On Truth, Freedom and the Commercialization
of Communal Time and Space
(0) When I play true, even though
I may make mistakes, all the many
voices move as one, and even the
softest of sounds can be heard;
When I play false, though I do not
(1a) In limits, there is freedom; in freedom, there is limit.
Even the wildest of rivers creates the boundaries of the bed
which orders its flow.
(1b) A free economy is a strictly limited one. Even the busiest
of thoroughfares still retains a thin white line, protecting the rights
of those of us who prefer to walk.
(2) The pre-fab templates of commercial culture force us to put on a life
like one might put on a coat. Tacitly conditioned, with on all sides tremendous
pressure to conform, we are driven by a self-deceptive false desire to buy
or consume things which, deeper within ourselves, we know are bad for us,
ill-fitting, or in other ways diminish our integrity and freedom. As a movement,
the gross commercialization of all realms of life comes full circle once the children
of the shopkeeper desperately want the food, the clothes, the music which
the shopkeeper at great profit sells, but which he, just as desperately, neither
wants his children to eat, nor wear, nor play.
(3) Commercial culture colonizes the hearts of the young like an insidious weed
unleashed upon a pristine landscape. Once the more subtle, native intelligence
of the child is crowded out by hamburger cheatgrass and CD knapweed, covering
the land as far as one can see, after the passing of but a single generation,
who will be left to sing to the young of the splendor of the tallgrass prairie lost?
(4) The economy of Art? You know that your composition has achieved
a certain integrity not just when there is nothing left to take away, but also
when changing but a single part means that you must of necessity
go back and retune the whole.
(5) Template Culture works only because of the unseen formative movement
of an all-encompassing commercialism which, with our tacit consent, fills us
with an intense desire to do exactly that conform to the template. The contradiction
in this is that we think we are buying more freedom and happiness, whereas
-- with the notable exception of the essential equipage of a simple life --
in actual fact we are generally less free and less happy with every purchase
(6) Rhythm? The colonization of both natural space and time by the corrupt religions
of the past has in the present era been superseded by the blind forces of outward material
wealth..In the town where the lights flash night and day, every day, marked by calendars
which tell us only the correct time to buy this or that, the symphony in harmony with
the movements of All is left, until the very moment of liberation, forever
uncharted and unsung.
(7) Advertising is never free. The constant repetition of cheap commercial slogans
fills communal space with a kind of false poetry, which is, in a way, the very most
corrupt -- and corrupting, possible use of language. Slogans deliberately usurp
the power of the sonic elements of poetry in order to deceive, transforming the subtle
rhythms of rhyme, assonance and anaphora into just more instruments in the repertoire
of greed and unjust gain.
(8) Once the common ground of shared intention is lost, each individual can do
nothing else but move in his or her own, isolated direction, concerned only about
his or her own separate well-being. Within the shortest period of time, this leads
to a situation of degenerative chaos in which these individual movements are --
at least incipiently -- at odds with one another. Thus the essential need for both
collective and individual well-being is denied.
There are evidently only two ways of bringing people together to work for the common
good. One is to impose order from without, as is currently common practice in government,
the military and businesses, both large and small; The other is when order emerges
spontaneously from within, from deeply shared meaning and intention. The great danger,
is that, imposing order from without is the surest way to disorder simply because it
destroys individual freedom and therefore creativity. This generates a vicious circle
because freedom and creativity are the very things needed to bring into being the far
more stable natural order for which every one of us longs.
Look at a hundred soldiers standing in a single row. Are they fighting for freedom,
or are they for political or economic reasons forced to stand there? Listen to an
orchestra of 100 of the finest musicians. Are they there because the truth and beauty
of the music has compelled them to play, or for some other reason. When we can
no longer tell the difference, much more than Art is lost The greatest cathedrals,
perhaps even those built of pure sound, are never made by those who do not freely
sense the truth of what they have gathered together to create.
(9) Work. Who isn't one step away from becoming redundant, from being,
like an unnecessary word in a phrase, deleted? Words. We should use
them with more care.
(10) Money is a movement which always seems to be going in the wrong direction
(11) In the long run, whether the seeds of new meaning and the creative artifacts
they generate somewhere set root and flourish depends not on any form of economic
promotion or publicity, but solely on the strength of their resonance with our deeply-
felt spiritual need for beauty and truth.
(12) Art? Beauty? Perhaps, that which is fitting in every way, in all directions
at once. Music? On the way to your next concert, if you wish to know what the Earth
and the whole of creatura suffer every day because of our lack of sensitivity and
indifference, let your route follow the side of a busy, noisy road, walking swiftly
against the flow. And if you, as many others do, wish to work through the energy
of your own creativity for peace, beauty and tranquility in the world, know that,
that sound is what you're up against.
(Photo: Glacier Stream, Granite Flow, the Alps)
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(created XI.26.1999) (Last update: III.6.2002)