Sunday, September 18, 2005

What about music?

My position on most things supernatural/divine/spiritual is "it's all in your head but if it suits you great and bugger off".
It's not that I'm actively hostile to power crystals or soothing stones, I just don't tolerate having these ideas shoved in my face as fact - often done with a look of "oh my dear ignorant friend, how I pity your ignorance".

I have endured several encounters with modern day medicinemen and I have almost always enjoyed crushing them with a double-punch of logic and cynicism which leaves them scurrying off to their temples of enlightenment saturated with mint-eggplant aromas.

Recently however, a question posed in passing during a conversation with a friend has left me a little humbled. She is NOT one of those quacks I mentioned above although I'm not sure what to call her belief-system other than spiritual. The question was: "... but then how do you explain music?"

I couldn't.

She didn't notice that it struck me like a brick, and I didn't show it I suppose, but for the remainder of the evening the specter of a rent in my reasoning was weighing heavily on my mind.

How could I have missed this? Yes, music. If there is anything in our sensorium that screams soulful it is music. I have always been aware that life has a soundtrack. Almost every mood or circumstance has a mental accompaniment of melody. Music moves us like no other sensation, and while we all enjoy a pretty view or a pleasant aroma, none of these experiences resonates our fiber like notes and rhythm.

Name things you take with you to a deserted island and some form of music is always on that list (nobody ever says inflatable life raft but that's another issue).

So... what about music? Why is it so pervasively human? Why is it played in churches and the refrain of prayer? Is it - for lack of a better word - divine? I'm agnostic, so that won't hold water with me.

What do you think? Scroll down the sidebar and vote.


Blogger Fouad said...

I don't think it is proof of the divine, well, at least no more than colors, textures and aromas. It does have certain charcteristics that make it stand out amongst all other sensory stimuli.

1) inherent rhythm and periodicity, like a beating heart, a moving body, waves, day and night, seasons, etc. things we recognize and identify with consciously or unconsciously, and relate to through dance (or try to)

2) It is always mathematically perfect (or should be, haifa wehbe's voice for instance), like some things in nature that appeal to our senses, phi, the golden number, fractals etc. If it stops being mathematical it becomes noise. Other things in nature can be totally random and still be ok to experience, though not necessarily appealing.

3) It is four dimensional, moves in time and envelops the space, and is much harder to escape than other sensorial stimuli (hence subliminal messages...)

4) It is THE one thing that makes you feel like you're not alone even when you are, and that, I cannot readily explain, except through inference of human presence

5) As much as it is invasive, it is evasive, no shape, no color, no taste, it stands independently, hence acquiring a supernatural (divine) quality.

To me it's this combo of characteristics that gives music (harmonious noise) a unique standing in our sensory experience.

This was way too long but Oh how I love to philosophize!

So what do you think of this nonsense? :)

5:14 AM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger La La said...

so I came to leave you a nice comment but after I read TC's...I'll refrain. He basically summed up everything (especially #2).

11:58 PM, September 19, 2005  
Blogger poshlemon said...

Too much philosophy for me at 3 am in the morning, london time. I am simple and this is how simple I can get:

"I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields, Only to be with you; I have run I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls; Only to be with you, But I still haven't found what I'm looking for; I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire, this burning desire" U2

Can you feel this song already? Everytime I listen to this song, it feels like the first time and I get all this adrenaline rush and all those moments, images and smells. I think music is already inside of us like our beating heart (that's for you Thermo-crime), and we are music.

wow, that was too mushy! lol

4:59 AM, September 21, 2005  
Blogger Ramzi said...

It's not nonsense at all, specially number 2.
But you see, you claim that music has nothing divine about it, yet reading number 4 still begs the question.
I haven't made up my mind either way, and I won't accept the 'divine' as an answer, but if not that then what?

I'll ban TC's comments. Or at least until you've left yours

You? Simple? Never.
Mushy maybe.

4:17 PM, September 22, 2005  
Blogger Lazarus said...

the only thing i'll add to TC's comment is that music is poetry without words ...

2:14 AM, September 23, 2005  
Anonymous Roa said...

hey ramzi
sorry for the late comment bas i was catching up on ur blog today...
paul bought a interesting book recently which you might be interested in:
it is called Descartes' error by antonio damasio, a renowned neuroscience researcher..i think it is related in a way to what ur saying...he provides clinical and basic science evidence that people who are unable to experience emotions (lesions, lobotomy, crazy-1950's-science) have severe reasoning deficits despite intact intelligence...inno they can carry out tough math or logic problems bas make catastrophic everyday life decisions..the reason again being lack of an emotional perspective...
halla'a emotions and feelings have been called all sorts of bad names and despised by a lot of thinkers..we even use cool-headed in a positive term..what do u know..if u cant feel, then u cant reason...
what does this have to do with ur comment? well emotions and feelings could still be thought of as linked to survival and evolution and that we share these sentiments with other mammals but u can also think of them as spiritual linked to art, beauty, music and whatever, no?
get the is interesting

4:24 AM, October 07, 2005  

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