Blog entry

Hi Gang

song of the day: You're The One For Me, Fatty / Morrissey
word of the day: kakistocracy / government by the worst. government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

hi gang!

it seems as though my blog the other day on the innovation vs translation touched some people. most of you seem to generally agree with the premise. but i want to say now that part of what makes blogging fun for me sometimes is just being opinionated. i went back and read what i wrote this morning and laughed. i do still stand behind the loose idea there, but i think i overstated the case a bit. there are an infinite number of sides to this mysterious coin. on the one hand, i believe it's a legitimate point to make, that for the most part, artists are moving pre-existing parts around, they are giving us new takes on what's already been explored. that's still cool. just cuz we've been to the jungle doesn't mean we know every species in the rainforest, or even a fraction of its systems teeming with life. translation is very important. one could say that the perennial philosophy, or the enduring fundamental insights of the world's esoteric traditions, have been around for a long, long time, and much of the work in the mystery is finding language and tools that fit with this culture, this moment in history, this completely unique set of circumstances. i still subscribe to the punctuated equilibrium metaphor, but of course it's a much more nuanced affair than just Bach and the Beatles. first of all, that's just the Western / Euro music tradition. it completely leaves out the innovators South America, Australia, Asia, and lest we forget, Africa, the birth place of all everything of much mucho bigness. Africa, by best guesses, is where the rudimentary capacity for rhythm emerged. point is there were major musical innovators in all cultures, through out all parts of the planet, and my previous blog was definitely Euro-centric and too extreme (although Sex In The City is still a turd, and the Beatles did indeed invent and master pop music). with that said, it still stands that we are constantly inflating / elevating translation up to the status of innovation. to my mind, some of this has to do with confusion about what is a state and what is a stage.

a state is a temporary quality or condition of experience. states can last a long time or a short time. there are natural states (waking, dreaming, deep dreamless sleep), altered states (fever, drugs), and peak states (eurekas, euphorias, insights, profound clarities). all states come and go (in the big sense everything comes and goes, but in this context states are particular passing conditions). states are available to anyone. you do not have to have attained any certain level of insight in order to have a dream, or to have an lsd trip, or to have a peak experience in nature, etc. you could be five years old or 93 years old, and states will be available to you. having an intense experience listening to Bach's C Minor Oboe and Violin Concerto is a state experience, so is depriving yourself of oxygen while you masturbate, or eating too much turkey.

stages are a different deal. stages are enduring, stabilized traits. stages must be earned, and are the result of development. while anyone at any age can access the state evoked by Bach's C Minor Oboe and Violin Concerto, not just anyone can sit down play it. developing the capacity to play the violin or oboe like that requires advancing through stages of development in skill. years and years of practice. if they're fortunate, as they age people move through various stages (pre-conventional to conventional to post-conventional) and so do cultures (as in the spiral dynamic description of memes, etc).

in a way this is what i was trying to get at the other day. one way of thinking of innovation is as a whole new level (stage). it is a verticle movement (and we can think of it as going deeper or higher, doesn't matter, either way it's a new level or stage). innovation is verticle movement in development. translation is lateral movement within an already existing level or stage.

we artst types have a real knack for getting confused about this, we tend to have frequent and intense encounters with states, and often misinterpret intense states as transformations of stage. we rearrange the furniture and think we've built a whole new floor on the building. part of this is the deceptive nature of creativity, insight, and inspiration. states are very convincing. but our center of gravity- whatever stage we occupy as home base, exerts an even stronger force, the gravity in our Self-Sense is one of the strongest magnets in the Universe, and thank God for that, otherwise we'd come apart everytime something new showed up on the radar.

what really makes this discussion interesting is the endless string of integers in the equation of what "art" is. just a cursory list of factors include:

1, the level or stage of development of the Artist who creates the art. her or his awareness, consciousness, whatever you want to consider as the depth of development of "I", is the filter the artwork comes through, and is imprinted with it.
2, the Artists skill or capacity to manifest their vision or inspiration in a particular form. you might hear great new music, but can you play it? you may have ecstatic visions, but can you portray or express them in sculpture, painting, architecture, etc? some have the vision, but not the tools to bring it into being. some have the skill to bring amazing things into form, but have no vision or depth of development. some have both. some neither.
3, the level or stage of the culture the Artist is working in. how will the particular historical setting influence or interpret this work? what is the context its occuring in? how does the culture influence the work, and vice versa.
4, what are the economic factors involved, what are the social systems in play that inhibit or cultivate the work from the artists in that culture. does the artist even have access to working materials? is there a war going on? what's the system of government? if the dude doesn't have a car or the roads are pure shit or there's an earthquake- can't get to the gig.

these are just four in a list that literally goes on forever. in an integral approach, there are dozens of identifiable coordinates in this multi-dimensional map. of course, in reality there are many many micro-levels and micro stages. it's a very mysterious affair how development occurs, and how stage shifts transpire. we know that states can and do affect the likelyhood of stage changes. they can act as a loosening agent, kind of loosening the cement of a stage, creating a window of opportunity for movement.

here's a mind fuck for us: clinical research has shown that at the age of 21, you basically stop developing. that is to say your center of gravity, your World-view, the lens through which you experience and interpret all experiences- that solidifies and development stops. until you're about to die, you don't develop anymore, UNLESS you have a meditation practice. that's worth repeating: unless a person has a daily contemplative practice, clinical research shows THEY WILL NOT DEVELOP THROUGH STAGES after about the age of 21. that means if you're an arrested adolescent at the age of 21, and you don't have a practice, then you (and all your friends and family) can look forward to a long life enjoying your remedial needs. this ain't a religious thing, it ain't a buddhist thing, this is simple, emperical data from clinical research: if you don't meditate, you don't fucking DEVELOP after the age of 21.

meditation will not magically cure all the defects of your personality -not by a long shot- but it will afford you the opportunity to continue developing. this doesn't mean there's no other way possible for people to develop after 21, it just means the only verifiable, scientifically demonstrated way is a contemplative practice. knowing this, it's hard to fathom how anyone who gives a shit about life would not meditate or engage in a contemplative practice of some sort. there are MANY which have zero affiliation with religion (Zen is one of those, by the way. Zen is not a religion, or a philosophy, or an ideology. it's just the direct experience of what IS, unmediated and unfiltered by the white noise and distortion of our conditioned, relative self. it doesn't even mean getting rid of the noise and distortion. my beautiful friend Vidyuddeva talks about this a lot, how we think there's something called "clarity" and something called "confusion" and until we get rid of the confusion we can't have the clarity. but it is confusion which seeks to eliminate all confusion. as soon as we get swept away in trying to rid ourselves of confusion, we are conditioned by it, we are caught in duality.)

Vid's point reminds me to take care in including the other side of the story in Art. while i described yesterday how rare real innovation is, and how most of what's going on is translation, at the same time i want to be aware of another truth:

everything is innovation.

in a sense, that is. because no matter what you do, no matter what you create, it has never in the history of the Kosmos existed before. ever. no event, consciousness, or creation has ever been truly duplicated before. it's utterly impossible, because the Kosmos is ceaseless change, existence is ceaseless change, the nature of all phenomena is impermance, and since the Kosmos gave birth to a body, it has never stopped fluxing and shifting, from the tiniest particles and quanta up to the most massive forms in the Universe. of course this also includes the invisible domains of our emotions, psyche, soul, and the collective interiors of all sentient beings- cultures and world views. it is all change, all the time, and so each time a work of art is brought into the world, it is new, it is a new and different world and a a novel work of art. that doesn't mean it's a great work of art, but it is indeed unique each and every time. each creation is a micro-innovation, each one does its part to create an opening of some kind which contributes to the development of the Whole. even those artworks which are steps backwards are part of our steps forward. opposites are very intimately entwined, they cannot exist without each other, it's just a smoke and mirrors game which allows what IS to have some traction- evolution needs to have this tension in order to move at all, that goes for good and evil, past and future, and so on. they're partners.

i'm going to admit with love right now that even Sex In The City, that colon-sculpture of an artwork is part of that evolution. i'll go one better: even Tom Cruise, even that Scientological Satan is...

well, no. not Tom Cruise.

but everything else in the Kosmos, everything besides Tom Cruise is in some part, in some way, an indespensible constituent part of an infinite, unbounded, unknowable Whole. we reach a stage (equilibrium) and hang for a while, and then it's punctuated with a Da Vinci, a Bach, a Ken Wilber, a Stuart FUCKING Davis (what?? i'm talking about the dead painter!!), an Einstein, and so on. and really, i should also have made a distinction between known (celebrity) innovators and unknown, anonymous innovators. untold millions have been raising humanity higher and higher from the very start, way back when some gay Neanderthal invented the flute 40,000 years ago, and they've been anonymous workers in the Mystery, happily lofting us higher into heaven, and joyfully diving deeper into the depths of our Big Heart and Big Mind. and i'm not exactly sure who is an innovator and who isn't. maybe Radio Head really is innovative, maybe Bjork is. i would say Bjork is a lot likelier candidate than Radiohead, cuz she's not a prisoner to that postmodern deconstructive bullshit- but HEY, i don't know. i'm not the judge of anything...

except Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is fucking Satan and his Scientology Bullshit is a shadow on the whole fucking planet.

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We were blown away by Stuart’s pure genius. Finally a songwriter with something to say. We booked him on the show, calls started coming in “Who was that? Who was that you had on World Cafe?”

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