Friday, October 9, 2009

Layer 200 Art, Einstein, Music, Human Consciousness, Political Awakening, Education, Spiritual Intelligence, Life, Love, Money and True Happiness.


Art and Human Consciousness

Yesterday I caught the end of an interview with Antony Gormley on Sky Arts in which he was talking about the contribution of art to revealing the truth, to the development of human values, and to the evolution of human consciousness . . . . . .

Einstein and Music

Typical of Radio 4 is a little gem of a programme like Einstein's Fiddle, a fascinating 15 minutes describing Albert Einstein's love of music, and how he considered it to be essential to his wellbeing, as well as to his work.
“Music played a role in his work as a physicist. He would often break off from a particularly difficult piece of work to play his violin in the hope of seeking inspiration. And he found parallels between the beauty and harmony he saw in scientific laws and the music of composers such as Mozart, which he felt reflected the inner beauty of the universe itself.”

Key points from the programme:

•    Einstein said  – “I often think about music. I daydream about music. I see my life in the form of music.”
•    His way of connecting with others on an emotional or affective basis was through music.
•    He was a very private man of simple tastes and an abiding passion for music. “He had a voracious appetite for music.”
•    He played the violin every day.

[Maybe he'd have played the electric guitar if he'd been born in a slightly different era.]

•    He developed ideas that revolutionised our view of the universe.
•    Music was an important part of his daily routine – there were no days without music.
•    Music for him was a type of meditation - an aid to his thought processes -  an aid to freeing his mind
•    He sat at his piano and improvised 'odd harmonies' as “a way of entering 'another mode'.”
•    His character was more that of an artist than a scientist - ideas for him needed to be not so much 'correct' as 'beautiful'. He was quite convinced that beauty was a guiding principle in his research.

    [Maybe he was suspicious of simple logic on its own, since it's often based on false premises. Truth and beauty seem to be very closely associated.]

•    He searched for a single unifying theory.
•    Intellectually he was without peer, but he saw himself as a simple and ordinary person.
•    Music also led him to make new friends and acquaintances.
•    He spoke through music rather than words. He was able to express his emotions through music – often he was prickly and 'difficult'.
•    He saw music as a reflection of the inner working of the universe - fundamentally simple and beautiful.

Labour's Conference

Yesterday Gordon Brown finally made the kind of speech he should have been making for the past 12 years. Strange guy. Why's he been so bloody right wing for all this time? Has he been emboldened by what he's seen Obama doing and saying, or is this a shit or bust attempt to regain some credibility and electability?

Mandelson has come out and said “we should have been nurturing different bases in our economy”, by which he means we should have been paying more attention to the needs of industry and the manufacturing sector, rather than letting it go bust (nb the motor industry) just as long as the banks and the City were creating their bubble. Well yes, Mandy, YES YOU FUCKING SHOULD!

Brown's even said he's prepared to hold a referendum on proportional representation.

Jack Straw (!) finally made a passionate speech about legislating for a fully elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords.

Bloody hell. Wake me up somebody. Maybe my prediction of a hung parliament can still happen.

On the debit side we had Alan Johnson, who amazingly is our Home Secretary, on the Today programme sounding totally clueless about  how to tackle the kind of horrendous behaviour that led to a poor mother killing herself and her mentally disabled child because she couldn't take any more of the bullying and aggression they'd both been subjected to in their local community.

All that Johnson could say was "anti-social legislation must be applied more rigorously”. He repeated this several times, in spite of being prompted by the interviewer to say something constructive about tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour, not just its manifestations and its effects.

Then again, how could he say something constructive? Neither he nor any of his chums has a clue about the need to develop social, emotional and spiritual intelligence throughout a child's years in school. Literally – not a clue.


Shirley Williams said on the radio (the 'book of the week' slot) – self-confidence is the greatest gift with which any child can be endowed. Note: NOT a hatful of exam passes, not a university degree, not academic success. And yet there's never been the least attention paid to the development of self-confidence as the prime purpose of our education system. So why is that?

Shift Happens

This is a great video which should be seen by everybody:

This is what the New Learning Revolution is all about.

Fox Among the Chickens

This was the headline over an article on the front page of the Education Guardian last week – about Dr David Hargreaves and his latest thinking about education – its purposes and practices.

Strangely the title has now changed to:

“Intellectual guru seeks 'system redesign' of secondary education”

This is really important stuff that everyone should read in full, though I'll get round to putting some quotes on here in due course.

Oxzen posted this comment on CiF:

David Hargreaves is certainly a theorist, a philosopher and an ex-academic, and so what? He also has a profound understanding of what the real issues are in teaching and learning, and what he's saying here is radical, certainly, and fundamentally important for the future of education. World weary cynics and know-nothing politicians may sneer at his insights and opinions, but in more enlightened countries around the world educational professionals and policy makers are getting on with taking note of what ought to be happening in schools in this digital age and ensuring that children elsewhere are benefitting from what is now possible in terms of improving the breadth, depth, scope, quantity and quality of education. Children in this country deserve an education that motivates, excites, stimulates and enables them to aim for higher achievement across a range of intelligences, whilst also enabling them to become autonomous, creative, imaginative and enthusiastic lifelong learners. The children of this country deserve so much more than what passes for education in schools that have been cajoled and driven into being little more than test and examination factories, and thank goodness Dr Hargreaves is one leading educationalist who's prepared to go on arguing for something better.

The Love of Money

The BBC's recent series of this name, on the financial crisis and its causes, was very good indeed.

I'll post something about it here once I've managed to find what I've already written . . . . . .

Life, Love and True Happiness

Will Hutton, as ever, writes superbly in the Observer about some extremely important issues.


More Music Magic

By an incredible coincidence, and this really is spooky, I'd no sooner written (above) about Einstein and his violin, and made a comment about whether he might have learned to play the electric guitar had he been born a few decades later, than on comes a programme on Sky Arts about Led Zeppelin - a recording of them performing live in 1969 - and here's Jimmy Page using a violin bow to get the most amazing sounds out of his Fender Telecaster!

Zep weren't, and aren't, given enough credit for their contribution to The Blues, since people tend to associate them more with long hair and heavy metal, and secondly they aren't given enough credit for the inventiveness and innovativeness of their music.

I remember the release of their first album so well because it totally stood out for its sheer power, musicality and incredible originality. For a start off no-one could figure out how Jimmy Page got those sounds out of his instrument. The band weren't seen on TV – they never released singles. It was only later (unless you went to one of their gigs) that you discovered that Page was playing his guitar, part of the time, with a violin bow, and also using an imaginative combination of effects pedals. He really was one of the guitar greats. (How sad he allowed himself to get sucked into doing that ridiculous mini-gig during the closing ceremony at the last Olympics.)

John Paul Jones on bass guitar and Jon Bonham on drums were a great rhythm section, and then of course there were the amazing vocals of Robert Plant. Music to get you out of your head, and out into the universe somewhere. I reckon Einstein would have loved it. Great physics. Incredible vibrations. Great art.

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