Do Cultures Long For Death?

I was watching one of the more bizarre movies ever made, Zardoz, for the umteenth time… and found myself wondering if cultures ever really do long for death…

(this posting will only make sense if you watch the videos in the order presented… though you don’t need to listen to all the variations on the 9th, just the ones that speak to you… It will help if you understand German and Latin (at least that’s what I think the “boys” are singing in the second half of their video…), but is not necessary if you are sensitive. Zardoz is a kind of ‘guilt trip about living’ and Beethoven is more about the Joy of Life…)

If you are unfamiliar with this movie, you ought to watch it. It is odd, un-nerving, disturbing, ahead of it’s time, and past it’s time with odd ’70s ish hippy overtones. and yet it still speaks to me.

Do cultures exist in times longer than human lives, and do they reach the point where they desire to die? Despite the wishes of the individuals embedded in them? Against my will, am I in a culture bent on suicide? All the facts point in that direction, yet I do not wish it…

Do I matter? Do any of us matter? Or are we simply cogs in a wheel beyond ourselves? And if such a wheel exists, can it wish to un-exist?

And does that matter?

Such is the nonsense that sentience is made of.

Zardoz.

I want to think not, yet I think…

And think again…

And wonder if cultures long for death?

And am I trapped in one so longing?…

For those who love women:

For those who love boys (of all ages..) :

And, for those who love mankind (the discussion at the front is worth all):

a kind of cool babes and cool dudes alternate version:

So perhaps I’ll go on, penis, guns, voice, song, and all… Even if my “culture” might long for death… even as I might long for a culture of eternal life, even as I personally might expire… perhaps there will be a child inside that might long for rebirth, for hope…

And so we live, and love, and hope…

Just because:

and for the visually oriented:

At this point the posting ought to end. For every one else I figure you ought to have connected with something by now, but you haven’t, so you must be a pretty sick puppy… So: from a Clockwork Orange:

And as as finale, my favorite music of all time. A man in love with a woman, writes a song, played by a woman, to stir a man, who loves…

my reason for continuing to live… beauty such as this…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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30 Responses to Do Cultures Long For Death?

  1. Malaga View says:

    Reckon they must have sneaked in some Magic Mushrooms into that Clam Chowder along the way… think I am going to have a lie down after watching that flashback / trip down memory lane….

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    I really hate to say this but…

    It’s all just me…

    That is how I see the world pretty much every day.

    Just most of the time I keep it bottled up because it upsets folks who are not like me…

    What you see day to day tis but a shadow … and no mushrooms need apply…

  3. j ferguson says:

    E.M.

    “Willing suspension of disbelief.”

    I think it takes a lot of it to keep a culture going. Maybe eventually everyone sobers up and the thing starts to dwindle.

    In the past, what was next was often on the horizon, or in our case, the US, over the horizon. I keep looking now wondering what new “system” is in the works.

    The magazines think it’s China. I don’t. I suspect, unfortunately for them that the current partial boom (cities) they are enjoying is a bubble, the result of a combination of circumstances they cannot control or maintain. But maybe it will work for another 50 years and then enough other things will change or evolve that everyone will be on to something new.

    Components supporting their boom would include:

    Large population of peasants who at least so far willing to continue to quietly accept subsistence living. They form the feed to the labor intensive industries which are a significant part of their current prosperity. Their wages better than poverty but not much better. Except maybe India, nowhere else (organized) has this advantage.

    Easing of repression enough for people to loosen up.

    Low cost of shipping. This may be a temporary boon to them.

    Age balance in present population biased toward youth – but trouble coming as this cohort passes 65 in a couple of decades.

    Our industrially suicidal greenest myopia. “I want a shovel but you can’t make them anywhere near my house.”

    If China’s boom is happy circumstances as much as design, then where is the next form of society? Maybe it isn’t here yet.

    Feel free to correct or clarify my observations on China.

  4. Malaga View says:

    Reckon this must be an age thing… and about living through a golden age in so many ways… that is if you can remember it.

    I am long since additives free… just the odd glass with food and friends… so life is lived in its full techicolor glory with surround sound… with all my senses alive.

    Times have changed…. remembering back to the black and white days of 1968… to days of the English stiff upper lip… when the old English Establishment was still functioning… to the days when we all wondered IF things would change…

  5. Pascvaks says:

    As we climb to the summit the wind is ever at our backs. When we reach the summit there is another of a thousand gales and we do not even realize that we arrived. It blows us on. We continue in a daze and take another step. And another step. By the time we do realize that we were there, we are half way down the far side of the mountain. And the wind is still blowing us on. As hard as ever.

    Culture is a beast. It will go where it will. Especially, if all we do is sit back and watch, and let the wierd ones among us go where they will. Most of us are too busy to think about culture. It is just something that colors our day.

  6. Edward Spalton says:

    I am determined to watch this all the way through – in spite of “The Ode to Joy” which is the “national anthem” of the European Union which promotes the European cultural death wish more effectively than most of our institutions. Yet they all seem to be on the same wavelength, including the Churches.

  7. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    On further reflection, maybe the suspension of disbelief is only needed to get things going and to a lesser degree while they are working and then the requirement gradually increases as things spin down, or karrom away, until no-one can any longer fool himself that he’s living in a viable culture, then sudden collapse – end of the dance.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Malaga View: That’s the spirit! Love the video… do you have a title to go with it? Reminds me of the ending of Doctor Strangelove…

    @J Ferguson: I see nothing to ‘correct’… IMHO, it’s all about the direction of change, not the degree of progress. China is headed toward more freedom and more free enterprise with higher living standards; so they thrive. Others at the peak are headed away, so they have riots in the streets despite being orders of magnitude better off.

    China will have the same “Demographic Bomb” we have, but harder and faster of onset, due to the “1 child” policy…

    So watch them for a giant spike of success, then a crash as the parents of the “1 child” generation try to retire…

    @Pascvaks: Very well said.

    @Edward Spalton: FWIW, I had no idea the EU even had an anthem… Glad of that, as the 9th is one of my favorites and I’d not want it so damaged… But press on, perhaps the Clockwork Orange version is more fitting for the E.U. … perhaps a slightly bent one:

    in a sort of ‘Electrical Parade” motif …

    FWIW, one of the most comforted and pleasant moments of my life was in a large plaza in Tokyo. Filled with people watching the Japanese contestant in the Olympics compete (They had this billboard sized TV screen on the side of a building…). Even as a Gaijin I felt at home and a part of something larger than me.

    So there are places in the world where they have avoided the Disfunctional Family Circus of the west.

    Life will go on. Cultures will go on. The world will progress (though in fits and starts). As long as we have multiple countries with multiple governments and multiple cultures there will always be someone to pick up the torch for the next leg… as the present runner falls…

    (And, for those folks with compulsions where the mere mention of Electrical Parade will cause them to of necessity go find a copy….

    and a version with more ‘close ups’ on characters, though a few more ‘cuts’ in it.

    and no, I’ll not mention the boat ride with dolls singing about a tiny planet … ;-)

  9. Jason Calley says:

    Most important things first:

    Thank you for a wonderful assemblage of ideas and memories of Zardoz. And no, it’s not all just you. It is a minority of us humans, yes, but there are always a few of us around, and while you may be a unicorn of types, there are in fact a few more unicorns out there. I will guess that a large fraction of those who read your posts have had what I think of as the “knock-knock” experience. You stand among a group at a party or in a lobby, you walk down a crowded sidewalk, and as you pass people you look at each and make a quick reckoning of sorts. “Knock knock. Nope. No one home.” Another sleeper. “Knock knock. Nope.” That one’s asleep too. About once out of twenty you see “Knock knock. Hey! There’s one who is awake!” Sometime more awake, sometime less, but always you find a few specks of yeast leavening the otherwise flat dough. One reason why I enjoy your site so much is the high ratio of levity! :)

    Also, what a wonderful video of Fur Elise! I will have to share that with my wife. At the risk of being pushy, here are two favorites of mine, first:


    and my most favorite:


    You probably know that this last piece ends suddenly because Bach died before finishing it.

    Do cultures long for death? Obviously, not in a literal sense, but certainly they exhibit very similar traits to those we see in humans who long for death — and probably for the same reasons. Any culture which prospers enough to produce excess wealth with create and attract parasites. Remember too, that the most sucessful parasites are the ones which manage to trick an organism’s natural self defense mechanisms to ignore the parasites it finds. Look at any culture and find the ideas, the groups, the institutions which are forbidden to be criticised or resisted. Here is an example: “our brave troops.” I assume that at least a few people (assuming at least a few people read this!) had a quick blood pressure spike when they read “our brave troops.” The fact is, ANY criticism of the military is recast as criticism of “our brave troops” and hence becomes automatically taboo. On the other hand, the truth is that we as a nation are bankrupt and yet we still spend as much money as all other nations on Earth combined for a service that we are told is purely defensive. Is this a rational use for a bankrupt culture’s resources? Watch Eisenhower’s last speech and then ask whether criticism of the military is always unpatriotic. Anyway, I digress. The answer is that yes, our culture shows every indication that it has a death wish.

    The news is not all bad though. It is even encouraging for the long run! The ideas that truly have made our culture great, ideas such as “the rule of law, not men” and “intrinsic natural rights” are free and running wild in the world. The growth of digital information technology is in the early stages of doing to the world what Gutenberg did to Europe. There are children in China and Viet Nam who are reading Jefferson and Bastiat, and who are thinking “these are GOOD ideas!”

    Neither we nor our children will be the ones who colonize the oceans or the other planets. Sorry. No, I really am VERY sorry. Maybe our great grandchildren, even if they are named Yee Lee Smith or Sue Ling Calley. The dream is still there! :)

    In the long run, cultures die, but ideas and dreams live on. I like that.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason: Thanks!

    I think of them as “Vacation People”… the lights are on but nobody is home…

    I’ve taken the liberty of pasting in the ’embed’ code for the videos above the links in your comment. Nice videos…

    FWIW, China has a “man on the moon” program proceeding nicely even as we “burn the fleet”… two launches to go then we cease being a space faring nation. Fitting in an odd yin/yang kind of way that China has finally recovered from it’s “burn the fleet” moment so long ago.. just in time.

    I do find that we’re entering a cultural Zardoz kind of era. Defining people as evil, life as evil, everything as bad when we have the most available to us; more than any point in history.

    But yes, the “barbarians at the gate” are not a threat, they are a new beginning.

    Part of why I like my “inner barbarian” ;-)

  11. Tanatos vs. Eros, Ying vs. Yang: The two forces which always oppose:
    In spanish a magnet is called an Iman (eemahn). The Islam tradition tells os thw Imams guarding the cubt (the holy khabah, the Cube, the Pytagorean “Tetraktis”. At 90 degrees apart one from the other:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/40159888/Unified-Field-Explained-2
    Have fun finding all relations you wish. But:
    Sin and Cos never meet to annihilate between them: Movement has to go ahead.

  12. Occidental culture committed a sin at the beginning, and this sin was promoted by the Church: To invent the concept of IMMATERIALITY, and that’s BS: Everything is material and there are degrees of materiality, from the almost neutral atoms to the pervading plasma in the cosmos.

  13. GregO says:

    Chiefio,

    Most excellent that you are into Zardoz. It is one of my all-time favorite movies and I love to have Zardoz screenings for those who haven’t seen it. What a great flick – a real “idea” movie.

    Every time I have a screening more converts are made.

  14. Mike Patrick says:

    E.M.

    An interesting post, which makes me think you have been enjoying the bouquet of a very nice wine, but I agree with you. For all the beauty in the photographs accompanying the music, none compare to what I see by just closing my eyes. I pity those to whom great music is nothing but an anonymous background noise. I see those who have never been overcome with the power of Beethoven or Mozart, and I again, I pity them.

    I will not be ready for the reaper as long as I have not worn out the beauty of this world.

  15. j ferguson says:

    E.M. and all.

    I have very bad eyes and will likely have a lens replacement on the one whose connection to my brain isn’t messed up. If they screw up the operation, which is very unlikely based on experience, I might at best be able to muster 20/400. I could live with that although boating, flying and driving would be over.

    My hearing on the other hand is just fine. If anything happened to that, no more music and I think I’d lose it altogether in pretty short order. I can inaudibly sing stuff to myself but mostly monotonically. i “know” the complex stuff, but thinking it and not hearing isn’t good enough.

    Below is one of my most wonderful recent discoveries. So simple. Handel does so much with so little. BTW, this is frequently screwed up, even by the best orchestras, played too fast.

    va tacito e nascosto Handel Julius Caesar

    20 years contending with the french horn may drive my affection for this.

    As an aside, having accumulated 60 days of music on the computer, I can cue up 12 versions of Rosetta, or Mood Indigo for example and wow, there are great ones and ones to put on the other side of the 78 that was the serious side.

    I just got through doing the same thing with va tacito, and must say that the choices were not encouraging but this gal is the best to my mind.

    My own is a performance by the Virginia Opera that is understated and exquisite – exquisite!.

    My Dad is a musician and I grew up in a house with “hi-fi” at first big red translucent 78 microgrooves that he got from someone at Westinghouse and then the 33s. He bought the Columbia Classical series (came in blue paper envelopes), George Szell and Cleveland Symphony and so forth and I listened to them over and over and they became the way the thing was supposed to sound, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart, Franck D Minor – not heard enough today, And American in Paris – Oscar Levant. All these became the way it should be – i’m not sure that this is a good thing and certainly would have been impossible before recordings.

    I was enraged to hear the version with Paul Whiteman with Gershwin himself at the keyboard – doubtless that was how he thought it should go, but I thought it too ricky-ticky – too much syncopation. Ah well. Listen to Levant to know how it should be. Dennis Brain for Mozart horn concerti.

    The Sviatislaw Richter 1958 Sofia concert Pictures at an Exhibition – I have never heard it done like he did it there and it is well worth the effort to find if you have any interest in what can be done on the Piano.

    The Louis Armstrong recording of Panama from the ’50s with Earl Hines on piano playing a riff from Dardanella right in the middle.

    And then the struggles with the car radio enroute to the office to try to get a piano on which shubert is being played to sound right, only to be told “original instrument.”

    As our wonderful host has pointed out, it can’t be cuisine without onions, and for me not life without music.

  16. Paul Hanlon says:

    Hmm, anytime I need elevating I play this – one of the better remixes of Barber’s Adagio.

    but all of the above pieces would make it into my playlist.

    Regarding the post, I think that what people who believe in live and let live (of whom I think I’m one) are finding out, is that there is a price to freedom and it is eternal vigilance.
    It turns out there really are people who would like to rush us lemming-like over a cliff. The thing which has brought most of the people here together, global warming etc. being a perfect example.
    I think we’ve managed to repel the worst excesses of that particular phenomenon, but all that is going to happen is that these same people will regroup under some other banner.
    I think what we really need to find out is the why of it. What is it that is so lacking in these people’s lives that drives them to do this.

  17. j ferguson says:

    Paul Hanlon

    What a great thought.

    “What is it that is so lacking in these people’s lives that drives them to do this.”

  18. Verity Jones says:

    Wonderful. That is a particularly delicate and beautiful rendition of Fur Elise. Thank you.

    This is Karl Jenkins Allegrettango version of Beethoven

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ian Beale: Joanne Nova links are always welcome here, at any time, on any thread. She’s “good folks”…

    That link is well worth a read. I may make a posting pointing to it if I get time.

    Yeah, I’d noticed an odd “patterning” to the data drop outs in GHCN / GISS. Places that are not warming have a load of data drop out, that then gets filled in from the “nearby” place that has had the most thermometer changes, and just accidentally shows lots of warming.

    Observed it in the Caribbean islands where those under British Influence had loads of thermometer change (and a nice ‘cool the baseline warm the present’ signature) while other islands with one stable thermometer had no warming.

    Saw it in southern Africa, where one country “filled in” a load of those around it that were not warming… Forget the country name, but right near South Africa IIRC.

    Saw it in the Pacific Islands where Fiji? Or maybe Tonga? Something with a load of thermometer change and a warming profile ‘filled in’ a bunch of missing data in the ‘nearby’ islands…

    It’s one of the things I ought to get back to… Policing the shenanigans.

    FWIW, Verity Jones also found this but as a time of year drop. More cold months dropped out in later years than warm months. So you drop some especially cold months (and GISTemp will make a ‘season’ with a missing month…) and viola, a warmer ‘annual average’…

    But it’s a rather tangled mess to follow the data from origin to drop point to fill in / homogenize to giggery pokery buggery boo…

    So I’ve been picking off some easier “targets of opportunity” and being lazy rather than “digging in” and doing an end-to-end benchmark / proof.

    Partly, too, it’s a bit of discouragement… As no matter how much incredible lack of moral compass is demonstrated, nothing happens to the perpetrators. The whitewash on the CRU Leak was incredible. And Hansen is on the “Arrest a season” plan, but not walked out? So I end up thinking things like “I could sink 6 months of my life into demonstrating this, and they would just change the data and say ‘What problem?’ and move the pea to under the other shell…

    It has a lot of earmarks of the classic con, but not enough to prove it. So things change a lot gratuitously (keep the shell moving). There are grand pronouncements about all sort of non-relevant things (the ‘distraction’). There is attack the messenger and character assassination. And is just ends up being easier to say “Look, the ASOS are reading high compared to all their neighbors” as anyone can see that without all the tech and code in the way…

    But I really do need to get back to it.

    @Mike Patrick: It was Gin and Tonic, actually… Got to have a proper British Drink when watching a warped British Show! Besides, the quinine kills off some kinds of intestinal bugs and I wanted to make sure things were, er, ‘polished’ and ready for use… after the soup ordeal…

    FWIW, at one time in my life I was profoundly deaf. Would not have heard you if you were speaking loudly. (Since fixed…). I’ve also been blind (cornea healed nicely since, thanks). Of all the trials and tribulations, nothing really was that dismal. Except the loss of music.

    I actually sat with my head pressed to the wood stereo cabinet feeling the vibrations and a vague “wooo wrrroo rowomm wroorrovd” and just cried. Nothing else hurt as much. At the time I did not know if the ‘fix’ would work.

    Since having the ears fixed, I’ve enjoyed music beyond what words can express. Every moment is a special joy.

    @J. Ferguson: Best of luck with the repairs. FWIW, I’ve had eye work done. They have got it pretty well worked out. Just do exactly as directed and things are typically fine.

    Between replacement lenses and corneal transplants, as long as the eye is intact and the retina is attached, most of the rest is ‘fixable’.

    @Paul Hanlon: I think you are correct. The “grasping after power” in some folks is just stunning. Watching Pelosi on stage causes my skin to crawl…

    From what I’ve seen, it’s “multi-causal”.

    Some had very controlling parents, and have craved control since young as a way to regain their self worth. Others are just born with a controlling streak (the need to be ‘pack leader’… If you watch “The Dog Whisperer”, and then just think ‘some people are like those dogs’ …” it all makes sense…

    Then there are those who feel empty. They know that their life is not very meaningful, and can’t stand the idea that you live, you die, and that’s it. So they set out to “make a mark”. Doesn’t matter what mark, just need to put that Graffiti on the world somewhere…

    And, IMHO, the worst of the lot: The manipulators. Folks who grasp after power for self enrichment, who want to be “king maker” so they can have the king give them a giant chunk of money.

    Stir in a giant helping of folks who want to “do the right thing” and have been told that “the right thing” is to follow the messiah off the cliff, and it starts to get pretty messy. I can’t fault those folks so much. Often they are very good hearted folks who are simply not blessed with a critical capacity to evaluate. They must depend on the good graces of others to show them where to ‘do good’. So an evil manipulator can cause them to do a fair amount of grief and they don’t even know it. Like the folks who followed Jim Jones to Jonestown. Religious zeal pointed at the wrong ‘dear leader’…

    And as near as I can tell, it’s not possible to change those fundamental personality types.

    So the best I’ve thought up is to show those folks how they can get the same ‘satisfaction’ by working on the other side of the fence.

  20. Ken McMurtrie says:

    Thanks EM. Wonderful post.
    So much good input. It is heartwarming to read the post and the comments. Still to run through the whole thing as I need time to let it sink in.
    Can’t help offering my hypothesis that people who are true music lovers are a different “race” to those that promote, support and participate in warfare.

  21. Jason Calley says:

    On the subject of cultures dying and of music also, I was reminded of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor.

    One guesses that Albinoni must have realized that Venice, “The Most Serene Republic of Venice,” was nearing its end after almost a thousand years of independence. I have been told that in Venice there was a special gallows reserved for only the Doge. It was located in the plaza just outside the Doge’s office and easily visible from his window. Perhaps that was a factor in Venice’s survival for so long.

    Good idea.

  22. Paul Hanlon says:

    @j.ferguson Thanks, I do hope your operation goes well. I don’t have the answer, but I’d agree with what E.M. has said subsequently, and maybe add a couple – the fact that there are so many more people on the planet, and the demise of organised religions.

    I was raised a Catholic in Ireland, but I got so sick of the constant guilt trip being put on me, and the requirement that I feel shame just for being, that by fifteen I stopped going to Mass, and would consider myself agnostic now. And I’m not alone. The number of people going to church here has fallen off a cliff, even before the revelations about some priests.

    I see a lot of parallels, and actually bought in to a lot of the ideas of “Gaia”, although I’ve never read any of Lovelocks’ books. Where religion teaches that “God” is all around us, I thnk well, that’s Nature. Where I depart from that is the idea of a vengeful Nature that must be appeased. Nature just is.

    But I can see how others would buy into it wholesale, and feel it is their duty to “spread the word”, much like we see Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses calling to peoples’ homes and proselytising their world view over here. It’s a very powerful thing, is belief.

  23. Mike Patrick says:

    E.M.

    After going through the comments again, and listening to all the music, I am a better man for it. I came to classical music later in life, after spending my youth in rock and roll and middle age in country. When rap and hip-hop arrived, I figured music was dead.

    That was until a kid blasting obscene hip-hop stopped at the pump next to me several years ago while I was getting gas. Another car stopped at the pump behind me, and its driver, upon hearing the hip-hop opened all four of his doors and maxed out his radio playing something from a classical station; something very like @ Jason Calley attached Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. I was surprised he did not blow out his speakers, but he overpowered the hip-hop.

    The driver of the hip-hop car turned his radio off, and as he walked in to pay for his gas, the drivers of nine other cars on the lot applauded and cheered the driver playing the classical music. He took a bow, paid at the pump and drove off. I have been listening to classical music ever since.

    @ Jason Calley
    After listening to Albinoni’s Adagio, and watching the candle slides, this came to mind: What matters, the death of one candle when millions still glow? It matters not, unless ‘tis the light in the window to guide you home.

  24. Curt says:

    I have long pondered the idea that many human institutions age in ways very analogous to the aging of physical human beings. Myriad small injuries and imperfections accumulate; many of these are passed on (in cell generations in humans due to accumulated genetic damage in the non-germ cells).

    Mostly I’ve thought of it in terms of commercial corporations — very few of these really last past a human lifespan. Witness the US auto companies, which are on artificial life support now. They have built up so much internal cultural damage, with management and labor more concerned about getting the edge on the other than on producing a good product, that it is not at all clear to me that they can or should survive much longer.

    Would this apply to entire cultures? I believe that one of the advantages of American culture over European is that the early Americans were able to effectively jettison much of the detritus that European culture had built up over the previous centuries — the legacy of feudalism, aristocracy, et al, and start fresh utilizing the better aspects of that cultural history.

    It is probably a philosophical and semantic issue whether you can anthropomorphize a culture to say it has a “desire”, but with my metaphor, you wouldn’t need to. Individual components (people and smaller organizations in a culture) still want to survive and thrive, but the overall network is so gummed up that they can’t.

  25. Verity Jones says:

    I’ve had much of this music running though my head since listening, a constant soundtrack to my day. My brain siezes music and replays it constantly, amplifying my mood, so thank you all.

    I’m someone with a grasshopper brain that constantly wants to investigate the new; I used to have trouble with concentration and I thought the near continuous internal soundtrack was a distraction, but, I’ve now realised, it is quite the contrary. My ‘internal soundtrack’ is, I think, a way of distacting the grasshopper, of giving it something to do while the rest of my brain gets on and concentrates on the important job in hand, whatever that may be. Without it a momentary loss of concentration will be enough to tempt me into some new task, the original temporarily forgotten. If I ‘load’ some music in, it plays constantly and I learn to tune it out or listen to snatches of it if my concentration wavers, but am much better at returning to the original task.

    One funny side-effect is needing to avoid music with lyrics if I am writing a report, so my usual diet is classical these days. I even need to avoid Latin though, or anything I where I have a vague chance of remembering the words and an idea how to spell them, otherwise I find myself writing or typing things like “Requiem aeternam….” So unfortunately I had to avoid the video for “Sultans of Swing” which is a favourite. Got to keep rock and such like for weekends.

    On a more on-topic note, having actually read a synopsis of Zardoz I am tempted to draw a few parallels with the current ‘plague on the Earth’ meme of environmentalism today.

  26. Jason Calley says:

    Mike Patrick says: “After listening to Albinoni’s Adagio, and watching the candle slides, this came to mind: What matters, the death of one candle when millions still glow? It matters not, unless ‘tis the light in the window to guide you home.”

    That, Sir, is a good thought. :)

    It is in the nature of things that they do not last forever — neither candles, nor people. One day we are part of the orchard, the next day we are part of the compost. These things happen.

  27. vigilantfish says:

    Enjoyed some of the music here – no time to listen to it all but you have collectively posted links to some of my faves. Love Mike Patrick’s gas pump/obnoxious hip hope story of. As to the demise of civilizations, Chinese civilization continued on a pretty even keel, despite Mongol hordes and others invading until the 20th century – because the elites developed a self-sustaining system and Confucianism elevated the status quo: belief systems and the political structure were mutually supportive of each other. Hideous though it may be to suggest it, it is possible that Islamic theocracies might find the same stability. Neither system was particularly focussed on individualism or improving the fates of the peasant poor. In the West, with its separation of temporal and religious authority, there has not been a coherence of belief and political power, although Christendom for a period did achieve some degree of harmony between the two that was very short lived (Charles Martel and Charlemagne vs Islam, supported by the Church). Cerainly this cohesion did not outlast the rise of capitalism in the 12th century, as Venice and other centres sought power and control of commerce at the expense of the fate of Christianity, and later assisted in undermining Constantinople, for example.

    Sorry I tend to drift off into history.

    I would like to strongly recommend a book by the historian Modris Eksteins, entitled “Rites of Spring”, which describes how the First World War seeded and fed despair and destruction in Europe and the west, as countless men (and women) experienced the godless horrors of war and lost their faith in God and in western society. The title refers to Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” and Eksteins also explores the cultural shift that accompanied this period and how the moral decay was reflected in artistic expression.

    Of course, the First World War led to the Second, and in many ways we are still experiencing the fallout, the first being tantamount to an unintentional act of suicide by Europeans who did not realize how science and technological breakthroughs would intensify and prolong the war to unimagined levels. I think the death wish you detect (the reality of which I must sadly concede) are the death spasms resulting from the wounds inflicted by these wars.

  28. vigilantfish says:

    E.M.

    Back again to add a PS I meant to write yesterday. Your remarks about being discouraged by the lack of results from your remarkable weather-station monitoring work saddened me. It sounds as if you have overcome many obstacles over the years – the descriptions of your encounters with deafness were particularly wrenching, and made me realize what a student and friend of mine must be going through – a gifted musician, she is gradually and permanently losing her hearing to a progressive condition.

    I just want to encourage you to not give up. History will vindicate your efforts, and we all owe you a real debt of gratitude – and more – for your persistence and interest in finding out the truth. Anthony Watts said, when Climategate broke, that it was just the beginning of the end, and that there would be a long battle, and he was right. The problem lies both in vested scientific and political interests, and these will indeed take a while to shift. But the history of science is replete with examples in which ‘paradigm’ shifts lag far behind shattering scientific revelations. Often the old guard has to die – hopefully that will not be the case here, as some of the ‘old guard’ as still quite young. In this case I think the cry for urgent CO2 reductions is gradually going to mute, as scientists find other agendas; as the urgency dies, more scientists will be able to speak of the doubts they had all along, without being punished for saying what they really think. (It’s so atrocious that science ever arrived in such straits to begin with.)

    In Ontario we just experienced a series of municipal elections in which almost all the incumbent mayors got ejected, and in which the voters completely defied conventional analysis. The results have me daring to hope that the stranglehold of political correctness is being greased loose somewhat by people beginning to notice truths that are inconvenient to those who style themselves our political masters. An increasing segment of the public is becoming skeptical about global warming just when massive public debt is forcing governments to have to respond to reality instead of complacently smothering us with their social engineering programs, funded by us. (Why England is continuing its self-flagellating C02 abatement program in these circumstances is admittedly a massive puzzle).

    It will take time, but your work and Anthony Watts will have as important an effect as Steve McIntyre’s. Believe me, if our civilization does survive in some form, your names will be writ large in accounts of one of the strangest episodes in the history of science: how amateur scientific sleuths held a corrupted and politicized scientific establishment to account. I for one am very grateful for your work.

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