Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lollipop, Lollipop: The Primacy of Patterning

Photo Credit: Henrique Matos
Art, especially modern art, often relies on the relativistic notion that anything organized suggests meaning. We don't usually enjoy something because it lacks meaning. In those instances, when a communication is illegible or impenetrable, we are simply left confused, or it makes no impression on us at all, as when we hear two people speaking a language we don't understand. Although, true, we might find ourselves enjoying the ambiance provided by a foreign lilt, as happens when we are on vacation. But more generally we enjoy a thing or a statement because it conveys information to us, which we are able to decipher. Or in the case of pure abstractions, because we think it means something, if only because that meaning is the result of our own projections upon the thing in question.

Indeed, was there ever an object that man did not endow with meaning?


Of course, music is a prime example of this. How can any combination of non verbal pitched soundings come to mean anything? The moon doesn't care if you play a seventh chord. And yet, music does contain and is capable of conveying meaning to us; meaning, mood and message. Even minute passages of music can capably frame or change the context of a given reality, by triggering emotion, recalling or embedding within memory, all by shading or shaping our perception with timed bursts of varying frequencies. This is a fact that never ceases to amaze me.

This is immediately evidenced in film scores, whereby a given cue might lead the viewer to a different understanding of a scene than one might otherwise have had without the cue. Likewise, walking down the street with headphones on and playlist engaged, you are effectively scoring your world. And it is the easiest way I know of to turn a gray dismal day into pure musical theater.

Simply define any two random dots or concepts in space, and the brain will create a bridge between them. Thus, everything is networked, not via intention (though sometimes so) but as a result of our perception of ideas and things. Every time we take in a new view, our eyes our constantly trying to make sense of what we're seeing, and our ears are no different in regards to the constantly changing acoustic ecology.

Without a doubt, what we hear can shape,modify or otherwise color what we see.


It happens the other way around too, and to such an extent, that I'm not even sure anymore that we can think of music as purely an aural experience.

Because, actually, everything we sense, whether through our eyes, ears, skin, nose, tongue or that which we call intuition, presents us with a collective (multidimensional) melody as long as we can link one concept to other, which we can not possibly avoid doing once we become aware of their existence within a single perceived set:

Elephant, car, bushman, bauxite, chica, flower, kijiti, pop.

Did you hear that? Maybe not but there's a good chance you gathered this sequence of randomly chosen concepts into a single set and began to attempt to make some correlative assumptions. Something about a bushman taking a car to see an elephant, perhaps, or something like that. Or maybe you didn't hear it so much as felt it, as certainly as percussionists feel lollipop triplets: 'lollipop, lollipop, lollipop' = '1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3').

It seems that everything whether it makes a sound or not, once it arrives into the brain can serve to ignite a musical experience. A comet slamming into the earth for instance, silent as it sails through space until the moment it slams into the Gulf of Mexico. Now, that's a gong on a cosmic order.


So if everything we can conjure can be defined as music, it's only because everything that arrives upon our senses is subject to immediate real time organization relative to a personal knowledge base, and thereby perceived as containing or contained by patterning.

Whether that patterning is divine in origin or not I'll leave to others to imagine and answer.

Either way, the result is we can hear, feel, and see, and taste, and smell music everywhere, because patterns are everywhere, and as such, they form a multi sensory matrix that appeals to all our receptors. Music pushes all our buttons, so to speak. –And also, because as we've demonstrated, even when no patterns exist, or are intentional, and whether or not there is evidence of maker, the mind nevertheless creates bridges, and thus produces a pattern, and then searches for meaning, until one is satisfactorily found. So there's no getting away with saying a work of art doesn't meaning anything; because if the artist doesn't invest meaning into his or or her work, the audience certainly will.

This circumstance may or may not yield answers to our deepest questions about the nature of our existence, but it does shed light on the nature of man's relationship to Art.

From chaos, beauty: not because it is inherently so, but because by connecting the dots and identifying a constellation therein, we make it so.

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