History and Thought LO12915

Ray Evans Harrell (mcore@soho.ios.com)
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 17:12:07 -0800

Replying to LO12905 --

Well, where to start?

I am a little embarrassed in that I admire John greatly and find myself
more in agreement with each of the writers in this thread, than not.
However, reading the whole thing through just made me a little silly and
so here is the result. I hasten to point out that cultural traits or
national styles are a part of music and are not considered criticisms but
simple conventional statements. Each culture has its good and silly
points with which it surrounds itself. It is the truly young ones, or
abused sick ones that get upset when poked about it.

1. Why is it that John's points seem so British? Remember when Cleopatra
met Caesar and explained her ancestry while Caesars British general was
appalled at the incest in her history? Caesars reply went something like
"Oh he's just British, they believe their laws are the only true laws for
the universe." I remember a letter to a friend of mine from a British
University that said something similar about the "true art" that they
taught as opposed to the French.

2. Why is it that Jackie seems more logical in the Greek sense, because
the elements of her logic go beyond the Ray Harrell and Ray Smith have
blond hair therefore all people named Ray in the world are blond variety?
But Joel and Rol defend the Greeks while not doing Greek. Sorry guys, but
it is reminiscent of the "Ebonics" controversy in the NYTimes where the
African American critics use "Ebonic" structure to condemn Ebonics.
Sounds like Lewis Carroll to me. He was British wasnt he? But not like
Caesars General. He loved tiny Alice which puts him in a whole other
catagory: 19th century Mathematicians.

3. Must we really speak of "burning at the stake by the heathens" when
there has been plenty of same by every group in the world? Dont you have
to do business with the local camel driver? Does it serve any purpose to
put yourself above his history and culture? Let us consider the rejection
of the wheel by the Mexicans and their only domesticated animals being
dogs and turkeys. Neither of which would hurt a garden. The Mexican's
only world competition for agricultural technology was the Peruvians.
When the technological history of the world is written will Mexico have
been helped or ruined by the wheel and the horse? The same is true of
Peru. Peru now imports what it gave to the world in the 16th century as a
result of the "Superior Spanish Culture's" (according to the Spanish)
civilizing the Indios and ruining their economy and technology. The
Titicaca agricultural methods are still the most productive in the world
even though they are not used anywhere that I know of. Basically they are
not machine adaptive, and you know what that means in this slave/machine
culture. This addition of the Agricultural technology from the Americas
was what made the movement of armies, without pillage, possible. No more
Samarkands. The armys loss of vulnerability, through supply, allowed the
modern principles of power, private enterprise and thus the modern
corporation to evolve. I doubt that any of us know who will ultimately
get the credit for that when the great computer history in the sky is
written for the U.S. Enterprise to discover the stars without messing
around with the time line of history and eliminating themselves in the

4. Is the Hubbell space telescope a waste because it only photographs a
keyhole? Only if you aim your space ship in another direction and assume
that the entire universe is the same as the Hubbell shows. Does this not
cut to the vulnerability of the heart of the proper use of steady state
structure and process? i.e. Long term versus short term, digital versus
analogue, Western Classical Music vs. World Fusion, etc. etc. ?

I wrote another page and one half on the above and then found an earlier
reading that kept me from re-inventing the wheel or the turkey and decided
to simply quote it instead. It is only one paragraph and is by Clifford
Geertz that old hole-puncher of scientific pomposity at the Princeton
Institute. It is from his book "Local Knowledge" and is found on page

"That thought is spectacularly multiple as product and wondrously singular
as process has thus not only come to be a more and more powerful animating
paradox within the social sciences, driving theory in all sorts of
directions, some of them reasonable, but the nature of that paradox has
more and more come to be regarded as having to do with puzzles of
translation, with how meaning in one system of expression is expressed in
another--cultural hermeneutics, not conceptive mechanics. In such a form
it may not be any more tractable than it was before; but it does at least
bring the war back home, because the problem of how a Copernican
understands a Ptolemaian, a fifth republic Frenchman an "ancien regime"
one, or a poet a painter is seen to be on all fours with the problem of
how a Christian understands a Muslim, a European an Asian, an
anthropologist an aborigine, or vice versa. (My Caps REH) WE ARE ALL
What looked once to be a matter of finding out whether savages could
distinguish fact from fancy now looks to be a matter of finding out how
others, across the sea or down the corridor, organize their significative

I've often wondered about the proximity of Geertz's office to Einstein's
former abode. They do seem to be listening to the same muse. IMHO


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director
The Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York
200 West 70th Street, NYCity 10023
212 724-2398


Ray Evans Harrell <mcore@soho.ios.com>

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