On Generative Music

My fascination with generative music, a form defined by Brian Eno as “music that is ever-different and changing, created by a system,” is one that (like the music itself) only grows and transforms the more I play with and experience it.

(An excellent primer on how generative music works )

After learning of the app version of Eno’s latest, REFLECTION (though not yet, I’m loath to admit, willing to shell out $30.99 to explore it), I purchased Eno’s earlier collaborations with composer and software designer Peter Chilvers — TROPE and BLOOM HD — and was entranced by what I can describe only as a zen garden of endless sound, colors and sound unfolding in infinite permutation across a smudged iPad mini held to the wall by a loose nail and a broken Five Below generic tablet case. Both TROPE and BLOOM are perfect accompaniments for writing: infinite and unobtrusive sonic landscapes that eliminate distracting choices outside the work at hand and thereby enable deeper focus on the choices one must make in said work.

Perhaps it’s the jazz devotee in me that finds generative music so intriguing, the bands I love (The Necks, especially) being systems unto themselves and of the medium in which they are creating, an organic, ever-evolving version of the generative digital systems of Eno, et. al; or perhaps it’s simply the remnants of the composer in me that are endlessly fascinated by the possibilities of infinite sound and the sonic explorations they inspire as both creator and listener.



A Raw Stream from a Bad Day (A Paragraph on Diabetes)

If the point of writing and publishing these pieces is to regain comfort with sharing myself to the ambivalence of the digital ether, then this is me kicking myself off the cliff and building a parachute as I plummet. The following first-draft tantrum was penned on one of the bad days (though I am uncertain precisely when this was written, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes on 18 October 2016 after near-death via ketoacidosis) as a means of self-therapy and exorcism. Perhaps against my better judgement, I offer it here free of revision and of polish, a raw stream of an open wound.

I give up on talking about this. I give up on talking about my diabetes, about the inescapable nature of it. That I will never be cured of it. That I will always be living with it and that it will always be there, that eating will now be a mathematical equation. I give up on hoping for empathy, for understanding. Unless you are experiencing it yourself, there is no empathy. There is no way to expect it, nor should I. I will stare down my fear four times a day, at my numbers, that I will have to go back into the hospital or that I won’t be able to raise my blood sugar before I go to bed. That I’ll be stuck sleeping halfway. That I came back to something not worth coming back to; what is the point of continuing this as though nothing has changed? Everything has changed and nothing has changed. No one will understand it. No one will feel it as I feel it. And there is no way I can expect anyone to do likewise. That inescapable feeling that I am holding others back and that, like an alcoholic or smoker staring longingly at oh fuck this i hate this so much. I want it gone but I know it will never be gone. This is my only respite. Writing this down and making something out of it to extricate it from my brain as best I can. There is no other choice but for me to shoulder this burden in private, hiding my feelings from my wife and my family. It is my burden to carry, anything else is unfair unburdening. Maybe talk to K about it? But I don’t know, that would be unburdening as well. The fear, the fear, the omnipresent fear. The trepidation at myself. This is what terrifies me. As though my body is not my own; but in some ways I’m in more control than before. Which is an odd thing: I’ve switched to manual transmission, cure, a cure, but there is no cure; I will never be cured of this and there will never be a cure. I have done something or I have done nothing. I don’t know anymore. But maybe this week is my way of transcending these feelings, perhaps. And the only way to do that is to feel these things intensely, and peel back the scooby mask. When the bad moments come and they will, I have to feel them myself. I have to absorb them. I am the pain. I am the discomfort. I must be of it. it’s only through this that I will make it through it. Even if it kills me.


Farewell, Moleskine

While I’ve been Moleskine-monogamous since 2005-06 (excepting a short phase with clearance section notebooks in ’09-’10, a mistake I’ll never make again), the Midori A5 — long on my radar — has won my heart: mercifully devoid of the brand over-expansion and declining paper quality presently plaguing Moleskine, the A5 opens flat — a boon to lefties like me — to high-quality paper that forbids bleed-through and a minuscule bookmark that never wanders into the path of the bleary-eyed southpaw scribbling furiously;  a simple, white cardstock cover only grows in character the more it is subjected to the batterings of life and of muse. I’m in love.

Happy Sunday.


(Notes from) The Twitter Anxiety Workflow

A process unfolds.

Step one: Tell yourself that you will not open Twitter at diabetically-mandated breakfast. You succeed at not opening Twitter at diabetically-mandated breakfast.

(be proud of yourself)

Step two: After diabetically-mandated breakfast, tell yourself that since you avoided opening Twitter at diabetically-mandated breakfast, you might as well take a look for a brief moment because what can go wrong?

(reconsider pride, recall episode eleven of the ninth series of DOCTOR WHO and the teleporter and the skulls)

Step three: Look at Twitter and let your eyes glaze over. Maybe there’s more, maybe I’m missing something: this is what you tell yourself. Scroll. Curse the slowness of your iPhone 6; it wasn’t like this before iOS11.

(stupid iOS11 / stupid iPhone 6 / but I love you anyway, for some reason or another)

Step four: Well, maybe, wait. Check your profile to see… I don’t know what. Something, certainly; something important, to be sure.

(hate yourself)

Step five: Check to make sure that over the course of your mindless, glazed-over scrolling you haven’t retweeted something or liked something untoward because to do so will upset what you perceive to be this latest iteration of your digital self as you begin to recognize this behavior to be a digital manifestation of OCD.

(hate yourself; breathe)

Step six: Close Twitter and engage in the next morning activity, most likely washing the dishes from aforementioned, diabetically-mandated breakfast.

(hate that you hate yourself but feel good that you are now getting something concrete and useful done; breathe)

Step seven: While washing dishes, consider deleting the last thing you posted that wasn’t from this site.

(hate that you hate yourself but hate yourself more for thinking about Twitter while you are doing something more important like washing the last bits of egg the dogs missed from their pre-wash cleaning of the plate (cook omelet at slightly higher setting to form a more solid crust); consider breathing again)

Step seven: Finish dishes, open Twitter again, go to profile and decide not to delete that last tweet because, clearly, it is your feed and should be representative of yourself; this is the you that’s out in the world and oh fuck

(hang head)

Step eight: Close Twitter, put away phone with great flourish, consider deleting entirely (Twitter or the phone, not sure which) then realize that you have no other way of accessing Twitter should that mythical day arrive when it will actually be necessary and decide to relegate Twitter to a folder labeled “Insecurity Work” or “Reassurance Seeking” deep on the second or third phone screen of your slow-ass iPhone 6 to hide it from the rest of the day and certainly from the next morning and the next diabetically-mandated breakfast.

(deep breath / inhale / exhale)

Step nine: Collect notebook, collect coffee, place rubber band on wrist to replace subconsious urge to check with a snap (this worked when I quit smoking, so I might as well…)


Step ten: Return to office, write something — possibly this — to place in public for purposes of accountability and mental exorcism. Later, post this to Twitter (via Buffer) with a picture as continued proof of existence and make sure, you know, just check, that it posted correctly as you attempt to bear the steps elucidated herein in mind and avoid repeating said steps at diabetically-mandated lunch.


A process has unfolded.


ON TYRANNY (a review)

Yale professor Timothy Snyder’s treatise on the perilous state of our republic deserves a place in the same breath as Rebecca Solnit’s HOPE IN THE DARK, Naomi Klein’s THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, and Jane Mayer’s DARK MONEY: essential manuals for preserving one’s sanity while understanding the metastatic rot pervasive in the age of Trump.

The strength of Snyder’s work here is not just in the eye-opening problems or in the simple — not to be confused with easy — solutions that he proposes (indeed, each thought-provoking chapter pushed me to ask the important questions of my own conduct over the past year: Where have I acquiesced? Where have I lost sight of what is happening? Have I taken the fragility of our institutions for granted? In what ways have I let the protection of a screen shield me from taking concrete action? Where can I do more? What can I do? ) but in the underlying idea that in order to save ourselves we must tap into the humility that was the foundation of our founding and cast aside the destructive forces of imagined perfection endemic to the revanchist nostalgia proselytized in the rambling, deplorable bloviations of brand-name Twitter despots; we must summon the courage to confront our numerous and perhaps fatal shortcomings so that we might push ahead towards “a more perfect union” and become again a country always striving to improve – before it’s too late.

A must-read.


Eventually / Into the elven wasteland

A note to myself above the unending to-read list:

“Remember: this list will never be completed. Take your time and enjoy it. You only have the rest of your life. However the hell long that is.”

While this attitude works with books, it doesn’t translate to the calcified build-up of “eventually” online inputs that I’m certain were important at the time of their relegation to the eventually and yet become, at the time of their appointed processing — saved, no doubt, for that right waiting room or for that right solitary moment in the Pat Katan’s parking lot (an Elf-themed Christmas tree is taking shape in our home and further shaping requires many trips into the wasteland) that may never come – stunningly unimportant, their urgency having slid down the twisty slide into oblivion.

(The honing and focusing of online (reading) habits continues to be essential / the battle of importance vs. urgency…)

There might be a deeper point to this though if there is, I’ve yet to find it (Possible memoir title? Another possibility: You’re Alone and No One Gives a Shit: A Life in the Arts in the 21st Century; perhaps I’ll write that one, eventually (there’s another one)).

Happy Thursday.


Of Pleather Chairs (The Sequel)

This time it was a couch, the back of which was comfortable enough to rest my head upon while staring at the ceiling with the intention of counting the tiles though I never got around to it. Enough space between wall and couch to place the book I had planned to read (Rushdie’s TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY-EIGHT NIGHTS) but never did simply for a lack of trying, the necessity of conversation, the aforementioned intention to count ceiling tiles, and a general pervasive anxiety punctuated only by the sound of hand sanitizer dispensensation emanating from sources unknown along the endless fluorescent sterilization of a hallway lined with monitors demonstrating the color-coded heartbeats of faceless denizens.


Notes on the search for the perfect pen

Requirements: quasi-legible, smear-free results for rapid, left-handed thought-vomit exorcism / quick dry time / above average ink capacity / ease of local access to purchase.

The cast-asides: Pilot G2, 0.7mm and 1.0mm (flimsy pen, smearing ink); Pilot V-5 Precise (too fine a point); Papermate Flairs (former beloveds but too thick of a line); uni ball Signo 207, 0.7mm and 1.0mm (close, but too light; the 1.0 was an unwieldy blob-dropper); uni ball Vision Elite 0.8mm (very close, but); uni ball Air 0.7mm (thought for awhile that it might be the one but the bleed through on Moleskine notebook pages was a deal-breaker); Zebra G-301 (ink longevity was worthless); Papermate Inkjoy (no, just no); uni-ball Jetstream RT 0.7mm (almost perfect but too fine a point)…

Also in use: Staples mini-pens for my two Moleskine Volants, one for on-the-go thought capture and the other for recording the results of four-times-daily blood sugar testing aka blood sacrifice to the beeping giants. Not entirely satisfied with this option, though: they tend to write rough near the margins and the too-thick clip tears the hell out of the Volant covers. Suggestions welcome.

The saga continues (?)


Inevitabullshit: A Collection of Resources on the End of Net Neutrality

As news broke — timed, no doubt, to distract from the horrific Republican tax overhaul and to ensure that its announcement fell through the holiday cracks — of the latest version of the FCC’s plan to gut net neutrality protections, I struggled to find a word that best expressed that particular combination of enraged inevitability / inevitable rage endemic in this, the age of the orange malignancy (I refuse to say his name). The best I’ve come up with with is inevitabullshit.

Will update this list as the story unfolds:

Reddit, Twitter, and 200 others say ending net neutrality could ruin Cyber Monday, via The Verge

+ The FCC’s final draft of its proposal to end net neutrality, to be voted on 14 December.

+ While they were at it: The FCC ignored your net neutrality argument unless you made a ‘serious’ legal argument, via The Verge.

+ Oh, and by the way: It’s not just net neutrality: The FCC could also relax one of broadcast media’s biggest rules,via The Washington Post.

+ FCC explains why public support for net neutrality won’t stop repeal, via Ars Technica.

FCC Chairman Pai’s statement on the draft order on gutting net neutrality protections in favor of a “light-touch, market-based framework”

+ FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel‘s LA Times op-ed, “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality.”

+ FCC announces vote to destroy net neutrality next month, via The Verge.

+ Here’s How the End of Net Neutrality Will Change the Internet, via WIRED.

+ Oh, yes:  NY AG probing ‘massive scheme’ to influence FCC with fake net neutrality comments, via The Hill.

+ For a look at what I believe the internet will look like in the wake of Pai’s kowtowing to the telecoms, I point you to this fascinating article in The Economist on the issue of airport slotting.

Here’s my own comment from July on the first round of Pai’s FCC’s initial moves. I reproduce it here for the sake of completion:

There is no question that net neutrality must be protected; the only question is why are we walking down this path again? It’s simple: this is nothing but a barely disguised act of political spite from the current administration towards the legacy of the previous administration without regard for the fallout and the impact on consumers. We have been down this road before; the matter was settled in 2015: the internet is a protected telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. It must, for the benefit of civil society and generations present and future, stay that way.