“A man of two worlds, Ben Warfield contributes to scientific research studying the biological effects of light on humans while pursuing the larger questions raised by those scientific journeys in the form of music and imagery. He strives to create crystalline compositional spaces to be inhabited by the listener.
When not writing NASA grants or tweaking monochromatic filters at the Light Research Lab in Philadelphia, Warfield can be found recording songs, editing videos for his projections, or wandering out into the night — shooting long-exposure photographs of terrestrial and astronomical phenomena.”
From the 2014 album Songs of Light and Dust, here is “Echoes Down the Corridors of Time.”
The author is recounting her final days with a friend, three years after his HIV-positive diagnosis.
Nick collapsed suddenly one Friday night.
He had seemed so stable just a few days before. But all those interconnected networks in his body finally hit that critical threshold and the cascading failure mode kicked in. He hung on long enough to give his friends a chance to say good-bye, before quietly slipping away in the dead of night when no one was looking.
This is what I realized that gut-wrenching night when I found myself alone with Nick’s lifeless body: something essential does depart. There is more to death than just the shutdown of the body’s metabolic engine; the brain shuts down too, and once that happens, the self evaporates, because human consciousness is emergent.
It is all those underlying processes, the constant flow of neural information, that give rise to consciousness, which is why significant disruptions in that flow lead to unconsciousness. Once those processes cease entirely, the self disappears forever. . . . Nick, too, confronted the void of nonexistence, admitting to me during yet another hospital stay that, during his darkest days, he seriously considered suicide.
In the end, he said, he choose to think of his approaching death as surfing one last giant wave: “I decided I’m just gonna ride that wave all the way into shore.”
Ouellette, Jennifer. Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self. New York: Penguin Books, 2014.
On the first morning of the convention, dozens of agents sit in a ballroom while Jeannie Davis conducts a seminar on telephone imagery. She gives them shopworn advice, such as putting a mirror near the telephone to make sure they’re smiling when talking to customer, since the person on the other end of the phone will be able to tell the difference in the sound of their voice.
She talks about the importance of inflection, repeating the same sentence — “I never said you stole the money” — six different times, emphasizing a different word with each pronunciation; as her inflection changes, so does the meaning.
It’s a reminder that just as a jazz trumpeter must learn to master his instrument, every good real estate agent must learn to command the sound of his voice to effect sales.
Related: “I will sell this house today.”
McGinn, Daniel. House Lust: America’s Obsession with Our Homes. New York: Currency Doubleday, 2008.
L’Inconnue de la Seine (French, “the unknown woman of the Seine”) was an unidentified young woman whose death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artists’ homes after 1900.
According to an often-repeated story, the body of the young woman was pulled out of the Seine River at the Quai du Louvre in Paris around the late 1880s. The body showed no signs of violence, and suicide was suspected.
A pathologist at the Paris morgue was, according to the story, so taken by her beauty that he had a molder make a plaster cast death mask of her face. It has been questioned whether the expression of the face could belong to a drowned person.
According to other accounts, the mask was taken from the daughter of a mask manufacturer in Germany. The identity of the girl was never discovered. Claire Forestier estimated the age of the model at no more than 16, given the firmness of the skin.
The author is drawing upon Freud’s hypothesis of atrocities committed by our primitive ancestors — incest, parricide and cannibalism — and their psychological effects to explain the origin of the Fall depicted in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament.
The result of our search for clues, concealed in the biblical tale of the Fall, led us to conclusions similar to those at which Freud arrived. He developed in 1912 a hypothesis about the state of the early human family and about the events that must have taken place within it, evens whose repercussions led many thousands of years later to the beginnings of primitive religion and social organization.
Following remarks by Charles Darwin and suggestions of Atkinson as well as making use of analytical material, Freud attempted a reconstruction of those prehistoric events in his book Totem and Taboo.
The main features are the following: in primeval times men lived in small, unorganized hordes, under the domination of a strong and despotic father. The expelled sons, living together in small hordes themselves, were all consumed by the passionate wish to overcome the father, to take his place, and to possess the women.
They killed the tyrant and ate his body by which primitive method they, according to primeval belief, took part of his superior force and power. Freud assumes that this grab crime in which the sons got rid of the tyrant was not a single act, but one that was committed in all the hordes and repeated through the centuries.
The succession of parricides had tremendous direct effects and repercussions, which determined the whole development of mankind. Those events beyond all memory are the most important that happened to mankind and their significance cannot be compared to any of the things that happened to men in the following millennia. Their impact surpasses and eclipses that of the events in history records.
The reactions to that atrocious deed led to the first social ties, to the basic moral inhibitions, and to the oldest forms of primitive religion, to totemism.
Reik, Theodor. Myth and Guilt: The Crime and Punishment of Mankind. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1957.