Friday, April 22, 2016


So I try not to publish posts of this length, but I recently had an essay assignment to respond  to this quote by Aristotle that says music "imitates the passions or states of the soul, such as gentleness, anger, courage, temperance, and their opposites. Music that imitates a certain passion arouses that same passion in the listener. Habitual listening to music that rouses ignoble passions distorts a person's character. In short, the wrong kind of music makes the wrong kind of person, and the right kind tends to make the right kind of person."  Now I realize this quote is probably heavily edited for modern readers and paraphrased and I don't know where the professor got this quote from (shady...), but the prompt was interesting enough because it addressed a lot of the things i  care about right now and the essay kind of came together on its own (fitting the stream of consciousness style I try to adopt for this blog) Anyways, without further ado this is me battling the master philosopher Aristotle himself!! >:) jk Aristotle is scary. 

scary Aristotle
A Response to Aristotle’s vision of Music’s Influence

   Musical influence and a person’s quintessence have as little and much to do with each other as a forest and the tree that grows in it. Propounding a theory evocative of the chicken-egg/egg-chicken scenario, Aristotle creates a paradoxically true statement that changes meaning and veracity depending on the reader’s perspective. In my understanding of music and music’s power, a person’s listening tendencies do not always align with their essential beliefs. Whether music has moral connotations is unequivocal, as evidenced by religious hymns and the Medieval prevalence of Gregorian chant. Indeed, morality and religion has been an integral progenitor of music since primeval times. Even so, the question of Aristotle’s truth is debatable. What makes a person right or wrong is solely dependent on the culture’s view of moral constraint. While Aristotle was correct in saying music comes from the passions and emotional complexity of human beings, he seemed to overestimate the former’s structural effect on the human psyche.
   In his original quote, Aristotle insinuates the deleterious effects of music that could stimulate “ignoble passions”. In his implication Aristotle equates the mental state of a person’s well-being and sense of morality with the character of music habitually consumed. Making such a radical statement today would generate a distinctive divide in general consensus with those who approve citing the music selection of mass murderers like the Columbine shooters and the soundtracks of violent first-person war games as proof of the insidious nature of “wrong” music. Diametrically opposed, supporters of musical expression might cite the haunting melodies of Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead, or the irrefutably melancholic story of 19th C. Romantic composer Schumann’s lifelong battle with mental illness and eventual demise. Dark stories and dark music are as comparably deleterious to a person’s mental health as the night sky. What Aristotle asserts in his statement is not a widely accepted notion in modern times. With the emergence of the newest sciences of psychology and sociology in the past century, the human psyche has been examined more thoroughly and its nature debated more profusely than most topics of the 20th and now 21st C. From this generation-spanning discussion, explicit sides have developed on crucial subjects, and in the case of music and mental stability, the nature vs. nurture debate features most prominently.
   While genetic predispositions provide evidence to debase Aristotle’s claim in the essay quote, biology has more to say about music’s influence than the philosopher’s preferred “nurture” stance. Cognitive psychology and neuroscience have established preferences of people based on their cultural upbringing, showing that even young infants will identify with their culture’s music as opposed to another’s. This predisposition not only showcases the power of enculturation even at such a young age, but also showcases the inherent ethnocentric perspective present in Aristotle’s original statement on “wrong” and “right” music. Even in the case of his description of “ignoble passions”, an inevitable cultural bias is evident. Ignoble passions as viewed by the Ancient Greeks could have applied to the glut of sexual lyricism in modern pop or the overwhelmingly prevalent apathy of millennial teenagers. So in modern terms Aristotle’s argument in the provided quote would have indisputably fallen on the “nurture” side as the philosopher emphasizes the sculpting power of music on a person’s ethical disposition. Unfortunately, the predominant argument of the “nurture” side of the debate stems from the belief in a person’s self-will and positive potential, reflecting the humanist perspective that was first popular amongst philosophers and composers in the Renaissance. “Nature” on the other hand has provided various studies of established scientific results identifying the genetic and biological makeup of “wrong” people. This includes the extensively corrupted minds of serial killers who possess depressed amygdalae, the portion of the brain responsible for empathy and emotional responses. In these cases, the culturally universal taboo of society like murder is a biological imperative rather than an ethnocentric understanding of the “wrong kind of person”.

   Listening fervently to “bad” music can no more turn a person irreversibly bad than can listening to “good” music turn a person irreversibly “good”. Even if it did, multiculturalism ensures that people outside of that listening culture would interpret the natures of good and bad differently than those residing within it. Objectivity is needed in determining the moral value of music in an individual’s life but cannot come from the listeners themselves as aforementioned cultural preferences could pollute their evaluations. Ultimately, objectivity in a world of relativism cannot be reached. Instead the topic of musical influence should be reconsidered altogether. Music and individual natures are two too complex subjects to be linked coherently into one contiguous strand of A to B. It is like connecting a strand between LOVE and HATE and disregarding the myriad of emotions in between. Indisputably, music can influence a person’s mental state. It can evoke feelings of euphoria, sadness, innocence and even humor. But that’s all they are: feelings, ephemeral states of mental excitement that do not reflect a person’s ability to distinguish from right and wrong. In the end, the effective shaping of a person’s psychic constitution and fate into realms of relative “wrong”ness and “right”ness evinces the illogical and fallacious conclusion of an ancient philosopher born over 2000 years ago.

So what do you guys think? Is Aristotle right? Wrong? Where does the evidence point? In any case, music is wonderful and probably helpful therapeutically too, or maybe not. I sometimes pretend I'm powerful and an outgoing person while listening to rock anthems.   

Cognitive musicology

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

outing/Il Sorpasso

That movie name is hard to remember. I’ll probably forget it right after I finish this text draft. An American poster of the film, as seen on rottentomatoes, actually says that the english title of the film is “The Good Life” much easier to remember then Italian, although it is not a translation of the original title, which google says means “overtaking”. Anyways, I had penned this film as a possible candidate for social gathering pre-jitters movie. 2 years ago I used I’m A Cyborg But That’s Okay to….

starring Korean star Rain behind that mask
I’m struggling to find the words as to describe what exactly these movies were for….facillitation of a social practice? Mediation of seemingly inevitable awkwardness? perspective?

social anxiety~ well at least I don't have this.

Well whatever the reason I found it important enough to write about apparently. Ofc if I repeat anything more than once I immediately label it as a *RITUAL and allocate temporarily extreme care towards the action.
here it's referred to as "the easy life"
I am here less than 5 hours from the outing to articulate my anxiety and feelings (ew) about this unstoppable creeping towards the time. Time to leeeeave. -_- Whatever happened to actual language? ACTUAL english? w/o all caps, faces, repeated letters, and shamelessly lazy parenthesized(word?) words? (NVMMM).
oH I’m also here to tell you that Il Sorpasso did not work**. It was an excellent film (and deserves more than an 83% rating on rottentomatoes), but the ending gave it the element of a cautionary tale, which I did not like. Of course I enjoyed the subtler meanings of the ending, but the CT facet of it bled through each interpretation, corrupting all of them. I don’t want to say “made”, because the ending did not color the whole film in purple venom, it only effected the other rivers streaming from the scene of wreckage. 
Yknow I haven’t even packed yet? havn’t started. At this time, during the school year, I would be heading out the door. Right now I am typing. Procrastinating. Thinking. Feeling. looving. appreciating. all=thinking. 

*read screaming 
**in curing my anxiety, after the movie finished I still felt slight unease. As of now I can’t know whether it will impact my stay, it probably will.

Il Sorpasso

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


13   Today the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal across the nation. A landmark day for freedom right? Seemingly, yes. Undoubtedly a reason for rejoice for gays and lesbians across the nation that have been barred from expressing their love through the official structure of marriage. As Ellen Degeneres tweeted, “Love won”. Unfortunately there already seems to be a discontinuity between the ruling, between its accompanying surfeit of unimpeded optimism, and the reality of the LGBTQ community at large. Although the passing of full gay marriage legalization in America might constitute a seminal point in gay history, it still represents the predominance of a structural divide that has plagued the LGBTQ world since its rise to national attention in the 1960s. What I mean to elucidate is the glaring exclusion of transgender people from this critical moment in the community’s history. I haven’t done any further research, but it seems that already, members of the LGBTQ community have voiced complaints about this crucial oversight. Trans artists duo Dark Matter represents just one of the many variously pessimistic takes on the otherwise well-received news, explaining on their Facebook that, “While cis/white people are getting married, Black and Latina trans women are getting murdered.” Cis-gender being the majority of humans who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, transpeople have been forced to take an out-group, in-group view on society where they are the ones dangerously vulnerable to majority rule responsible for so much uninhibited persecution. Despite popular belief to the contrary, transgender violence continues to embroil America in the hatred of its past transgressions. At least 9 transgender women have been murdered so far in 2015, and in 2014, all but one of the 13 transgender women killed were women of color. In this undoubtedly hostile environment, transgender women, especially women of color, often have to adopt a callousness as to help withstand the brunt impact of the world’s weight. To help ease the burden from the trans community, official legislation directly focused on the liberation of trans people needs to be enacted rapidly, especially in the wake of such momentous events as Supreme Court’s ruling today. Let’s keep the ball rolling people!!         


Watching Style Like You is incredibly refreshing. I wouldn’t say it’s revelatory, because I know these people exist. Even ostensibly mundane people are interesting, you just have to take a closer look. Really, everything is about perception, how free you are to view the world greatly influences your own life. If you’re willing to, the world will open its windows for you. Like Plato’s Cave, many people find the truth too strange. This causes discomfort, and ultimately prejudice. If you accept it though (the world the way it is with its infinite minds and viewpoints) you can transform your own. The problem I’m facing though is how do I subsequently transform this overflow and abundance of inspiration and creativity to something constructive that I can use in my own life. Applicability is what I’m struggling with. It seems like the more I look through these videos, the more I see the differences in people. They all possess that spark of creativity, but age seems to be a large factor in their persona. How so? Well the older they are, the more wise, conclusive, and decisive their nature is. Younger people seem to still be laden with the stereotypes of teenage life and adolescence. The things I’ve heard about adolescence shows it in a bad light. A time of trials and tribulations, trying to find yourself, and for me; establish individuality among the insipid crowds of faceless students. Back to age, what I see in adults, I don’t see in teenagers. A voice of wisdom, dignified and already established. They are not like me, but I strive to be like them. I want to be called a precocious teenager, but unlike my body, my mind has not developed so quickly. I feel left behind and trampled in the ceaseless face of knowledge. Knowledge is a paradox. It shines in my life like a wellspring of liquid satisfaction, but I can never quench my thirst with its waters. My curiosity should be to blame, knowledge itself is infallible, it exists for all minds, not to be labeled sinful by someone who doesn’t comprehend it. Knowledge! Yes I was on a tangent. A paradox. It shines, but also consumes. Like a deep chasm, an abyss endless in depth, it sucks my hopes and chokes it. I wonder around in the dark pit until I realize that THERE IS NO END. By then I have already been falling too long to draw back and I am swallowed in the blackness. Looking into the faces of these adults though, gives me renewed hope. They seem to have already found their grips on the chasm’s walls, and are steadily creeping their way back up, into the light. I can only imagine the most erudite people are somewhere near the top. Some people have already given up and let themselves be hit by a tumbling rock or outstretched branch, oblivious to their own deaths. Simply writing this sucks my innards into a black hole, I hope I’m not hopeless. 
What’s so sad about that previous paragraph is that it wasn’t perfect, it needed revisions. But wait no. That’s not what I meant to type, nothing is perfect, besides knowledge as previously iterated. What I meant to say was that, my writing is nonvocal, it doesn’t require me to use my tongue, or vocal chords. Everything is done silently. This process allows me to convey my thoughts more precisely, I’m just happy my fingers can move fast enough to make this sound comprehensible. My point is, having to bring this from my mind to written words is much easier and smoother than bringing my thoughts right intoverbal words. I just fear confrontation. Typing this up is more of a personal aside, but exclaiming such things out loud is a venture too terrible to imagine. I would only do so in familiar company, or under the influence of drugs/pain. The corporeal world acts as a filter into which my mental mind is brought through, and in the process, ravaged. This is the same principle in which ordinary people are exposed as extraordinary. No one knows what’s going on in one another’s mind, we can only hope to connect to people in a personal way. The key to that? Vulnerability. Doing so is the quintessential element to relationships. Succeeding this is communication. How to do it well though? I hold people with eloquent dialogue in high-esteem. See? The ideas come full-circle. What do you need to be an eloquent speaker? Knowledge! I am essentially expounding on my idea of a perfect role model. Now I didn’t want to use that word again because “no one’s perfect”, but there it is. A great role model! A paradigm like that present in my daily life would be instrumental in my quest for self-knowledge. All greatness spurred from imitation, but for now I’ll rely on Style Like You for my inspiration.

Flim riveiw

Movie word: fun

MVI WRD: dark
MIRD: engrossing
     A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a 2015 movie shot in black and white about the shady nightlife of bad Bad City. There’s crime, drug thing, prostitution and a vampire stalking the streets in this scary craphole. Whaddya know, Arash, the main character, is played by actor Arash Marandi. He was seductive-in a James Dean, reckless cool sort of way. His dad (the character’s(maybe the actor’s too-who knows)~) is a junkee, hooked on heroin and highly indebted to this pimp/drug dealer kind of guy at the beginning of the movie. He takes Arash’s prized car as a substitute for their absent repayment, causing Arash to lash out in manly frustration, giving a brick wall a piece of his mind. Unfortunately, this incapacitates his hand. The hero now has a clear mark to distinguish his pain and journey, a archetypal scar. Wooh thank you Mrs. North (my 10th grade English teacher). Anyways The Girl (as she’s described by google and imdb) follows Mr. Pimp to his lavish apartment and promptly kills him. The death is ironic b/c the guy thinks he’s gonna get lucky, but she bites off his finger instead. Nice trick I thought. To skip back a bit-in the opening sequence Arash passes by a large open grave where bodies lay piled up on each other indiscriminately recalling scenes of genocide and Nazi war camps. Either this is a characterization of Bad City as being so rife with prolifically murderous people that an open grave is necessary to accomodate the dead bodies, or this is a recent things started by the vampire killings. Probably a combination of both or something. Arash passes by with enough nonchalance to suggest it’s a normal thing. Anyways, the movie is very sparse in dialogue, mostly relying on visual and musical seduction to reel in its audience and tell its story. The result is captivating, an experience worth going through more than once.  

You can watch the trailer here:

And more about the director here:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Milgram and the Bards. AKA (Milgram and Zimbardo)

   When Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo carried out their seminal experiments on conformity in the 20th Century, they precipitated a sociological perspective on conformity that holds more weight today than ever before. The classic Milgram experiment tested a participant’s willingness to inflict increasingly deadly shocks of electricity to an unseen victim under an authority’s insistence. With over half of the participant’s carrying out the final shock, Milgram’s experiment emphasized the power of authorial persuasion over individual conviction. Zimbardo’s prison experiment allowed student participants at Stanford University to assume that position of unilateral power. Splitting volunteers into prisoners and guards, the experiment tested the limits of the students’ willingness to realistically adopt their separate roles. Intending to run for one or two weeks, the experiment abruptly halted after 6 days. The extent to which the guard participants adopted abusive authorial rule and the prisoners’ treatment remains a point of ethical discussion today.
   The debilitating effect of conformity as demonstrated in these experiments is widely represented in the world today. Most notably violence in the name of a greater good or organization has been demonstrated by prominent terrorist groups like ISIS and the Taliban in the recent past. While their proselytization through “purification” is founded on their interpretations of religious text, the faculty through which they implement violence hinges on the widely studied effects of conformity’s control. As evidenced in the works of Milgram and Zimbardo, an authority’s command can overpower an individual’s moral intuition. Rather than questioning the validity of some Islamic fundamentalist interpretations, followers of ISIS and other terror organizations see their degradation of woman and historical monuments as natural ideals of their own twisted philosophy.
   Apart from the aggressive tactics and destruction of innocent lives, many religions of today demonstrate the same use of conformity that organizations like the Taliban use to propagate and cement their belief systems. Catholicism’s complex hierarchical structure relies on the power of authority to orchestrate its influence on their droves of practitioners. In the same way, Christianity- the world’s most popular religion, relies on the stewardess of millions of pastors and religious leaders to facilitate its global practice of behavioral conformity.

   Zimbardo and Milgram’s experiments exhibits the irresistible influence of conformity on people of assumed status. Most clearly seen in Zimbardo’s prison experiment, the status of prisoner and guard began to subjugate the ethical standards of the students. These same moral standards were subjugated in Milgram’s shock experiment where participants assumed the status of a scientist’s assistant. Conformity’s debilitating societal effect can be seen in the concentrated social atmosphere of a high school or grade school. Surrounded by the vessels of conformity’s effect, the peer group asserts unparalleled social influence in a cordoned environment, lending itself to harmful activities like group bullying and harassment. Now with the Internet as a predominant means of social contact, cyber bullying has become a rampant issue in schools across the nation and worldwide. With the anonymity the Internet provides, the collaborative harassment of fellow peers online has become more prevalent than ever, validating the results of Zimbardo and Milgram’s experiments on conformity’s harmful effects a half century prior. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


4:22 p.m., 12/17/12
So, recently I’ve finally uncovered the secret behind my unholy need to go against things that I should probably just stick with. To be straight-forward, it actually wasn’t a secret, I was just a bit bewildered by myself, I didn’t like it. There is a scale, or a balance in myself. A psychological one that is of course abstract, but if put into a more physical representation, I think it would be easier to explain. One side of the balance is tipped and weighted down by the various outside intrusions and influences on my inner self, which acts as a catalyst for my brain or whatever that controls me to develop a I guess solution to this problem. The outside influence isn’t always a problem, but my mind still reacts to it. After finding the correct antidote, it proceeds to inject the vaccine into myself, changing, replacing, destroying whatever needs to be. The final result is I’m healed, my body finds balance. Homeostasis I guess. But as most people know, my core self embodies selfishness, so it doesn’t care what the balance and satisfaction of itself does to the outside world and appearance of me, Daniel. So even though I feel fine inside, the reactant towards the influence is off, not something normal, very odd. Complicate, complicate, complicate. <—Something like that is the default cross-effect product if something goes wary on the trip to the outside world. So now the scale is balanced with my weird weight on one side and the outside influence on the other. After this is done, or maybe simultaneously, the mind switches to the other end of the spectrum of whatever a normal me, a normal person would adapt to. This could be critically fatal if truly expressed to an outside society, but with my limiters, I can dilute my thoughts down so its more acceptable for things to flow and enter the polluted atmosphere. An example would prove prudent I think, since my text is too abstract and grammatically wrong for myself to read later if I were to. Say I am, or you are, at church! -shudder-a truly suffocating place. Imagine the atmosphere and vibe of that place….conservative, “holy”, restricted..where would a normal person’s mind go? Well of course I don’t think a normal person would just simply go to all the negative aspects of the place instantly, so it kinda ends there with the person adapting and simply being nice, “christian-y”, stuff. (To stop this before it becomes too prejudice, I’d like to say that I don’t agree with grouping such huge denominations into one general idea. What exactly does “normal people” apply to? I don’t know, but it is just for the sake of this extended example, so I apologize for my close-mindedness.) For me, in the presence of all this my mind wanders to things that would make the people around me cringe, I think of gore, blood, deep cuts into thin arms that yield fountains of a vampires satisfaction. I think of incisions into a person’s back, exposing bone and flesh that pulse with blood vessels, screaming to explode, and I smile while doing these things, a sickening smile, but I’m having fun reveling in the nasty things of this world while everyone celebrates an amazing god….Example done!! Haha that was extremely long, but I hope this serves as a good explanation for whatever I need this for.
4:45 p.m., 12/17/12