Blog entry

A Sense Of Occasion

Song Of The Day: Hanging Upside Down / David Byrne

Word Of The Day: Redargue / Blame, reprove, confute by arguement; Disprove.

It's been nuts since I got back home from being on the road.  "Nuts" in  the best sense- as in the mechanical components which fasten and hold  an apparatus together, nuts like the edible protein rich oil-yielding  woody textured fruit or seed, or the two edible ellipsoidal glandular  organs tucked in my scrotal bell-tower, nuts as in the eccentric folly  that is the joy of life.  First, there's catching up with my daughter  and wife.  I haven't had a night alone with my wife since I gave up the tried and true ether rag / abduction combo that netted us so many precious hours alone together.  After a while I longed for a more responsive partner, and now we go with a baby sitter. But no baby sitters as of late. I've been trying to catch up with my daughter too, she's oh so close to saying her first words in IS (the words for beauty and baby, which she says, but the diction is not quite all the way there) the constructed language native to our two person culture of weird (by the way, I'm changing the name of the language to Isara,  which is a combination of "Is" - (infinite present tense verb of being, which in the language has a different definition which is "the Mystery, visible and invisible presence which inhabits and informs all phenomena, etc etc") and "Ara", which is just another way to tell my daughter she's God. In the good sense, not that her ego is God (that's her dad's pathology, let's not pass it on...), but that, as my mystic web master remdinds me- to live into the Reality behind the appearances. As the new name of the language, Isara (which is pronounced IHS-ahrah, not with a "z", but an "s") simply dedicates the language to her and is a winking reminder.

Do you see how many parenthetical statements I made in the above  paragraph?  Let's reel it in.

I've also been in the studio, working on the new album, and it is fucking kicking. Working on Easter yesterday, both Andy McEwen and I  were like "holy....SHIT". This is going to be a different sounding record for me.  At once it both features my acoustic guitar more prominantly and also will be more technized and modern sounding. It's got the vibe of a self-reflexive robot with a tremdously engorged metallic member making causal-body love to a harem of acoustic instruments, oh look, now he's penetrated the mandolin, and then he's groping that jumbo Larrivee, and BAM! nothing but robot-tongue up in that viola... Constructed techno drum parts, computers, LASERS, it's the future of folk music, I just know it. I won't be happy unless Pete Seeger hears this album and in trying to digest it feels his intestine drop out his sphincter. I want Joan Baez to hear this album and throw up in her mouth. I want Richie Havens to hear it and throw up in Pete Seeger's mouth. Wow, I'm getting horny. At any rate, I am really, really liking how this project is coming along. Next week, Eddie Kowalczyck comes in to do some vocals on it, the next week Saul Williams will be in to do the same, then we're going to send some stuff to Ottmar Liebert to track some guitars. We already had the dude from String Cheese Incident in to do a bass line on What, and we know it worked, cuz we were all like "Whaaaat the fuhq?". That's right. Level TWO "fuck" is with an "h" and then a "q".  It's the royalty of cuss: Fuhq.

Two more of my fav people and then I'll stop fuhqing name-dropping. This weekend I'm having lunch with Leonard Shlain, which is too awesome. At the end of April, I'm recording an Integral Naked dialogue with Mike Scott, which I am very, very excited about. You can get tons of his music (The Waterboys) on iTunes.

Before I completely leave off with the studio stuff though, it's funny how intuition and recording have a mutuality about them. Some of my songs just don't work on acoustic guitar. I write almost exclusively on acoustic guitar (occasionally I write a new work on the clavichord, but that's just a nod to Thomas Ciul). What tends to happen when I write a song that doesn't work with just a guitar / voice combo is I think the song sucks. Don't get me wrong, I do indeed write songs that suck. In fact I wrote nothing but songs that suck for the first ten years of my life as a songwriter. I've written at least 300 songs in my life, and a few dozen of those I really like. Whatever. My point is, a song like Parker Posey just doesn't do it for me when I play it on acoustic  guitar, but we get into the studio and start kicking synthesizers and karate-chopping Mac computers, and shoving wah wah pedals in the microwave, and HEY- that's the Parker Posey I was hearing when I wrote the song.  It's part of a life-long Love / Hate relationship I have with the acoustic guitar. Sometimes, I play a song like Grace on my big fat huge Jumbo Larrivee acoustic guitar, and I'm like "HOLY SHIT- this is the most unbelievably awesome instrument ever", then other times I write a song like Parker Posey, or What, or Easter, and the songs emerge from the acoustic guitar with the temperment of drug addicted adolescents. The moment they arrive they are shreaking at the top of their lungs, spewing venomous hate for their parents- me and the acoustic guitar. They come out of the acoustic guitar and immediately turn around, take one look at it and yell "I HATE YOU!!" and we're like "honey, honey come here, we love you, why are you so..." and the song is like "FUUUUUUHHHHHK YOU!  I HATE YOU YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND  SHITYOUFUCKINGSICKPIECESOFSHITYOURUINMYLIFEYOURUINMYLIFEYOURUINMYLIFE LET ME GOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" and then runs out of the room flailing its arms, sobbing. I watched that movie with Holly Hunter and I was like "that's what those songs are like...".

It goes on and on. I watch Bjork on SNL doing that one song, and then I look at my wooden box with a hole in it and wonder what the fuck I'm doing. Then I listen to Ottmar or Dirk Freymuth and I feel like I'd like to spend the rest of my life with my head enveloped in THAT sound, just the bare, resonating perfection of an acoustic instrument, unadorned, unaltered. That's the downside of my personality. I think I'm too easily seduced by anything and everything. Musically I tend to fall in love with almost anything. One day I'm engrossed in the sound of the A string on my acoustic guitar, the next I just want to hear voices played backward in pro tools with a delay pedal, then I'm walking home and I see a fender bender and I'm like "that sounded KILLER, how can I capture that for a loop?" then I get home and spend 45 minutes banging on plastic bowls with my daughter, and I'm like "everything else is bullshit". At one point in my life this fascination with sound got a bit out of control, this was back when I was single, I used to make recordings of myself having sex with girls. With their permission and knowledge, I would set up a recording studio in my house and then record the subsequent coitus. Then I would weave that into music, or not. Just leave it stand on its own. You'd think it would be pretty weird and embarassing for people to have sex with microphones and gear everywhere, but it's not. You forget about it after ten minutes, and  then you really do get the natural, authentic sounds of people going at it. Why is that interesting? Because every human being is an instrument, there is literally music coming out of people all the time, all day long, every day from birth to death, sex is just one of the most convenient times to capture it because people lose themselves, become a bit more transparent and unihibited, which tends to bring more of the pure expression (music) out, and then moan, speak, sing with real spontanaiety. It's even better when there's two or more people doing it, because you have an ensemble. This process totally fascinated me, because in part what we were doing was recording a STATE, and the music that spontaneously emerged from two human instruments in that state. I was also surprised by how ready and willing people were to participate, and not in some shitty way, like let's do some perverted shit. I mean, I'm a pervert, but in this case I was sincerely taken with the beauty and wonder of this very intimate, private, pure expression as music. After I did that for a while, I became fixated in general with recording STATES and the music that went with them. I wanted to make recordings of people snoring and talking in their sleep, make recordings of people taking a shit, make recordings of all kinds of laughter- a hundred different kinds of laughter, then recordings of people crying -crying at a funeral, crying with joy at the birth of their child, crying in a total break down from the crushing pressure of their life in corporate america, crying from breaking up with their girlfriend, i wanted to make recordings of people dying -the death rattle and last words to come out of their body, i wanted to buy incredibly sensitive microphones and record every kind of breathing and heart beat imaginable, people breathing in their sleep, while meditating, while running, same with heart beats, then weave them into one polyrhythmic loop texture. i wanted to make all kinds of recordings of people speaking in different languages and then scrutinize the minutia of the pitch variation in their speaking voice, teasing out the melodic thread present in all vocalization. i wanted to record storms, rain, thunder, the sound of ice cracking on a frozen lake (if you haven't heard it, it would surprise you how fucking loud and freaky it is), waves crashing on shores, hail, you name it.  i wanted to record hundreds of human states, environmental states, and weave them all into one opus of BEING. i was going to call the project Observance Of States and use it as a meditative device, where the listener is the witness, simply observing the rising / falling, coming / going of all these different states. i still want to do it.  it's just such a gigantic task. i'm just trying to finish scratch tracks on my new disc ;-)  I'd need to start over. Once my wife heard one of those recordings of me having sex with some girl, and she was like "are you fucking kidding me? you think I want to listen to you having sex with someone else?" and I was like "Oh.  Good point." I really would  not want to sit around and listen to my wife having sex with some dude from five years ago, but there's the male mind for you. I was just thinking this is an interesting "piece", like we were listening to a cello or a backing vocal I was thinking of using for a song. I had this notion it was all defined by context, and of course it is- as Matt Wrenchler says art is anything with a frame around it, and my mind had a frame around these compositions, but my wife, her context was this: I'm listening to my husband fucking someone else. And she was right too.  It's both. It's best for an artist to look at all the contexts, all the perspectives, include as a much as possible in considerations, and then move from there. Before I was a practitioner, I was much more about just pushing people's buttons just for the sake of pushing their buttons. I thought just provoking people was useful because putting "it" in their FACE would force a movement, would demand they respond. Then I began practicing with Sufis and learned that there is a crucial distinction between serving the evolution of consciousness and just being a fucking asshole, and I was erring on the side of the later. The distinction is this: A Sense Of Occasion.

The sufi teacher I was working with at the time pointed out to me in a most loving but firm way that just eliciting a response, just forcing people to react or move is not going to foster evolution. In fact it may be destructive. If you just push people's buttons and provoke, much of the time people will move BACKWARDS, or regress. And they're RIGHT to do this, and you're WRONG to be such a fucker, because truly expanding the center of being requires stability and security, otherwise it just unravels into chaos or psychosis. If what an artist -or any person- really wants is to cultivate awakening or consciousness in humans and all sentient beings, the first thing we have to acknowledge and study is the mysterious, mercurial way in which development -real development- occurs. This is what the sheik was  getting at with Sense of Occasion, and this is really where the integral (AQAL) approach shines and is very, very useful in real-world applications. In the trenches, working for greater love in the world, AQAL is the best friend I know of. It's helped me tons in trying to  acquire a sense of occasion, and make my life and art more useful. My favorite way to climb into AQAL is as a infinite play of perspectives. All these perspectives are aspects of one Self, or are selves of Self.

To begin with, there are four main perspectives. Interior, Exterior, Individual, and Collective. All lined up, they look like this:

Interior of Individual (that's the INSIDE world of Stuart Davis, the individual in question here)
Interior of Collective (that's the INNER WORLD of my culture, my society, my family, etc)
Exterior of Individual (that's my body, my phsyical being)
Exterior of Collective (that's the physical world, the environment, the biosphere, all the physical reality of the Universe)

I'll follow up on this tomorrow, I have to run but will return with a discussion of perspectives, and I fucking promise to make the whole  thing rhyme, and oh hell as a nod to Dirk Freymuth I'll do it in iambic pentameter

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