virus: Vibes

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 12 Jul 1997 22:51:26 -0400 (EDT)


>Reed you are a fantastic debater.

Unfortunately, I often feel like that's similar to being a fantastic
hit man. :-)

>My other two posts in the digest were actually submitted two nights ago.
>So ignore the time lapse. We are both geting far too ridiculous and
>drawing too many unrelated things into this arguement.

Actually, I was trying to be ridiculous! I was, I don't know...I had
been trying so hard to communicate the idea that "faith" in the sense
of faith in your fellow humans was necessary for understanding by
rational argument and it just was not working. Everybody was still
arguing and insisting people should think like them.

So I sat down and said: What would I do if I were an artist or a

So I got a little crazy. What can I say? If you invoke chaos you get
chaotic results.

>If you still don't believe in my position. Then laugh all you want at
>me, but please do it privately or behind my back. I'm out of energy.

I do believe your position. I don't believe your rationalization. I
believe your effect, but not your cause. We have learned in different
traditions. You learned your science in the pursuit of your art where
I did the reverse. We each have different ancestors to worship.

But, it isn't us (you and me) that decides. It is us (us) that decides what
to believe and by what standards.

A violin string vibrates the wooden body of the violin.
The violin body vibrates the air within and around the body.
The air vibrates everything it contacts.

It is actually very difficult to vibrate a dish of water by vibrating
another dish of water because vibrations do not communicate well
from water to air, as you've said.

But a good violinist can create a visible standing wave in a small
dish of water at a distance of a few feet by finding the right harmonic.
This is becuase the violin has been designed to vibrate air with
significant force and clarity--an incredible amount of energy
communicated as a reletively simple wave.

The practice you describle the Gyoto Monks using is obviously
obviously more complicated. By forcing air into various sinuses they
set up reinforcing and canceling patterns of vibrating air and
sinew. When I've listened to buddhist chanting and singing
(and I'm not positive it's the same thing as you're describing) it is the
complexity of the sound with is enthralling. It's like...I guess
I would describe it as the sonic equivalent of a fractal image.
There is a pattern so recursive that your mind seems to fall into
it. It is very captivating and I don't want you to think I don't
value it...I encourage people to partake of the experience, just
as I force my lab-mates to listen to a cappela and musicals.

But the effect is in your head. Your body is assaulted by millions
of vibrations all the time and most of them get ignored as static.

But complicated patterns like that say to your ear "life! order!
pattern!" It demands your attention and excites the part of your
brain which is responsible for deciphering sound.

A good violinist can do the same by...oh I don't have the language.
A competent violinist can play a note, an artist makes the insturment
sing. That explains nothing. To me, I guess it is a kind of magic.

If you look at that pattern on a occiloscope, however, and piece out
what are they called again? The overtones and undertones? I forget
the words. Anyway the subtle vibrations are in harmony with the
main frequency. A world-class violinist can create a complex tone
with all the subtle tones and their subtle tones in harmony,
whch has a similar effect...the pattern is so perfect it
must be alive.

All of this is becuase the humans are such a precise insturment of reception.
But the cause of euphoria is in the interpretation. The exact frequencies
are more or less is the complexity...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is not the Monk's insturment
which is particularly special or is their technique and
discipline. A similar effect could be evoked using a computer and
a synthesizer...if you understood it, which only the monks do.

But if someone could translate that. In other words if you had a
Gyoto Monk who was also a wiz programmer...

>It's not mystical, but it is a form used in mysticism. There's my evidence.

Fractal images are very popular with mystics too. It's probably one of the
neatest things to come out of math in quite some time. Is it becuase their
source is particularly "like" the human eye?

Not really, it's that recursive--never quite there yet--lack of and desire
for pattern that makes my eye fall into the picture.

But the machinery in my eye that receives the image is more or less
exactly like a camera. To the machinery of the eye, the image is just
a picture like any other. It is in the neurons that all the "meaning " is

The cause of those trancendent experience that "take our breath away"
is the resonance of a pattern in the environment with a pattern in our
neuron-web. This "sympathetic resonance" can be evoked by a good
singer, violinist, writer, chemist, painter, politician...

I am not saying you are wrong to say that the human voice and the
complexification that the Monks use set up a similar resonance
in my body...but, and this is just my opinion, that the resonance
is not a sonic one and the reason is not that the Monks are using
their bodies. The reason is becuase...insturment irrelevent...they
have precise control of the complex pattern of sound

Professional basketball entrances me. I've played the game maybe
three times in my life and I can hardly dribble. I don't even care
who wins. I'm not really even watching the ball. It is the players'
bodies, their eyes, their breathing...the motion is so complex and
so precise...

Anyway, you get my point.

You are much more experienced in this than I am. I could
be missing something vital. I might be wrong. All I really wanted
to do was talk about the process. I'm a scientist and a philosopher,
my art is to link together webs of evidence into patterns so beautiful
(or horrible) that it brings my audience to tears of joy.

>What annoyed me was that as the thread advanced the accusations get more
>and more personal-- some words and ideas were attributed to me, that I
>just didn't say. Which I probably have accelerated.

But Stephen! This is a metaphor for all communication...for all art!
Don't you see? What you are saying is that you don't have as precise
control of the art of e-mail posts as you do the art of voice. What
I was trying to get at (and will beat into the ground) is that the
insturment is irrelevant. It is the practice and discipline which brings
people to tears.

David is a teacher of the art of logical thinking.

Art = Game = Memetic Engineering = Pattern Control

>I said some evil things and I played dirty, but I still think you are a genius.

Irrelevant. Non-falsifiable. Also, don't be so sure. We're playing in the
medium of words, which is something I can do. I can't sing, dance, or play
anything. I know no foreign languages. I'm a terrible computer programmer,
I'm no good at sports of any kind...sometimes I even stumble walking around
(but I claim that is becuase I'm preoccupied, not clumsy). I read a lot.
I talk too much. I spend too much time on e-mail. I can't paint, draw, or
sculpt anything. While I take in a lot of data the only form of expression
I'm very good at is words. Even among chemists I'm more talk than action;
they keep me around becuase I'm entertaining and becuase words are an
important part of science. I have terrible posture. Really, Stephen, Thank
you. I also think, from what you have written, that you are a very intelligent,
talented person. I talked a lot of shit, too. Worse, I did so
intentionally out
of some misbegotten attempt to circle the moon with my words.

But, to a certian extent I don't care about that. What you have (I
believe) that
made this exchange so...significant? to me was that you have "heart", passion...
Whatever it is that we have such a hard time defining by David's rules.

I'm glad you're not mad at me.

>After giving *the best* scientific description I can muster up, the last
>recourse is to say simply. Hey-- I *know* this to be a fact and here is
>why. My only evidence is my experience...

Which is a conviction of faith, something with which I have no argument...
so long as we both have the freedom to argue for our beliefs.

>No more on harmonics. PLEASE. Believe what you want on them. Laugh
>yourselves silly. I'm sorry if I have beleagered this list with
>personal experiences instead of academic truth. It is a rare and
>not-often-studied form of vocal work. It doesn't come up often at the
>bus stop or in the lunch room. So I got over zealous.

Actually, I was kind of interested in it. Maybe we can pick it up later.
I'm sorry if my original question was "the straw that broke the camel's
back" ...I really was trying to see a deeper connection between the Gyoto
Monks, other music, art in general, and specifics.

I think Stephen is a great guy, for many reasons. I submit this exchange
as an example of why people shouldn't take me seriously. I'm a fruit
loop and do and say very irrational things for no reason other than I
think it will be fun. Sometimes I hurt people in my games, including
me. I always think I have some higher purpose...I'm working on fixing


Reed Konsler