Music is our myth of the inner life-- a young, vital, and meaningful myth... –S. K. Langer (Philosophy in a New Key)
Orpheus is philosophy personified. –Francis Bacon
The soul which has seen most truth shall come to birth as a philosopher, or beauty lover, or fervent musician. –Socrates (Plato, Phaedrus) Argument mixed with music alone, when it is present, dwells within one possessing it as a savior of virtue throughout life. –Socrates (Plato, Republic) Three-cord rock merging with the power of the word. –Patti Smith
Music is the only religion that delivers the goods. –Frank Zappa
Joni's "Chords of Inquiry"
Because the Platonic conception of philosophia means "loving," "inquiry," and "searching," which originates from the singing Muses (mousa = mousike; music), the Gypsy Scholar rejects the later, formal separation of philosophy from music, love (eros), inquiry, and questing. Thus the Gypsy Scholar re-visions Western Philosophy ("love of wisdom") as a Quest-Romance, where not only is philosophy the “highest form of music" (Socrates) but, conversely, music is the highest form of philosophy.
This page is meant to give my Re-Vision Radio listeners a conceptual-visual aid for better understanding my central program theme of Musekal Philosophy,
which means that the philosophical essay (Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack) aspires to the condition
of music or song--the condition of music translated into words. In
general, this web-page provides a kind of conceptual map-theory for
guiding listeners to find the musical key to unlock the meaning of the Tower of Song program. It is hoped that this page will lay bare the the vision of "scholarship as performance art" and show the naked truth behind my novel hybrid of Musekal PhiloSophy. The Gypsy Scholar as DJ Orfeo: I'm a Rocker in the life of the mind and in the world of ideas.
The Books & Music that go together to make "musekal philosophy"
"The Allegory of Music & Poetry"
"Personification of Music"
Euterpre, Muse of Lyric Poetry/Music
Euterpre, Muse of Lyric Poetry/Music
The Nine Muses
The name of the muses and of music derive etymologically from the same word--mosthai = mousa (muses) and mousike (music)--and would seem to be derived from the Muses "making philosophical inquiries." Furthermore, these Muses have (writes Plato) “the gift of speculative knowledge” and are “of one mind,” desiring to “express themselves in song.” Plato also suggests that the Muses and music in general are named from mosthai, which means "searching, inquiry, and philosophy" (i.e., "to strive after," "to long for," or "to desire eagerly"), and partake of similar meanings as does philosophia (i.e.; "loving," "inquiry," "searching"). These Platonic conceptions within philosophia ("love of wisdom") go back to Hesiod’s (mythopoeic) primary account of the Muses, which again expresses their unifying nature. All of this suggests that we question the later, formal separation of philosophy from music, love, and questing.
Euterpre, Muse of Lyric Poetry/Music
Seven Liberal Arts & Young Man before Music
Scholarship as Performance-Art
What are the Gypsy Scholar's programs?
"Are they any other than mental studies and performances?" --William Blake
The Gypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist discovered that he was doing "Musical Philosophy" when he read Socrates (Plato's Socrates) musing that "philosophy" and "music" are one, and that philosophy ("dialectic"), in the hands of a Socrates, becomes "song."
"Don’t we know that all of this is a prelude to the song itself, . . . the song itself that dialectic performs?" –Socrates (Plato, Republic 532a)
Philosophically speaking, this translates into the radio medium as a performance art wherein the prose argument of the musical essay is a "prelude" (i.e., technically a long "lead-in") "to the song itself." About the way the GS uses song in his "musical essay," it was once said of a great filmmaker:
“When he uses music, it's not a substitute for action [an interlude] but an enhancement of it.”
What is Romantic Scholarship? What the Gypsy Scholar calls "Romantic Scholarship" is the hard manual labor of the Imagination. "The Romance of Scholarship" is an alternative tradition, where scholarship becomes a kind of imaginative expression. It is not in service of the literalism of traditional "Protestant scholarship," which is in service of the principle of thantos (what Wordsworth called "murders to dissect)," but in the service of eros. Thus, the scholarly apparatus can be used for non-literal applications; for symbolic meaning--like a musical essay.
"Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure." –Victor Hugo
click here for further discussion of "The Romance of Scholarship." ____________________________________
"This is what I call participation in the world of ideas--that is what art-making is."
--Bill T. Jones, 3/11/11 (Choreographer, Dancer, Director, Exec. Director NY Live Arts. Winner 2010 Kennedy Center Honor.)
"I'm a Bluesman in the life of the mind; I'm a Jazzman in the world of Ideas."
“Music at its best ... is the grand archeology into and transfiguration of our guttural cry, the great human effort to grasp in time our deepest passions and yearnings as prisoners of time. Profound music leads us--beyond language--to the dark roots of our scream and the celestial heights of our silence. ”
--Dr. Cornel West (Philosopher, Theologian, Activist, "Intellectual Bluesman.")
"El Maestro Orpheus" (Renaissance woodcut)
Van El Hombre (1960s Orpheus)
the god of song
Muse of Music
The Tower of Song's "Soul-making" Music
According to today's scientific researchers, when we marry thought with the emotion we create a third thing—feeling, which originates in the heart and effects the body. In the Tower of Song, this third thing--feeling empowered by ideas--has a name when it manifests in music-magic. Therefore, the Gypsy Scholar wants to know ...
"I want to know did ya get the feeling Did ya get it way down in yoursoul?" I wanna know did you get the feelin'? And did the feelin' grow? ... It gets stronger when you get the feelin' When you get it down in your soul And it makes you feel good And it makes you feel whole.... Did ye get healed?"
"Music and health are intimately related in human history, from shamanic healing to 'witch doctors,' from the Hebrews to current-day programs of music therapy. King David played the harp to relieve the stress of King Saul . . . and the ancient Greeks used harp music to ease the outbursts of people with mental illness. Music therapy was also employed by such geographically disparate cultures as the ancient Egyptians, Indians, and Native Americans. Health benefits have been described whether patients sit and listen to music, improvise tunes, write songs, discuss lyrics, perform compositions, or actively participate in the production of music. Music is claimed to be beneficial for patients of any age, ethnic or religious background, or stage of illness." --Daniel J. Levitin, The World in Six Songs
" . . . music listening and music therapy have been shown to help people overcome a broad range of psychological and physical problems." --Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain On Music
See me through days of wine and roses By and by when the morning comes Jazz and blues and folk, poetry and jazz Voice and music, music and no music Silence and then voice Music and writing, words Memories, memories way back ... Take me way back .... (Van Morrison)
Re-Vision Radio's Musekal Philosophy
channeled through the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack demonstrates
schizoid polycentricity, a style of consciousness that thrives in
plural meanings, in cryptic double-talk, in escaping definitions."
Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack mixes PhiloSophy & Music--a
harmonious interplay of dialectics/argument and song, prose composition
and metrical composition; a concourse of prose discourse and lyrical
outpouring that issues in a soulful Radio-text of ideas & love. Thus, since the The Gypsy Scholar brings his subject matter to play through song, Everybody Knows that the ability to put complex (philosophical) ideas into lyrics (of song) is the gift of Orpheus. And Everybody Knows what takes pages of text to explain a song can express in a few powerfully meaningful verses. The relationship of Argument to Song in the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is that the song is a way of saying everything the prose says, but all at once! Thus the Gypsy Scholar, in reading the essay,also let's the song do the talking, which, conversely, reveals the spoken-word essay as having itself a verbal music. This means that the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, with its quality of a "recital," has a performative character, which makes scholarship a performance art.
the lyric and the song is the governing, central idea, and you have to
keep both of them going, so neither gets bogged down. The trick is to
keep them going together.” (Stephen Sondheim)
Thus Everybody Knows that the "governing, central idea" of the Tower of Song program is Musekal Philosophy. In
other words, the program is not just "about" the words or the music,
but what's behind them; the theory that under-stands them and thus
eclectically puts them together. The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, then, allows the Gypsy Scholar to develop a central idea or over-arching theme sounded in the music to create a receptive mood. This midnight radio mood--engendered by sublime segues from words to eclectic sets of sounds (and everybody knows that radio-magic starts in the transitions)--is the psychic atmosphere from which listeners can soar in imaginative musical flights--into the Tower of Song.
The Tower of Song program's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, or the Essay in Argument & Song, makes for a program format that's not strictly a "music" program, but a musical and philosophical program that breaks down the strict boundaries between radio genres--music and information programing. This means that the Gypsy Scholar doesn't just play songs, like deejays do, but showcases songs. This is possible because the essay puts song in con-text; contextualizes it. Hence the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack. There are those who are on the innovative edge of art; those who experiment with remix and "how information becomes music." Because the Gypsy Scholar remixes the ideas from his favorite writers with the music from his favorite singer-songwriters, it's all about the art of translating information into music. Thus the Tower of Song program presents something new, something novel, on radio. (The Gypsy Scholar, in blurring the boundaries between the formats of informational and music programming, believes when it comes to people "getting" information it's a matter of how it is presented, and, conversely, in listening to music, it's the context in which it is heard.) The Gypsy Scholar would inform (educate) and entertain (play), hence the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack.
Essay: “a short piece of written work assigned to a student; paper, composition, thesis, treatise, dissertation; an artistic or journalistic work resembling a written essay but in another medium."
Thus, Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is "an an artistic work resembling a written essay but in another medium"--the medium of radio. This makes the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack a special genre of writing--a "radio-text." (The Gypsy Scholar is at pains to point out that the Essay in Argument & Song is one composition. (The reason that the song complements the text is that a song can express things in a way that the mere discursive essay cannot. It might take dozens of pages to say what one song can express.) In other words, the intermittent song is not merely a break in the discourse, which is then resumed again after the song, as in the usual practice. No, the argument and song, not to mention the background music behind the reading, are of one, continuous piece, and when seamlessly mixed should result in the listener not knowing exactly where the spoken part of the essay leaves off and the sung part begins, and vice versa.) Thus, Everybody Knows, because the song (and background music) of the essay transforms the text into (musical) texture, that the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is a "radio-text."
Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (a species of the Romantic Essay), in remixing high academic culture with low pop-culture, broadcasts big ideas through popular song, which issues in a Musekal Philosophy--a sonorous philosophy.
was a man, who inside of a pop-song . . .you know, puts big ideas, big
dreams. It reminded me of Keats or Shelley or, you know, they were
poets I was reading as a kid. I said this is our . . . Shelley, this
is our . . . Byron. You know, there was an otherness to the language.
It was just a sensory overload of the language that first got to me."
(Bono on Leonard Cohen)
A special note to interested listeners: this page particularly, along with the "Re-Vision Radio" page (#5), exists to promote that theory of Musekal Philosophy in order for listeners to fully appreciate what they hear on the program. For a more in-depth look at the Gypsy Scholar's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, see green-bordered sections below: "Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack," "Musekal Philosophy: Playing Philosophy, Playing Music," "Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack Goes to the Movies," "Musekal Philosophy: Philosophy In A New Key," "Musekal Philosophy: An Orphic Synthesis," and "Musekal Philosophy: Scholarship As Performance Art."
Re-Vision Radio's Broadcast Experiments Between Speech & Song
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy. --William Blake, Vala
"What I'm hoping for," wrote Yeats the month before his death," is a small book dealing with the relations between speech and song." Rekindled by his BBC broadcast experiments and by the revival of Broadsides between 1937 and 1937, Yeats's last hope was the final expression of one of his oldest, most frustrated desires. The recipient of the letter, Victor Clinton-Baddeley, who had worked closely with Yeats on the broadcasts, partially honored his request with Words for Music (1941), which contains a final chapter on Yeats's later theory of speaking verse. But Clinton-Baddeley was largely unaware that his subject's preoccupation with words for music at the end of his life had also been a passion of earlier days, and that the broadcast-broadside experiments in the late 1930s were but the last in a lifelong effort to revive the lost bardic arts of chanting and musical speech.
--The Last Minstrels: Yeats and the Revival of the Lost Bardic Arts (2008)
think it's part of our tradition, which is quite different from the
American literary tradition, that prose should have music. . . . What you're
doing as the writer is you're giving the reader sheet music and the
reader is going to play the song. You know, so I try in write in a way
that has a three-dimensionality that invites the reader to walk in . . .
--Joseph O'Connor (Novelist and brother of Sinead O'Connor radio interview 3/10/11)
The Gypsy Scholar invites fellow readers to walk into this musical "three-dimensionality" he calls the Tower of Song
Re-Vision Radio'sOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack
"It has been said that the Troubadours [of the Twelfth-century Renaissance] are responsible for modern poetry. It is, however, mostly to their songs . . . that the troubadours owe their survival into the twentieth century. They envisioned love as inspiration to song."
"Let us bring to bear the persuasive powers of sweet-tongued Rhetoric and . . . let us have as well Music, the maid-servant of my house, to sing us melodies of varying mood." (Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy)
"How charming is divine Philosophy not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose But musical as is Apollo's lute." (Coleridge)
Going back—"way, way back"—Re-Vision Radio'sOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (or the Essay in Argument & Song) would pick up the fallen standard of the nineteenth-century Romantic Essay, which sought to transcend the boundaries of prose and non-prose and conjoin philosophy with poetry. (This is in keeping with the Romantic’s penchant for mixing genres.) The Romantic Essay has been described (based upon its development by Wordsworth and Coleridge) as a "conjunction of Reason and Passion that did not draw particularly sharp lines of differentiation between ‘poetry’ and the ‘impassioned, eloquent, and powerful prose.’"Thus, for Coleridge: “The love of truth conjoined with a keen delight in a strict, skillful, yet impassioned argumentation, is my master-passion.”Following in this Romantic genre, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is conceived of as "the perfect union of words and music," and, thus, like the Romantic Essay, begins with an "impassioned, eloquent, and powerful prose, following from a fairly strict following of traditional ‘public’ discourse to modes of prose requiring the virtual abandonment or annihilation of such discourse and often quite literally disappearing into poetry or into the silence of contemplation and vision." The Romantics maintained that "the end of philosophy is poetry." Thus--since music was separated from poetry relatively recently in the history of Western culture--the Gypsy Scholar would re-phrase it as "the end of philosophy is song"--as demonstrated by his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack.
Therefore, since "Eros redefines reason in its own terms," Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, mixing PhiloSophy & Song, or dialectics and music, replaces the "murders to dissect" (Wordsworth) mode of academic (Protestant) scholarship with service to Eros--insight, synthesis, celebration;"Reason in her most exalted mood." (Wordsworth) Thus, in theTower of Song, the moments of Intellectual Coherence/Clarity reached through the Essay-with-Soundtrack are, at the same time, conveyed in music. "All our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling." (Blaise Pascal)
“Words make you think and music makes you feel. And song makes it possible to feel a thought. Quite an interesting way of putting it.” (Pete Seeger, quoting the words of the great popular song lyricist E. Y. Harburg ["Over the Rainbow"].)
And Everybody Knows that the Gypsy Scholar loves to find "an interesting way of putting it"*--i.e., the relationship between the prose and the song-lyric in the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack. And, thus, yourRe-Vision Radio host,the Gypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist--in the role of the scholar-as-artist (of Eros) and longing to connect with that soulful dark blue-fire rhythm of things--romantically"burns the candle at both ends" (V.M.):logos & mythos, ideas and love, reason & imagination, fact & fantasy, realism & idealism, dialectical & mystical, mind & heart--the end of the Argument & Songon your radio dial, tuned to the Romantic Tower of Song.
And in theTower of Song,those "funny voices" from "way, way back"can he heard:"Love that discourses in my mind" (Pugatorio, Canto II). Practicing its own form of the twelfth-century Troubadour "Dialectic of Love," theGypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayistwould use his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack to discourse on love and philosophy, love and ideas--the philosophy of love and the love of philosophy ("wisdom"). Indeed, in the Tower of Song(listening to Socrates and Plato) these two are so intertwined that one can't tell if the philosophers are singing about the virtues of love or, conversely, if the lovers are decanting on the pleasures of philosophy. Ergo, in theTower of Songone can find following equation etched in the wall:PhiloSophy = Music = Love("Oh, Socrates and Plato / They praised it [love] to the sky." --Van Morrison.) Re-Vision Radio'sOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack--with its "flowers of discourse"--plays both aspects of the psyche: both reason and imagination; both critical/scholarly intellect and intuitive/poetic heart, academic research and mystical insearch, secular hermeneutics and sacred hermetic/kabbalistic interpretation, scholarly rigor and poetic reverie, painstaking precise phrasing and euphoric poetic diction, Apollonian clarity and Dionysian obscurity, philosophical questioning and romantic questing, philosophical aptitude and the musical amplitude of heightened discourse. This issues in the paradoxical reuniting of the Western head and heart—a Romantic commingling of a "sensuous reason" and a "feeling intellect," thereby synthesizing the left and right brain: "If my heart could do my thinking / And my head begin to feel / I would look upon the world anew / And know what's truly real." (Van Morrison) It’s the great Platonic synthesis of logos and mythos; between the earlier mytho-mystical, as it was transmitted through the Greek Mystery Religions, and the newer rationalist development in Philosophy that had broken away from it: "Intellectual rigor [logos] and Olympian inspiration [mythos] no longer stood opposed.”Thus, Everybody Knows that the thinker becomes a melodious thinker and, conversely, the singer becomes a philosophical singer. Running the popular song through the engine of dialectic not only re-visions the song philosophically, but returns the dialectic to its original Orphic/Pythagorean/Platonic music--making philosophy musical.In other words, Platonic dialectic becomes oracular poetry/song“after it has risen, with an incredible impulse, through the mania [madness] of Eros to the heights of philosophy."And the "heights of philosophy" are expressed onRe-Vision Radioas the"flowers of discourse."
Love or music--which power can uplift man to the sublimest heights? It is a large question; yet it seems to me that one should answer it in this way: Love cannot give an idea of music; music can give an idea of love. But why separate them? They are two wings of the soul.(Hector Berlioz)
As a Philosophical program, it's about Ideas. As a Musical program, it's about Music as Idea (and, conversely, the Idea of Music). Because Everybody Knows that on radio Information alone doesn't do it--to feel soulful--Music, too, is needed. Thus the Tower of Song program is finally about a Musekal Philosophy--or, "Philosophy in a New Key." With musical echoes reverberating throughout the text, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackis thoroughly song-haunted-- memorable song lyrics fading in and fading out between the written lines, generating a steady stream of correspondences between ideas & song. In reading between the lines of dialectic and song, moving back and forth between the prose and musical text--with margins of nuanced associations--a Soul-text of Musekal Philosophy. Thus the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, which shows music's role as a kind of verbal melody and, conversely, dialectic's role as a kind of melodious phrasing, is realizedas a hyper-text of musical dialectic--a soul-inflected montage of the spoken word and music.Thus Everybody Knows that the Gypsy Scholar's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is designed to make the words sing.
“Tennyson’s style, the most flawless in English poetry after Milton’s and Pope’s, is itself a sensibility, a means of apprehending both the internal and the external world. Intuitively, Tennyson understood what poetry was, argument that could not be separated from song, gesture, dance, and the rhythms of a unique but representative individual’s breath-soul.” (Trilling and Bloom, eds., The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Victorian Prose and Poetry.)
The (dialectical) relationship of Argument & Song in Re-Vision Radio'sOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack can be understood in a variety of ways (many of which I have already delineated*), as the performance of the essay entails the strategic shifting from (the juxtaposition of ) argument to song, from song back to argument. Looking at the essay from the prism of the Song, yields a multifaceted range of meaning the essay speaks. Therefore, one of the interesting ways of understanding the content of the essay is to become aware how each song slightly alters the perception of what is being said in the essay—i.e., another shade of meaning registers on the attentive listener's consciousness. It's as if (looked at from the point of view of the musicality of the essay) each successive song is a window (or frame of reference) through which the essay's argument is then recognized and now re-visioned.
By approaching the familiar from a different angle, we see the shape of the subject change dramatically. --W. I. Thompson
Again, it's as if the Gypsy Scholar is entreating his listeners: "You've heard the argument through this song, now try seeing what I mean through the emphasis of this song." In this sense, the position of the song in the essay is not simply one-dimensional; commenting upon what has been expressed in prose, or amplifying the meaning of the argument thus far. The relationship between Argument & Song in the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackis much more complex (because dialectical). It could even be said that each song sings the essay in its own lyrical ambiance and, conversely, the argument contextualizes each song in its own rhetorical logic. This is why Gypsy Scholar's "Re-Vision RadioManifesto & Visionary Recital” states: “Thus, Everybody Knows, there’s a song hermetically hidden in an essay and, conversely, an essay waiting to be revealed in a song.”
From his imaginal window in the Tower of Song the Gypsy Scholar looks back to the "freeform" midnight radio born in the 1960s. And because PhiloSophy is (as admitted by Plato) a form of “play”--an artistic endeavor--, it makes the scholar of philosophy a scholar-artist-musician, who is distinguished by his or her ability to synthesize and play with knowledge--to create a collage of ideas or intellectual mind-jazz.
"Today, in the 21st century, the problem is synthesis--collage--how to put it all together, or put it in juxtaposition so it makes some sense." (Jennifer Stone, 7/17/7)
"Freeform radio is an art form. The airwaves are the empty canvas, the producer is the artist, and the sound is the paint." (Julius Lester, 1974)
". . . but it was a staple of the underground format. There was a sense of accomplishing something mighty creative. Not just disc jockey work, but weaving songs together in progression to make a statement or a theme." (Ed Shane, 1997)
Therefore, tied by those"twenty-seven angels" to the writing table in the Tower of Song,the Gypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist(the Magus of Ceremonies) re-visions PhiloSophyleading, finally, not to ponderous academic desiccation (Wordsworth's "murders to dissect"), but (because it has transcended "Protestant scholarship" in its service to eros) to ecstatic Dionysian celebration--a sort of mind-jazz ensemble.
Brother Cornel West has lately embodied the Gypsy Scholar's ideal of the "Inspired Scholar" or the "Orphic Scholar," who combines in his soul both philosophy and music and gives utterance to ideas through song. Prof. West has now recorded a CD mixing the inspired lecture with the rhythms of hip-hop. And in this Emersonian tradition of the "Orphic Scholar," this Black Orpheus seems to have taken a page out of the Gypsy Scholar's website, where he dialectically mixes the metaphors of scholarship and music to describe his ideal:
"I'm a bluesman in the life of the mind and a jazzman in the world of ideas."
Tell it like it is Brother West! *
* For more "interesting way(s) of putting it"--the dialectical relationship between the prose and the lyric; (Argument & Song) in the Essay-with-Soundtrack--, see the Gypsy Scholar's Re-VisionRadio Manifesto & Visionary Recital on page #4, "Program Guide" (short version), or page #5, "Re-Vision Radio" (long version).
* For the illustration of the scholar-as-musician--the "Orphic Scholar"--go to the end of this page to see where the Gypsy Scholar is going with all this.
The experimental format of RE-VISION RADIO is a seamless mixing of argument & song, dialectics & music, or logos & mythos; in other words, philosophical essays are put to music, producing the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack. Thus Everybody Knows, since there’s a song hermetically hidden in an essay and, conversely, an essay waiting to be revealed in a song, that RE-VISION RADIO puts its philosophy best in song—as the lyric goes: “That’s why I’m telling you in song.” In mixing the noetic texts of Philosophy with the poetic texts of Song, RE-VISION RADIO offers its listeners an Orphic soundscape; an eclectic medley of the esoteric and the popular, high academic culture and low pop-culture—high argument & deep song—not from the Ivory Tower, but from “that tower down the track”: the TOWER OF SONG. (Re-Vision Radio Manifesto & Visionary Recital)
Re-Vision Radio'sOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack:
Con-fusing Argument & Song The Tower of Songis the radio program that attempts to mix (or con-fuse) spoken-word/ argument (dialectic) with song so perfectly that it might confuse its listeners as to what kind (category) of programming it really is--a talk or music program? Con-fusing in the sense that--as opposed to music programs--listeners won't know for certain whether the song merely serves as a brief respite or interlude between the talk segments (the song exists for the sake of the discourse), or--as opposed to talk programs--the spoken-word part is just an excuse to showcase a song (discourse exists for the sake of the song). Or, to put this last option in another way, that the spoken- word part becomes (what they call on radio) a "lead-in" to the song--an extended lead-in (the The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackas liner-notes of philosophical proportions). There is yet another way that The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackis con-fusing. Because the ideas and song are so harmonious, it makes you think that the Gypsy Scholar didn't write the essay and then look for songs to go with it (as would be the normal way to go about it), but rather he wrote the essay exclusively with the song in mind. (And the GS must confess here that once in a while a song strikes him as so wonderful that he will write an entire essay around the song; just so he can lead up to it as a grand finale. Again, the The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, mixes Argument & Song so adroitly that it creates the illusion that the song was tailor-made just for the essay.
". . . don’t we know that all of this is a prelude to the song itself, . . . the song itself that dialectic performs?" –Socrates (Plato, Republic)
“The music isn’t really an interlude, but serves as an extension of the dialogue.” –Delroy Lindo (on new theatrical play 4/4/7)
"Behind the lyric and the song is the governing, central idea, and you have to keep both of them going, so neither gets bogged down. The trick is to keep them going together.”–Stephen Sondheim
"The point of writing about a figure like Orpheus is not to expose him to our intellectual curiosity and self-serving need to dissect–a caricature of true Orphic fragmentation–but rather to evoke him and his song."–Thomas Moore
Thus Everybody Knows that the "governing, central idea" of theTower of Song program is Musekal Philosophy. In other words, the program is not just "about" the words or the music, but what's behind them; the theory that under-stands them and thus puts them together. The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, then, allows theGypsy Scholarto develop a central idea or over-arching theme sounded in the music to create a receptive mood. This midnight radio mood--engendered by sublime segues from words to eclectic sets of sounds (and everybody knows that radio-magic starts in the transitions)--is the psychic atmosphere from which listeners can soar in imaginative musical flights--into theTower of Song.
And Everybody Knows, because Orpheus played his best music for an underworld audience, that Re-Vision Radio is Underground Radio. (This means that the Gypsy Scholar re-visions radio back--"way, way back"--to 1960's free-form "underground radio.")
The Tower of Song program was created out of the Gypsy Scholar's love for radio—especially 60's "underground radio." The fact that he couldn't get enough of it when it died out means that it was his "Impossible Love" affair with underground (free-form) radio. This is why the Gypsy Scholar created a place—a late-night sanctuary—where one could go to find an alternative to most of what is called "non-commercial" radio. This is why Re-VisionRadio is a "Soul-making" program. This is why the the Tower of Song is from the "invisible landscape"—"Somewhere Else" radio.
There is no cure for impossible love when it
revolutionizes our lives. When it leads to the future as well as into the past,
when it cannot be comprehended on a purely personal level, then it is not an
illness, but an initiation. Initiation into depths, but also into longing, and
this will not, should not, ever cease. This longing keeps us in proximity to
our souls. It reminds us, as we conscientiously go through the obligations and
activities of every day, that there is a place, a "somewhere else"
where we also belong and need to go to from time to time. We are reminded of
this place by a sentence we read in a newspaper, a picture on a subway wall, a
memory brought to life by a smell, [a piece of dialogue from a movie that
speaks to us, a beautiful face that haunts our dreams, a passage from a book
taken randomly off the shelf,] or by a song we hear on the radio . . . –Impossible Love
The Gypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist, mixing and remixing argument & song—dialectics & music—in a musical and philosophical program, presents his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, which "Orphic" Scholarship reveals itself to be a kind of performance-art.
are the Treasures of Heaven which we are to lay up for ourselves, are
they any other than Mental Studies & Performances? --William Blake The Gypsy Scholar's program, because breaks down the strict boundaries between conventional radio genres/formats of "music" and
"informational" programming, also breaks down the strict boundaries between high, academic culture and
low pop-culture —between "high argument" and "deep song"—, and therefore ... is broadcast not from the "Ivory Tower" but
from "that tower down the track / the Tower of Song."
And because PhiloSophy (as admitted by Plato) is a form of “play” —an artistic endeavor—, it makes the student of philosophy (via radio) a scholar-artist, who is distinguished by his or her ability to synthesize and play with knowledge —"to create a collage or montage of ideas or intellectual mind-jazz." And given that the radio program in Argument & Song is inspired by Orpheus —bard, prophet, master rhetorician and divine musician and "singer of love-songs” — the Gypsy Scholar, exiled from the Ivory Tower, offers the following insights into what he is trying to do with another, higher office (of scholarship) in that "tower down the track, the Tower of Song":
Ah ye old ghosts! ye builders of dungeons in the air! [ivory towers] why do I ever allow you to encroach on me a moment; a moment to win me to your hapless company? In every week there is some hour when I read my commission in every cipher of nature, and I know that I was made for another office, a professor of the Joyous Science, a detector & delineator of occult harmonies & unpublished beauties, a herald of civility, nobility, learning, & wisdom; an affirmer of the One Law, yet as one who should affirm it in music or dancing, a priest of the Soul yet one who would better love to celebrate it through the beauty of health & [the] harmonious power [of music].
The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise and to guide men by showing them facts amid appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid task of observation.
I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson, Professor of the Joyous Science, Troubadour of Knowledge, and Orphic Scholar]
Yes, upon graduating, the Gypsy Scholar could have gone into teaching in the Ivory Tower, but he was destined for "another office":
Professor of Musekal Philosophy; Troubadour of Knowledge & Lecturer in the Joyous Science.
Angel of Entrancement
Re-Vision Radio's Philosophy of Re-Enchantment: Tranceformation--the En-trance to the Tower of Song.
Poetic Furor; Poetic Reverie
Re-Vision Radio discovers that its unique underground radio vocation of uniting, through its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack,
scholarly discursive expression with artistic expression was (a)
already in play right at the beginnings of Western dialectics, (b)
fully in play in the Romantic Movement of the nineteenth century (e.g.,
the "Romantic Essay"), and (c) embodied in the Orphic Scholar, Ralph
Waldo Emerson. Therefore, Re-Vision Radio's Tower of Song program is all the more determined to engage in an eccentric style of philosophical rhapsody, or even raving--an eloquent and nuanced raving--, in order to bring out an overall (Neptunean/Mercurial) radio mood, one that comes about through starting off with Socratic argumentation and getting off by moving gradually into Socratic enchantment--musically realized. Thus, Re-Vision Radio goes back--"way, way back"--to the Renaissance concept of "Poetic furor" ["frenzy" or "rapture"; "a state of intense excitement or ecstasy] that was believed to manifest in poems and songs.
Thus Re-Vision Radio offers its listeners a late-night experience of languid Poetic Reverie:
"Men have always fashioned reveries out of sights and sounds, ordors and memories. Indeed, reverie is such a common and even characteristic phenomenon of human nature that one may well wonder why it has not more often been the subject of scrutiny, description and analysis. . . . . Reverie has traditionally been understood, especially in the United States, to be unproductive, impractical and so completely unempirical as to be considered almost immoral in a society oriented toward pure and sometimes mindless action. . . ." "No! Muse, Lyre of Orpheus, phantoms of hashish or opium can only conceal the substance of inspiration from us. Written poetic reverie, led to the point of producing a page of literature, will, on the contrary, become for us a transmittable reverie, an inspiring reverie, that is to say, an inspiration tailored to our talents as readers."
is possessed in any way by a deity indeed overflows on account of the
vehemence of the divine impulse and the fullness of its power: he
raves, exults ... therefore this possession is called furor .... No one
under the influence of furor is content with simple speech: he bursts
forth into clamoring and songs and poems."
In other words, Re-Vision Radio takes its cue from the Romantic style of communicating knowledge: "to associate ideas in a state of excitement" (through the powers of association; ideas and song lyrics). In addition, Re-Vision Radio's mixing of the two modes of scholarship and art, means that it mixes high and lowRomantic literature. For example, in his "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth explains that the subject of poetry should be the "Low and rustic life," described culture, which also has its model in
"in a selection of language really used by men; and, at the same time,
to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary
things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way . . . as far
as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of
It has been said that "the ability to put complex [philosophical] ideas into lyrics [of song] is the gift of Orpheus."
Thus, Re-Vision Radio carries on Romanticism's great project of the "re-enchantmant" of the world (after the disenchantment of scientific naturalism), and literally--by way of its dedication to the musician-magician Orpheus and its presentation of Musekal Philosophy--attempts to re-ensing the world (enchant: incantare; incantatare; incantation). In other words, hosting Re-Vision Radio means shamanizing on radio, since it is said that the shaman "sings the world into existence."
In Section E of the Plato’s dialogue, Phaedo, Socrates argues for philosophical persuasion through enchantment. This is extraordinary, because it is advocated by the philosopher traditionally credited with disenchanting the earlier Homeric/mytho-poetic cosmos through the rationalizing process of the new discipline of philosophy. Yet what is all the more remarkable than simply advocating it is the fact that Socrates, himself, is identified as an enchanter. Anxious that their teacher is about to die, Simmias implores: “But Socrates where shall we find an enchanter who understands these spells, now that you are leaving us?” This section of the dialogue ends with Socrates advising: “You must ransack all of them in your search for this enchanter, without sparing money or trouble …. And you must search also by your own united efforts; because you may not easily find anyone better fitted for the task than yourselves.” At the end of the dialogue, Socrates again advocates the “confidence-inspiring enchantment process” by suggesting, “We should use such accounts to enchant ourselves with; and that is why I have already drawn out my tale so long.” In other words, “myth” is the kind of enchantment that Socrates can offer for his dialectical purposes. Socrates is, then, not only a rational dialectician, but also a special kind of enchanting story-teller.
(of Plato's Phaedrus), the master dialectician, unexpectedly shows us his
Dionysian side. His strict rhetoric gradually flows over into lyrical
eloquence, astonishing his companion. Socrates is soon so possessed by
divine inspiration or madness (of the Nymphs and the Muses) that he
must break off his rapt speech before it threatens put him
entirely out of his senses! The dialogue closes with a hymn to the wild
god Pan. So the mythic Socrates is depicted as a philosophical "enchanter" possessed of enraptured incantation of the poet-musician and offering up hymns to gods of the irrational side of life.
the perfect hypnotic subject ... [the Orphic Scholar] gives the
impression of being able to enter trance state at the drop of his high
hat, whereupon the liquid measures flow...."
Thus, Re-Vision Radio's Essay-with-Soundtrack, eclectically mixing Philosophy & Song, is designed to facilitate (in the middle of the night of extravagant delight) nocturnal "enchantment of the heart," guiding its listeners on the path of awe and wonder into underground radio's Tower of Song.
The purpose of this underworld-perspective, “Soul-making” program is to help guide its listeners—”in the middle of the night”—in searching for, by following the song, and entering into that place situated in an alternative mental dimension—the “invisible landscape—where you can “hear those funny voices”: the Tower of Song ("Manifesto & Visionary Recital," 2004)
I heard this song about two A.M.: “Something is happening here / But you don't know what it is / Do you, Mr. Jones?” It was Bob Dylan, and I was listening to the words. And I remember thinking to myself, “What the fuck is this? What is this guy talking about?” It was absolutely hypnotic. It was as if I had just been changed to a different frequency, zapped right into the radio. –Annie Gottlieb (Fom a history of 1960s underground radio.)
There are strange things happening every day I hear music up above my head Fill me up with your wonder Give me my rapture today.
Let me contemplate the presence so divine Let me sing all day and never get tired Fill me up from your loving cup Give me my rapture.
Won't you guide me through the dark night of the soul That I may better understand your way Let me be just and worthy to receive All the blessings of the Lord into my life.
Let me purify my thoughts and words and deeds That I may be a vehicle for thee Let me hold to the truth in the darkest hour Le me sing to the glory of the Lord. Give me my rapture today. Repeat...
(Van Morrison, 'Give Me My Rapture Today')
Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool Down through the weeks of ages In the moss borne dark dank pools
Rave on, down through the industrial revolution Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors Rave on words on printed page
Rave on, you left us infinity And well pressed pages torn to fade Drive on with wild abandon Uptempo, frenzied heels
Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass Rave on fill the senses On nature's bright green shady path
Rave on Omar Khayyam, Rave on Kahlil Gibran Oh, what sweet wine we drinketh The celebration will be held We will partake the wine and break the Holy bread
Rave on let a man come out of Ireland Rave on on Mr. Yeats, Rave on down through the Holy Rosey Cross Rave on down through theosophy, and the Golden Dawn Rave on through the writing of "A Vision" Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on
Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool Down through the weeks of ages In the moss borne dark dank pools
Rave on, down though the industrial revolution Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age Rave on words on printed page Rave on, Rave one, Rave on . . .
(Van Morrison, 'Rave On John Donne')
The Muse of Music, Euterpe
A MUSEKAL PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
The recording artists that are featured in the Tower of Song—“where the poetic champions compose”—are more than just a great singers. These Romantic “ringers in the tower” create songs of overwhelming psychological impact, songs that speak to the heart of the things that draw people to art and music in the first place—its soul-making aspect. Some of their songs are not just about love and love lost, but songs that combine the personal and the political—the erotic song and the protest song. Their songs also produce an added force from the delicate power and intricately shaded feelings their voices convey. Their songs, while seeming to speak of the usual maters of the heart, convey a sense of the deeper dimensions of life and its lessons. Taken together, singer and song achieve a universality of experience. Thus, these "poetic champions" of popular song--like Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison--can be understood to be (as Yeats would have put it) "the singing masters of my soul."
In the Tower of Song all such grand and common subjects of life truly are addressed in rock ‘n’ roll songs. Since the culture-war attacks on our popular music have been unrelenting since its inception in the 1950s, this is a singularly important achievement. Not since the poet Dante had dared to put his poetic message not in the high-brow idiom but in the vulgar tongue has anything caused such a stir. Here, it is significant that one rock critic has ironically identified the rise of rock as “the triumph of vulgarity.” Indeed, it’s plain to see that over the past half century, it has been the songs of our popular music—the folk-rock and rock songs, the R&B and soul songs—that have been, perhaps above any other art, the readiest access point to open and honest discussion of such topics in our society. I would venture to guess that as young people what drew us to the music in the first place was not only a musical style, a specific beat or melody or guitar lick, but the way in which those songs filled the needs of our heart and emotions, addressing passions and perils we didn’t know had anything to do with us. And now, as older people, this music’s continuing appeal is this ability to touch what most needs touching—the soul—that keeps us coming back and providing us with a kind of philosophy of life.
What the Gypsy Scholar’s notion of Musekal Philosophy seeks to do is to bring to consciousness what has been implicit about some of the most important songs in the Tower of Song—the philosophical "lustres" [Emerson] embedded in the music. It’s a way of knowing more about the song, and more about its inner spirit. Additionally, the noetic text of the Gypsy Scholar’s Essay-with-Soundtrack provides a way of contextualizing the poetic songs in order to recognize the larger dimension of their meaning. It is an Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack because of its synergy between the prose and the lyric--the noetic and the poetic text--, since the Tower of Song'sOrpheus was both a master rhetorician and a magical singer. It is a return to the lyric-consciousness of the 1960's song (revived today by Hip-Hop's Black Orpheus). In the Tower of Song, it is not just about about the beat, but about the lyrics. Thus, the Essay-with-Soundtrack is inspired by the recognition that people (since the 1960s) already use such songs to sustain and guide them through the ups and downs of life, and presented in the hope that listeners who love these familiar songs will hear them again (and again) anew; discover a new, more complete understanding of them as wisdom-guides to life—a Musekal Philosophy—that follows the song-lines of the planet.
I think that's the interesting thing about music is that different
people take different things from a particular song, especially
depending on their experience with that song or during that time.
I thought it was cool--the idea behind this book--, because oftentimes
people will talk about other genres of music and other lyricists. Bob
Dylan is a name that comes up a lot, or Bob Marley--you know: "these
songs speak to me!" But it's kinda overlooked that Hip-Hop music has
life-lessons contained in it--sometimes there's several life-lessons in
one song! Now do people really listen the the lyrics? Because,
oftentimes, people will say, "I'm just in it for the beat."
No, I think that for music in general people interact with it
differently. I don't think everybody listens to Hip-Hop lyrics....
There's a large audience who just want a nice beat. But then there's
also a large audience, in my opinion, who listen to the lyrics,
especially with Hip-Hop, and dissect them, remember them, and rewind
them. So I definitely think it goes both ways.
(From a Sept. 2008 radio interview with Felicia Pride, author of The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop's Greatest Songs.)
For a detailed explanation and description of the Essay-with-Soundtrack, see the Gypsy Scholar's Re-VisionRadio Manifesto & Visionary Recital on page #5, "Re-Vision Radio."
… it is melancholia that becomes his Muse ~Nerval
My melancholy wants to rest in the hiding places and abysses of perfection: that is why I need music. ~Nietzsche
I'm a Bluesman in the life of the mind ....~Prof. Cornel West
In the Tower of Song, the dialectical relationship of Philosophy and Music, with Lady Melancholia as muse, means the Philosophy of the Blues makes for a Bluesy Philosophy.
“Songs will literally jump out at you at the perfect moment and talk to you.” (Deejay at a community radio station)
The Gypsy Scholar neither a theist or atheist, doesn't communicate with "G-d," but nonetheless believes there is some external (Orphic) cosmic force that communicates with him through ... the lyrics of song. This is because "you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song." (Leonard Cohen)
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung, Would you hear my voice come thru the music, Would you hold it near as it were your own?
Its a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken, Perhaps theyre better left unsung. I dont know, dont really care Let there be songs to fill the air.
RE-VISION RADIO'S Romantic Quest in Archaic Revival of Musekal Philosophy
The Dance of Apollo & The Muses
Apollo & the Nine Muses
Allegory of Music
Parmenides: shaman-poet voyager to star realms
RE-VISION RADIO Takes You Back
--"Way, Way Back"--in Archaic Revival
to the origins of Western Philosophy with the Pre-Socratic Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Empedocles, when "philosophy" was poetry--was a visionary/mystic discipline, with ascent journeys to the stars and descent journeys to the underworld. In other words, "way, way back"to the shamanic origins of Western "philosophy."
From there, it moves forward to Socrates and Plato (introducing the daimonic "soul," or "psyche") when, after carving a separate role for
"philosophy" (dialectic), a synthesis of philosophy's new logos with
old poetry's mythos was attempted--especially with music. From here, it was up the the Romantics to complete the synthesis. Thus, it is from the Romantics that the Gypsy Scholar plays (through his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack) with the double meaning of the traditional "dialectics of music"--is it musical philosophy, or philosophical music? Here, music-as-idea is also idea-as-music,
where the "hermeneutics of music" becomes the music of Hermes (who is
said to have been the inventor of the lyre and the teacher of Orpheus).
But most of
all, Re-Vision Radio takes you back--"way, way back"--to great Orpheus, who represents the original and perfect union of Philosophy & Music. Once more, Orpheus has been identified as a "shamanic figure." Thus, Everybody Knows that the "archaic revival" of Orpheus means that Re-Vision Radio discovers its new "religion" in the re-vived Orphic Mysteries (since
Orpheus is the "melding of old and new"); that novel spiritual path for
all true music lovers (who now can worship in the Tower of Song as Orphicoi, "Orphic folk")--Oima, "Song As Way."
And the music on the radio,
and the music on the radio
Has so much soul, has so much soul
And you listen, in the nightime
While we're still and quiet. . .
"Let us bring to bear the persuasive powers of sweet-tongued Rhetoric and . . . let us have as well Music, the maid-servant of my house, to sing us melodies of varying mood." (Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy)
"This introduction is the key which shall open to you the flowers of the discourse that is to follow, namely, the investigation of the arts, of wisdom, of reason and understanding, the efficacious methods and revelations which throw light upon the secret words. (From the alchemical text, ‘The Visions of Zosimos’)"
"The way to speak and write what shall not go out of fashion is to speak and write sincerely. He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public. That statement only is fit to be made public which you have come at attempting to satisfy your own curiosity." (Emerson, Spiritual Laws)
"This spiritual Love acts not nor can exist / Without Imagination, which, in truth, / Is but another name for absolute power / And clearest insight, amplitude of mind / And Reason in her most exalted mood." (Wordsworth, The Prelude)
Re-Vision Radiowould go back to the"light of Ancient Greece /Towards the One" (V.M.), it broadcasts its "Archaic Revival" of great Orpheus--divine rhetorician and magical "singer of love songs." Yes, "way, way back" to the shamanic origins of Western culture, when "religion" (e.g., "the Orphic Mysteries") was understood as a tradition of shamanic ecstasy. Thus, looking back to the cult of the Muses and Plato, who incorporated the Orphic Mystery cult into the new dialectical tradition,Re-Vision RadioreunitesPhilosophy & Music,and, thus, puts its Philosophy best in song.
On Re-Vision Radio, "PhiloSophy"is essentially a "Soul-making" (Keats) discipline, since "give attention to soul" practically defines the entire philosophy of Socrates and Plato. Because of Socrates' and Plato's emphasis on eros ("erotic mania") as the driving force of the philosopher's (the "lover of wisdom") quest, Re-Vision Radio's "PhiloSophy"is an "erotic metaphysics" (a commingling of "love and ideas")--"a simultaneous knowing and loving by means of imagining.”And because Re-Vision Radiois about loving Ideas--"falling in love with wisdom" ("Lady Philosophia")--, it's Orphic Essay-with -Soundtrack is a union of knowing and desire:"You can call my love Sophia / I call my love Philosophy." (V.M.)This is why the Gypsy Scholar re-visions "PhiloSophy" as a great Western Quest-Romance:
"[Lovers of Wisdom] believe that it is wrong to oppose PhiloSophy with her offer of liberation and purification, so they turn and follow her wherever she leads." (Socrates, Phaedo )
For "Philosophy as Quest-Romance," click on image >>>>
Argument mixed with music . . . alone, when it is present, dwells within one possessing it as a savior of virtue throughout life. (Socrates, Republic)
Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end of music if not the love of beauty? (Socrates, Republic)
The soul which has seen most truth shall come to birth as a philosopher, or beauty lover, or fervent musician. (Socrates, Phaedrus)
Philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life, and is the noblest and best [highest] of music. (Socrates, Phaedo)
. . . don’t we know that all of this is a prelude to the song itself, . . . the song itself that dialectic performs? (Socrates, Republic)
[These Platonic insights into the secret connection between philosophy and music--due in part to the etymological meanings of the Greek word for "muses" (mosthai), which embraces both "music" and "inquiry"--were found long after I began experimentally mixing dialectics with music, which included extended spoken-word "lead-ins" to popular songs, on my radio program, beginning in 1990.]
"That's why I'm telling you in Song." --Van Morrison
“Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder [wonder is the beginning of all wisdom].” --Socrates
"School of Plato"
TOWARD A MUSEKAL PHILOSOPHY: How Lady Philosophy guided me to the
Orphic Tower of Song
"The ability to put
complex [philosophical] ideas into lyrics [of song] is the gift of
1990 I was, with sword in one hand and flower in the other, well into
my quest-romance for the heart of PhiloSophy. Therefore, I would say
(thinking back to what Socrates and Plato put down) that, yes, PhiloSophy
is “the highest form of music," but that the inverse is also true—Music
is “the highest form of PhiloSophy." In fact, I said as much
introducing my philosophical essays on radio in 1990:
PhiloSophy & Music (dialectics/argument and song), PhiloSophy is
recognized as more musical and, conversely, music is recognized as more
philosophical. I began to call these philosophical essays set to music
the "Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack." The purpose of trying to
fusePhiloSophy & Music (argument /dialectics and song) was to help
heal, in my own eccentric way, the schism in Western Philosophy between logos,
on one side, and mythopoiesis/eros on the other. This attempted
fusion, as I later discovered, was actually the very project of Plato’s
original uniting of Philosophy’s logos with poetry’s eros.
Therefore, my own philosophical quest on radio, was to make Philosophy a
"music art," and to become what Socrates and Plato thought was
the ideal for the philosopher; a “musical man," who can sing the "power
of philosophy" —a Musekal PhiloSophy—
that “floats through my head”— in the Tower of Song.
(from Essay-with-Soundtrack, "Notes Toward A Musekal
Misty mornin', don't see no sun;
I know you're out there somewhere having fun.
There is one mystery - yea-ea-eah - I just can't express:
To give your more, to receive your less.
One of my good friend said, in a reggae riddim,
"Don't jump in the water, if you can't swim." The power of philosophy - yea-ea-eah - floats through my head
Light like a feather, heavy as lead;
Light like a feather, heavy as lead, yeah.
See no sun! Oh.
Time has come, I want you -
I want you to straighten out my tomorrow! Uh.
I want - I want - I want you - (tomorrow).
I want you to straighten out my (tomorrow)!...
"And twenty-seven angels/From the Great Beyond/They tied me to this table/In the Tower of Song"
"Notes Towards A Musekal Philosophy"
writing table in the Tower of Song
"flowers of discourse"
The TOWER OF SONG . . . "where the poetic champions compose"
is where you are "visited by song."
... Oh my dear, oh my dear sweet love it's a long, long journey Long, long journey, journey back home Back home to you, feel you by my side Long journey, journey, journey Yeah in the midnight, in the midnight, I burn the candle Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends Burn the candle at both ends, burn the candle at both ends And I keep on, `cause I can't sleep at night Until the daylight comes through And I just, and I just, have to sing ... (Van Morrison)
Creative reverie animates the nerve of the future --Gaston Bachelard
RE-VISION RADIO Presents
live my life in growing orbits which / move out over things of this
world. . . . / I am circling around God, around / the ancient tower,
and I have been / circling for a thousand years, and still / don't know
if I am a falcon, or a storm, / or a great song."
Musekal Philosophy: Playing Philosophy, Playing Music
Re-Vision Radio's quest has taken it back--“way, way back” to "the light of ancient Greece / Towards the One" (the Neoplatonic’s “the One”). Sitting at that ancient banquet table in the Tower of Song, I learned from Socrates and Plato to reunite Philosophy & Music into a single discipline, an ecstatic discipline--originally, "of the Muses"--in service to Eros. Thus, because for Plato Philosophy was a dialectical art form--a form of play--, on Re-Vision Radio playing music is actually playing with Philosophy. (The Muses have the "gift of speculative knowledge" and "unregretable play," "measured and reasonable play." Mousikos: "of the Muses, devotion to the Muses, musical; musician; lyric poet; scholar, man of letters." Mousie, ta mousike: "art of the Muses; music, song, poetry, dancing, arts, letters, accomplishments"). "We have sought truth, and sometimes found it. But have we had any fun?" –Benjamin Jowlett, translator of Platonic dialogues). Therefore, the Western "ancient quarrel" (agon) between mythos and logos will be resolved when poetry/music and philosophy are recognized as two aspects of one art form.
And because, as Hesiod tells us, the Muses are "of one mind,"
poetry/music and philosophy are not out of tune with each other. This
single-mindedness unites the different nine Muses into "one harmonious
chorus." (The name of the Muses and of music are derived from their
making "philosophical inquiries." Furthermore, these Muses have, writes
Plato, "the gift of speculative knowledge" and are "of one mind,"
desiring to "express themselves in song." Plato also suggests that "the
Muses and music in general are named, apparently, from mosthai,
"searching," and "philosophy"--"to strive after," "to long for," or "to
desire eagerly"--, and partakes of similar meanings as does philosophia; "loving," "searching," "striving," and "inquiry.") My own definition of musicology's "speculative music" succinctly designates the grand union of philosophical inquiry and musicality. In broadcasting what I call Musekal Philosophy, via my Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, I strive to give listeners what in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll is described as "lyrics that make one think." This is the great legacy of the Sixties folk-rock musicians, our modern Troubadours."I understand my music as chords of inquiry" (Joni Mitchell). My novel notion that Philosophy & Music are one-and-the-same "art" is found in Socrates’ original con-fusion, brought about by his dream that admonished him to "Make and cultivate music!" Hence, Socrates reflects that "the study of Philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life, is the noblest and best [highest] form of music." I only compound Socrates’ con-fusion, in regarding, conversely, Music as the highest form of Philosophy. In my Musekal PhiloSophy, then, the philosopher and the poet are in complete harmony, since Socrates’ daimon/muse, Diotima, demanded of Socrates a "music art."
On Re-Vision Radio, this reunion and fusion of Philosophy & Music--dialectics/argument and song; logos and mythos--makes for a philosophy that is musical and, conversely, a music that is philosophical. Thus, Everybody Knows the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack's musekal philosophy is also the (Romantic) "philosophy of music."
(The Romantic's belief that music is the highest art; the pure
expression of feeling and thus supra-rational, and the end of
philosophy is music.) In addition, musekal philosophy makes the ideal philosopher (according to Socrates and Plato) a "fervent musician," or a "musical man.” Moreover, because PhiloSophy is a form of “play”--an artistic endeavor--, it makes the scholar of philosophy a scholar-artist-musician, who is distinguished by his or her ability to play with knowledge and create a collage of ideas or intellectual mind-jazz.
Here's to the was you been, to the is you in, to what's deep in deep
and what's down and down / to the lost and the blind, and the almost
found. / Here's to somebody within the sound of your voice this
morning. / Here's to somebody who can't be within the sound of your
voice tonight. / Here's to a light buzz in your head, and a soundtrack
in your mind / going on and on, and on and on and on--like a good
Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack goes to the Movies
experimental format of RE-VISION RADIO is a seamless mixing of argument
& song, dialectics & music, or logos & mythos; in other
words, philosophical essays are put to music, producing the Orphic
Essay-with-Soundtrack. Thus Everybody Knows, since there’s a song
hermetically hidden in an essay and, conversely, an essay waiting to be
revealed in a song, that RE-VISION RADIO puts its philosophy best in
song—as the lyric goes: “That’s why I’m telling you in song.”
("Re-Vision Radio Manifesto & Visionary Recital")
The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackis
designed on the analogy with film soundtrack; the dialogue is
interrupted at key moments to heighten the emotional ambiance, to drive
home the idea the director desires to get across, and works best when
the synergy of words, images, and music come together (when the music
isn't simply an interlude, but an amplification of the theme). In fact,
the Gypsy Scholar's novel notion of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack seems all the more relevant as film and music (soundtrack) become more and more meaningfully integrated. In other words, the Gypsy Scholar's passion
to hear a song as essay and an essay as song seems to be shared, on the
level of film, with some avant garde filmmakers. For example, here's a
film critic (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune) reviewing (on Ebert and
Roeper) the Bob Dylan based film, I'm Not There (12/09/07):
". . . But if films are songs, this is one Troubadour that travels its own stretch of Highway 61 in its own way."
Here, all the Gypsy Scholar's passions (and main themes) come together: Troubadours, Sixties popular song, philosophy, and film.
life was saved by Rock 'n' Roll. Because it was this kind of music
that, for the very first time in my life, gave me a feeling of
identity, the feeling that I had a right to enjoy, to imagine, and to
do something. Had it not been for Rock 'n' Roll, I might be a lawyer
now." --Wim Wenders (Filmmaker) “It’s [a film] a lot like music and
it’s a little bit like painting, but it’s based on this mood the idea
gives you.” –David Lynch (Filmmaker) “Some of the images that are very
important in Eraserhead aren’t simply the ones that you’re
seeing on the screen but the ones that you’re producing yourself,
because of the very suggestive soundtrack.” –Jonathan Rosenbaum (Film
Critic) --From documentary, Midnight Movies
The Glorification of Music (Constant)
MUSEKAL PHILOSOPHY: PhiloSophy In A New Key
Going back--"way, way back"--Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack would pick up the fallen standard of the nineteenth-century Romantic Essay, which sought to transcend the boundaries of prose and non-prose and conjoin philosophy and poetry. The Romantic Essay has been described (based upon its development by Wordsworth and Coleridge) as a "conjunction
of Reason and Passion that did not draw particularly sharp lines of
differentiation between ‘poetry’ and the ‘impassioned, eloquent, and
powerful’ prose." Following in this Dionysian genre, I conceived of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack as "the perfect union of words and music." Thus, my Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, like the Romantic Essay, begins with an
"impassioned, eloquent, and powerful prose, following from a fairly
strict following of traditional ‘public’ discourse to modes of prose
requiring the virtual abandonment or annihilation of such discourse and
often quite literally disappearing into poetry or into the silence of
contemplation and vision."
Re-Vision Radio, in programming a mix of rigorous intellectual argument and a profound musical sensuousness, strives to unite intellect and feeling, head and heart. It has been said that Romantic Mind is "the union of deep feeling and profound thought." Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack assays back and forth between the dialectical and musical, between logos and mythos; between, in other words, the mind & heart. So Everybody Knows
"If my heart could do my thinking / And my mind begin to feel / I’d
would see the world anew / And know what’s truly real." (Van Morrison) In practicing its own type of the Romantic “Arts & Sciences of the Imagination” (Blake), Re-Vision Radio Radio delights in remixing what Wordsworth has poetically combined--"high Argument" of "the Mind, / My haunt, and the main region of my song." Re-Vision Radio, in bridging high academic culture with low pop-culture, takes its cue from the great Romantic composer, Beethoven, who, it is said, "took great delight in juxtaposing the exalted and the commonplace," making his music "a union of sensuous and rational." It also looks to the inspired American scholar Emerson who dared to proclaim: "I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low." Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, assaying back and forth between high academic culture and low pop-culture (song), finds itself validated in literary theory: (argument) and "Soliloquy bridges the gap between high art and popular song." Thus, the Musekal Philosophy of my Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack broadcasts its meaning in two modes: Wordsworth’s "high argument" and Lorca’s "deep song."
". . . they have climbed, / on high with song that is more sweet, more
deep." (Dante, Divine Comedy) "Music that can deepest reach." (Emerson,
And because Re-Vision Radio participates in the great Romantic project of the "re-enchantment of the world," the Gypsy Scholar would invite guests/listeners to enter the center of enchantment (en-song-ment) by following, "in the middle of the night" of extravagant delight, the song on the (Dionysian) path of wild abandon, the path of awe and wonder--to the Tower of Song.
Re-Vision Radio's quest is to seamlessly fuse together a prose argument with a lyrical song. The medium for this ideal accomplishment on radio is the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack,
which is, simply, prose argument put to music. And this seamlessness of
going back and forth between the prose argument and the poetic song
could be described in the following way: "So
the words dissolve into the music, and the music dissolves into the
words, and a refreshment is produced, kind of oxygen." (Alan Watts) My Essay-with-Soundtrack’s mixing of PhiloSophy & Song is truly an Orphic medley of dialectics & mythopoetics, logos & mythos--Argument & Song (Blake). And, thus, Everybody Knows Musekal PhiloSophy heard on Re-Vision Radio means that a Song is as good as an Argument/Essay. In fact, through the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, they are in dialectical relationship; that is, there's a song hermetically hidden in the prose of an essay and, conversely, there's an essay waiting to be revealed in a song lyric. And the goal of Re-Vision Radio, through its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack,
is to not only cause the listener to "hear" the familiar song empowered
by philosophical meaning and "see" the essay's meaning amplified by
song--thus experiencing a "new" song--, but to so seamlessly weave
together essay and song that it feels like the song was actually
tailor-made for the essay.
Through the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack,the song is amplified in its depth of meaning by the nexus of interconnected literary associations (impersonal and personal) to which it resonates. Thus the literal academic text is translated to another dimension whose meanings are musically apprehended in a text above the basic text; the hypertext that is the Soul-text.
"When ... writing ... all the natural instincts are at work the way some people play a musical instrument without a lesson." (Lillian Hellman)
In fact, it wouldn't be too much to say that virtually everything my novel hybrid radio-text meant--theOrphic Essay-with-Soundtrack,and the Musekal Philosophy it evoked--was later found intellectually worked out in a classic philosophical tome (one whose title even provided a rich metaphor for my conception):
"... we find the belief very widely disseminated that music is an emotional catharsis, that its essence is self-expression." "The content has been symbolized for us, and what it invites is not [just] emotional response, but insight." "... conveying a musical message." "... music articulates forms which language cannot set forth." "'There are feelings ... which are so constantly suppressed by the tumult of our passions, that they can reveal themselves but timidly, and are practically unknown to us.... Note, however, what response a certain kind of music evokes in our hearts: we are attentive, it is charming; it does not aim to arouse either sorrow or joy, pity or anger, and yet we are moved by it. We are so imperceptibly, so gently moved, that we do nor know we are affected, or rather, that we can give no name to the effect.... Indeed, it is quite impossible to name everything fascinating in music, and bring it under definite headings. Therefore music has fulfilled its mission whenever our hearts are satisfied.'" "These two excellent thinkers saw in music what most aestheticians failed to see--its intellectual value, its close relation to concepts, not by reason of its difficult academic 'laws,' but in virtue of its revelations. If it reveals the rationale of feelings, the rhythm and pattern of their rise and decline and intertwining, to our minds, then it is a force in our mental life, our awareness and understanding, and not only our affective experience." "But this explanation of music as a high abstraction, and musical experience as a purely logical revelation, does not di justice to the unmistakably sensuous value of tone, the vital nature of its effect, the sense of personal import which we meet in great composition every time it is repeated to us. Its message is not an immutable abstraction, a bare, unambiguous, fixed concept, as a lesson in the higher mathematics of feeling should be. It is always new, no matter how well or how long we have known it, or it loses its meaning; it is not transparent but iridescent. Its values crowd each other, its symbols are inexhaustible." "... the true nature of music, which is unconventionalized, unverbalized freedom of thought." "The real power of music lies in the fact that it can be 'true' to the life of feeling in a way that language cannot; for its significant forms have that ambivalence of content which words cannot have." "The assignment of meanings is a shifting, kaleidoscopic play, probably below the threshold of consciousness, certainly outside the pale of discursive thinking. The imagination that responds to music is personal and associative and logical, tinged with affect, tinged with bodily rhythm, tinged with dream, but concerned with a wealth of formulations for its wealth of wordless knowledge, its whole knowledge of emotional and organic experience, of vital impulse, balance, conflict, the ways of living and dying and feeling. Because no assignment of meaning is conventional, none is permanent beyond the sound that passes; yet the brief association was a flash of understanding. The lasting effect is ... to make things conceivable rather than to store up propositions. Not communication but insight is the gift of music.... Its entire record is emotional satisfaction, intellectual confidence, and musical understanding." "Music is the myth of the inner life ...." (S. Langer, Philosophy In A New Key)
Music giving "insight," "a flash of understanding," music's connection with the inner life of the mind and soul--"intellectual value," "the force of mental life,"concepts," "revelations"--, the personally "associative" quality of music, the "musical message," the illuminated mind plus the "satisfied heart"--all these attest to and highlight my preoccupation with "philosophy" and popular music, and the reflection on these that eventually lead to my intuitions and independently conceived ideas, which evolved into a radio program--Re-Vision Radio's Tower of Song.
If my heart could do my thinking And my mind begin to feel I’d would see the world anew And know what’s truly real. (Van Morrison)
Therefore, Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrackand itsMusekal PhiloSophyturns out to be--metaphorically and literally-- PhiloSophy In A New Key
"Songs slip into your consciousness at a significant moment of development." (Patrick McCabe)
"When the thoughts unroll in the mind with the effortlessness of music and the precision of geometry." (Paul Bowls)
“To me, songs are a living thing. It’s not hunting to capture. I just want a glimpse of it, so I can record it.” (Neil Young)
"Like so many of my generation, I can landmark my life with songs." (Sting)
"In a funny way, that's right. It's unexplainable what a song means to you. Because remember, songs--its not like a movie you see once or twice. A song-- it ... it gets under your skin! And that's why we abandon ourselves to it. It has a sense of ... of ... a sense of ... of a kind of ... uplift ... of getting airborne! ... Everything feels possible ... and maybe more things are possible than we think!" (Bono, U2)
"We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it. " (Jerry Garcia)
"The best music... is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with. " (Bruce Springsteen)
"Music helps you find the truths you must bring into the rest of your life. " (Alanis Morissette)
“There are three things I was born with in this world, and there are three things I will have until the day I die: hope, determination, and song.” (Miriam Makeba)
life was saved by Rock'n'Roll. Because it was this kind of music that,
for the very first time in my life, gave me a feeling of identity, the
feeling that I had a right to enjoy, to imagine, and to do something.
Had it not been for Rock'n'Roll, I might be a lawyer now." (Wim Wenders)
came out perfect. It came out gold. I was conscious I was writing . . .
you have to speak in metaphors . . . that there was gold dripping out
of the pen." (Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead singer-songwriter)
"I loved this music, and it is a matter of always looking for someone to share your passion with." (Ellie Greenwich, Tin Pan Alley songwriting partner of Jeff Barry)
Compare Langer's profound observations on music and philosophy with a sixties singer-songwriter:
is always new, no matter how well or how long we have known it, or it
loses its meaning; it is not transparent but iridescent." (Langer)
was about the way a you want to hear certain words. The way certain
things in music were appealing to the ear. For me, as a songwriter, it
was about hitting that target every time .... And it has to do with
reaching a certain vulnerable spot within each listener. You have to
hit it there--I like to call it the 'sweet spot'--, and the minute you
hit them with that little taste of sweetness . . . well, ya know, they
can't bear it; they can't have just one hit, they have to go out and
buy it so they can play it all the time."
And, finally, compare all this with Bono of U2 being interviewed by Sixty Minutes:
SM: You say when people are screaming at a concert its not about you; it's about them. B: In a funny way, that's right. It's unexplainable what a song means to you. Because remember, songs--its not like a movie you see once or twice. A song--it's ... its ... it gets under your skin! And that's why we abandon ourselves to it. It has a sense of ... of ... a sense of , of a kind of ... uplift-- of getting airborne! [Pause] Everything feels possible ... and maybe more things are possible than we think!
Now compare all these with ancient and nineteenth/twentieth-century writers:
when a man abandons himself to music, to play upon him and pour into
his soul as it were through the funnel of his ears those sweet, soft,
and direlike airs of which we were just now speaking, and gives his
entire time to the warblings and blandishments of song, the first
result is that the principle of high spirit, if he had it, is softened
like iron and is made useful instead of useless and brittle." (Socrates, The Republic)
as it exists in the old tunes or melodies . . . is Inspiration and
cannot be surpassed. Nature has no tune, but Imagination has." (William Blake)
“Without music life would be a mistake.” “Sing me a new song, the world is transfigured and all the skies rejoice.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
power of music, the power of poetry, to unfix and as it were clap wings
to solid nature, interprets the riddle of Orpheus. I do not wonder at
the miracles which poetry attributes to the music of Orpheus, when I
remember what I have experienced from the varied notes of the human
voice. They are an incalculable energy which countervails all other
forces in nature, because they are the channel of supernatural powers."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
brings up another topic--songwriting. I've always felt that ideas for
songs are falling on us everywhere, like rain. If we are open to those
ideas, feelings, etc... then we will catch them like buckets and at
some point, whether in the middle of the night, or in the middle of our
lives, the song (art in any form, visual, verbal, etc.) will come to
life." (Jorge Luis Borges)
Musekal Philosophy: The Orphic Synthesis
Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack--a kind of “Visionary Recital”--mixing the
noetic texts of Philosophy with the poetic texts of Song, broadcasts a
sonorous literary texture and a “speculative” musical texture--a
radio-text--that is an Orphic medley of the esoteric and the popular;
the high and the low--the sub-textuality of a Soul-text. Remembering
that “Philosophy” for Plato is a “care for soul” and begins in
“wonder,” Re-Vision Radio, in mixing dialectics and song, puts the
logos of scholarship in service to the god Eros. The Orphic
Essay-with-Soundtrack’s “soul-music” spans both logos and mythos; both
the critical analysis and the enraptured intuition, both the
down-to-earth investigation and the flight of poetic inspiration; the
fusion of scholarly acumen with poetic reverie; philosophical aptitude
with musical amplitude.
Thus Everybody Knows, since there’s a song hermetically hidden in an essay and, conversely, an essay waiting to be revealed in a song, that RE-VISION RADIO puts its philosophy best in song—as the lyric goes: “That’s why I’m telling you in song.” [From "ReVisionRadio Manifesto & Visionary Recital."]
"When I read about this [historical figure] ... I knew there was a song in there somewhere." --Interview with member of The Battlefield Band, 11/1/08
With the Romantics, "the business of philosophy was no longer to argue and clarify but to expand and alter our vision." Therefore,
the Musekal PhiloSophy of Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic
Essay-with-Soundtrack (argument/song) finally leads not to ponderous
academic desiccation but to ecstatic Dionysian celebration—to the
"Joyous Science” (of Emerson and Nietzsche). This means it offers a
mood of trance, enchantment, and ecstasy. However, it is not the
brain-dead, new-age elation, but rather, because Mueskal PhiloSophy is
both logos and mythos, what the Romantic poet, Wordsworth, said was "Reason in her most exalted mood," which issues in "music that can
deepest reach.” (Emerson) Re-Vision Radio, then, carries on the great Platonic
synthesis (between the earlier mytho-mystical, as it was transmitted
through the Greek Mystery Religions, and the newer rationalist
development in Philosophy that had broken away from it: "Intellectual
rigor [read: "the logical"] and Olympian inspiration [read: "the
mytho-poetic"] no longer stood opposed.”) of logos and mythos. Because
Plato’s dialectic became--“after it has risen, with an incredible
impulse, through the mania [madness] of Eros to the heights of
philosophy”--mantic (poetic-prophetic) vision, Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic
Essay-with-Soundtrack would energetically channel philosophy back
through the medium of radio, where it rises to the heights of
enraptured song. This Musekal Philosophy, then, is what one sixties
songwriter said the music of that time promised: "A deep ecstasy that
can be had." If the Romantic Movement’s project of reuniting philosophy
with poetry (reason and imagination, head and heart) meant that “the
end of Philosophy is poetry,” then Re-Vision Radio would make music the
end of philosophy.
Musekal Philosophy: Scholarship as Performance Art
everybody knows that Re-Vision Radio broadcasts Musekal PhiloSophy,
Philosophy is recognized as more musical and, conversely, Music is
recognized as more philosophical. Thus, Re-Vision Radio's hermeneutics
discovers the song hidden in the essay and, conversely, the essay
waiting to be written out of the lyric of song. However, Re-Vision
Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, not content to push the
boundaries of academic form by simply inserting popular song lyrics
into the essay as epigraph, would follow the Orphic muse and let the
lyric lusters of snatches from song break out between the lines of
prose--all over the page. Thus, its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is
thoroughly song-haunted--memorable song lyrics fading in and fading out
between the written lines, generating a steady stream of
correspondences between the ideas and the music. In reading between the
lines of dialectics and song, moving back and forth between the prose
and musical text, the Soul-text of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack
relocates the listener in the middle of an ancient philosophical
"Then, as I leaned,
hearkening to that first sound, / Methought a voice sang ... / sweetly
interwound / With music; and its image in my ears / Left such
impression as one often catches / From songs sung to an organ, when one
hears / The words sometimes and sometimes not, by snatches.” (Dante, Divine Comedy)
The Essay-with-Soundtrack, in combining argument and song, creates an alchemical space where things come together in unexpected but highly meaningful ways. The Gypsy Scholar, in a fever of furious invention, plays with the relationship between argument and song to such an extent that, even if he can't contrive the synchronic magic to happen, he creates the opening for the possibility of the unexpected Orphic magic.
Re-Vision Radio's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack allows the listener to
not only to "hear" the essay's meaning amplified through song but,
after the song has been run back through the dialectic of the essay, to
"hear" the familiar song in an entirely new way. Was this what that
musical philosopher, Socrates, meant when he declared: "don’t we know
that all of this is a prelude to the song itself . . . the song itself
that dialectic performs? And, thus, because Re-Vision Radio practices a
new radio art-form--scholarship as performance art--I would echo this
know that the prose of my Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack--all of this--is
really an extended lead-in to the Song itself, the Song that the dialectic
For more on the Gypsy Scholar's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, see his "Re-Vision Radio Manifesto & Visionary Recital" (complete version) on page # 5, "Re-Vision Radio."
Musekal Philosophy & the Troubadour's "Joyous Science": Scholarship as Performance Art
The Gypsy Scholar's ideal is the Orphic "Inspired Scholar" and, thus, the Gypsy Scholar is a Rock-man in the World of Ideas
Re-Vision Radio’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is both an argument-theory for the reunion of ideas and love, and, at the same time, a song-demonstration of that very reunion. It presents both sides of Platonic argument: dialectics and mythopoiesis, logos and eros; the rational and the mystic, analysis and intuition, intellect and heart—an essay in the “didactic and erotic modes” of the ancient Troubadour school of the “Dialectic of Love.” The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, fusing love and discourse in “flowers of discourse,” has Dante or its guide, since the Florentine Troubadour poet desired only to write about the “Love that discourses in my mind" [Purgatorio, Canto II]. In the paradise of discourse that is the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, both aspects of the psyche are given their due: reason and imagination, scholarly/critical intellect and intuitive/artistic heart, academic research and mystical insearch; both secular hermeneutics and sacred hermetic/kabbalistic interpretation, both scholarly rigor and poetic reverie, Apollonian clarity and Dionysian obscurity, philosophical questioning and romantic questing.
Re-Vision Radio would broadcast my research and discovery of what happened in the Romantic nineteenth century when Emerson (the "Orphic scholar") and Nietzsche (the musical philosopher of the "Gay Science") invented the "Joyous Science," which I interpret as scholarship finally hearing Wordsworth's complaint of "murders to dissect" (Thanatos) and placing itself instead in the service of Eros--synthesis and celebration. Furthermore, this great discovery connects my intellectual passion for Romanticism with my other all-consuming passion, since it is precisely with the Troubadours of the "12-century Renaissance" that the true origin of the 19th-century Romantic's "Joyous Science"--Gai Saber (literally, "the happy wisdom" or "gay science")--can be found. Moreover, this Orphic Troubadour legacy moves from the Romantic poets into our era with the 1960's folk, folk-rock, and rock musicians.
Plato said of the Muses that "Their song is one that gives joy to the mind.”
Wordsworth wanted to make “A present joy the matter of a song,” and composed his epic The Prelude.
Thus, with this great twin-discovery, which confirmed what I had been doing on radio for a few years anyway--attempting to fuse dialectics & song; ideas & love--, Re-Vision Radio became a university of the airwaves; a "singing school of [the] soul" (Yeats) from the Magdalene Memorial-Musekal Library in the TOWER OF SONG.
Therefore, here's the vision that Re-Vision Radio wants to communicate to its listening audience, so they can "see what I mean."
On Re-Vision Radio, when the music that is lurking in the syntax of the essay--the heretofore unheard rhythm of the prose--is amplified through the meme engine of the dialectic, it breaks out in song—"one, two, three, four ... But all joy wants eternity,—wants deep, deep, deep eternity!” [Nietzsche] Suddenly, the lecture hall in the TOWER OF SONG is transformed into the concert hall, and the scholar, instead of merely presenting his thesis discursively, straps on an electric guitar or a bee-bop sax and, as a Professor of Song, sings out his thesis in Visionary Recital. ("That's why I'm telling you in song." V.M.)
According to poet Stephen Vincent Benet, when expression is so powerful its eloquence would “sing in the mind.”
[See what I mean at end of this page]
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "the American Plotinus" (Neoplatonist), "Orphic Scholar" and rhapsodic lecturer, envisioned a new type of "Man Thinking" (in his 'American Scholar" address); a "Poet as Sayer".
"I am born a poet, of a low class without a doubt yet a poet. That is my nature and vocation. My singing to be sure is very 'husky' and is for the most part in prose. Still I am a poet in the sense of a perceiver & dear lover of the harmonies that are in the soul & in matter, & specially of the correspondence between these & those."
"Ah ye old ghosts! ye builders of dungeons in the air! why do I ever allow you to encroach on me a moment; a moment to win me to your hapless company? In every week there is some hour when I read my commission in every cipher of nature, and I know that I was made for another office, a professor of the Joyous Science, a detector & delineator of occult harmonies & unpublished beauties, a herald of civility, nobility, learning, & wisdom; an affirmer of the One Law, yet as one who should affirm it in music or dancing, a priest of the Soul yet one who would better love to celebrate it through the beauty of health & [the] harmonious power [of music].”
The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise and to guide men by showing them facts amid appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid task of observation. –Emerson
Nietzsche, most musical of all philosophers, wrote the The Joyous Science and
dedicated it, "For My Joyful Sophia." This "troubadour of knowledge"
became a wandering scholar--a Gypsy Scholar--and traveled the high
mountain villages of the north and the southern Mediterranean). His
journeys lead him to the Provence, where he discovered the old
Troubadour culture. He said that "love as passion ..." was invented by
"the Provencal knight-poets, those magnificent and inventive human
beings of the 'gai saber' to whom Europe owes so many things and almost
owes itself." The book (usually translated as), The Gay Science, was
written in an anti-professorial, anti-academic polemic. Its title
suggests "light feet," dancing," and "laughter"--a ridicule of the
"spirit of gravity." Besides writing the "Songs" he placed in the
appendix of his book, he also composed classical music, which survives
to this day. The "Dionysian philosopher" fell into impossible love for
muselike Lou Salome and learned as much from that unrequited affair
than from all his philosophy books.
"Without music life would be a mistake."
"My melancholy wants to rest in the hiding places and abysses of perfection: that is why I need music."
“Sing me a new song, the world is transfigured and all the skies rejoice.”
"Night has come; only now all the songs of lovers awaken. And my soul, too, is the song of the lover." --'Night Song'
".... I listened with the ear of my Love." --'Brazen Silence'
wants ... a Dionysian affirmation of the world as it is, without
subtraction, exception, or selection--it wants the eternal
circulation:--the same things, the same logic and illogic of
entanglements. The highest state a philosopher can attain: to stand in
a Dionysian relationship to existence.”
“I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher might wish more to be than a good dancer.”
we gazed at one another and looked out at the green meadow, over which
the cool evening was spreading, and wept together. But then Life was
dearer to me than all my Wisdom had ever been.”
Plato's Phaedrus is the only dialogue set in the lovely countryside, where Socrates and his pupil walk and rest among the meadows and trees. It is a singularly beautiful natural setting, and throughout the dialogue we are not allowed to overlook the influences of nature and of the spirit of inspiration that haunts the spot. The place is consecrated to Achelous and the Nymphs. The dialogue begins with the current discussions among rhetoricians, but then surprisingly abandons them entirely as the preferred mode of dialectics, only to return to them in a completely transformed attitude, “after it has risen [the dialectic], with an incredible impulse, through the mania [madness] of Eros to the heights of philosophy.”
In other words, Socrates gradually falls under its inspiration and his strict rhetoric gradually flows over into lyrical eloquence, astonishing his companion. Plato shows us the Dionysian side of the master dialectician, one that transforms him out his sober argumentation. Socrates soon is so possessed by divine inspiration or madness (of the Nymphs and the Muses) that he must break off his rapt speech before it threatens put him entirely out of his senses. Thus, the Socrates of the Phaedrus reveals himself to be, in his full ripeness, the inspired philosopher-dialectician; no, Socrates the Dionysian musician! since the dialogue closes with a hymn to the god Pan. So Socrates ("the enchanter"), the philosopher whose death is now imminent, is depicted as possessed of enraptured incantation of the poet-musician, offering up hymns to gods of the irrational side of life. The transformation effected in the Phaedrus had already been heralded in the Phaedo through Socrates’ dream of making music. Divine madness (mania), a gift from heaven, had taken possession of the soul of Socrates and transfigured him out of his ordinary, supremely sober, character. So here’s the philosophical question that challenges academic philosophy establishment: What does it mean, then, that the father of Philosophy and the exemplar of dialectical inquiry ends his life composing musical hymns to the gods Apollo, Eros, and Pan?
Hear the Voice of the Bard
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul But it's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll . . . How the magic's in the music and the music's in me
Yeah, do you believe in magic . . . Believe in the magic of rock and roll Believe in the magic that can set you free Ohh, talking 'bout magic
Do you believe like I believe Do you believe in magic Do you believe like I believe Do you believe, believer Do you believe like I believe Do you believe in magic.
(The Loovin Spoonful)
is the music of a (counter-culture) generation. The music of the
Sixties had a magic about it; it spoke to our generation. But that's
not all of it; not just the music, but the music plus the philosophy.
Along with the dancing and the magic of the beat, our generation had
something very important to say. Rock-n-Roll was its voice. It was
about sharing ideas about our times; a medium to talk to each other in
a tribal way. Rock-n-Roll was "the soundtrack of our lives."
and rock musicians served as singing prophets for the generation of the
Sixties. Orpheus—bard, prophet, rhetorician, and musician ("singer of
love-songs”)—is the archetype for musicians of the Sixties, who joined
the prophetic ranks of the new singer songwriter, and created the music
that defined the whole idea of the confessional songwriter, with his or
her introspective style: "the sound of an introverted, troubled
dreamer, with this sort of tremulous angelic voice."
It was as if the social theorist Herbert Marcuse became the prophet of what was to come in the late Sixties. (Marcuse advocated replacing the dominant reality-principle ruling socio-political relations with the values of the pleasure-principle—"play, enjoyment, sensuousness, beauty, contemplation, spiritual liberation." Thus, real social/spiritual transformation is inspired not exclusively by the spirit of Marx, but primarily by the archetype of Orpheus—“the image of joy and fulfillment; the voice which does not command but sings.” And, therefore, who knows? maybe there's a role for the scholar (the itinerant- or "gypsy scholar") to be the warm-up act for the Rock singer(or band).
“Herbert Marcuse, while he lived, made these arguments and, as I say, looking back on them from this point in history—this point in time—it’s hard not to feel a little nostalgic for them. But I have a feeling that they’ll come back, along with tie dyes, Jimmie Hendrix, and the rest. And who knows, they may even have someone like me tour and denounce the System—as a warm-up act for Rock-n-Roll. I mean, who knows?” —Prof. Rick Roderick, 1993. (Posted, 8/24/7)
Yes, an Orphic Scholarship as warm-up act for Rock-n-Roll!
Therefore, Re-Vision Radio's Essay-with-Soundtrack mixing of philosophy & song (introspective "chords of inquiry") creates a Musekal Philosophy; that is, Philosophy synaesthetically heard/seen through the magic prism of Rock-n-Roll.
Apollo, father of the Muses & Muse Euterpe, whose name means "Delight"
Dionysos is the god of intoxication, revelry, sexuality, ecstacy, unification; patron god of poetry, song, dance, drama. He liberates through divine inspiration and creativity. Dionysus is the patron god of the sixties and its music
TheGypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist's ideal of the Orphic Scholarand Musekal Philosophy is Beat writer Jack Kerouac telling Beat poet Allen Ginsberg about the importance of spontaneous prose; of speaking from your heart and bellowing it out as if you were a crazed jazz man.
To reiterate: in the Tower of Song, the Orphic Scholar's address becomes more and more inspired and rhapsodic ("Reason in her most exalted mood"), until the Dionysian energy can no longer be controlled and breaks out into ecstatic song:
"... one, two, three, four ... But all joy wants eternity,—wants deep, deep, deep eternity!" (Nietzsche)
Suddenly, the Lecture Hall in the TOWER OF SONG is transformed into the Concert Hall, and the performing scholar (The Orphic Scholar), instead of merely presenting his thesis discursively, straps on an electric guitar or a bebop sax and, as a Professor of Song, sings out his thesis ("philosophy in a new key") in song.
Little village baby, ain't large enough to be a town
From a little village baby, ain't large enough to be a town
Gotta get away from the city
It's gonna bring you down
Heard the voice of the silence, in the evening
In the long cool summer nights
Heard the voice of the silence, in the evening
In the long cool summer nights
Telling me not to worry
Everything's gonna be all right
There's only two kinds of truth
Baby let's get it straight from the start
There's only two kinds of truth
Let's get it straight from the start
It's what you believe
Baby in your head and your heart
Heard the bells ringing
Voices singing soft and low
Heard the bells ringing
Voices are singing soft and low
Way up in the mountain, little village in the snow
Raining in the forest
Just enough to magnetise the leaves
Raining in the forest
Just enough to magnetise the leaves
We’ll go walking baby with the moonlight shining down through the trees
Little village, way up on the mountainside
Little village baby, way up on the mountainside
Way across the ocean with you by my side