The Last Stone – Love

If it is as I believe, then this is the last post that I’ll write on this blog.
I was never a great contributor, but I had some moments, I believe, where my words made it through.  My hope is that even with this disbanding, some may be inspired to pick up the gauntlet in the world of New Evangelization.

In the two or perhaps three posts I wrote on this blog, I never truly went for the personal level, but here I shall “descend to it”, having lost the ability to retain a higher objectivity in the light of this finale.  Far be it from me to be devoid of any emotion when I write here for the one of the last times.

I screwed up, lost another friend, lost someone vital.  As a highschooler, the world I saw was a world of blacks and whites, and good and evil were clearly defined.  As I venture into my college years, grey matter takes hold, and that which was true starts to sink into nothingness.  The dreams I had are nothing without friendship, and as such, sorrow fills my heart every time that I lose someone.  Foolish words that rend the truth asunder, a knowledge of the needs of others somehow lacking.

As Father Nathan Cromly puts it: “Love is the bridge across which truth walks.”
How true that is, that only in love are we able to reach anyone else.  Strangers are closed off, guarded against one another, but friends speak plainly with one another.  The hearts become linked, there is an understanding of the other, a recognition of “another me”.

As such, in that recognition, we desire what is best for the other, and that is where love comes in.  Too many times, I have failed to show love to others, but I am growing still further, as is every human.

Life is a pursuit of perfection, a growth to the summit that we know is beyond us.
Confident in the Lord’s mercy, we continue to try, hoping against hope that at the end of our strength, unable to earn the peak through our own merits, He will reach down in his love and mercy, and lift us up to greatness with him.

This is my hope for you who read this, that you will hold fast to the truth of love, and truth itself.  Too often, we settle for what is too little, whether it be in relationships, in our dreams, in life in its entirety.  Why grasp at scraps, when one can eat of the fullness of life?

People will fail you, you will fail people.  No matter what we do, there will always be some area in which our needs are not met, or we miss and fail to see to the needs of others.  This doesn’t mean that we should give up on them, nor they on us, but at some point, there is a place where one needs to truly discern letting go, when they realize that they are at their limit.

This is where the Catholic side comes in.  When all else fails, God is there, and His Love comes to you in its fullness, recognizing your fullness as body and soul.
And no matter how lost you may seem, He is there for you, as a father comforts his children.  I hope you run to Him in times of distress.  I hope my own feet are swifter than time, my own will more perfectly united to His, that others may see God within me, and go to Him, not I.  That is my purpose, to be Christ to others, that through the universality of the Church, of His Body, the entire Person may be brought to completion.  That all may be one.

There is more I wish I could say, but it seems I have not the words for it.  Know this however: I am a human, a sinner, a wanderer, a hoper, a dreamer, a lover, a fighter… a Catholic forever.

God Bless,

Migi

Irrational Ambience

Nature is perhaps man’s greatest gift. It is, in every sense, “life as we know it”. Now, don’t take me for a vegan (I try to stay away from extremes), and that’s not the intent of my post. The focus of my topic today is music, and it’s focus in abstract and concrete logic. But first, a little explanation.

You may not have heard about the use of ‘ambience’ in music before, though I’m sure you’ve all listened to songs that incorporate it. But this particular facet of ambience has to do with nature; nature’s song, in essence. Picture waterfalls, rushing streams, thunderstorms, fire crackling, or perhaps even the nature we create for ourselves (subways, machines, etc). These various sound effects can be used by music producers, and blended together to create music similar to what we hear on the radio. But is this type of music the same as traditional instrumentation? That is the question I hope to answer for you. However, it requires a knowledge of abstract logic; something which, in our day and age, we have unfortunately forgotten. Abstract logic is the key to music, and we must therefore understand it thoroughly before delving anymore into this debate.

What is abstract logic? Well, perhaps I should say my abstract logic. There is an official type of this logic, which I think may be different than what I’m talking about, but no matter. By this I’m simply referring to our imagination; the things we dream of and think of within the boundaries of our own minds (which are quite extensive!). Concrete logic, on the other hand (in my sense of using these terms of course), are things seen by us; like watching a movie or playing a video game. You don’t have to use your imagination like people did in Shakespeare’s day; it’s all right there for you to see.

This should be sufficient for starting my topic. Musical ambience, and it’s place in the musical world. It may sound rather silly of me to say that there is only one reason why ambient noises aren’t superior to traditional instruments; but there truly is only one reason, and it is due to this reason alone that there is such a profound difference between the two.

We know the power of music is it’s ability to conjure images in the mind (if not, refer to my previous posts). That is why it’s the most advanced language and art form. It draws on more senses, uses both sides of the brain, and lends itself to the imagination better than any other contrivance of man. In order to see what I mean, take reading for example. When you read a book for the first time, you imagine the characters, the places, the things , the everything. The whole story is personalized and unique to you, while keeping the theme and the author’s intent alive. That is the beauty of the written word, and this facet of language is made manifest in music. But coming back to my book analogy, what happens when you watch the movie? Suddenly, your unique characters are replaced by those of the movie. Suddenly, your imagined places and worlds configure to those in the movie. Suddenly, you’ve lost the beauty of the book you had created for yourself.

This example fits perfectly with my argument against ambient music. Think about it. When you hear a cello, do you think of a cello? Do you think of how many strings it has, what color it is, the person playing it, etc? Not many people do this when they listen to music on the radio. But when you hear water, do you think of water? Of course! You’re attuned to that sound already, because it’s always around you. Same with the metro. And trees. And wood. They are all normal sounds, and we have already attached special meanings and applications to them. You will hear this when you listen to this type of music; your brain will register those first thoughts and identifications first.

To sum it up, this is why ambience does not fully participate in actual music. In essence, it goes backwards. Instead of going from the abstract (the traditional instrument, a collection of things that is made to resemble many sounds) to the concrete (the powerful visions and images conjured in your mind), it tries to go from the concrete (the ambient noises you know by heart) to the abstract (a new interpretation of previously interpreted ideas). As you can see, it is a much more complicated and less rewarding process. Instead of thinking about completely novel things, like your imagination does when you fuel it correctly, you interpret things differently. You say “this water noise sounds cool; it’s almost like sand shifting in the desert”. You may arrive to a different conclusion like that, but you’ve gone about it the wrong way, and the myriad nuances and variances of the piece will have passed you by already. Just like rereading a book after watching the movie, you’ll be more attuned to the objects those sounds represent; not to what those sounds could become.

In short, this is why ambient music doesn’t really satisfy the deepest capacities of music. You can like it, of course, and it may be really fun to listen to (I don’t mind it at all). But the fact is, it’s just not the best. It’s not the most powerful. It’s like trying to pull open a push door, and then using a crowbar when it doesn’t work….there’s a better way of doing things, and if you take the time, you may be rewarded….

Children and Poverty

I came across this timed writing I had in English class as I was cleaning out my school books today, and thought I should share it. It is perhaps my favorite one of the year, and it was written in response to Jacob A. Riis’ How the Other Half Lives (1890). Enjoy!

Children, by nature, are growing. It is such a simple fact, but it carries much more weight than one would think. All children are apt to adapt to their surroundings, and it is this along with the people they meet that causes the phenomena that Riis beholds.

Since children naturally take in what goes on about them, the drinking and vagrant problems described by Riis are quite plausible indeed. We all learn from our parents and whether consciously or no, act like them to a certain degree. The problem that Jacob Riis points to specifically is the matter of the home and family life. He explains how these New York youngsters are bereft of good parents and stable households – something that children everywhere definitely deserve. Children need parents, and they always find them. Children need mentors, and will have them. As Jacob Riis sees it, they have found them in father-theft and mother-street.

Although poverty in the 1890’s presented a much greater problem to our country than it does now, one can still witness the effects it has on children today -and not just in New York. In the 19th century, we witnessed a physical poverty, whereas now we endure a psychological one. This psychological poverty acts along the same principles of its physical variant, and is perhaps even more destructive to the lives of our children. Indeed, children everywhere are susceptible to this epidemic.

As aforementioned, children desire some sort of mentorship. They are designed to grow, and therefore they seek out those means by which they may attain that ‘perfect’ adulthood. Riis points to the consequences of being deprived of this natural order: drunkenness, theft, illiteracy, and an extreme lack of education and religion. Children are starved, sometimes literally, by this lack of sustenance. It happened in Riss’ time, and it is with us today.

The psychological poverty our children undergo now is particularly severe. They are cut off from God, morals, tradition, and free-thinking. This deprivation drags them further into our relativistic, immoral, and non-judgmentalist society. And what are the consequences of this? We see it every day. Violence, abuse, drunkenness, drugs – one might think that the whole of the nation had been swallowed by 1890’s New York.

At a glance then, it appears that Jacob Riss’ world and our own are quite similar. Children will always be faced with poverty of some kind, because it is evil’s only way to stunt their growth. Though the type of poverty may change, the character of children will not, and the same consequences they faced a hundred years ago will remain constant. A child’s natural characteristics never change, but only the situation; in this we can take heart. As Jacob Riis alludes to, there is one way to stop every deprivation known to children, and it is of the most natural kind. Thank God for the home.

Please Read

A few things have come to my attention, as far as this blog goes, and I would like to clarify a few things here. The two issues I have are somewhat serious, so bear with me.

Firstly, people have been talking about some of my articles, and most if it, it seems, is in a rather unfavorable light. If you have a problem with one of my posts, then please comment and argue your point to the best of your abilities; I shall refute you if I’m able. But in either case, it’s really not cool for people to go behind a writer’s back and say stuff. I know there’s nothing I can really do about it, except comment on the lame absurdity that pervades this ridiculous action. If you have a problem, and aren’t scared to tell me, then say it to my face. Thank you.

My second issue is related to the first. Please don’t take my posts and copy/paste them into other documents for other uses. That’s just despicable, and there’s really no reason to do it. I worked hard on those posts, and put them on this blog for a reason. If people want to read them, then refer them here. If you want to make fun of my post, refer them here. And if you want to show off how bad of a writer I am (which I might not contest), GO TO THIS SITE. You have no reason not to, so don’t do it! I’m referring specifically to people at my school (you know who you are), but in any case, respect the writing, and respect the writer.

Thanks for your cooperation! I know it’s hard; but, we’re almost to summer! I’m quite excited about being a senior. Just push through, and all the drama will be done come June. I hope it will; at least for the sake of this blog, and for the people who actually read my stuff.

On Art and Music

I have recently been introduced to the intriguing argument conducted between those who love art, and those who love music. Since both of these are integral facets of humanity, it should be understood that they are both very good things; and even very necessary things. However, there are several reasons why music trumps art. In order to understand these, however, let us focus on the similarities between the two.

Music and art are both very old concepts. I mean this in both senses; the actual age of the notion, and the timeless consistency and congruency it possesses. They are both forms of communication, and they both have a very methodical, set, and logical rhythm and function. In this day and age, bereft as we are of the most simple of logical truths, it is very hard to grasp this last point. We tend to think that everything is art, and everything is music. However, if everything is art and music, then nothing is, and there is no point at all in having them. But as it is, there is music and art, and there are differences within the two. It is obvious then, that every ‘everything’ is made up of infinite particles of ‘somethings’, which can change, move about, trump one another, or fall out of existence. This fact, however, doesn’t lead to a depreciation of them, but rather proves my point. There is a hierarchy, and therefore, there is an order and a right way to engage in art and music.

Now in order to fully understand the superiority music has over art, we must first understand some very very basic aspects of the brain. I will use what knowledge I have at hand, and the studious reader may check me if they wish. Firstly, music is a form of communication. One may argue that art is also a form of communication; however, it is much more so with music. To understand this, we need to look at the brain. What makes communication so wonderful, is that it is grasped by our senses, and comprehended by the comprehension part of the brain, which is on the left. This is how art works. You take it in through your eyes, and you are able to then reflect on that picture in a deeper way in your mind. With music, however, it goes so much deeper. Communication skills and language are on the left side of the brain as well, and so is musical tone and feel. On the right side, the brain focuses on tempo, beat, etc. We can also grasp music not just with our eyes, but with our ears and sense of touch as well.

Piecing all this information together, we see how music clearly engages more of the brain. Both hemispheres of the brain are geared for music, and this only strengthens our mental capacity in everything music related. This, coupled with more senses being activated upon interacting with it, causes more places in the brain to “light up”; or in essence, work and think. This mental process, which by nature is much stronger than that put towards art, allows one to conjure up even more powerful images than art could ever capture. Art on a canvass is tangible, and unmovable. Music plays with our imagination; the most powerful tool humans possess. As an example, think about silent movies. During a scary scene, your mind begins to race, correct? But what if you had a silent horror film, and then the soundtrack and voice records of another horror film. Most people, judging from what I have seen and experienced, think that the latter is much scarier. Why? Because you can’t actually see what is going on. This most definitely triggers more responses

People might make the claim here that modern art allows one to use the imagination much easier than traditional art. Whether modern art is art or not is a different question, but I think it’s a good example for explaining the brain’s overwhelming favoritism when it comes to music. Modern art tends to be so abstract, that people can have opinions and feelings that are polar opposites on the same piece of work. This is a problem for most artists, and creators of things beautiful. One of the most wonderful things about writing music, poetry, or creating art is that the author can impart his soul into the work. Though this may be the case in modern art, it is obvious from the style that the author’s spirit is not prevalent in the piece. If it was, people would have the same general opinion of it. No person can be everything at once; therefore, no piece of art can be everything at once, unless it is impersonal. This is why music, in this case, plays with the imagination in the right way. Everyone can tell when a piece is upbeat, or happy or sad: but they will have different ways of expressing and thinking about those emotions. Music not only preserves the dignity and authority of the author over the piece, but it also allows one to make the piece one’s own. Now one can see why traditional art works better than any other. Believe it or not, some people may have gotten to the right answer ahead of us.

They’re Taking the Hobbits to CLS!

Hello! I have the great pleasure of listening to Joseph Pearce talk about Lord of the Rings and Catholicism today after school! My two favorite things combined, and presented by one of my favorite authors. It just couldn’t be better. That, and just before writing this post, I finished a history test. As you can see, I am quite relaxed.

But as my writing slowly slips into its usual formal style, I would like to…….well, never mind. I’m tired; and this particular Thursday promises to be quite thematic! Therefore, I’ll save my words for another time, in the hopes that I’ll have something more interesting to say.