Friday, December 30, 2016

Now Streaming: MIDI GULF

MIDI GULF is streaming a day-before-release (why are all those hyphens in there? meh, looks kind of cool) on Soundcloud. It will be available for free download on Bandcamp tomorrow. In the aftermath of publishing the project, I will be posting a write-up on the creation process for each song. MIDI GULF may eventually find its way into the three dimensional world, in the form of compact discs and cassette tapes, though I can't promise that either of these will see the light of day (especially the latter).


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

dalama jones - MIDI GULF

The new album MIDI GULF will be live on my bandcamp page by 12 a.m. on New Year's Day (if not a little earlier). It includes six new tracks and two older ones that were never properly released ("Rainbow Trout" from 2010 and "Dmitri's Sunglasses" from 2009 - these once had different names, by the way). It's a very slapped together project, as I only began creating the other tracks in November, but I think it turned out surprisingly well. Here's the album cover:



Friday, December 23, 2016

The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes: Cancelled

I have recently stumbled upon the conclusion that I lack the interest or vigor to continue my "commentary" or whatever else it might be called. It has been a hectic month of writing for school and I am in need of some reprieve, whether that is not writing at all or writing entries that require less intentional effort. It was rewarding to write about the first three chapters, but this project has become a burden to me. I highly doubt I'd be able to finish by the end of 2016 and I don't want the task hanging over my head in the new year, especially once second term begins. My apologies and thanks for reading - also, the commentary for chapter 2 received more than usual views which was cool (hopefully they're not all mine!).

Side note / this hour has 22 minutes advertisement: I have a music project releasing January 1st, 2017 for dalama jones entitled "MIDI GULF." It includes 8 tracks and ~20 minutes worth of (mostly) indie chill electronica musique. I'll be giving it away as a free download on my bandcamp.

I can think of no better way to end off the study than by throwing some digital confetti into the air ... but digital confetti is not a thing and the owner at the 3D bazaar was throwing shade at me, so I left hastily, both of these pale white hands in the pockets of my coat. So instead, why don't we take into observation this pulchritudinous icon of Qoheleth himself? *It's actually Solomon, but it's pretty much confirmed they're one and the same, so I'm going to go ahead and use this image.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

No Definitions

Fury is the same, no matter what you mean. Vermilion adorns the story of your face. The color flows downstream from your eyes to your lips. Though teeth are beautiful, words are everything. And in your everything, there is nothing - no definitions. But somehow, I know what you mean, and so do you. A plow fails when it meets a bitter root.


The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes: Chapter 3

3.18-21: 18 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.” 19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?

Loose ends abound in this entry ... please forgive me. That's generally my style anyway, but if you don't like scatter-brained, you won't like this. Moving on, let's take a close look at verse 19; it mentions that the men and the beasts have the same breath. According to the Bible commentary in front of me, 'breath' as a Hebrew term might refer to spirit or wind, a symbol of life in either case. It's noteworthy that in verse 21 Qoheleth doesn't make a statement, but instead, asks a question. He doesn't claim certainty on the dynamics of animal consciousness, whether or not their essence is finite or infinite. This renders the following point: the way in which people understand the psychological state of entities other than themselves is important because it effects how they approach those other entities.

So, at this moment I am perching upon the idea that animals and humans have the same spirit, soul, essence, whatever you might like to call it. This is the essential characteristic of any aware being - the state of awareness by which we understand self and other. Why, then, are animals generally understood as being different than people? For as long as I can remember, I've always believed that many animals had an awareness that was at least similar to that of people. I've never maintained that they were mere automatons (with the exception of insects, perhaps). While I used to believe that the awareness between animals and people was essentially the same, in recent times I have changed my position. This was motivated by an idea from C. S. Lewis' "The Problem of Pain": ...if you give such a creature two blows with a whip, there are, indeed, two pains: but there is no co-ordinating self which can recognise that 'I have had two pains'. A terrible truth about human pain is that one is often aware of it, but for animals, perhaps, they can have the experience without reflecting on what they are experiencing. A self-aware person does not know what that's like and maybe it's not even that bad, thus providing (potential) relief to any emotional difficulty one might have with respect to such a topic.

In a roundabout way, this general topic of life-force reminds me of Thomas Aquinas' "Definitions of Soul" where he writes: the proper notion of life is drawn from this: anything that can move itself ... and that is the soul, the act by which the body lives. Based on my interpretation, it seems that the soul in the physical world can be recognized as a part of individuals through their movement which occurs on behalf of their own volition. Not to be crude or morbid in the slightest, but this is very interesting if you compare this thought to a thought about death as it occurs in the physical world. When a person's body stops functioning beyond repair, an outsider sees the body void of movement, or perhaps even, according to my interpretation of Aquinas, void of soul. This seems to give reason to believe that the soul (the breath) has moved beyond the physical realm, for example, into a spiritual realm.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes: Chapter 2

2.2: I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” 

I wonder what people during Qoheleth's time were laughing about? This verse resounds today in a society that does, at large, celebrate laughter, and often for unfortunately grotesque reasons.

2.3: I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely... 

This statement makes for some interesting considerations as to what constitutes drunkenness. When Qoheleth states that he is exploring with his mind, does this mean he is actually experiencing the effects of wine or is he merely reviewing in his mind the possible effects, were he to take such a course of action as drinking? It is difficult to say, it seems to me. If it is the former, when he mentions that his body was stimulated, this means that he had an awareness that the alcohol was affecting him. Alcohol is a depressant, so perhaps in his angst he was using it to calm himself? If it is the latter, he was more or less devising a mental plan for future action. It is thought-provoking that Qoheleth would even mention that his mind was guiding him in the way of wisdom, as this seems to infer that either the man himself or others around him doubted the morality of his consumption of wine.

2.10: All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.

This is an interesting turn from 1.3 which I mentioned last time. At least, until 2.11 comes in which says: Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

2.17: So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.

Qoheleth reached a very dark point in his life-world - he hated his life. He's talking about work here again. What does he mean here by work? At this point, I doubt he was solely referring to his occupation, but rather, I think he was referring to every single effort he made. Drawing upon the thoughts of Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, he knew that if the things of this world were really temporal, they were ultimately meaningless. Such things may have held the capacity to be meaningful for finite amounts of time, but in the end, they simply would become non-existent.

2.23: Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

Insomnia is a symptom of depression and anxiety, both of which Qoheleth, if he was alive now in the human world, likely would have been diagnosed with.

2.24: There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.

I don't understand how Qoheleth could tell himself this after what he had written in the previous verses. However, this note of encouragement is well-founded. It is easy to forget God in the small things while we look for Him only in the "grandness." How insulting it must be for an omnipotent God to have his creatures, especially those who claim to have faith, deny his very existence based on mere location (geographical or otherwise).

Monday, December 19, 2016

The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes: Chapter 1

Verse 1.3 reads: What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? For me, the writer's discontentment immediately brought to mind Karl Marx's concept of alienation, particularly the aspect of work being a hindrance to human potential. For the proletarian, the workplace is void of fulfillment and humanness is traded for mechanistic labor. This lack of fulfillment transcended a chasm of over 18 centuries worth of history, and I can imagine, still resonates with many humans today. Despite this very simple similarity, there are of course, discrepancies between the two texts/writers mentioned, wholly apart from when these thoughts were recorded. The most glaring discrepancy, it seems to me, is that Marx prioritized human potential while Qoheleth did not. Qoheleth writes that [a]ll is vanity (1.2) and that [a]ll things are wearisome (1.8). This means that human potential is both vain and wearisome, not something that should be celebrated. Also, it can't be assumed that Qoheleth or those he wrote about maintained a similar psychological state to that of the proletarian, among other problems. As you might have noticed, I am more or less dismantling the very idea I began with and I'm rather unsure of why I am still writing/going to publish this. Better results shall be rendered for the upcoming chapters, I sincerely hope.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Your Words

Yellow, gray, and white. The colours of my stationary. I always return to the desk. And somehow, this is anything but settled. I understand how I write. The life on seen pages laying more still than letters of dead. No matter the monolith, the art of my palms, the back of my hands never go away. I understand it all, clearer than what I see. But your words, though I read them every day, I know not how they came. How is it that you wrote on my heart?


Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Meaningless Study: The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes

I'm not sure if this writing project will exactly correspond with the 12 days of Christmas, but there's a good chance I'll get some writing in during the Christmas break. This post will merely serve as an advertisement and introduction to the hopefully forthcoming content. It seems useful to write about one of my favorite books of the Bible, and it's a short book, which makes it all the more convenient. Ecclesiastes also seems to be grossly overlooked; while inspiring Bible verses are constantly shared out of context, Qoheleth's wise words don't seem to be mentioned much at all. 

At least, most of the time. My interest with Ecclesiastes was actually sparked while I was in high school (probably 16 or 17), when I was perusing a certain web page on a certain social media site. Verse 2 of chapter 5 enraptured my attention: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. I wasn't into philosophy or theology at that point, nor did I possess the will to read that I am now better at maintaining, but I remember how profound those words appeared to me at the moment. I had never read anything quite like it before in my life. 

Fast forward a couple years, when I was doing volunteer work in Seattle with some comrades from Bible school in March of 2013. During an ambivalent bout of indifference and worry, I turned to the pages of Ecclesiastes to bask in sentiments of vanity. The verses cooled my youthful angst, reaffirming me of the melancholy that was spreading in my life-world. This perhaps sounds like it would have been discouraging, given the way I was feeling, though quite the opposite holds true. There was a familiarity to the words of the text, not in the sense that I had already seen them, but rather, that I had, slightly below self-recognition, felt what I was now seeing. As strange as it might sound, it's almost as if I wanted everything to be gloomy, at that moment in my life. I remember how astounded I was by some of these verses, haughtily reading them aloud, as if I was wise for merely finding life to be disappointing. The above fragments are meant emphasize the ties that my own life has to the text. Have you ever had a song you heard at a certain time and when you listen to it later, it reminds you of that other time? That's how I look upon the book of Ecclesiastes, as it brings back both memories of regret and a longing for that which no longer remains in my life. 

I must admit that I have some hesitancy in starting this project, even in publishing this post with its somewhat personal sentiments. But I do enjoy quasi-existential reading every so often, so I hope to mimic that in terms of my content and prose style at times. That being said, I'm rarely interested in reading Bible related content. It's difficult enough for me to partake in personal scripture reading, but when somebody else has something to say about such things, I easily become skeptical and disinterested. What provokes people to share Bible verses and commentaries? And couldn't God reach me on His own terms? Ironically enough, I despise the rebellious attitude of such a person that refuses to receive any instruction or insight from others. Intentions are tricky to gauge. I guess you could say I almost always feel like I'm in a spiritual wilderness, a dark night of the soul. I hear many others are, too. I must be somewhere between humility, self-deprecation, and concealed pride in writing all of this. I'm sorry. That I plan to write about Ecclesiastes during Christmas is also awkward, considering one is mostly somber while the other is not supposed to be. Setting these worries aside, and since I have somehow prattled to an inexcusable extent, I look forward to seeing where this meaningless study takes me. All is vanity, and so, cheers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Make IVM Great Again

Indie Vision Music re-launched today! Prior to the site closing its metaphorical doors in early 2015, I had visited IVM quite frequently for a few years. I'll be writing reviews and news every so often for the site. You can check out my review for the new Devil Wears Prada album right here.


Monday, November 7, 2016

What Will America's Consciousness Be Like Tomorrow?

The narrator in the video mentions that there was a major change in the consciousness of the American collective during the 2008 election. I wonder if Roger Nelson and his team have their random number generators ready for tomorrow?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Most Foolish Exemplar of Swindling: The Akademia Music Awards

Upon reading the title of this piece, perhaps you thought I had committed a case of erroneous spelling as well as a conceptual misunderstanding. No, I am not referring to The Academy Awards / Oscars, which is for movies and is legitimate; I am referring to exactly what I spelt out in the title. I came across this simultaneously melancholy-invoking and humorous scam in the summer and thought the subject would make for an interesting post. Some observations, which I should like to call "red-flags," will be listed below.

Red-flag 1: The vaporwave aesthetics of their website. The sight has a strange blend of 90s and contemporary visuals. What is perhaps most peculiar amidst the New York evening background of the header, the random pillars and sculptures and what have you, are the four images located at the footer of the homepage. Notice how three of them are just general outside city pictures, while only one actually shows off the brand name. That last one must be a Photoshop.

Red-flag 2: The fake radio station. The Akademia has a radio station called KMIX. It appears to be an internet-only radio station, which isn't questionable in itself, but what is questionable about KMIX is how they describe themselves. On their website, the heading reads "playing the best mix of top artists from around the world." However, in the video that's on the same homepage, the DJ makes it sound as if the radio station is playing more alternative music, at least in terms of popularity, instead of opulent, famous musicians. The interviewee at 0:52 sounds disingenuous to say the least. And does anybody else think that KMIX sounds like cat food?

Red-flag 3: The bizarre Gala event. The video for this is also on the homepage of the Akademia website. The scam does not entirely exist in cyberspace as the company has hosted an awards event at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. From what I've read via Reddit, artists have to pay for their own flights, are not provided chairs at the event, and have to pay to submit their music in the first place. Basically, artists are buying their own plaques and Akademia will not deny anyone.

Red-flag 4: Everybody wins. There are numerous winners for the same categories. Were you awarded best alternative rock album? So was I! Now, you'll have to take my word on this one because it appears that they have buried the evidence, but in the summer all I had to do was type winners1, winners2, etc. after the main web address. The same categories were listed on these pages, yet there were different artists listed underneath. If I remember correctly this was also discussed on the Reddit thread.

Friday, October 21, 2016

When De-Stigmatizing Becomes Demoralizing

That there is any discussion at all about prostitution not being immoral is just appalling to me. Now perhaps this has to do with some naiveté on my part, but I've always assumed that the response to prostitution was quite simple, at least, from those who were neither sex workers nor clients: prostitution objectifies persons, the objectification of persons is wrong; therefore prostitution is wrong. Personally, my objection to prostitution would be more religious, however, if I am correct in what I assume to be a quite common response, then this indicates that many people, religious or not, hold a deep intuition that prostitution is wrong.

But for some, this belief is 'not good enough.' "Sex workers need to be defended against stigmatization," they might say. I don't see this idea as a problem in itself; my problem with this, however, is what is being implicitly said.
If the perceived solution to ending stigmatization is that I must stop thinking of prostitution as being immoral, then I will not succumb to that. These social philosophers, policy makers, etc. seem to think that it's so easy to get people to stop thinking about something in a certain way. Since when was it human to just shut down intuitions and judgments at the demand of another? The correct thinking of either side is a can of worms I'm unwilling to open at the moment, but what I want to emphasize is this weird notion of humans being able to simply dim their beliefs as if their mind is some unconscious light switch.

I'm also surprised at the deterministic flavor of some of the commentary on this issue. In theological terms, I would agree that transgressions are not wholly personal troubles, but that sin committed by an individual can have an interpersonal effect. That being said, this idea of defending the lifestyles of these sex workers as if they are entirely unable of getting out of their situation is just as hopeless as it is disturbing. If you're a social reformer, don't you at least think it's a possibility that these (mostly) women could live better lives? Aren't you the one who emphasized the social construction of all this? If it can be constructed by humans, it can also be deconstructed.

Another interesting point: the prostitute is defended but the customers are not. The customers are certainly stigmatized, I would imagine, so why aren't they defended? I guess you can't get mad at humans if they're just sub-atomic particles who are void of freedom.


"All the controversial issues in the culture war are sexual," says Peter Kreeft. It used to be a stereotype that young men thought sexually about everything; this was rightly referred to as perversion. But this way of thinking is now entirely acceptable, being promoted under the guise of cultural capital on behalf of the zeitgeist of the Western intelligentsia. I guess that's what you get when you keep Freud and forget about Jung. A shame indeed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Instagraham

I've been a fairly active Instagram user for ~3 years now. It's been a vanity and pride-ridden an interesting medium to express my ambivalence through (both in terms of content and posting habits). I've had numerous accounts, I forget how many ... but I think the most posts I published in a single day was 9; I did not abide by the ethics. Nowadays, I post approximately once per week.

Anyway, the numbers are currently in my favor:
  • 107 posts
  • 87 followers
  • 97 following
First, the three numbers contain a 10, an 8, and a 9. Second, they all end in 7, thus making 777 (a number of Kabbalistic significance, as a friend once put it)!

For being the colossal time-squanderer that Instagram is, it seems like an apt note to end on. I'm tempted to pull the proverbial plug altogether on the meaningless archive, but then again, I'll likely want to look back on it - that is, assuming I ever leave in the first place.