Saturday, August 29, 2009

almost forgot, did that looper demo video

Here is the video that demonstrates Live's looper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

so a little more on I Ching and Tarot

So let's consider the Major Arcana. C. G. Jung wrote a preface to the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching wherein he considers the use and meaning of the oracle. He also advanced the notion of archetypes, and "suggested the existence of universal contentless forms that channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognisable and typical patterns of behaviour with certain probable outcomes."[ref.]

That notion lends itself to a hypothesis for explaining a mechanism for the operation of the Tarot: by providing a framework for the arrangement of archetypical images, we employ their 'essences' in divination.

The Major Arcana are these [ref.] In the context of a comparison with the I Ching, it is interesting to note that many "yang" male archetypes have corresponding "yin" female counterparts. Others aren't necessarily paired, but exhibit one or the other characteristic (or both). The application of the labels is intuitive, and that is the way a lot of this works.

None (0 or 22) The Fool (yang)
1 The Magician / The Juggler (yang)
2 The High Priestess / The Popess (yin)
3 The Empress (yin)
4 The Emperor (yang)
5 The Hierophant / The Pope (yang)
6 The Lovers (both/either)
7 The Chariot (yang)
8 or 11 Justice (yin)
9 The Hermit (yang)
10 Wheel of Fortune (both/either)
11 or 8 Strength / Fortitude (yin)
12 The Hanged Man / The Traitor (yang)
13 Death (yang)
14 Temperance (yin)
15 The Devil (yang)
16 The Tower / Fire (yang)
17 The Star (yin)
18 The Moon (yin)
19 The Sun (yang)
20 Judgment / The Angel (yang)
21 The World (yin)

There are definitely clear points of intersection with the symbols from the I Ching. One reason this is interesting is because the notion of "pre-civilized/pre-dream" pre-history mentioned in the I Ching indicates less of a clear separation between subconscious and conscious. Taking the commentary "at its word" regarding the I Ching, the symbols were recorded at a time when this separation was taking place in the human consciousness.

Some of the assignations are more arbitrary. You could argue 'The Hanged Man' although a man is not capable of much action, being the recipient of a punishment and as such more 'yin' like, and to be really serious about this the precise assignation should be a keen debate among people more versed in the nuances of these essences. But what is apparent is that there is definitely correlation in that sense.

So the more obvious points of general intersection are hexagrams referring to powerful officials and priests, hexagrams referring to hermit-like wise men, hexagrams referring to Heaven, and hexagrams referring to tribulation (imprisonment, strife, chaos).

There are direct, specific intersections as well. This is very interesting, and I do not know what it means. "Enveloping/Youthful Folly" is a direct analog of "The Fool". There are some that are maybe slight stretches but seem very plausible "The World" and "The Receptive/Earth", "The Creative" and "The Sun".

Now there are 64 hexagrams and only 23 major arcana. However, the cards have different interpretations if they are inverted, so there are 46 possible interpretations.

In the I Ching, there are three dimensions: hexagrams, lines, and the interpretation. In the tarot, there are three dimensions, the card itself, the orientation of the card in the spread, and the interpretation.

In both, there is another dimension, and that is the temporal dimension inhabited by the querent (the querent is a "3D being" also of course but the dimension in question is "what time has in store" in the context of divinatory systems-- the querent has ready means to discern the tangible dimensions).

So in each case the system operates in four dimensions. Part of the exercise is to get some understanding of why these things should work, anyway. That is, what is it about them that seems intuitively to make sense?

What these divinatory systems comprise is a means for "triangulating" in time, and the mechanism that performs this is a combination of the querent's understanding of their current situation and the interpreter's 'reveal' of the meaning of the symbols that is synthesized in the querent's mind.

In the case of the I Ching, the 'interpreter' is the text describing the hexagram and lines. In the case of the Tarot, classically the interpreter may be a mystic, but may also be a text being used by the querent.

Now, the 'loosey goosey woo woo' part is how the connection is made from reading/hearing the interpretation and the application to one's situation in a way that renders the consultation meaningful to the querent. This is where the 'mystic' can play tricks, and draw out information that helps lend credibility to what their interpretation means. "The King of Pentacles refers to a dark haired man of material wealth or influence-- is there such a person in your life?" "Why yes, my Uncle Ed..." and so on.

So the readings/consultations that are meaningful are the ones that you do yourself, using texts as references to the meanings of the various symbols.

Now, this all seems like a lot of mumbo jumbo and may well be... but it is interesting to note that many famous people made significant decisions, some even that selected the course of history, based on these types of consultations. It's also interesting to note that the I Ching is ancient, but the use of Tarot cards as a means of divination and its popular perception as being that is much more recent, 18th and 19th centuries: the tarot deck was first conceived as a game.

In terms of actual use in history, and because of that some value of actual "ascribed validity", the I Ching has been more relied upon. You can think of it at the very least as a way to generate random quotes and 'scenes' to meditate on that may bring some insight. At the very best, it is advice that resonates with some inner awareness that we all have that 'knows' what is going to happen, and allows us to get a glimpse of that knowledge.

But that still doesn't explain how the interaction between the querent and the divinatory system 'works'. The cards are shuffled, the order is randomized and the cards are laid out. The coins are tossed, there is some chance that each one will come up one thing or the other and provide a number that corresponds to a line.

The 'new age' thinking is that some force emanates from the querent when the handle the cards or coins, and this 'reaches out' to the forces surrounding the divinatory system and causes it to resonate with the querent. Yeh right.

But there is something, maybe, to be said for the 'alignment' that takes place in the event of the divinatory procedure occurring in the same continuum as the querent. The divinatory system is at rest, inert, until acted upon by the querent. If the system is set to completely random values at the outset, and then manipulated into another state of 'randomness', something has happened that the querent has caused. So the outcome of the procedure is influenced by the querent. That the outcome is 'for' the querent is in the acceptance of the interpretation.

The interpretation is also multidimensional, like a 'mini dream'. This is key, because we know dreams can fortell the future based on reports of dreams doing just this. I didn't mention this previously, but it is a key portion of the exercise of understanding going on here, that dreams and the interpretations of divinatory systems are similar. But the interpretation has at least two primary parts: what the symbols classical mean, and what they mean to the querent.

Here is something crucial: we know that what we see in dreams are manifest internally-- all the pieces come from within us. Therefore, based again on reports of dreams being able to depict the future, we have that capability.

How the divinatory systems work, then, is by presenting symbols to us that activate that potential: they bridge the conscious and subconscious by presenting the 'pieces of a dream' to the dream-making machinery, which resonates with those symbols and gives us the feeling of meaningfulness, which in turn helps us make the connections.

As an aside, a fallacy that I think is important to mention: in tarot, the importance of a card does not depend only on whether a card is major or minor arcana. What also matters is where they fall in the spread, and which aspects of the meaning of the card resonate most given that position.

Also, in both these things, sometimes they seem to be very clear in the message, and sometimes not. When they are very clear and the message is bad, it can be disturbing: you can get flashes of exactly what they mean that you will reflexively repress.

Labels: , , , , ,

ha ha at this blog...

I have a friend who actually knows me actually read this blog. I said something to the effect that it is supposed to be a chronicle and so it supposed to be read from the beginning. Wondering if that was actually true anymore, I went to the beginning.

Ha ha. Ho ho. What travails! How intrepid our hero! What a blog, rather: what a littoral of broken links upon which the oily sea of obscurity halfheartedly blups it's oily waves!

yeh, there were some ok links to some pretty good stuff, but of course a lot of it moved so now there are little blank x graphics and links to dot gone 'domain for sale' pages.

Which means... which means...


Sunday, August 09, 2009

More on I Ching and Tarot

Now, is it purely a mental exercise to consider parallels and similarities between the I Ching and Tarot? It is a mental exercise, but maybe not just that.

The commentary surrounding the I Ching is very specific regarding its origins. It goes something like this:

Prior to the time of organized society, humans did not have dreams, 'were not troubled' by dreams. Then, as the first laws came into place, the natural state of the human psyche was 'framed in'. At that point, dreams were the consequence: there were thoughts that were submerged, and so had to manifest themselves.

Around this same time, the hexagrams were somehow manifestations of a subconscious thought process that helped men invent new things, and the correlation that the commentary provides along with the inventions in question doesn't make a lot of intuitive sense, but the point is that when men contemplated the juxtaposition of two of the energies or forces indicated by the trigrams, they derived new things.

So the trigrams were regarded as a way to tie back civilized man to the pre-civilized mode of thought.

Tarot, being a more westernized form of divination, is maybe more readily understood as a collection of archetypes, as opposed to the more abstract forces of nature involved in the I Ching. But, both refer to sets of archetypes, both in a timeless sense and in a particular historical frame of reference that can be projected into a current frame if one understands the references.

Now, whether or not these things tell the future is one thing. Whether or not they lead one to believe that they represent some deeper knowledge is another, and whether or not the exercise of attempting to understand the message provided by a reading or consultation is 'useful' is yet another. That people have consulted fortune tellers since time immemorial is a fact. That people have been deceived by quacks is also a fact. That Nostradamus predictions sell stacks of tabloids is undeniable, and that there seems to be some sense of valid prophecy in what he wrote has been nagging people for centuries.

Nobody can really make sense of these things to the point where they can be as easily explained as negative charged particles and positive charged particles sticking together to form atoms.

However, that is the exercise, so if we regard Yin and Yang as opposite charges, and hexagrams indicating an imbalance of one or the other, then that the hexagrams should change to remedy that imbalance is as readily understood as electrons and protons. And that the states of imbalance should be 'catalogued' in the idiom of sets of broken or unbroken lines, or as archetypical states of being as indicated on a set of cards, so they can be applied to something as important as telling the future should not seem outrageous.

OK, so the identification and collection of certain situations, actions and types of people as referred to in both the I Ching and Tarot should make some kind of sense, what makes less sense is how the arrangement of those elements is caused to occur through the activity of the consultation or reading.

Because in each case the reading depends on randomization of the elements and then their arrangement into a framework. On one hand, the six lines and in the other in the layout of cards. So the effectiveness of the result lies either in the clever manipulation of the person doing the reading, in order to mold the received set of messages to fit the question at hand, or the willingness of the querent to do the molding themselves, or some combination of the two. The messages themselves are vague enough to fit almost any situation, so it is a matter of just making them fit.

And you either take issue with that, or are satisfied with it. This is the unknowable part: what happens if you get some kind of messages that make sense, in an unexpected way, and so you tend to pay some attention to them while remaining skeptical. It is no help that shady 'fortune tellers' who try to pry into the nature of the question or person's past will try to make that connection happen artificially.

But the point is this: when you get a message via the I Ching or Tarot that makes sense to you, it makes sense in a certain way because it is designed to, and it is designed that way because it was designed to work.

So how does it work?

Friday, August 07, 2009

On divination

I recently read a book "The Man Who Loved China", which was about the eccentric Cambridge professor Joseph Needham. His major achievement was the compilation of authoritative volumes on the history of science and technology in China, many of which were remarkable as being discovered well in advance of their 'discovery' and application in Western civilization.

Early on he wondered to the effect of "Why did China remain so 'backward' technologically in spite of advanced scientific knowledge?", which is referred to as "the Needham question" and is regarded as either a valid wonderment that reveals the forces that shape a society or a vapid construct akin to asking 'why didn't so and so get famous even though they are pretty good looking?' depending on who you read.

Anyway it reminded me of the I Ching, which I used to spend a lot of time with, which reminded me about Tarot cards. There is a thing I've been wanting to do for a long time, and that is correlate the Tarot with the I Ching, and I think I might start doing that.

[edited a bit later]

There are four suits in the minor arcana, each has a particular orientation-- wands (activity, labor) cups (emotions, spiritual) pentacles (financial, material) and swords (legal, societal).

There are four possible states of the lines in the hexagram of the I Ching, yin (yielding, resting, broken line) yang (moving, creative, solid line) and yang changing to yin (movement to rest) and yin changing to yang (rest to movement).

Not to indicate that there is a direct correlation to "cups" and "broken line", this is fallacious within the construct of the Tarot reading in comparison to the I Ching consulation. But it might be said that cups and pentacles have the quality of yin (receptive, material) and that swords and wands have the quality of yang (motion, activity).

Yin is the receptive, firmament, earth, traditionally characterized female. Yang is the creative, aetherial, heaven, traditionally characterized as male. In the Tarot, Major Arcana are depicted as male or female and/or denoting action or inaction.

Another correlation between Tarot and I Ching are Tarot suits and I Ching trigrams, the components of the hexagrams. Pure Yin, three broken lines, is Mother. Pure Yang, three unbroken lines, is Father. Then the varied broken/solid line combinations are either daughter/sister and son/brother.

So could it be said that the four "suits" of the I Ching are Father, Mother, Sister, Brother? There are of course three sisters (Fire, Lake, Wind/Wood) and three brothers (Mountain, Thunder, Ocean/Abyss). That the brothers and sisters are older and younger than one another influences the has a bearing on the meaning of the trigram and also on the meaning of the hexagram that contains them.

More purely there are just two "suits" of the I Ching, Yin and Yang, where the others are varying combinations of these. But, again, if we have a correlation between the two pairs of the four suits of the Minor Arcana to Yin and Yang, we have a correlation between the Tarot suits and the hexagrams which are either more yin or more yang.

Swords, Wands == Yang == These Act, more towards One Does

Cups, Pentacles == Yin == These are Acted Upon, more towards One Has

There is a bit of a mental exercise where you have to consider that the 'gender aspects' of these things are simultaneoulsy pure and theoretical as well as societal and traditional.

Now, what I'll need to think about more is the correlation between Major Arcana and the I Ching. There are 'double trigram' hexagrams, where the a trigram is repeated, there are eight of these, corresponding to the pure archetypical power of each, and conceptually these are maybe Major. But there are many more Major Arcana than eight. It is definitely the case that the Major Arcana are for the most part either light/dark or male/female. It is also very much the case that the hexagrams of the I Ching denote an equal continuum of change, similar to the frames of a movie. You consult the oracle to find out a) which frame you are in and b) what might be in the next frame. The combination of lines forma a picture. In the Tarot, the combination of cards forms a picture of where you are and where you are going, the cards are the "lines".

Consider the Tarot Celtic cross method, containing ten cards, and the I Ching hexagram, containing six lines. The first two card positions of the Celtic Cross indicate the present (that which covers you, that which crosses you), the past (that which is beneath you, that which is behind you), the future (that which is above you, which could be; that which is before you, which is most likely) and then your 'house' (immediate surrounds), your 'town' (others options, general environment), your hopes/fears/aspirations, and the outcome.

So, six positions, Present, Present, Future, House/Environment, Mind/Hopes/Fears, and Outcome.


In the I Ching, the lines "move" from bottom to top. If there is a change in the bottom line, it often denotes something affecting the beginning of an enterprise. In a Tarot reading, the progression moves from "where you are" to "where you've been and where you are going".

Although this lines up in a certain way, I'm not sure how valid it is when considering the I Ching consultation and interpretation vs. the Tarot reading.

With the changing lines, yin->yang and yang->yin, any of the hexagrams can change into any other, and they are always doing so. It is the combination of the lines at the moment of the casting that provides the hexagram. What they are at any time and what they will become and is a mystery that cannot be ascertained without the consultation. At what rate the change will occur has to be a determination made by the querent. In a time of little energy, fewer lines are changing. In a time of much energy, more lines are changing.

The presentation of an I Ching hexagram gives the consultor something to consider given their current situation, with possible hints as to the nature of the outcome. Consider the I Ching as a three dimensional cube, with Creative at a one corner and Receptive at the diagonally opposite, where each corner of the cube is in turn marked with one of the eight "double trigram" hexagrams. If you travel from one corner point to the other on the same plane, you can change one line. If you travel from one corner point up or down, you can change two lines. I will draw a picture of this later.

That's all I have time for right now.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

have to write something somewhere...

I want to write something today, and wanted maybe to post it to a forum, but no not really, and not to twitter. So here I write. Now, the others have an advantage in that I know someone will actually see the post there, but it is not so important that it be seen than I write something because for some reason I need to.

There are people in the world that I "get", and people that I don't. It is not bad if I don't get somebody, it just makes me aware that there are so many different ways to be in this world.

For example: I don't get physical therapists-- maybe by "don't get" I mean I perceive that I have zero aptitude for what they do. They have to deal with people day after day and work through procedures with them and hear about their pain and do this person after person. So they have to understand that someone is experiencing pain, and they have to touch them and care for them, but at the same time they have to run the procedure because this is what will help the person get over their problem. It is a very difficult thing for me to imagine myself dealing with. I have an appreciation for what they do, absolutely, and the notion of helping someone through a difficulty is a great thing. But I just could not do it.

I get people who work in retail. I did this when I was in high school, and in college. You stand at a counter, briefly interact with a customer, provide information to some limited extent, there is a potential for a minor exchange of pleasantries, sometimes for unpleasantries but there is always that, and then you go back to your world and they theirs. I was not great at it, because I don't like interacting with people so much, but I was ok enough.

Maybe oddly, as opposed to a physical therapist, I get doctors. I think the difference is that the doctor is troubleshooting as well as running procedures, and that is more complex. So I could see myself dealing with the intellectual aspect of that in a positive way, and there are lots of different kinds of doctors with an incredible variety of things to know in great detail. The physical therapist is observing and modifying the procedure, I guess, so there is that. But I couldn't see myself dealing with so many random people in such a tactile way I think.

So I am misanthropic I guess.

Today I am going to try to do a video that demonstrates using the Looper effect in Ableton Live. There are lots of people who use Live that seem to have huge amounts of time to really delve into it, so I'm surprised no one's come up with a fairly good tutorial video. But you have to actually perform in real time to get it to happen, so it is a different kind of thing. Anyway that is my goal for today and I hope I am able to do it. I kind of dread it though, because it is a lot of work. It is not so much the taping it and doing it, it is the editing. It can be real drudgery, but if you don't do it the video can be very dull, or half assed seeming, or just not seeming like it is worthwhile information.