Strange Loops - Blog Archive: January 2006
Strange Loops Journal Archive: January 2006

Blog || Politics || Philosophy || Science || Fiction || Quotes

New Music
January 27, 2006
Permalink ||

Been tracking down some new music (er, new to me anyway, I'm not kewl like all of you). Here's some of the stuff I like so far:

Jem - Great female vocals, laid back sound with some stylistic variety. Kinda reminds me of Thea Gilmore without the British accent.

Okkervil River - Don't know how to describe them, except they really remind me of The Shins. Top notch.

MC Solaar - French-language jazz-hiphop? Hell if I know where this guy came from or how I found a reference to him, but I love the sound.

The New Pornographers - Indie pop kinda stuff, fun to listen to.

Blackalicious - A few crappy songs but mainly good, solid hiphop with some unique beats. One Block Radius is another hiphop group I just found, but I'm not sure about them yet.

The Metasciences - Found them on Myspace, actually, where they offer an entire album free(!). Many of the songs have a nice mellow sound. And where else will you hear lyrics like "I love this life / I love this universe"?

Sigur Ros - Icelandic group with haunting ephemeral female vocals. Often sounds like something you'd find playing in the background of the emotionally complex open-ended ending of a love drama movie. Or something.

Matthew Good Band - Only found a couple tracks of this one so far, but both are good indie rock (canadian?). Worth tracking down more of.

Fallout Boy - Okay, so I'm sure everyone else knew of them 10 years ago or whatever, but I'd never even heard the name mentioned until "Dance Dance" came on the radio. Catchy as hell (the kind they'll keep overplaying until it's completely drained of any energy it had), so I tracked down some more and I like it so far. Kinda punk-lite, Blink 182 style. Good energy.

Brendan Benson - Ranges from Iron and Wine style mellowness to more energetic indie/folky stuff. All of it good so far.

Anyway, off to track down more. Drop a comment if you've got any music suggestions. I need to widen my audiological horizons here.

January 22, 2006
Permalink ||
Our lives today are busy. We are a generation of multi-taskers. We are constantly assaulted with a barrage of stimuli: televisions always on, computers always connected, cell phones everywhere, email and instant messaging, billboards and signs along every street, books available anywhere, music in the car or as we jog, not to mention we are constantly surrounded by people new and familiar.

All of this information activates and fires neurons within our skull, permanently altering the structure of our brains. We are shaped by our experiences, and in this day and age that shaping is going on virtually non-stop.

Imagine the effect it would have on a person's brain, a person's mood, a person's sense of self, to escape all of this for a week, or even a day? Imagine twenty four hours of silence, of no conversation (not even the one-way conversation of television or a book) or recorded music. Imagine a day with no interacting in traffic, no talking to friends by phone or email, no monosyllabic responses to store clerks.

How many of us could handle an entire day of real solitude? What effect would it have?

I suspect it would alter our perspective quite a bit. People come out of solitary confinement changed. Chimps kept in solitary housing go insane long enough. It obviously has some effect, and we certainly need human interaction in our lives. But I suspect if we expose ourselves to a little solitude now and then, it might actually be a good thing. If nothing else, it is a way to step back and look at the hussle and bussle of modern life from a new perspective; to gain a deeper appreciation for the good interactions and maybe realize the inanity of the wasteful interactions.

I'm reminded of this short tale about Aleister Crowley. It concludes:

Our subconscious robot will adjust to any conditions if it is given long enough. It adjusts to stillness, so that the stillness ceases to cause boredom. For you have boredom when nothing is happening inside you. And nothing is happening inside you when the outside world keeps the mind distracted. If the outside world is distracted for long enough, the inner power-house begins to work.

What magic could we unlock in our own brains if we could just pull away from the constant stimuli and reactions of modern life long enough to break past the initial boredom and reach real, profound solitude?

January 6, 2006
Permalink ||
Happy New Year. Strange Loops is alive again, after a few months of hiatus.

I have added Evolution: A Brief Introduction to the science section to replace an older article with a more thorough but concise one. Not exactly tackling every dimension of the subject (that'd take more than a book), but like it says, just a brief introduction. I also added an article on the possible Gestural Origin of Language to the science section. I updated the Movies That Make You Think page.

Perhaps less concretely than the above updates, but more importantly, I've sort of reinvented my philosophy toward this website, considering why I want to keep it in the first place. I've found myself lately trapped by my own perfectionism, afraid to post anything new for fear I might disagree with it six months from now. After all, I disagree with a lot of the stuff already up here, and feel the impulse to go back and re-work it all, which would be a dreadful use of my time.

Rather, I think instead of viewing the stuff on this page as somehow representative of my opinions (and fearing a misrepresentation to any reader, especially a casual one who just samples here and there and comes out thinking I'm whatever their idea of an anarchist is, e.g.), I'd like it instead to serve more as an archive of the silly things I've thought over the years. Some parts may even come to contradict others - as Whitman said, "I am large, I contain multitudes" - but at the same time I'll still sometimes take out old stuff that seems really bad years later (or adapt old stuff to make it better fit my current position, say), so the stuff that's kept up won't become stale I hope, even if it does not necessarily represent my current-moment disposition.

All this change means is that I'm going to feel more free to post new material even if it's not perfect. I'd rather provoke interesting thought even if everything on the site doesn't represent me as a person, than sit here and let the site die off simply because I am an ever-evolving intellectual creature.