Leckie makes me realize science fiction is right: the holy grail of giving input to a computer is thought.


I’m reading Ann Leckie’s Provenance while listening to Spirit Adrift’s Curse of Conception. In what possible world would I have ever come across two such geniuses? I still believe in the idea of a canon, but am just now realizing that its contents depend as much upon the greatness of a work as everyone’s ability to access (and therefore judge whether or not to preserve) it. In other words, canon is nothing more than what we universally choose to preserve in the infinite long run. Short of that, the contents of canon will always be up for debate, as is right.

Yet the contents of canon can be nothing other than what we are willing to create, to attempt.

I told a colleague, who is also into Pallbearer, how much I was enjoying their first album. He agreed, adding how much he loved their third, even though most people consider their second to be the best. I understand what he means–Foundations of Burden, their second, is amazing. But I could not imagine it without the first. Perhaps, in some small way, I’m starting to see beyond the need for ranking things, at least in the sense of pitting them against each other.

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Having said that, I can’t get over how perfect Foundations of Burden is. I enjoy it as much as Khemmis’s Hunted.

I was tempted to think that they are each somewhat better than average instrumentalists, but brilliant songwriters, when it just occurred to me how stupid that is. It assumes both that technical prowess is some combination of speed and complexity, and that it is self-sufficient. Both are false. The skill it takes to play something exactly right is greater than speed, and is alone self-sufficient.

Along those lines I am just now realizing that great musicians play within the spaces of each other. This is not to say they can’t play the same notes at times, rather, that each is listening to the other and knows how to best complement.

I have spent the last week reading and rereading § 4 of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation. With each pass I understand a little bit more. Sentences that were garbled (to my mind, at least) become more clear. New ones appear, in the sense that I hadn’t even recalled reading them–they were too incomprehensible for me to remember.

I am also starting to understand time, space and matter, in a way I never have. Perhaps it was there in Kant all along, but it was hidden to my eyes. It is less important to find the greatest thinkers than find the greatest teachers.

Wang Bi is helping me to understand parts of the Daodejing I neither understood nor even cared for.

I’m listening to Within Temptation’s new album, Resist. I absolutely love their first three albums. Sharon den Adel is a master, and her band knows how to both support her and get out of the way, like any good orchestra does. Unfortunately, their fourth and fifth albums lost me. The fact that I can’t say why means I need to go back and study, for clearly she’s worth it, even if I don’t like her style at all times. But Hydra brought me back, and listening to their latest work, I am ready to finally accept all of who they are. Also, it just now strikes me how absurd this is: am I ashamed of loving a symphonic (née gothic) metal band with an insanely talented vocalist who happened to evolve into styles that I previously didn’t like?

I finally understand what Didion was trying to say in On Keeping a Notebook. I am reading over old notes and much of the time cannot figure out what I was trying to say. And yet there is kind of joy in this, like trying to reconnect with who we once were.