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Old 03-07-2006, 06:37 AM   #1
where is me
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Default What is smashin’ in the interior of your brain?

The Smashing Pumpkins: An Interpretation of their Music
-In Imitation of the Writings of Ken Wilber-

As a hermeneutic phenomena, music is an interesting subject to study. For sure —following Ken Wilber and his theory of the four quadrants (AQAL*)—, the experience of music is situated in the upper-left quadrant, spanning the field of the inner-subject. And therefore, besides the worth of studying it, listening to it is an ever greater joy of course. Have we already talked about these various personal interpretations? Cause interpretations may seem arbitrarily and completely relative, there are better and more worse interpretations. So in this thread, I’d like to discuss or create a dialogue about those various interpretations. The various inner-experiences and world pictures that involve the music of the Smashing Pumpkins. What is touched in your mind? Which areas does it effect? (Not physically.)

To get into analysing this, we should first analyse the notion ‘music’ in general. What is its element of connotation? I think music, in its many forms, goes along a line of contacting ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ realms of consciousness. Rocks won’t react on any sound, animals are effected by musical tones in an impulsive way already (for example, did you know that the breeding of fish is mostly done with the radio on? It increases the speed of propagation), and humans can actually be moved by these waves and tones in an emotional way, a deeper and ‘higher’ way of experience. So does this goes along with different styles of music too? I think so. For example, rap and hip-hop are far more basic and rhythmic, speaking to a more primarily depth in our consciousness than classical music. I am not saying it is more worse or better than any other style, we have all these styles in ourselves or in our potential and never quite loose touch with it, but there is a difference in depth. So beyond the more rhythmic and street aggressive beats, lies another ‘world’ of sound, touching and digging even deeper. Like in a holistic way, it overcomes and integrates its predecessors. Not in a way that classical music exactly contain elements of hip-hop, but the experience of classical music can only be experienced by already knowing earlier elements of music.

So music, factually, is just a sound, that can be studied empirically, in decibels, waves, etc., but that’s just one aspect (the outer-object). The inner-object, that can only be heard by dialogue, is, concerning music, far more interesting. So what do the Smashing Pumpkins exactly smash in your mind? Which worldviews are connected with it?

Ken Wilber simplified his four quadrant theory in what is called the Big Three. The it, we and I domain. As said earlier, experiencing music is an upper-left business. But it has always correlations equally important in the other domains. The we part of music is its cultural context; music can only exist against a certain background, a foundation of cultural pillars. This forum is an example of how music, in this case the music of the Smashing Pumpkins, is embedded and taken by its social counterparts. This forum and therefore a part of the people who listen to the Pumpkins, hence a part of a worldview that is interwoven with it. A part of The Smashing Pumpkins is their angry music, full of rage and dissatisfaction, another side is there lullaby kind of songs. And its all reflected in this we domain.
The third part, the it part is the actual sound, it can be empirically pointed out.

So these Big Three are always connected and affected by each other. But I mainly like to discuss the upper-left, the inner-subject. Cause I think that is where the action lies. I already mentioned some worldviews that are interwoven with the music of the Pumpkins; the rage and the anger. But besides that, like the variety of music they play, a whole range of areas is rocked. I personally think this is what makes the Pumpkins quite rare in their kind, their music is shining thru a big part of a spectrum, or in other words, a deep part of a spectrum. From spiritual matters to suicide and notions as romance, intelligence, anger, fear, pain, myths, love, depression, death, struggle, and so on.

What does our interest and experience of the Smashing Pumpkins tell about us? What kind of consciousness is scattered in these threads?

Simply: what is your own, direct and personal experience of listening to the Smashing Pumpkins? What does it scar?

P.S. I am not sure whether this is all clear enough. There are some good googles to find on Ken Wilber. Here is an explanation on the four quadrants:


*The UPPER LEFT quadrant covers the inner-individual aspects of human consciousness, as studied by developmental psychology, in both it's conventional and contemplative forms.
The UPPER RIGHT quadrant covers the outer-individual aspects of human consciousness, as studied by neurology and cognitive science.
The LOWER LEFT quadrant covers the inner-collective aspects of human consciousness, as studied by the sciences of culture: cultural psychology and anthropology.
The LOWER RIGHT quadrant covers the outer-collective aspects of human consciousness, as studied by sociology.
Western culture tends to over-emphasize the Right Hand quadrants (brain science, sociology), and neglect the Left Hand quadrants (introspection, human culture). The integral model of consciousness redresses that imbalance by pointing out the importance of the Left Hand quadrants.
One way to make sense of the Four Quandrants model is to see the UPPER LEFT quadrant as primary, and the other three quandrants as the various ways individual human consciousness is conditioned, by the material brain, cultural influences and social structures.
A more radical view is to see the Four Quadrants as the four ways in which Universal Spirit is expressed simultaneously.
All of the quadrants mutually interact with each other. A given stage of individual development (e.g. abstract mind) will be reflected in a stage of neurological development (e.g. the neocortex), a stage of cultural development (e.g. rationalisation) and a stage of societal development (e.g. industrialisation).
Each quadrant consists of nine levels/stages. Combining quadrants with levels gives the "all quadrants, all levels" approch of Integral Philosophy.

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 06:59 AM   #2
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you're cruisin for a bruisin, poindexter

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:42 AM   #3
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Uhhh...

What?

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 11:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by RockLobster
tldr
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Old 03-07-2006, 12:32 PM   #5
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It's Catherine Wheel vs where is me and I don't know who to root for

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 01:55 PM   #6
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Old 03-07-2006, 02:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeviousJ
It's Catherine Wheel vs where is me and I don't know who to root for
Lets just hope they both kill each other.

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 06:27 PM   #8
where is me
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But don't you think the reason you like this band has got something to say about who you are? Then, is there a general type of fan maybe? Or is this band effecting a lot more different kind of people (and their worldviews)?

People like me for example. The reason this all sounds pretentious and complicated, is because a part of me probably is. Does that mean, if the music you listen has got something to say about your personality, that a part of these elements can be traced down the other way too? So that a part of the Pumpkins (whatever that is) has a part of these characteristics too?

The great sarcasm and inevitable hate found on this forum, is that a part of these fans and so a part of their projection: the band?

It all comes back to just one question, I guess: the reason you listen to this band, what has that got to say about you?

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 06:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smashing0
beat you to it
http://forums.netphoria.org/showthread.php?t=115248

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 10:30 PM   #10
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Tori Amos' cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"--which I'm not a huge fan of-- certainly shows how different a song can be depending on its interpretation--in that case, by the performers. And I think the difference between Amos' version and Nirvana's original is what you're getting at: a question of why we choose to find what we find, and what aspects of the music we find it in. Personally, I really like the play between different levels of intensity--both of sound and feeling, and the Pumpkins' music has almost always offered that.

I think that part of it is in satisfying rhytms and their relationship with pitch. Ginsberg said that poetry originated, at least for him, with rhythm carried on a vowel sound, and I know that some people have theorized that primitive languages consisted of vowel sounds in different pitches--with the extremes of pitch representing extremes of emotion, which certainly still appears in both human and instinctive animal communication. Some of the more complex Asian languages have a pitch component with regard to specific meanings. Rhythmic play, especially that between extremes of pitch, is probably intellectually and instinctively satisfying because it is to some extent regular or predictable, and even more so when a sequence is listened to repeatedly. The songs that I want to listen to almost always correspond to a rhythm that I'm feeling at the moment--mostly, loud, hard, and fast when I'm in motion during the day and softer and slower when I'm laying down to sleep, which I would imagine is pretty standard.

But, additionally, I also sometimes "use" the music to project a feeling. Anger and conflict don't come easily to me--they're feelings that I was pretty much taught to cry instead of having. So some songs do seem to allow me to access a feeling that I otherwise don't allow myself to fully experience. I think a lot of art "balances" us by allowing us to do this. Aestheticism, one of the principles underlying gothicism, is founded on aesthetic and/or emotional extremity--it is a balance principle which recognizes the necessity of one sensation for its opposite. In other words, you must experience pain to understand pleasure and happiness to understand grief. Therefore, if a listener was unable to express one of these feelings, sound can be a safe vehicle for experiencing it. I think that sound conveys those emotions or taps them through language, particularly lyrics and poetry, because the sounds of words sometimes correspond to their meanings. However, I think that sound is much more effective as music because there is both less and more room for interpretation within it.

For instance, I might key into what I interpret as being rage in a song like X.Y.U., but you might be more aware of what you perceive to be grief in it. Neither of us would be entirely wrong because the sound conveys both and is, to some extent, vague for the purpose of both of us being able to find meaning in it. At the same time, that rhythm that starts about 2:23 is very precise--it feels like something about to happen because it can't redouble its intensity forever. And when it works into the little pick up to the bridge it's in such an slow-developing and intricate way that it creates a sensation of almost erotic frustration that there really isn't a word for. Likewise, the screams at and after 4:46 start as growls and become almost hoarse. We couldn't effectively say that's a "moderate-intense" or "intense" extremity of emotion because it's subjective, but, at the same time, there is an exactness to it--it is exactly as emotional as that sound, which alone becomes very precise language. It takes us on the same adrenaline ride, but over the very different landscapes of our inner selves. I mean, if you think about the words to that song, all of the rage that someone might perceive in it is implicit, and carried on the sound of the delivery. Very little of it is directly given in the lyrics, which could be read as merely sad. What's more, if you were particularly comfortable with anger or sadness as an emotion, the song could be either a much less significant experience for you or a very meaningful thing, depending on your relationship with your own emotions and experiences.

In general, I think that music is the most interesting of art forms because of what it suggests about art. It seems to heighten the question of whether an artist's intended meaning or a listener's perceived meaning matters more, or if either of them matters at all. Because music is so hard to pin down in terms of what experiences it causes us to have and how it causes us to have them, it seems to offer more options for meaning to be made and found within songs. With almost all of the songs that I have discussed with people, I find people who hear exactly what I do as well as people who hear things I didn't notice at all. But what I mostly appreciate is the level of intensity--of whatever emotion or sensation, even numbness--in the music.

 
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Old 03-07-2006, 11:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
But what I mostly appreciate is the level of intensity--of whatever emotion or sensation, even numbness--in the music.
You must not like that dreadful toneless QOTSA band then, bravo.

 
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Old 03-08-2006, 08:45 AM   #12
where is me
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Well said, One Night Only.

I agree with your opinion, that there can be various interpretations to a song, but that there mostly is an overall consensus about the intention or emotion that is hidden behind it. (If I understand you right.)

So what kind of archetypes or emotions do the Smashing Pumpkins appeal to? I do think there are some common and general terms as mentioned earlier. But an overall theme might be the existential scream, the infinite sadness, the lost love forever.

And that's where Ken Wilber comes in, I especially like this writer cause of his clear system in which he involves all kind of theories and thoughts, from Buddha till the Big Bang. His book A Brief History of Everything, states that there is this development, evolution going on. A state of mind that is constantly changing and entering new territories. And these evolutions and developments are not only occurring in individuals, but on a macro-level as well. I highly recommend this book; it changed my view on the world profoundly. Funny thing, Billy Corgan himself says this is one of his favourite authors and so interests do seem to collide! Of what might be seen as coincidence.

Anyway. I wondered which wave the Pumpkins were riding, which wave in this spectrum of evolving consciousness. And also, which wave are we riding with them! Isn’t it similar in a lot of ways?

The Pumpkins are a band with a (conscious or unconscious) message, a message with an intention, a motive. And those motives are covered with images, symbols, archetypes. Do we share these things just because we like this music, do we receive the message they intend? Is there a similarity with us people on this board and the people behind the music? Of course. Does that similarity span some same areas as spirituality, philosophy and beauty as well? Or is it even more specific?

Hm, maybe this attempt to understand the meaning and the way music is perceived is kind of useless. How can we actually explain this inner-subjectivity with rational logic? I will just put on a record and listen, simply listen and enter the non-dual.

Just this.

 
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mablak
You must not like that dreadful toneless QOTSA band then, bravo.
Well, they're okay by me, but they don't really blow my skirt up, you know what I mean? Like, I appreciated their sound, to some extent, but when I listened to SFTD, for instance, when the album was over, it just felt over. Not like I needed to hear it again, or like I'd been asked to go any place that was worth revisiting. It just felt distant and not very engaging. The remote, Beach-Boys-ish approach to the lyrical delivery (especially over derivative songs like The Sky Is Falling, which just feels like some coughed up version of a standard, composite Tool song) just felt disingenuous, like it's cosmetic and without any real intent. I mean, I suppose there is an intensity to the musical delivery, but it's a constant, and doesn't seem very genuine or inspiring: not bad, necessarily, but certainly empty.

 
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by where is me
Well said, One Night Only.

I agree with your opinion, that there can be various interpretations to a song, but that there mostly is an overall consensus about the intention or emotion that is hidden behind it. (If I understand you right.)

So what kind of archetypes or emotions do the Smashing Pumpkins appeal to? I do think there are some common and general terms as mentioned earlier. But an overall theme might be the existential scream, the infinite sadness, the lost love forever.

And that's where Ken Wilber comes in, I especially like this writer cause of his clear system in which he involves all kind of theories and thoughts, from Buddha till the Big Bang. His book A Brief History of Everything, states that there is this development, evolution going on. A state of mind that is constantly changing and entering new territories. And these evolutions and developments are not only occurring in individuals, but on a macro-level as well. I highly recommend this book; it changed my view on the world profoundly. Funny thing, Billy Corgan himself says this is one of his favourite authors and so interests do seem to collide! Of what might be seen as coincidence.

Anyway. I wondered which wave the Pumpkins were riding, which wave in this spectrum of evolving consciousness. And also, which wave are we riding with them! Isn’t it similar in a lot of ways?

The Pumpkins are a band with a (conscious or unconscious) message, a message with an intention, a motive. And those motives are covered with images, symbols, archetypes. Do we share these things just because we like this music, do we receive the message they intend? Is there a similarity with us people on this board and the people behind the music? Of course. Does that similarity span some same areas as spirituality, philosophy and beauty as well? Or is it even more specific?

Hm, maybe this attempt to understand the meaning and the way music is perceived is kind of useless. How can we actually explain this inner-subjectivity with rational logic? I will just put on a record and listen, simply listen and enter the non-dual.

Just this.





its all about me damnit...ME!

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:12 AM   #15
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I love how everyone on the internet is a Harvard graduate and an expert in their field.

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:17 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitri
I love how everyone on the internet is a Harvard graduate and an expert in their field.
Really? I love how everyone on the internet is a critic without anything of their own to say.

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by where is me
The Smashing Pumpkins: An Interpretation of their Music
-In Imitation of the Writings of Ken Wilber-
lol well done

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:22 AM   #18
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I love how everyone on the internet doesn't exist in real life except for me.

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One Night Only
Really? I love how everyone on the internet is a critic without anything of their own to say.
Touche.

Personally, I don't believe there are "Smashing Pumpkins People" as suggested, as the Pumpkins have such a varied style and range that they appeal to different people in different ways. Finding Pumpkin-Fan stereotypes would be difficult, to say the least.

 
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:39 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitri
Touche.

Personally, I don't believe there are "Smashing Pumpkins People" as suggested, as the Pumpkins have such a varied style and range that they appeal to different people in different ways. Finding Pumpkin-Fan stereotypes would be difficult, to say the least.
Heh. I just agreed with you in an email on the exact same subject.

I mean, the other day, I was buying an album and the clerk said, "Ooh, somebody has some good musical taste," and I thought, how does this guy know that I'm even recognizing what's good about the artist, or that my choice of that album reflects my taste at all?

How can a person identify him- or herself by being a fan? There are too many different things to find in the music to produce any kind of precise statement of self.

 
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