Category: the true


… This is a classic example of Bach being caught up in the process of elaboratio, the second stage in the fleshing out of a musical composition as defined by Christoph Bernhard. In his Tractatus compositions augmentatus (c. 1657), widely circulated in manuscript during the second half of the seventeenth century, Bernhard brought Cicero’s five divisions of rhetoric * up to date and in applying them to music reduced them to three: inventio, elaboratio and executio. First, Bach crafts a workable idea (inventio), one that opens the door to creative embellishment (elaboratio), and then puts it to the test in performance (executio). These concepts are complementary and vital. The first two require intense mental activity, but there is a crucial difference between them: whereas invention is work, elaboration is play. Laurence Dreyfus expands on this: ‘while invention requires foresight, planning, consistency, savvy, and seriousness of purpose, elaboration is content with elegance, an associative logic, and an eye for similarities.’ The latter allowed Bach to explore dormant qualities in composition that most composers of his day would have missed. The hallmark of Bach’s skill in elaboratio lies in the intricacy and connectedness of his methods, such as variation and parody: these come across as far more refined and distinctive than those of his contemporaries, who, as Dreyfus observes, tend to treat elaboration in a more casual manner. But we are liable to be disappointed and may be trivialising the creative process if we expect to find all the germs of a new work neatly contained in its beginnings and then elaborated in logical progression. At certain times this does happen; at others Bach introduces new thematic material that involves discarding or cutting short the trajectory of an opening theme, but in such a way that we would probably not notice that anything was amiss, so accomplished is he at papering over the joins and bringing things to a natural-seeming conclusion. Dreyfus points to the formal oddity of an immensely popular piece, the opening movement of Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto, to illustrate how the formation of its two competing ritornellos is incomplete and in a sense defective. Bach seems to acknowledge the fact by his inability to repeat both of them intact at the end of the movement. Yet the listener is probably not in the least disturbed by the irrationality of its construction, delighting instead in its playfulness, wit and brilliance. What is most valuable about this sort of approach is that Bach could be shown to be at his most creative when his chosen inventive material falls short in some way, or when some sort of irregularity gives rise to ideas that he probably would not otherwise have had. What Dreyfuss reveals is that there is a real human intelligence operative here, not some detached Godlike figure who just creates ex nihilo.

* Cicero’s treatment of rhetoric was derived from earlier Hellenistic tradition and divided by him into five canons : Inventio – invention, Dispositio – arrangement, Elocutio – style, Memoria – memory and Pronuntiatio – delivery.

– from Music in the Castle of Heaven : A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by John Eliot Gardiner pgs 214-215


…. We can take this observation one step further. It is important to recognize that the word ‘growth’ has
become a kind of propaganda term. In reality, what is going on is a process of elite accumulation, the
commodification of commons, and the appropriation of human labour and natural resources — a process
that is quite often colonial in character. This process, which is generally destructive to human commu-
nities and to ecology, is glossed as growth. Growth sounds natural and positive (who could possibly be
against growth?) so people are easily persuaded to buy into it, and to back policies that will generate more
of it, when otherwise they might not. Growth is the ideology of capitalism, in the Gramscian sense. It is
the core tenet of capitalism’s cultural hegemony. The word degrowth is powerful and effective because it
identifies this trick, and rejects it. Degrowth calls for the reversal of the processes that lie behind growth: it
calls for disaccumulation, decommodification, and decolonization.

Jason Hickel    |    @jasonhickel

Noam Chomsky

“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.

Now, it’s long been understood very well that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it’s possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited: that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage-can. At this stage of history, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to he avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”

Noam Chomsky

Cohl Furey – summary – links between the Standard Model of particle physics and the octonions

In mathematics, the octonions are a normed division algebra over the real numbers, usually represented by the capital letter O, using boldface O or blackboard bold {\displaystyle \mathbb {O} } \mathbb {O} . Octonions have eight dimensions; twice the number of dimensions of the quaternions, of which they are an extension. They are noncommutative and nonassociative, but satisfy a weaker form of associativity; namely, they are alternative.

Octonions are not as well known as the quaternions and complex numbers, which are much more widely studied and used. Despite this, they have some interesting properties and are related to a number of exceptional structures in mathematics, among them the exceptional Lie groups. Additionally, octonions have applications in fields such as string theory, special relativity, and quantum logic. [ wikipedia ]

Cohl Furey

Carlo Rovelli – “Space is blue and birds fly through it”

by Carlo Rovelli – “Quantum mechanics is not about ‘quantum states’: it is about values of physical variables. I give a short fresh presentation and update on the relational perspective on the theory, and a comment on its philosophical implications.” (Submitted on 8 Dec 2017 (v1), last revised 29 Jan 2018 (this version, v5))