All posts by JoeL

About JoeL

I completed a Master of Music degree from McGill University. I am currently working towards an Artist Diploma also at McGill. I like to do philosophy as a hobby.

In bombastic show of force against “Bully Putin” Trudeau does shirtless photo shoot riding moose

Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rides moose, threatens Vladimir Putin, all while shirtless Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rides moose, threatens Vladimir Putin, all while shirtless. Photo Andrea Kwan

Yesterday afternoon, newly-elected Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau demonstrated his tough stance against Russia’s Vladimir Putin by organizing a photo shoot. Trudeau dashed into the Canadian wilderness where he lassoed a bull moose, mounted it, and rode it top-speed through a pristine stream, while photographers jockeyed to get the best shot. The photo shoot took less than an hour, according to True Facts Wire photographer Andrea Kwan. “It was astonishing, really” Kwan confided, “We weren’t there more than fifteen minutes before Justin had subdued the moose, using nothing but a lasso and his chiseled figure. He’s clearly done this before.”

Trudeau’s photo shoot comes in response to a well-publicized photo, released by the Kremlin, that shows Putin riding a bear. “This kind of imagery is meant to intimidate,” Trudeau said. “I wanted to…

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Ripe to compose a poem?

I have become really excited about poetry recently. I love the power that it has. The power to transform your experience, to change your perspective and to show you something new. Poetry has given me a new tool in which to think about music, and, probably more importantly, has given me more tools enabling me to provide rich ways into unfamiliar music.

Rainer Maria Rilke is my current favorite. In my last concert project, one quote by Rilke helped me to unify the program. “For Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.” – from his first Duino Elegy.

Without much trouble, this idea could easily be a theory of dissonance (which was part of the reason why it helped to unify the program): Dissonance on it’s own is rather painful and nasty to listen to. However, in the context of consonance, the places where dissonance is found are some of the most beautiful in music. Take for example the dissonance at 3:20 in Bach’s St. Mathew Passion. If Bach wrote ONLY those two notes, it would be painful, and in some contexts — terrifying. The preceding material (the consonance) to such moments allow such dissonance (beginnings of terror) to be experienced as beauty.

There are, as I have mentioned in other posts, many forms of dissonances. But it seems like the balance between nasty, painful and terrifying sounds with fairly neutral or pleasant forms holds up quite well with this theory: Beauty is only the beginning of Terror.

But this post is about my newly found admiration of Poetry. I have given one example as to why I have found it helpful. Here is another selection from Rilke’s work that I also find rather exciting.

“…You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed in to our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth them.

But all my poems had a different origin; so they are not poems. ” – page 20 from The Notebooks of Malte Lauride Brigge by Rilke 

In this young man, Rilke prescribes a certain method, attitude, or style with which one must approach such a subject as reverend as poetry. He is not advocating that one should not write at all until one has something to write. It is necessary to practice and learn. In his letters to young poet he says:

“Avoid at first those forms which appear to be the most facile and commonplace — they are the most difficult. It takes a great, fully matured power to give something of your own where good and even excellent traditions come to mind in quantity. Therefore, save yourself form these general themes and seek those which your own everyday life offers you… if your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.” – Rilke

Russell’s Paradox – A proposal for a better explanation.

I think I finally have a good way of explaining Russel’s paradox.

Think of the box that holds all of the boxes.

This box is the biggest possible box. This seems to work.

The definition of a box is to contain something smaller than itself.

What if instead of the word box, I replace it with its definition:  Something that holds things smaller than itself. If we want to have THE thing which holds ALL things smaller than its, then it would have to be smaller than itself and bigger than itself at the same time. As in, The Biggest Box, as that which can hold/contain things, must hold itself, but since this is impossible we cannot conclude that this Biggest box exists. There are only some Boxes.

Or, think of The Container that contains All the containers. If ALL the containers are contained in this One Container, then this container should also be contained in this One Container. This One Container that supposedly contains All containers can no longer said to be a container. By its definition/property (containment) then becomes contradictory.  How can a container contain itself? It cannot. Can’t we just change the name to, say, The ONE?

No. that is, not if we are trying to provide the foundation for what exists based on containment (set), which is a collection of objects determined by a property. The sole “being” of the set is determined by how the objects relate to each other in the set.

It’s tempting to give a Wittgensteinian answer: “When we try to determine what things are based on their definition and not by their use, we run into all sorts of funny trouble.” This would not hold up for a number of reasons. First, though sets are defined by their composition, “use” is not excluded and is in fact an essential part in identifying a set. A set is determined by a property, which is chosen based on its use. Badiou’s “Count-as-one” is essentially the same as Wittgenstein’s “use”  or “game.” Second, if a being is determined by its use, what would it look like to determine “all that exists” by its “use”? We would have to remain silent on this question, or have many different definitions. Third, if we are looking to define beings with use, then we would have to determine how we use, use, in order to make any attempt to define “all that exists.” Finally, for those that are skeptical in applying set-theory to ontology, and therefore skeptical about rejecting The One, the being that contains all beings, one would have to demonstrate an alternate formulation of differentiating between beings, that is, the one and the multiple.

If The One is defined as that which contains everything, then it is contradictory and another way of making distinctions between beings must be proposed, that is, an alternative ontology.

What do you think?

Should we make general claims about art?

Short thought: I hear a lot of composers today claiming that they can’t say much about what’s happening in music today, not even in their own discipline. There are just too many things happening they tell me. There is no possible way to start making these kinds generalization. They are not accurate, truthful or desirable.

If the point of art is to say something, to respond to questions, to promote dialogue, to provoke thought (not necessarily all at once), how can it be meaningful to say something without knowing what kind of conversation people are having?

Am Friedhof

Es war schön am Friedhof zu sein. Der Himmel war rein blau und es gab nur ein paar weiße Wolken, die mich anschauten. Die kräftigen Bäume haben mich auch angeschaut. Ich dachte daran: wie viele Leute haben sie angeschaut? Wie viele Leute haben sie kennengelernt? Ein Baum war neben einem eigentümlichen Grab. Ein Mann und seine Ehefrau waren da beerdigt. Der Mann war im Jahr 1960 gestorben, die Frau im Jahr 1965. Vielleicht war die Frau ganz allein nach dem Tod ihres Mannes. Vielleicht hat sie jede Woche das Grab besucht und der Baum war der einzige Begleiter des Grabbesuches. Der Baum war dadurch Trost für jene Frau. Sie war beruhigt von dem Gedanken, dass der Baum immer bei ihr ist. Wenn der Baum stirbt, wird er mit dem Ehepaar kompostiert werden.

Stufen – Hermann Hesse

A beautiful work.

As every blossom fades
and all youth sinks into old age,
so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
attains its prime and cannot last forever.
The heart must submit itself courageously
to life’s call without a hint of grief,
A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.

High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.

Maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands,
maybe life’s call to us will never find an end
Courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well.