quantum physics than the block-like "objects" of the Newtonian world.

The "will to power" seems a commonly misunderstood concept.  Power used in this sense has nothing to do with dominance over others.  It also has nothing to do with desiring or accumulating power.  The will to power  is what Nietzsche called the genus or originator of forces.  In other words, the will to power = the true creative act that brings forces into being, into play.  Consider it as the will to power up forces in the electrical sense, to turn them on.  Mixing music can be a "will to power," a truly creative act that brings to life a multiplicity of affective forces both virtually and actually to reach a broad audience.  If combined with an intention of some kind, however specific or abstract, the song mix can cause change to occur in accordance with will, Aleister Crowley's definition of Magick.

Nietzsche describes two general types of forces operant in the world, active and reactive. Active forces = affirmation, reactive forces = negation. "Affirmation takes us into the glorious world of Dionysis, the being of becoming and negation hurls us down into the disquieting depths from which reactive forces emerge." (Deleuze N&P ).  The great majority of human behavior now and down through recorded history describes a tangle of reactive forces.  Reactive forces interfere with active forces and prevent them from going as far as they could.  That's one definition of a reactive force - a force that blocks an active force from full expression.  Music that becomes a superficial consumer commodity, i.e. most or all contemporary pop music, expresses forces reacting to and determined by the formulas and demands of the marketplace.  Music that becomes Art creates active forces, but, of course, subject to the interference of reactive forces.  The difficulty of making active forces either in Art or in one's life lead Gurdjieff to say that "WoMan's chief delusion is her conviction that she can DO.  Most humans appear to spend much of their lives reacting to external stimuli according to the programming and conditioning of the belief systems they've been fed and have assimilated unless actively finding a way out - Ariadne's thread.  The phrase synonymous with Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," echoes Gurdjieff's meaning of "do" emphasizing the primacy of creating affirmative, active forces as genuine expression.

Crowley thought highly of Nietzsche,  "Nietzsche to me was almost an avatar of Thoth, the god of wisdom" ( Confessions, p. 746).  Both identified with the anti-Christ and both had deeply held notions regarding the reconciliation and unity of opposites, Crowley through Taoism and Nietzsche via his ideas about the creation of the Overman through one form of nihilism.  Both also advocated strenuously and forcefully against the restrictive conditioning of organized religions.

Viewing all phenomena as the dynamic play of forces reflects Crowley's vision which declared in one instance that the only stability is change:

 Know that the Universe is not at rest, but in extreme motion whose sum is Rest. And this understanding that Stability is Change, and Change Stability, that Being is Becoming, and Becoming Being, is the Key to the Golden Palace of this Law. 
- Liber CL 

This also seems how William Burroughs and  Brion Gysin saw things as epitomized in their statement, "we are Here To Go," ( also the name of a book they co-wrote).  It appears cognate with Buckminster Fuller's observation, " I seem to be a verb."  Constantly changing, always in motion.  This view describes the space known as the Bardo in the Tibetan and American Books of the Dead. It's also called the Transit space due to the feeling and sensation of always traveling, always in motion.  We have been programmed and conditioned in this culture to inherit a world view that only sees solid matter formed into static discrete objects which we represent to ourselves in different ways through different maps and models and then usually mistake the representation for the actuality, the map for the territory.

We can change this common view of the world to see things more continuously as a play of interconnected forces by taking the perspective of a subatomic particle.  The last time I saw Timothy Leary talk he urged the audience to see like a quark would see, view life as a quark might.  This vision, described in the ABD as "the key that opens the door of solid form" has a liquid, malleable feel to it as forms appear to dissolve in energetic undulations.  This might explain one reason James Joyce began Finnegans Wake with the word "riverrun" that succinctly and perfectly describes this liquid view of forces in motion.  As is well known, the book's ending cycles back to the beginning, back to riverrun implying the whole book as a symbolic river flowing.  Less well known is the function of Finnegans Wake as a book of the dead.  It is suggested to always assume we are in the Bardo and from the perspective beyond solid form, it appears true.  Even without that perspective it seems obviously so when considering that bardo means the space in-between, the space in-between death and rebirth.  Anyone actively engaged in brain change experimentation of any kind always seems ever in-between the death of what they once were and the rebirth of what they are becoming. 

Certain films accurately illustrate the vision of continuous energetic flow.  Two that spring to mind: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure when they time travel in the phone booth and the cult classic Buckeroo Banzai Through the 8th Dimension when he penetrates the wall of solid matter and goes through a mountain near the start of the film.  Different kinds of music can simulate the dynamic flux of forces tearing down the wall of solid matter and can help to get you in that zone.  A Love Supreme, Cosmic Music and Om by Coltrane all have a flowing continuity of different, sometimes extreme intensities of sound coding.  The music seems greatly aided to reach a continuous liquid state by the constantly moving drum patterns, the swirling brush stir, riding the cymbals, micro-rhythms within each beat; walking bass lines also help.  My Favorite Things gets to the liquid state in a cool, gentle familiar way, more like a plunge in cool water as opposed to the sometimes  fiery, volcanic intensities of the three other albums. Two more recent cds by Bill Laswell, Arc of the Testimony and Space/Time Redemption will also key in to the transit spaces of forces in motion.  They both also feature incredible jazz drummers, Tony Williams and Milford Graves respectively.

The present is the point of power.
                                                   - Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality

The ultimate point of power of a mix is the moment it's recorded, finalized for posterity, bound across time.  Of course, every moment while working on the mix can be a point of power, a will to power in Nietzsche's sense as the creator of active forces.  Music can profoundly affect and change someone's life.  How a song is mixed bears a direct relationship with how much musical content is conveyed.  This content can consist of a various mixture of percepts (sensations), affects (feelings) and ideas or concepts.

Gyms, physical fitness books, sports, exercise - activities and institutions of that nature develop, maintain and educate the physical body.  Universities, libraries, research centers, technical schools are places that can do the same for the intellect.  The feeling centrum, the heart, can receive an education, development and maintenance from the fine arts: literature, painting, music, films etc.  Playing and/or listening to music can help to activate Gurdjieff's Higher Emotional Center, what Timothy Leary called Circuit 6 in his schematics of personal evolution.

The overman is defined by a new way of feeling: he is a different subject from man, something other than the human type. 
                                              - Deleuze, N & P

Nietzsche shares the alchemist's perspective regarding the possibility of creating higher forms of life out of ordinary humankind; the activation and eventual crystalization of spiritual bodies. Zarathustra gives the Übermensch as the next step in spiritual development.   Übermensch translates more accurately as Overman than as Superman because it descibes a mode of becoming beyond "man" both as a gender and as a species.  The Overman = Leary's E.T. circuits ( 5 - 8) and also designates the level of initiation that Crowley calls NEMO ( No Man).  The job of Nemo is to "tend the garden" (Vision & the Voice 13th Aeyther).  Crowley reveals the job in the spelling of the name:

 NEMO = Death, The Star, The Hanged Man and Pan through tarot associations.

Death means death of the "man," temporary death of the "human," the ego, the personality, the machine, Leary's terrestrial circuits (1-4), whatever you want to call it.  Death of the ego, the ordinary identity, however temporary (seconds, minutes, hours, days) appears requisite in both Nietzsche's and Deleuze's philosophies as well as in virtually every mystical system.  The Star's function appears in The Book of Thoth - definitely worth looking up.  It relates to the third line of the Book of the Law, "Every man and every woman is a star."  The Hanged Man appears in conjunction with the death of man angle and correlates to the element Water (Yin).  Pan means all and everything and also signifies primal creative male energy.  Look up The Devil Atu in The Book of Thoth.  Male, yang force isn't discarded or repressed in this formula, but rather is qualified, transformed and used for fuel.  This describes a process aligned with the will to power, a process that can generate strong affective forces, forces that can get recorded along with music, also when the mix is recorded; these affects and percepts translate as mood, feel, and atmosphere; they work in the domain described by quantum and relativistic physics, the Quantum and Einsteinian worlds (more on this later).

"... for Nietzsche, the capacity for being affected is not necessarily a passivity but an affectivity, a sensibility, a sensation.  It is in this sense that Nietzsche, even before elaborating the concept of the will to power and giving it its full significance, was already speaking of a feeling of power.  Before treating power as a matter of will he treated it as a matter of feeling and sensibility.  But when he had elaborated the full concept of the will to power this first characteristic did not disappear - it became the manifestation of  the will to power.  This is why Nietzsche always says that the will to power is the "primitive affective form" from which all other feelings derive.
  - Deleuze, N & P, p.62

The heart when activated, maybe through being affected by the last amazing mix you did, begins to harmonize and helps to power the other centrums.  Real will, according to Gurdjieff, occurs when the centrums are all going in the same direction aligned to a mutual aim.  It seems that the growth of a spiritual body forms around the activation, of the Higher Emotional Center, it starts in the middle (C6) then expands out (C5, C7 and beyond) which Deleuze observes is how various morphogenetic processes begin - starting from the middle.  This might explain why many ancient cultures ascribe the heart as the seat of the soul.  The feeling centrum when turned on provokes the growth of Conscience.  Certain actions become impossible to even consider when active empathy for the well-being of others comes into play.

It's my belief that music has a strong role to play for the survival of the planet. The economic climate has turned against the production of new music compared to what it was up through the 1990s while worldwide wars have amped up since 9/11.  If all or even half of all the funding given to political campaigns was channeled into the production of music and performances as well as other programs supporting the proliferation of the Fine Arts then we'd be living in a vastly different world.  I realize that's a fantasy, the point being that it's at least as equally valid to do music as it is to engage in political causes for the betterment of life on Earth.