A library of ambient articulations.

Browse as you see fit.

 

*Restocked Often*

Maggie Chok

The Conference of the Birds

The Conference of the Birds or Speech of the Birds (Persian: منطق الطیر‎‎, Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr, also known as مقامات الطیور Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr; 1177), is a celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur.

In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird roughly equivalent to the western phoenix. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. From the many birds that begin the journey, only thirty birds are left that finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh. There, the birds see the Simorgh in the reflection of their faces of an implicit lake.

The seven valleys the birds cross are as follows:

1. Valley of the Quest, where the Wayfarer begins by casting aside all dogma, belief, and unbelief.
2. Valley of Love, where reason is abandoned for the sake of love.
3. Valley of Knowledge, where worldly knowledge becomes utterly useless.
4. Valley of Detachment, where all desires and attachments to the world are given up. Here, what is assumed to be “reality” vanishes.
5. Valley of Unity, where the Wayfarer realizes that everything is connected and that the Beloved is beyond everything, including harmony, multiplicity, and eternity.
6. Valley of Wonderment, where, entranced by the beauty of the Beloved, the Wayfarer becomes perplexed and, steeped in awe, finds that he or she has never known or understood anything.
7. Valley of Poverty and Annihilation, where the self disappears into the universe and the Wayfarer becomes timeless, existing in both the past and the future.



(Source: Wiki—The Conference of the Birds)

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The snail movie plays to an empty house.

These experiments are fascinating, but they leave aside a larger question: what is a snail “seeing”? Do snails see as we do, with images of checkered cards appearing in their gastropod minds? Do they experience private displays of light and dark, processed by tangles of nerves into decisions, preferences, and meaning. The human body and the snail body are made from the same wet pieces of carbon and clay, so if consciousness grows out of this neurological soil, on what grounds do we deny the snail its mental images?

No doubt what it sees is radically different, an avant-garde movie of strange camera angles and lurching forms, but if the human cinema is caused by nerves, we have to allow for the startling possibility that the snails have a similar experience. But our culture’s preferred story is that the snail movie plays to an empty house. Indeed, the theatre has no screen. The snail has no internal subjective experience, we claim. Light from the eye’s projector merely stimulates the snail’s ductwork and wiring, causing the hollow theatre to move, eat, mate, and keep up the appearance of life.



(Source: The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature—David George Haskell)

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Moon map; Sky swim

Whalesong
by Sophie Stephenson-Wright

I boom-mumble I bass-blow
I hull-heavy I big/slow
I boat-bump I limpet-skin
I soft-sink I sky-swim
I sea-search I salt-swallow
I bone-backed I flute-follow
I gulf-cross I listen-talk
I moon-map I wave-walk
I tail-turn I time-keep
I ship-wreck I song-seek
I blue-blood I grumble-sing
I fish-heart I dream king

As seen on the Underground.

(Source: Whalesong—Sophie Stevenson-Wright, as seen during Oliver Coates’ performance at Rewire Festival 2017)

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It feels like you are riding a wind slide.

(Source: Suzanne Ciani—The First Wave, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s synth hero mix)

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Win some. Lose sum.

On a morning last fall, Patrick Drum sat quietly in his black and white striped uniform and handcuffs as he awaited his fate. The sleeves of his top were short enough to reveal a tattoo reading “Win Some” on his right forearm and one reading “Lose Sum” on the left. From the court’s gallery where dozens of reporters and community members sat, he seemed barely to move as the families of the two men he had killed four months before came forward to speak.

As far as Drum was concerned, he had been protecting the community’s children.

Prosecutor Deb Kelly recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders, plus time for burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm. “What Mr. Drum has done diminishes us all,” she said. “There is no room for vigilantism. There is no room for what he has done. And no one in authority will ever tolerate vigilantism. It will be sought out, those who commit it will be sought out. They will be sought—“

Drum interrupted her. “This country was founded on vigilantism,” he said.

Kelly ignored him and continued. “You piece of shit,” someone from the galley called to Drum.

The defense attorney spoke briefly. Drum rose and curtly apologized for the hurt caused to the families, asking his supporters to leave them alone. “As for the men themselves,” he said, speaking of his victims, “actions speak louder than words.”

As far as Drum was concerned, he had been protecting the community’s children when he murdered Paul Ray’s son and Leslie Blanton’s husband. He may have killed two sex offenders in June of that year, but he had set out to kill sixty more.


(Source: ‘The Vigilante of Clallam County’—The Atlantic, Lexi Pandell DEC 4, 2013)

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Soft rain; a sorry rain

Living Water
BBC World Service—The Documentary
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Aboriginal people from across Australia share their words, wisdom and concern for the future of that crucial resource, water. Watched by crocodiles on the bank of a tropical Northern Territory stream; sitting in a peaceful desert water dreaming place; interpreting a significant rock art site; dancing and singing the country back to life – water is embedded in identity, culture, spirituality and survival.

Brad Moggridge, a Murri from the Kamilaroi Nation, is a hydrogeologist who’s passionate about promoting Aboriginal ecological knowledge and he links the traditional with a contemporary scientific take on water management.

In this, the driest inhabited continent on earth, understanding water has been essential for tens of thousands of years. Today, as Brad says, “Mobs all over the country still talk about water places, dream about water places, have laws about water places and teach the next generation about water places. Water is a key part of who we are”.

(Source: BBC World Service—The Documentary, ‘Living Water’ episode)

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Did the jaguar say something about me?




(Source: Embrace of the Serpent—El abrazo de la serpiente, 2015)

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Reason and resonance

Hearing has traditionally been understood as the second sense — less rational and modern than seeing, the master of all senses, the first sense. Reason and Resonance is the first full-length study to explode this myth by reconstructing the history of aurality and the process through which the ear assumed a central role in modern culture and rationality.

From the beginning of the seventeenth century to the early decades of the twentieth, scientists believed that resonance was the operative mechanism of the human ear. To comprehend the act of hearing was to recognize the existence of a sympathetic resonance between vibrating air and various parts of the inner ear. But resonance, by extension, also entailed adjacency, sympathy, and the collapse of the boundary between perceiver and perceived —  phenomena usually thought of as polar opposites of reason. As Veit Erlmann argues, however, with the emergence of resonance as the centerpiece of modern aurality, a new type of epistemology triumphed, one involving an intimate and complex relation between reason and resonance where the absence of resonance is the very condition of thought. Our mind’s relationship to the world is said to rest on distance or, as the very synonym for reason suggests, reflection.

(Source: Reason and Resonance—A History of Modern Aurality by Veit Erlmann, MIT Press)

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His name is a unit of speed

Perhaps you’ve heard of Ernst Mach. Mach 1, Mach 2, Mach 3, that Mach. His name is a unit of speed, and—despite his beard—a brand of razors. He was a physicist, a physiologist, a philosopher. A little bit of everything, really. You could find the young Mach in the Austrian countryside carefully observing nature—staring at a leaf or a shadow or a cloud with the utmost concentration and scrutiny, then scrutinizing his scrutinizing, noting his every sensory glitch and glimmer, building a taxonomy of tricks that our eyes can play. He collected bugs and butterflies. He tested the reactions of various materials—in trying to see whether camphor would ignite, he burned off his eyelashes and eyebrows. But it was when he was 15 years old that a single moment changed everything.

“On a bright summer day in the open air, the world with my ego suddenly appeared to me as one coherent mass of sensations,” he later wrote. He felt, in that moment, there was no reality sitting “out there,” independent of his sensations, and likewise that there was no self sitting “in here,” independent of its sensations. He grew certain that there could be no real difference between mind and matter, between perceiving subject and perceived object. “This moment was decisive for my whole view,” he wrote.

From that day forward, he vehemently rejected any form of dualism: the idea that the external world was made up of substantial material objects—things—while the mind was made of something else, so that the world we experience in consciousness is a mere copy of an actual world that lies forever hidden from us. Instead he grew convinced that mind and matter were made of the same basic ingredient. It couldn’t be a physical ingredient, he argued, because how would bare matter ever give rise to subjective experience? But it couldn’t be a mental ingredient either, he said, because he was certain that the self was equally an illusion. The only way to unite mind and matter, he decided, was to presume that they were made not of objective atoms, and not of subjective qualia, but of some neutral thing, an “element,” he called it, which in one configuration would behave as material substance and in another as immaterial mentation, though in itself it would be neither and nothing.


(Source: When Einstein Tilted at Windmills—Amanda Gefter (Nautilus Magazine—Heroes Issue))

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—immutable, permanent, present tense in perpetuity.

Your doctor shows you the x-rays. Shows you how your radius was fractured all the way across, but luckily, just above the growth plate. He tells you that bone is not static. It is a turning thing, a thing motivated to heal. He hopes you’ll take comfort in that.

Your therapist says the same thing about memory, but prefers not to describe concepts in the negative. Instead he uses the words dynamic and mutable—he speaks of redemption through reinvention and imagination.

All the while, you think no, memory isn’t like that at all: memories, especially the brutal ones, develop without blemish or artefact—all that was sensed and subsequently perceived is laid onto film stock in the darkroom of the mind—immutable, permanent, present tense in perpetuity.

(Source: Amir Adam—Physical Education, Image—Nathan Bajar)

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