Archive for the ‘Meaning’ Category
A labyrinth is not a maze. There is no intention to fool you: there is one way in and one way out. You simply follow the path to the center and then back out, a metaphorical equivalent to any number of spiritual traditions. Walking a labyrinth can be a walking meditation if you do it with intention.
Placing one foot in front of the other,
Gauging the distance as you frame the intention;
Taking the step, intention inseparable from action.
It falls into a rhythm, step after step, clearing the mind.
For the last year, I have been working to rewire my brain in response to some neurological difficulties. Choosing alternative modalities of treatment in lieu of the bag of drugs the neurologist handed me, I made steady but uneven progress. Bodywork, meditation, exercise, music became part of my daily routine. Recently, my wife suggested I add labyrinth walking to my regimen: “I think if you walk a labyrinth once a week, you’ll be healed.” She described her experience walking a labyrinth and I decided to give it a shot. A Google search located three labyrinths in San Francisco and I decided to visit the one at Eagle’s Point along the Land’s End trail where the bay meets the ocean. A drive across town and a forty minute hike led me down the bluffs to a labyrinth perched on a cliff. I entered the labyrinth and tried to walk the path with singleminded intention. Maintaining the clarity to keep an even gait was harder than I imagined, especially when the outer circle of the labyrinth passed within three feet of the sheer drop to the rocks and water a hundred feet below. I followed the circuitous path to the center, stood for a while then retraced my steps out of the labyrinth.
I left the labyrinth refreshed and inspired, and a little mentally tired. A beautiful sunny day, the experience of walking the labyrinth on the edge of the cliff had left me with the feeling of possibilities. A number of the healing modalities I’m using are premised on the theory that brain waves need periodic recalibration. To me, walking the labyrinth was most like becoming absorbed in listening to a piece of music. Like deep listening to music, walking a labyrinth can take you away to another world and bring you back reoriented to this one.
- To learn more about how music recalibrates human brains, read William Benzon’s Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture.
- To learn more about labyrinths, go to Wikipedia Labyrinth page, The Labyrinth Society, The Labyrinths of Grace Cathedral.
One of my fascinations is the ongoing development of ethnographic fiction as a means of capturing qualitative research that is more evocative and significantly meaningful than typical ethnographic prose. I noticed that there is an interesting workshop coming up down under on ethnographic fiction & speculative design. Outside the bounds of my travel budget but well worth checking out:
Ethnographic Fiction and Speculative Design is a full-day workshop at the 5th International Conference on Communities & Technologies–C&T 2011, in Brisbane, Australia, 29 June-2 July, 2011.
Goals of the Workshop
This full-day workshop aims to explore how grounded ethnographic and action research methods can be transformed into fictional and speculative designs that provide people the kinds of experiences and tools that can lead to direct community action in the development and implementation of new pervasive technologies.
And added to my reading list is After Life: An Ethnographic Novel by anthropologist Tobias Hecht. From the blurb by Duke University Press:
Bruna Veríssimo, a youth from the hardscrabble streets of Recife, in Northeast Brazil, spoke with Tobias Hecht over the course of many years, reliving her early childhood in a raging and destitute home, her initiation into the world of prostitution at a time when her contemporaries had scarcely started school, and her coming of age against all odds.
Hecht had originally intended to write a biography of Veríssimo. But with interviews ultimately spanning a decade, he couldn’t ignore that much of what he had been told wasn’t, strictly speaking, true. In Veríssimo’s recounting of her life, a sister who had never been born died tragically, while the very same rape that shattered the body and mind of an acquaintance occurred a second time, only with a different victim and several years later. At night, with the anthropologist’s tape recorder in hand, she became her own ethnographer, inventing informants, interviewing herself, and answering in distinct voices.
With truth impossible to disentangle from invention, Hecht followed the lead of Veríssimo, his would-be informant, creating characters, rendering a tale that didn’t happen but that might have, probing at what it means to translate a life into words.
A call and response of truth and invention, mental illness and yearning, After Life is a tribute to and reinterpretation of the Latin American testimonio genre. Desire, melancholy, longing, regret, and the hunger to live beyond the confines of past and future meet in this debut novel by Tobias Hecht.
- Design Fiction: Design Culture Lab workshop, C&T 2011, Brisbane (wired.com)
- New Film: Guillermo Gómez Álvarez’s “Una identidad en absurdo Vol.1” (repeatingislands.com)
- Short takes: Ethnography in a business setting (decipheringculture.com)
I can’t decide if this is a good idea or — given the changing revenue streams in the music industry — an effort to hold onto an outdated business model. You be the judge.
Music Matters is a collective of people across the music industry, including artists, retailers, songwriters, labels and managers, formed to remind listeners of the significance and value of music.
1. We all know that music matters: why is this initiative important?
We all know that music is important. But with music more available than ever before, it’s worth reminding ourselves of that fact. It’s easy to forget about the extraordinary lengths that performers, songwriters and musicians can go to record their songs, and the powerful effect music has on each and every one of us.
We believe it is important to support the artists and all those involved in making incredible music by choosing to consume music in an ethical way, and that’s why we’ve set up Music Matters.
2. What is the Music Matters Trustmark?
The Music Matters trust mark will act as a guide for music fans and help differentiate legal music services from illegal ones. Click here for a list of all supporting sites and look for the Music Matters trust mark when choosing new music.
When you choose sites carrying the trustmark you can be sure the site is legal and the copyright holders are paid for their creative work.
3. Why do we need a trustmark?
Globally, 19 out of every 20 tracks downloaded are done so illegally. In an evolving digital landscape, there can be confusion over which sites are legal. We think music fans would like to know that when the site that they are using is legitimate they are supporting the artists, musicians, songwriters and everyone involved in creating the music. (…read more at WhyMusicMatters.org)
And an insightful critical opinion of Why Music Matters from Associate Editor Kyle Bylin of Hypebot.com:
Why Music (Really) Matters…
When watching the series of short animation films released by Music Matters, a UK-based collective formed to “remind listeners of the significance and value of music,” I’m left with the overwhelming sensation that they are missing the point.
That, by trying to educate people on why music matters, in this manner, by exploring the work and lives of musicians past and present, and concluding with the message: “and that’s why music matters…,” they’re failing on a very fundamental level, failing to ask the real question, one that’s actually relevant to what they’re trying to get done. Of course that’s why the music of Blind Willie Johnson, The Jam, Sigur Ros, and Nick Cave matters. But why stop there?
If the core purpose of their campaign is to “remind listeners of the significance and value of music,” by educating and reconnecting them to that value through these short films. Then, in doing so, they’ve admitted to something important to our understanding of the shortcomings of their campaign: that not only is there an apparent disconnect between listeners and the value of music, but that the inherent value of music has, in some way, become disconnected from the music itself. I’d imagine that this message is not exactly the one that they were hoping communicate to listeners. So, now that we can see what’s troublesome about that message, how might they improve upon their question?
In order for their campaign to make the connection between listeners and the value of music, they need to understand that—in tandem with asking and exploring the question of ‘why music matters’—they should take things one step further and ask the question: why does music matter to people? (…to read more)