Music and Society

To get a better perspective of social affairs a long historical view may reveal patterns, which seems to recur in time. Though history does not repeat itself, some specific behavior and attitudes can be more or less dominant in a cyclic mode. It can take different forms due to the actual age, but the underlying tendency shows a swing of a pendulum between opposites.

This cyclic fashion is best know in economy with its boom and recession, cycles in stock market and bonds, or the swing of fashion and art. Also morality and sexual behavior does shows a trick or relaxed cycle; sadly enough also the alternation of war and peace, even rise and fall of civilizations!
There are many explanations about the wheel of fortune; some ambiguously related the rise and fall of empires to the power or degeneration of man, others have more scientific approach such as geo-political or economical reasons.
However, reason and common sense does not too often correspondent with the actual outcome of historical events. The outback of World War I was the most recent example of big scale human folly.

One form generally an idea of man in control or responsible for the history. Suppose there are forces beyond the power of man!
"Human are just puppets pulled by strings", as Gurdjieff pointed out in the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Who would then be the puppeteer?
That question has occupied thinkers through time. The cyclic change of seasons appears evidently by Earths orbiting the Sun.
So may be there is a much more
celestial or planetary influence - as many earlier developed cultures believed. Is the behavior of the masses of human ruled by celestial influence?
Rodny Collin's "Theory of Celestial Influence" is a persuasive book on these matters. From that book I have chosen the example of the 84 years cycle of Uranus, which is stated to have an influence the sexual behavior.

The phases of masculine and feminine influence

Feminine dominance begins












Masculine dominance begins












The above table display the 84-year cycle of Uranus, which not so much shows an alternation between overt and hidden sexuality, but rather between a feminine age and a masculine one.
If we now turn to a study of the planet Uranus itself, we find a very curious astronomical parallel to this state of affairs. Unlike all the other planets, whose axes lie more or less at right angles to the plane of the Solar System, the axis of Uranus lies almost flat upon the plane of its orbit.
This means that, alone of all the planets, it presents its two poles in turn directly to the Sun and to the Earth. Every eighty-four years its positive pole, illuminated by the full solar brilliance, shines vertically upon the Earth while its negative pole lies hidden and in darkness. In the intermediate periods it is the negative pole, which so directly reflects the Sun's light towards us, and the positive which lies obscured in the direction of outer space.

If the positive and negative poles of planets have some cosmic affinity for masculinity and femininity in general, then we can understand why Uranus - by reason of its unique movement - is the planet which governs the sex function in man, and further, why the alternating stimulation of the two sexes on Earth follows the eighty-four year rhythm which we clearly see in history.
Both sexes are always present and always of exactly equal strength, as are any two poles; but among humankind, as with the poles of Uranus, the light of fashion shines first upon the one and then upon the other, leaving at each phase the partner invisible and eclipsed.

The Cycle of Sex

The attitude of an age towards sex is very clearly indicated by its literature, poetry, art, and above all by its fashion. Innumerable examples of a complete reversal of attitude towards sex and women in forty years or so can be gathered in this way.
Such a period separates the etherealized women of Pinturicchio, unnoticeable behind their cascades of velvet and brocade, from the sensuous promiscuity of Bronzino's 'Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time and the fashionable nudity of the school of Fontainebleau.
Forty years again separates this from the austere angels and virgins of Greco; while a further forty brings us back to the fleshly nakedness of Rubens.

These examples refer to the sexuality of women; but this is evidently only half the picture. And it is interesting to note that in the intermediate periods, when women are represented as pale, modest and voluminously dressed in neutral shades, men are seen to blossom into gay colors and fantastic clothes or at least to pose before the artist in vigorous and excessively virile attitudes.

We have taken our illustrations from fashion, because this is the clearest mirror of the sexual ideas of a people or a period. At the same time, the idea of alternating masculine and feminine periods can be equally well demonstrated in any field of human endeavor.
The Elizabethan age of masculine display is also that of the sea-dogs, whose strange piratic life represents a very definite aspect of virility. Such adventurers certainly exist in every age, but in this one they were in a certain way accepted, fashionable, a social and sexual ideal.

Again, the two periods may be seen as alternations of struggle and languor in relation to sex. In the masculine periods, the whole idea of sex will be hedged round with questions of honor, rivalry, morals; it will be seen as the great prize, to be guarded and fought for; it will be that which is most of all hard to get.
In the feminine periods, on the contrary, it will be full of
ease and invitation; it will be not the prize but the gift, the one earthly joy in which all may find comfort and refreshment. In the one case it is typified by the 'Roman de la Rose', to which only the purest and best can attain by trial: in the other by Bosch's Fountain of Delights, in which all may bathe and be vivified.
These two great visions were created, the first a little before a masculine peak (1225), the second a little before a feminine one (1510), and they symbolize the two complementary ideals of sex in a very vivid way.

Sex can be combined with every other function to produce endless varieties of human expression. And in the same way these two phases of the sexual cycle of Uranus may coincide with any of the other planetary cycles to yield every conceivable idea and attitude in this relation.
Sometimes sexual cycles will coincide with cycles of war or crime, with resultant waves of rape and sadism. On the other hand, in some countries where the racial type is already of a sensuous caste - as in India or Malay - sexual cycles could combine creatively with "spiritual" ones.
In this case sex becomes a "mystery", symbolic of the creative power of the universe, and a "way" to mystical experiences and union with God. Though the idea is strange to the more intellectual and less sensuous racial types of the West, actual physical union could then be used as a true sacrament, and the intense energies so released be deliberately harnessed for the enhancement of consciousness.

The fatherless society

The post industrial management and government in the West adapted fast to the new "anti-hierarchic", individual movement, probably due to a need for unhistorical, easy manipulated subjects shaped by advertising. The removal of the old visible, patriarchal hierarchy created a void, where a less tangible power structure has emerged.
It is symptomatic that the teaching of being critical and at the same time removing the reference frame, such as history, makes criticism futile and an illusion.

Historians has named this as the fatherless society, where the
vertical hierarchy is disintegrated. The typical masculine function is the removal of the umbilical cord between the mother and the child figurative speaking. Other masculine values could be expressed such as "effort makes a difference", or "pay before you receive".
In the fatherless society the
feminine horizontal values such as "everything is equal good" or "rights before duty", has become the political correct attitude in the Western world.
It has nothing to do with the battle of equal rights of gender, since both sex's try to comply with the feminine values. Lately a few male has begun to point out, that there are no equalities among the life and sickness between the genders. Men are less seek, but dies in average 6 years before women. In the Scandinavian countries the alpha-female dominance has become so massive in children institutions and educations system, that 20% of the whole male generation  is lost as a under privilege, uneducated trash.

Some anthropologists has labeled this as a new hidden dominion of "alpha female" values. The education system e.g. have changed from communicating vertically (hierarchic), regular knowledge to propagate the horizontal, sensitive feminine values.
The physical and provocative male behavior is repress in this feminine environment. This has caused a heavy drop of males reaching a higher education. Especially the lower classes have difficulties to learn such intangible demands and are left behind and ostracized. The out-sourcing of regular, physical work to the "second" world, has left this fast growing group as aliens.

I think that the popular "rap-music" reflexes this alienation. It is permeated with frustrate anger and with an excessive use of masculine choice of words and attitudes.

It is a bit strange to see how common the use of "ipods", mpg players and mobile phones has become. The continual feed of music and voices has grown into a "support-lifeline" to security.
An angle to this could be the difficulty of cutting the umbilical cord in a figurative sense. In the fatherless society the dominate mothers are unable to set the children free due to mother fixation. The traditional masculine role of releasing the children from the infantile state by cutting the "umbilical cords" more or less absent. We are experiencing a generation of navel contemplation and self-sufficient young ones, reluctant to engage themselves to superior common aims.

The dream Society

The invisible authority can be describe as a displacement from the outside to the inside. From a person with authority to a network with shared responsibility. The power figure has dissolved into a web of individuals minds with expectations and dreams of a meaningful life.
The autonomy of the individual sounds as an improvement. However, the pressure is now put on your own criterion of success. The power struggle is now found between the aim of the group and your own integrity. The control of behavior is moved from a person with authority to a intangible set of aims, expectations and feelings of identity.
The degree of social controle did not change. It just changed form. The power structure is now created by dreams and feelings molded by the fast growing dream industry.

It may looks as a wild idea, that creating and propagating dreams is the new gatekeeper of power in the information society, but think about it. The dream industry is a huge conglomerate of branding, entertainment and story telling. It is ideas, identity and feelings, that is the engine in the society, not the physical needs. The virtual world is here to stay!
Though I am definitely not interested in video games myself, the on line game world, such as Second Life, where you create virtual characters, who interacts with other on line "avatar's", has caught my surprise, since that virtual world is generated by millions of people world wide every day. Astonishing many people are actually making a living of the games by converting the gained virtual gold into real money. There are incidents in South East Asia where battles in the virtual world have resulted in real killing. 

The BNP of happiness

The middle class has in the Affluent Society attained the level of wealth, which in the old days only was reserved the upper classes. Unfortunately, the new middle class did not assumed the virtue of the old upper classes, but indulged themselves in its vices.
The propagation of abusive behavior of sex, drugs and alcohol is staggering. The entertainment industry reflexes accordingly this conduct and exploit it. The raise of the BNP does not seems to increase the feeling of happiness.

The theme in the music industry increased the focus on individual problems such as sex, loneliness and unfaithfulness in a world, where the freedom of choices became staggering. The mantra became hedonism since fulfillment of one needs appeared to be the "only" fixed point in a boundless, dishonorable society.
Additionally, a frantic worship of youth combined with a strange fear of taking responsibility is also reflected in the omnipresent infantile music, that pollute the air waves.
This may sound a bit pessimistic, if you have the idea of general progress and the development of society consciously rises to a higher level.
I am not so sure of that my selves. I much agree with the definition of development by a Danish professor of economic: "Development just means, that when one problem is solved, the solution cause two new problems."

The importance of rituals

Lately the need for fundamental, structural guidelines (rituals or rites) has become obvious in the present, fast fragmented, global society. The informal message of the sixties did not bring people closer by eliminating formality and common courtesy. Uncertainty and reservation became more prevalent, since common rules and rites has been discarded.
In Tools of Awareness, there is a brilliant portion about the Role and importance of Rituals:

As human beings we have not yet reached those dimensions, where we can dispense with all sorts of symbols and rituals and devote ourselves to purely abstract principles. Rituals give a concrete shape, color and zest to many abstract, spiritual ideals.
A wisely planned and solemnly conducted ritual prepares the ground, creates the atmosphere, suggests the mood and predisposes the mind, so that we may easily detach ourselves from the three dimensional (+ time) worlds, and feel the mysterious presence of the higher intelligence and the Supreme universal power.
The greatest men in life, the most wonderfully developed in spirituality, have all come through the discipline of the rituals.

Magic and rituals have long been connected. There is magic in any ceremony that we do, whether it of a routine nature, such as making a wish on our birthday, or whether it is a sophisticated ritual involving all kinds of movements, lights and music.
In both cases we are using the power of the ritual in order to obtain something in our life, or to enter higher dimensions.

An actual definition of magic is difficult. Scott Cunningham states: "Magic is the projection of natural energies to produce needed effects." In other words, every time that we consciously connect to the universal energy in order to direct it to a specific result, that we wish to manifest in our life, we are utilizing the so called magic.
Rituals are the tools by which we are utilizing and harnessing the power of the universe. The purpose is to demonstrate the connection between nature and its laws. They are a reminder to us, that we are an intricate part of this vast universe. Ritual is the form and structure, that enables our spirit to enter higher dimensions. It is the safe space, that allows us to open to the deepest part of ourselves.

Ritual is transformational. You commence a ritual in one state of being and end in another. The result is always a shift of consciousness. Ritual contributes to your wholeness by allowing enough safety and freedom for all the parts of yourself to be expressed.
Ritual is so simple and yet so complex, that the more you examine it, the more profound it becomes. Ritual is the materialization of what you believe and feel. One can only understand the power of rituals by participating in ritual acts.
The basic law of liturgy is, "Do not say what you are doing; do what you are saying."

Ritual embodies and celebrates myth. In the context of ritual, myth is not a fairytale or a legend, but a narrative that relates to the very life force of the community. It reinforces the basic beliefs of a community.
Ritual is strong, bold, challenging. It builds up in the community a sense of longing for what is celebrated, but not yet realized in its fullness.
The sense of transcendence which we experience during a ritual allows us to see ourselves as we are. Ritual creates an empty space where higher dimensions may enter in. There is a profound sense of letting go, but in this letting go one has a sense of experiencing one's life in a deeper way.

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, words are still valid: "Ceremony established the correct manner of physical movement in man, while music perfected man's mind and emotions".
Same guideline is the ancient text, Li chi: "Music is the harmony of heaven and earth, while rites are the measurement of heaven and earth. Through harmony all things are made known; through measures all things are properly classified. Music comes from heaven; rites are shaped by earthly design".

The question of good and evil

My sole concern in these pages has been the positive aspect of music and sound. How has this the capacity to elevate, enrich and feed the body and soul for its dormant potential?
Music has the ability to
soak and clean ones innate strength. However, it can not create gold, if there is no gold in the first place, as the old alchemist beloved. There have to be a seed, which music can enrich. Failing this the music is futile.
As a keen music lover it has troubled me to read about the use of music in Nazi concentration camps. Fine classical music was played for the waiting prisoner doomed for destruction. The commandant of Auschwitz was a music lover and played his violin to the thick smoke from the crematory. Adolf Hitler was inspired by Richard Wagner's "Parsifal". I am too. Does this make me or Wagner to a monster?

The great Father of the Church, Aurelius Augustinus, 354-430 AC, used an example to illustrate the evil. He will not steal the pear in the garden of the neighbor for the pleasure of eating the pear, but because it was forbidden. He wished the evil, because it was evil.
"I stole, because I had a dislike for doing the right, and it urges me to sin," he confessed.

Humans has their freedom as a birthright given by their creator. Hence, they make their own choice between good and evil. "The drama of liberty" as the post war German philosopher, Rüdiger Safranski, label it in his book, "The Evil". 
Since the legendary Cain killed his brother, mankind has tried to deal with its enigmatic freedom.
Through millennium religion's, philosophical systems and ethics has attempted to moderate the boundless liberty of man with more or less success.
In regard to the twentieth Century chaotic bloodshed, Safranski articulate a question about our modern, technological civilization:
Does it in reality eliminate the freedom to act for the modern man?

The deeds of the individual human is still possible as before, but they are now woven into so many complex systems, that the desired effect is far from the final result. Has the dynamic of our complex technological civilization now reached a point, where it has its own inherent logic, and man is going to be "burnt" by its own civilization?
Safranski asked, if this degree of civilization has become disastrous and therefore evil?

Man has liberated himself from Nature by means of institutions and civilizations. Now the question is: has civilization disengaged its self from man? Is humanity still in control and is able to make choices between good and evil? Or has our modern technology liberated its self from man and is now rolling as an avalanche down in the pit?

Man can not do

Augustinus stated, that the nature of mankind stands between God and the rest of the Nature, which solely was created by the will of God.
Man has his own will, which stem from his given liberty. A will which in arrogance can lead Man to believe, that he is his own foundation.
God is able to create out of noting, "creatio ex nihilo". The human will can not do. It can surely not create out of nothing. "When it thinks it can do something with the right hand, the left hand did not know, what it has done."

Man is imperfect in contrast to Nature, which in its own way is what it is. Man has to figure out, what he is going to be. In this ongoing process.
He has the tendency to fall down to his own foundation due to the original sin as the scripture states. 
As Augustinus confessed, it was arrogant and dangerous to refuse Gods offer to be a part of His will. To deny the spirit of Man to be one with the spirit of God, means that the spirit of Man is too fond of its self.
He commits a treachery against himself since he deny the chance to reach beyond his own foundation. The human spirit can not liberate its self from its original God given foundation in order to become its own foundation.

The break from Antiquity

This was a major break from the way of thinking of the Antiquity. Contrary to Augustine the philosophy of the Antiquity was convinced, that Man could be a goal for its self, and true knowledge was able to change Man to a better being.
"Know yourself", so you know, what you can, and only want, what you are able to do. It was imperative to know ones limits, so one only aspire to what was possible. When the will and the ability to do has the same extent, the limitations creates harmony.
In the time of Socrates the harmony between being and doing still might have had sense.

The modern man do not have such understanding. There is no longer a synchronization between being and doing. His knowledge is far more than his real being actually can understand. His wishes goes beyond, what he is able to accomplish, e.g. bloody revolutions fueled by idealistic theories, and he is able to do more than he wants, e.g. tyranny and World Wars.
The modern Man is deeply disturbed. First he rejects the transcendence by not aiming for power above himself, and now he does not even know himself.

The treachery of transcendence

Augustinus did not use the modern notion, transcendence, when he wrote about the Fall of man. Transcendence is the modern, philosophical concept for a place, which represent more than the realm of man. It is the abstract notion for everything beyond man himself, and lead the man to aim for powers outsides himself.
Augustinus warned man against making himself as the only goal. It is a warning against committing treachery to himself, because Augustinus considered missing the possibility to go
beyond oneself as a sin.
The human who do not open himself to God, betray his potential to be more than himself. Hence man commit treachery against his ability to transcend.

In the legend of the Fall of man there was the tree of life and the tree of knowledge's, which fruits by eating them made it possible to differentiate between good and evil. Adam & Eve was immortal and lived in Paradise as a pure image of God.
The final liberty was granted by elevating the humans to the image of God. The freedom to choose among all the trees in Paradise caused the human to be in the image of God. Adam & Eve lived in transcendence with their creator, until they ate the apple of the tree of knowledge, and gained the consciousness of self awareness, and chose to hide, which separated them from their creator.
As Safranski pointed out in his book, The Evil: "The prohibition against the fruit of knowledge, did already create a pragmatic (self-)contradiction. The acknowledgment of what was forbidden, was already stated by God long before the fatal tasting of the apple"

Thomas Váczy Hightower,©,2008.

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