Category Archives: Essays

IGGY POP “Free Music in a Capitalist Society”

Open Culture

The best free cultural & educational media on the web!

Information, education, knowledge, wisdom: Access

We are all caught between free access to information, and the restriction to that access. Whether we are born to freely access media, or whether we are born in a highly repressive environment where media is restricted, access ultimately impacts who we are, and how we think.

Commercial enterprise drives much of the system delivering media to the world. Iggy Pop talks about these complex relationships in his Peel lecture. Anyone who wants to think about these things should take the time to listen, contemplate, and act.


Joel-Peter Witkin

BORN: September 13, 1939: From John Wood: “No visual artist since Blake himself is better suited to illustrate the Songs of Experience than Joel-Peter Witkin, for Witkin is the most profoundly religious photographer in the history of the medium and probably the most god-haunted American artist of the twentieth century. His imagery, like Blake’s, is a direct outgrowth of his spirituality. Witkin understands that art and religion are made of the same things: sex, death, and God. In Blake’s own time few people could perceive the prophetic nature and spirituality of his work. Two centuries later we see him far more clearly, but in his day his visionary claims coupled with an art like no one had ever before seen or read made him an outsider. When artists see beyond what others insist on calling the ‘real’ world, when they shape new realities, such as Cézanne and Picasso did, or shape new mythologies from the very flesh of the ones we know, and then insist that the deity they reveal is historical, orthodox, and authentic, those artists begin to disturb us deeply. They undermine our security. They demand we look again at what we thought we had seen, that we look through their eyes, and that we look more deeply than we ever before had looked.” From the artist (Songs of Innocence): “If our first book was glorious, this one will be mystical. There is a Buddhist saying — To everyman is given the key to the Gates of Heaven — but the same key also opens the Gates of Hell. That is the difference between innocence and experience. It is what compels our desire to live. It is why, for those who can see it, Blake is God’s jester. Blake was so wise that he could see ‘nature as the work of the Devil.’ He stated that ‘The Devil is in us as far as we are in nature.’ It is only when we are disengaged from mortality — at death — that evil leaves us. Then, after Judgment, either our chains are broken or we are ‘his’ Evermore. Logic, the rational – these are options, the Soap Operas of Divine Belief. Philosophy is a soiled diaper… Darwin playing in guano some where in a Bosch landscape. The subjects of my work are not freaks, degenerates, or the grotesque. They are ourselves. In this violent and visually wallpapered age, I have chosen to evoke the darkness rather than the light: as Goya, Blake and Redon have. Because we argue for Divine Madness as an honorable choice in a society devoid of human honor. The themes of my work are the things which constitute human existence, history, beauty. The work has at its very core the evidence of conscience presented as photographic metaphor. I strive to create experiences no one has seen or felt before.”

OBSERVATION: In the realm of art, all is possible, limited only by the artist’s imagination and the control of media, tools, and technology. Truly original artists establish new boundaries for the definition of art, stretching their own capacity to imagine, forcing the audience to participate, or surrender.


“One night [ca. 1920] I was in my studio drawing my own portrait. On the ceiling, a light. All of a sudden I thought: suppose I were a fly. I could fly on to the easel, fly around me, go for a walk on my back, go up to the wall, etc…. In this closed space I projected the path taken by the fly: no more frame, no more Renaissance.”

“The old Chinese used to say: ‘It is better to feel a painting than to look at it.’ So much today is only to look at. It is one thing to paint a picture and another to experience it: in attempting to find on what level one accepts this experience, one discovers what one sees and on what level the discovery takes place. Christopher Columbus left in search of one world and discovered another.”

“‘Let nature take over in your work.’ These words from my old friend Takizaki were at first confusing but cleared to the idea – ‘Get out of the way.’ We hear some artists speak today of the act of painting. This in its best sense could include the meaning of my old friend. But a State of Mind is the first preparation and from there this action proceeds. Peace of Mind is another ideal, perhaps the ideal state to be sought for in the painting and certainly preparatory to the act.

OBERVATION: Mark Tobey (December 11, 1890 – April 24, 1976), can be defined as a genuine artist, one worthy of the name, who saw the known and the unknown, who held insight into the abstract world of the unconscious, being able to define and make real glimpses into the world of human capability. All of us benefit from individuals like Mark Tobey, in that he, and others like him leave a legacy of ideas, thoughts, and actions that open our minds to new vistas.


Criteria for segmenting consumers by lifestyle, attitudes, beliefs, values, personality, buying motives, and/or extent of product usage. Psychographic analyses are used like geographic (place of residence, or work) and demographic (age, income, occupation) criteria to describe and identify customers and prospective customers and to aid in developing promotion strategies designed to appeal to specific psychographic segments of the market for a product. For example, the market for soap may consist of various psychographic segments described by their primary purchase motives (beauty, health, grooming), usage styles (daily, weekly, salon-only), or lifestyle (frequent travelers, parents).

The psychographic characteristics of the market affect advertising copy, packaging (travel size, child-proof, decorator pump), and channels of distribution (supermarkets, pharmacies, specialty stores, internet).

Psychographic data can be gathered firsthand through personal interviews, focus group interviews or questionnaires, or purchased from research companies in the form of list overlays for direct marketers or market profiles for general marketers.

OBSERVATION: Establishing limits, and quantifying social strata are tools utilized by advertisers working to expand markets. Through the careful collection of personal data, this information can be extrapolated into expected cause and effect, or decision making strategies of consumers as potential customers for products and services.

In the grand scale, marketers, such as Edward Bernays applied psychographics combined with advanced psychological theories regarding control of social masses to expand marketing potentials. In contemplating these ideas, we can clearly see the complexity of modern society in terms of individual purpose, decision making, and the desire for businesses to collect data regarding these behaviors. Consumers, for the most part, are probably unaware of the means employed in extracting personal psychological profiles (extrapolated as larger scale demographics) utilized in creating advertising, marketing, public relations, and other social-political strategies.

Discourse on Voluntary Servitude

I see no good in having several lords;
Let one alone be master, let one alone be king.

These words Homer puts in the mouth of Ulysses, as he addresses the people. If he had said nothing further than “I see no good in having several lords,” it would have been well spoken. For the sake of logic he should have maintained that the rule of several could not be good since the power of one man alone, as soon as he acquires the title of master, becomes abusive and unreasonable. Instead he declared what seems preposterous: “Let one alone be master, let one alone be king.” We must not be critical of Ulysses, who at the moment was perhaps obliged to speak these words in order to quell a mutiny in the army, for this reason, in my opinion, choosing language to meet the emergency rather than the truth. Yet, in the light of reason, it is a great misfortune to be at the beck and call of one master, for it is impossible to be sure that he is going to be kind, since it is always in his power to be cruel whenever he pleases. As for having several masters, according to the number one has, it amounts to being that many times unfortunate. Although I do not wish at this time to discuss this much debated question, namely whether other types of government are preferable to monarchy, still I should like to know, before casting doubt on the place that monarchy should occupy among commonwealths, whether or not it belongs to such a group, since it is hard to believe that there is anything of common wealth in a country where everything belongs to one master. This question, however, can remain for another time and would really require a separate treatment involving by its very nature all sorts of political discussion.

For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they, but simply, it would seem, delighted and charmed by the name of one man alone whose power they need not fear, for he is evidently the one person whose qualities they cannot admire because of his inhumanity and brutality toward them. A weakness characteristic of human kind is that we often have to obey force; we have to make concessions; we ourselves cannot always be the stronger. Therefore, when a nation is constrained by the fortune of war to serve a single clique, as happened when the city of Athens served the thirty Tyrants, one should not be amazed that the nation obeys, but simply be grieved by the situation; or rather, instead of being amazed or saddened, consider patiently the evil and look forward hopefully toward a happier future.

OBSERVATION: Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, Etienne de la Boetie 1546-48 This introductory excerpt to the discourse introduces the premise: human behavior within the social context of servant, and the served. In the mid 1500’s La Boetie examined the need to understand how social hierarchy and organization fell into place, elaborating these ideas in the full discourse. The relevance of this essay remains intact, questioning how authority is distributed throughout human social hierarchy.

The Origin of Species & Other Poems

Ernesto Cardenal, The Origin of Species and Other Poems,
ISBN 0896726894 Publisher: Texas Tech Press, U.S., 2011


That all life on earth
should come from a single cell:
the great mystery
Everyone from a single ancestor
a universe still creating itself

one like a cow entered the sea
and became the whale
Fish or mammal?
Or mammal and fish
To Linnaeus a mammal
with a heart and lungs
and eyelashes that move
but with aquatic habits

By adapting to the environment
another species
fins of fish develop
into paws of invertebrates
why is one a parrot
and another a tiger
once there were no brains
now there are billions
there was no leaf
now everything is green
From a single cell
trees animals you
all brothers
we are all a modification of another
the bird wing was dinosaur’s paw ………….

OBSERVATION: How do we define the poet? The true poet lives, linked to the world, to life, to being human. Those poets who leave an indelible mark on the history of human thought offer us a glimpse into what is possible, what is truly possible when the human organism functions at its peak potential. Find this book, read it, ponder it, absorb it, learn from it!

FROMM: Necrophilous

FROMM, Erich, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1973.

“The term “necrophilous” to denote a character trait rather than a perverse act in the traditional sense, was used by the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in 1936 on the occasion of a speech by nationalist general Millan Astray at the University of Salamanca, where Unamuno was rector at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The general’s favorite motto was Viva la Muerte! (“Long live death!”) and one of his followers shouted it from the back of the hall. When the general had finished his speech, Unamuno rose and said:

“Just now I heard a necrophilous and senseless cry: “Long live death!” And I, who have spent my life shaping paradoxes which have aroused the uncomprehending anger of others, I must tell you, as an expert authority, that this outlandish paradox is repellent to me. General Millan Astray is a cripple. Let it be said without any slighting undertone. So was Cervantes. Unfortunately there are too many cripples in Spain just now. And soon there will be even more of them if God does not come to our aid. It pains me to think that General Millan Astray should dictate the pattern of mass psychology. A cripple who lacks the spiritual greatness of a Cervantes is wont to seek ominous relief in causing mutilation around him. (M. de Unamuno, 1936.)

At this Millan Astray was unable to restrain himself any longer. “Abajo la inteligencia! (“Down with intelligence!”) he shouted. “Long life death!” There was a clamor of support for this remark from the Falangists. But Unamuno went on: This is the temple of the intellect. And I am the high priest. It is you who profane its sacred precincts. You will win, because you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right in the struggle. I consider it futile to exhort you to think of Spain. I have done. (M. de Unamuno, 1936.)

OBSERVATION: Freud’s theory of life and death instincts are rooted in the idea that man’s striving for life and death are two of the most fundamental principles in man. “Necrophilia in the characterological sense can be described as the passionate attraction to all that is dead, decayed, putrid, sickly; it is the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all that is purely mechanical. It is the passion “to tear apart living structures.” (H. von Hentig, 1964.) How is it that human destructiveness persists, after the recognition of the tragedy and horror it brings to human life? How is it that awareness, and the application of ethical and moral behavior have not become the standard by which all human behavior moves forward? Life, or Death?


G. Polya,How to Solve It“, 2nd ed.,
Princeton University Press, 1957, ISBN 0-691-08097-6.

You have to understand the problem. What is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition? Is it possible to satisfy the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the unknown? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory? Draw a figure. Introduce suitable notation. Separate the various parts of the condition. Can you write them down?

Find the connection between the data and the unknown. You may be obliged to consider auxiliary problems if an immediate connection cannot be found. You should obtain eventually a plan of the solution. Have you seen it before? Or have you seen the same problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem? Do you know a theorem that could be useful? Look at the unknown! And try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown. Here is a problem related to yours and solved before. Could you use it? Could you use its result? Could you use its method? Should you introduce some auxiliary element in order to make its use possible? Could you restate the problem? Could you restate it still differently? Go back to definitions. If you cannot solve the proposed problem try to solve first some related problem. Could you imagine a more accessible related problem? A more general problem? A more special problem? An analogous problem? Could you solve a part of the problem? Keep only a part of the condition, drop the other part; how far is the unknown then determined, how can it vary? Could you derive something useful from the data? Could you think of other data appropriate to determine the unknown? Could you change the unknown or data, or both if necessary, so that the new unknown and the new data are nearer to each other? Did you use all the data? Did you use the whole condition? Have you taken into account all essential notions involved in the problem?

Carry out your plan. Carrying out your plan of the solution, check each step. Can you see clearly that the step is correct? Can you prove that it is correct?

Examine the solution obtained. Can you check the result? Can you check the argument? Can you derive the solution differently? Can you see it at a glance? Can you use the result, or the method, for some other problem?

Another way of summarising the ideas in George Polya’s book “How to solve it”:


Understand the Problem – (SEE)
Carefully read the problem.
Decide what you are trying to do.
Identify the important data.
Devise a plan – (PLAN)
Gather together all available information.
Consider some possible actions:
look for a pattern;
draw a sketch;
make an organised list;
simplify the problem;
quess and check;
make a table;
write a number sentence;
act out the problem;
identify a sub-task; and
check the validity of given information.
Carry out the plan – (DO)
Implement a particular plan of attack.
Revise and modify the plan as needed.
Create a new plan if necessary.
Check the answer – (CHECK)
Ensure you have used all the important information.
Decide whether or not the answer makes sense.
Check that all of the given conditions of the problem are met by the answer.
Put your answer in a complete sentence.

OBSERVATION: POLYA’S ideas about problem solving show a sequence of form, allowing one to observe, enhance, and define problems through the use of series, or progression. Do art, science, and mathematics have common ground for investigation? Is there a similarity between these three seemingly disparate fields of study? Posing a problem, recognizing its parameters, observing it, and ultimately solving it are essential to the function of curiosity and investigation, and are central to the process of creativity. HEURISTICS: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods, also: of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance such as a heuristic computer program.


Conventional vs. Unconventional Superconductors, Michael R. Norman

“To appreciate these issues, we need to first understand what superconductors are all about, and how unconventional ones differ from their more conventional counterparts. Superconductors are not only perfect conductors (their electrical resistance drops precipitously to zero below a transition temperature Tc), but also exhibit the so-called Meissner effect (6), where they expel magnetic fields. As noted by Fritz London (7), this implies that electrons in superconductors behave in a collective manner. Bosons, which have integer values of a fundamental property known as ‘spin’, can behave in this fashion, whereas electrons, which are fermions that have half-integer spins, typically do not. This apparent contradiction was resolved by Leon Cooper in 1956 (2) who demonstrated that the presence of even an arbitrarily small attractive interaction between the electrons in a solid causes the electrons to form pairs. Because these ‘Cooper pairs’ behave as effective bosons, they can form something analogous to a Bose-Einstein condensate. Rather than being real-space molecules, however, Cooper pairs consist of electrons in time- reversed momentum states and consequently have zero center-of-mass momentum. Because a pair of identical fermions is antisymmetric with respect to the exchange of one fermion with another, the spin and spatial components of the Cooper pair wavefunction must have opposite
exchange symmetries. Thus these pair states are either spin singlets with an even parity spatial component, or spin triplets with odd parity. The spin singlet pair state with an isotropic spatial component (s-wave) turns out to be the one realized in conventional superconductors (3). Despite the fact that electrons repel each other because of the Coulomb force, at low energies there can be an effective attraction resulting from the electron-ion interaction. To understand this, note that a metal is formed by mobile electrons detaching themselves from the atoms that
form the crystalline lattice (these atoms then become positive ions). Such a mobile electron attracts the surrounding ions because of their opposite charge. When this electron moves, a positive ionic distortion is left in its wake. This attracts a second electron, leading to a net
attraction between the electrons. This mechanism works because the ion dynamics is slow compared to the electrons, a consequence of the fact that the ions are much heavier than the electrons. However, the interaction at shorter times becomes repulsive because of the Coulomb
interaction between the electrons; this retardation is what is responsible for limiting Tc (8). Up until the discovery of cuprates, the highest known Tc was only 23K.”

OBSERVATION: We must be thankful to all great thinkers who inhabit our planet. Questions arise when pondering ideas about materials that redefine what we know about matter. What are the limits of the physical? We live in an era of great scientific expansion, and the future will allow us to observe the abstract nature of the human imagination in retrospect. The known, the unknown, that which will be known…………………