Rethinking Scarecrow

Rethinking Scarecrow

You know the story of Oz. Scarecrow needed a brain and the Wizard complies by giving him a “diploma”. The message was clear: having a college diploma (or degree) means having a brain – a message that persisted throughout the 20th century and well into the 21st. Now the Great Recession, a “jobless recovery” (how’s that for politispeak?), massive outsourcing, and mounting student debt...

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Career Mash Up 5

Career Mash Up 5

Such an Innocent Question… For as long as most people can remember, building a career has been equated with the notion of settling down, the way you’d think about marriage after playing the field. It’s been about answering the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question adoringly asked when we are small, but dogging us for a committed answer as we become adults. What the...

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Career Mash Up 3

Career Mash Up 3

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about change. My every day world (the northeast United States) has been blessed with a relative calm over the past 150+ years; a calm that has lulled me to sleep. But change is afoot. Between the economic downturn, climate change and ever-expanding populations I can feel the sand shifting beneath my feet. Can you? For me, big change calls for a new...

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Career Mash Up 2

Career Mash Up 2

Some more miscellaneous illuminations from the desk of a very busy thought sailor. Enjoy. • The Arts Circle Back. “The arts began as collective activity around the campfire, expressions of community. In a very real sense, the community owned that expression. Over time, with increasing specialization of labor, the arts– especially Western ‘high arts’– became distanced from the...

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Music, Mortgages and Big Data

Music, Mortgages and Big Data

Unless we want mass unemployment, poverty and revolution in the future, we need to start compensating people for the contributions they make to digital networks. That is the central theme of computer scientist Jaron Lanier’s book Who Owns The Future, an in-depth follow-up and expansion on ideas he first explored in his 2010 best-seller, You Are Not A Gadget. Lanier is famous for...

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Finding Creative Flow Sixteen Stories Above Manhattan

Finding Creative Flow Sixteen Stories Above Manhattan

I attended a Creativity Workshop this past weekend in New York City and I will never be the same. It was held in a large room on West 29th St., in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, with polished wood floors, comfortable chairs and large pillows scattered all around.  There were about twenty-three participants and our facilitators’ names were Shelley and Alejandro. Everyone was tasked with...

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The Future of Music Performance

The Future of Music Performance

In the 2001 film, Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise, there’s a scene where he welcomes a guest at his apartment. There’s a party’s going on. With the camera behind him, he proceeds through the rooms until coming to one where you can see up ahead what looks like a grainy black and white image of a man playing the saxophone. Turns out it’s a life-size hologram of John Coltrane performing...

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The Digital Dark Side

The Digital Dark Side

First, we make the tech, then tech makes us. – Anon. We are now at another one of those historic moments when a scientific itch is just beyond the reach of scratch, and it is a particularly maddening time, especially for those who stand outside the sciences in the humanities and can only sense what they cannot know. That would be me. Nobody would dispute that scientists know more about nature...

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Mashing it Up in the Cultural Swill

Mashing it Up in the Cultural Swill

We are all immersed in an ever-growing media environment – an environment just as real and just as affecting as the natural one from which it somehow sprang.  Today we are surrounded by canned ideas, images, music, and text. And so “creating” today is the act of appropriating and (re)combining what’s already there. I want to share a few thoughts on this and also hear yours. Some say the...

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Illuminating Music Trivia 2

Illuminating Music Trivia 2

Music history bursts with inspiring stories and surprising twists that can both temper myths and entertain us in the process. As such they “illuminate” and, hopefully, entertainment in the process. I’ll try and drop one of these each month. This month, “Outsider Music,” “Strange Lawsuits,” and some “Miscellaneous Music Notes”. Enjoy… (compiled by...

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The Re-Writing of the Human Story

The Re-Writing of the Human Story

Back in 1994, a discovery was made in southeastern Turkey that began a slow but sure paradigm shift in how we view human history.  A number of stone enclosures were unearthed on a hilltop just north of the Syrian border. Named Gobekli Tepe (meaning, “hill with a navel” or “hill with a belly” in Turkish), the enclosures are surrounded by beautifully carved limestone...

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Illuminating Music Trivia

Illuminating Music Trivia

Music history is rich with inspiring stories and surprising twists that can both temper some of the myths that grow through time and entertain us in the process. Here are a few to ‘edutain’ your late summer months. Enjoy… Illuminating Music Trivia   (compiled by Peter Spellman)                                                                           ...

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Critical Marxism: A Lens on Modern Society

Critical Marxism: A Lens on Modern Society

From the “Overflow” file… One life-changing illumination from grad school was my introduction to “Critical Marxism”. Now don’t get scared. The mere mention of Marx’s name conjures dark visions of totalitarianism and lifeless culture. I know. During the Parisian communism experiment, Marx himself is alleged to have said, “One thing’s for sure; I know I am not a...

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The Great Tone

The Great Tone

I found this illuminating passage in a book called, The World is Sound: Music & the Landscape of Consciousness by Joachim-Ernst Berendt. Some food for thought in this new year: The Great Tone is the tone of being or, as the Indians put it, the tone of the self, of the Atma.  The Great Tone is Nada Brahma, the tone from which God made the world, which continues to sound at the bottom of...

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Crystalline Music

Crystalline Music

Music creates order out of chaos – for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous. – Yehudi Menuhin Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘nature’ of music – its deeper meanings for humans and the worlds they inhabit. Music, put as simply as possible, is coherent sound and...

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Where Now Is Bohemia?

Where Now Is Bohemia?

I recently dug out an interview with author/futurist William Gibson (a music fan who coined the term “cyberspace” in his 1984 novel “Neuromancer”). In it Gibson laments the quick co-opting of anything rebellious in western culture and wonders about the survival of bohemia. Since so much of music creation has sprung from bohemian enclaves throughout history, I thought it...

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Kids’ Creativity in Decline? Uh-Oh.

Kids’ Creativity in Decline? Uh-Oh.

Children are often considered the last bastion of unsullied creativity. That’s why it’s a bit daunting to learn that kids’ creativity is at risk. Some parents are coming up with ways to get their kids thinking creatively again, reports Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal. Creativity among US kids is, in fact, a problem: “Americans’ scores on a commonly used...

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Greening Your Inner Air

Greening Your Inner Air

As air-filtration systems go, ordinary houseplants are relatively inexpensive and can be effective, reports Gwendolyn Bounds in the Wall Street Journal (3/15/11). Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have studied houseplants as air filters for five years. They “found that small groups of the Janet Craig and Sweet Chico plants placed in offices with high concentrations of...

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‘Louder’ Star Music & 2012

‘Louder’ Star Music & 2012

Many have heard of the “music of the spheres”, an ancient concept referred to by Pythagoras and other observers over the centuries. To them, the solar system consisted of ten spheres revolving in circles about a central fire, each sphere giving off a sound the way a projectile makes a sound as it swished through the air; the closer spheres gave lower tones while the farther moved faster and...

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What is Your Internal Absorption Rate?

What is Your Internal Absorption Rate?

A Brazilian music journalist recently put this question to me: Nowadays, it is so easy to make music and even to make movies. Are we living in a world of too much entertainment options? Do we need so much music and so many movies? Is there really a demand for that? My reply: There is a book that came out several years back about the affect of TV on society called Amusing Ourselves to Death by...

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‘Mind Jazz’

‘Mind Jazz’

William Irwin Thompson is one of my favorite authors. He seems to always be up ahead, peeking around the corner of what’s to come. Not to mention, he has a wonderful way with words. Here’s a sample: We are now at another one of those historic moments when a scientific itch is just beyond the reach of scratch, and it is a particularly maddening time, especially for those who stand...

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Sound – The Foundation

Sound – The Foundation

“This sound is the source of all manifestation… The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole universe.”                                                                                                                           – Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan Cosmic Sound, Primal Vibration, the Logos, the Music...

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