counting cycles

15 04 2011

The experience of counting lends itself to thinking of a line. We count successive markings in a line. This appears natural to us. It appears true. There appears to be no other way. It is clearly useful. It has furthered our understanding and allowed us to bind our understanding to the nature of the universe. And this is true for the physical universe, the objective, or at least the crude or obvious aspects of the objective, physcialised universe.

But there is another way of thinking about counting, equally natural. It is to count in cycles, through the medium of time. (An observation: as a few cm in a line are bound within a greater measure of length, and yet greater, so we may consider cycles of time may be contained within greater and greater measures of time. And: the application of fractals in space, the koch curve etc, may have similar application in time… that way lies the unfurling of consciousness, its secrets revealed by the methodology of patient meditation; not the peeling or cutting of an onion, mind, but the gentle opening and revealing of a flower… the lotus blossom, no less.)

So, in one of my first ever jaxed tracks, before I even knew what jaxing was, I counted the beats in a piece of music. I counted through eight, then repeated. Thus, I was counting the micro cycles that constituted a beat, and one of the longest, most easily recognisable patterns came in chunks of eight. A pattern of melody. I did not count the number of patterns of eight, but there was definitely movement in them, and crescendo, and shift to a completely different set of patterns. And so we have patterns within patterns in music, that is, in time. I can comprehend, that is recognise, some of Beethoven’s Ninth. The final movement, so… iconoclastic, so… self-defeating, a magnificent release of human ego, an ultimate submission to the source of creativity, and humble gratitude — and let us name it God! for convenience, for glory, for ease, for that which begets the music in the first place!

So, the ninth inspired, and inspires. My mind, like any other, is taken up with these patterns in time, and its pressing edge against the inconceivable. It was performed only twice around Beethoven’s end of life, clearly it was not recognised at the time whatever the retrospective scholars and enthusiasts say. He managed a leap into the unknown, and it is praised in the act of part of it being chosen for the european union anthem. A wonder. And I wonder how many appreciate it…. deeply, alone, in one’s listening….?

We do not need to concern ourselves with such scale, but simply conduct a thought experiment of any music we appreciate, and count. Observe the counting in one’s mind. You need not apply numbers. Listen again, and hear the combination of patterns, one mounting on another. Listen again, and again, which is easy since it this music is something one loves, it catches the mind and the heart, it moves the body or lifts the spirit, it has magical effect on what it is to be conscious. This is what we are observing, by our counting in time — forget the numbering! This is what the direction of XQ is.

And it is the careful examination of the effect of sense, and feeling, and thought, that is subjective science, and precisely our nature in the infinitesimals of time, is what the buddhists intimately contemplate.

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