Wednesday, May 17, 2000

The Negativland show I saw with Eric Parent last night was awesome. I think the event could be best described as a media orgy, a loud mating, mulching, and mutilating of all things TV and radio into a shining, cleansing pulp. I told Eric afterwards that I felt like I had just had a psychic bowel movement — that all the media and advertising information in my brain had been purged; I was ready for the media-free life. So we went back to the co-op and downloaded Budweiser advertisements off the web to watch. “Wuzzup?!” Maybe this would go to prove Negativland’s point: Mainstream media has the grip. They have the science that keeps me coming back for more, even when I know it’s bad for me.

So as not to feel like a complete junkie, I faced my television towards the wall. No more of that for a while. I would have thrown it out the window but I thought maybe that would be a bad idea. I might not feel so radical tomorrow… And how would I explain that to the parents? I’d catch shit for years. Better just face it towards the wall.


Plato Paper Notes

Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Specific points of criticism in Meta bk 1 ch 4:

987b12-16: Plato says that ever-changing perceptible things participate in unchanging forms, but he fails to define “participating” for us. This participation must happen, according to Plato, because a thing itself cannot possess its own definition since it is always changing. That definition must be found elsewhere — in the Forms.

988a3-8: In the Platonist’s view, many things are made out of matter, but the Form generates only once. The contrary is true: A thing is made out of one bit of matter, but the Form can generate many instances of itself. He compares this to the act of copulation. The male, the symbolic provider of form, can impregnate many females. He ddoesn’t explicitly say this, but the female symbolizes matter because she can only carry one form at a time (once pregnant, she cannot be made pregnant again).

I’m not sure how mathematical objects fit into this argument. I think it hinges on how he uses the terms “matter” and “substance.”

“Matter” is the stuff out of which something is made. The table is made out of wood. There is a hierarchy inherent in this that leads to the Prime Matter out of which everything is made.

Substance is the definition of something, more than just its constiuent parts. This can also be referred to as “essence.” There’s more to this that I don’t understand.

But back to the mathematical objects behind the criticism. Jesus fuck. This second paragraph is impenetrable and I’m moving on…


Portable Josh

Monday, May 1, 2000

It’s the middle of the night and I guess I should be getting a good night’s sleep for my test. Anyway, I just had an interesting thought…

The power just went out at the co-op for, oh, about a minute, at most. There’s a light thunderstorm outside so there’s no surprise, really. Anyway, my alarm clock was reset and my first thought was, sheesh! Good thing I’m awake now or I would have slept right through work and who knows what else. But then I thought, no. I’ve got my cell phone set up with an alarm to wake me (several, in fact), and my laptop is, well, a laptop. I don’t actually need the power company for anything. Quite a concept — the powerless home. Or rather, the wall-socketless home.

It pleases me to think of this. I’ve got the cell phone to provide me with phone service without having a ground line (I never intend to get one — ever), and now I realize that I have the basic tools to operate without ground power, either, except for the occasional charge, which I can get at an coffee shop in town gratis.

So that’s it — Josh’s own brand of DistroPose. Except my DistroPose isn’t so much about distributed possessions as much as it’s about possessions not tied to the earth. Simple possessions. I’m not ready to reduce my life to a single trunk quite yet, but I think I’m building up to the point where I can have a home homebase and afford myself the freedom to travel with everything I need to get work done and do all of the other chores one would normally associate with staying at home.

Well, I guess I can’t feed the dog or play with the future kids or anything. But a boy’s gotta dream about something, right? Um…


CSound Book

Saturday, April 29, 2000

So I’ve got the new CSound book from now. I’ve had it for several weeks, actually, but I’ve really been diging into this last week.

My big discovery in it has been the technique of “granular synthesis.” I’m not exactly sure how it works yet, but apparently any sound can be described as a mutlitude of little sonic “grains.” A grain is just a wave with an envelope so short that, when strung together, individual envelopes are imperceptible — like individual frames on a film strip.

CSound has a couple of different opcodes to help create granularly synthesized sounds. I haven’t experimented with these much yet, but once I get a better grasp of what’s going on I most certainly will. They’ll be posted on my upcoming CSound page, for those of you who are watching from home.

An important thing about CSound for me is its ability to create sounds that are impossible to make with normal synth gear. Granular synthesis seems to be a good way to do that — although the examples from my book that I’ve heard so far really all sound either like a regular noise generator or a sample-and-hold filter. But I think there’s potential for granular synthesis to do much more.

One thing I think will be freaky will be applying granular synthesis to a long sample, maybe of someone speaking. I don’t understand the process exactly, but I gather that one can use granular synthesis to randomly rearrange chunks of an incoming sample. With normal little granules, you’d probably get more noise or sample-and-hold sounds, but with big grains, you might be able to achieve a strange effect where the individual phonemes of speech remain intelligible, but being rearranged are totally unintelligible together. I don’t know yet. Requires experimentation.

That’s all for now in this very first real post in Josh Knowles’ brand new Blogger log.


The Listening Habits of Mr. Knowles

Monday, February 17, 1997

Hey, I’m just not one to let a week pass without buying a new CD. I have my excuse: I write music, I need to study it, right? UT doesn’t offer any courses on the music of Richard James (AFX, the Aphex Twin, Polygon Window, or whatever else he calls himself these days), the Pet Shop Boys, or Phish, so I’m forced out on my own. So what do I listen to? Read below. This is by no means a list of all good music out there, but it’s a good start. :-)

I’m not going to go through all of these groups looking for good links to sites about them (sorry). If you’re curious, though, check the Ultimate Band List or just use Yahoo!… They’re about the same in quality, one just tries to be a little hipper about it (guess which).

These are all LPs unless otherwise noted and albums by a single group or person are arranged roughly chronologically from earliest to latest.

The List

  • The Aphex Twin
    • Selected Ambient Works Volume II (Double LP)
    • …I Care Because You Do
    • On (Single)
    • Ventolin (Single)
    • Richard D. James
  • Autechre
    • Incunabula
    • Tri Repetae (Double LP)
  • The Beatles
    • Greatest Hits - 1967-1970 (Double LP)
  • Beck
    • Odelay
  • The Benny Goodman Orchestra
    • Hits
  • Better Than Ezra
    • Deluxe
  • Björk
    • Post
  • The Chemical Brothers
    • Exit Planet Dust
    • Setting Sun (Single)
  • Collective Soul
    • Collective Soul
  • Counting Crows
    • August and Everything After
  • The Cranberries
    • No Need to Argue
  • The Crash Test Dummies
    • God Shuffled His Feet
  • The Cure
    • Mixed Up
    • Wild Mood Swings
  • Deep Forest
    • Boheme
  • Depeche Mode
    • Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts) (Single)
    • Blasphemous Rumours (Single)
    • 101 (Double LP)
    • Violator
    • Songs of Faith and Devotion
    • Barrel of a Gun (Single)
  • Deus Ex Machina
    • Deus Ex Machina
  • The Doors
    • The Doors
  • Enigma
    • MCMXC a.D.
    • The Eyes of Truth (Single)
    • Beyond the Invisible (Single)
  • Enya
    • The Memory of Trees
  • Erasure
    • ABBA-esque (EP)
    • Pop!
    • I Say I Say I Say
    • Always (Single)
    • I Love Saturday (Single)
    • I Love Saturday (EP)
    • Erasure
    • Stay With Me (Single)
  • Folk Explosion
    • Natural One (Single)
  • Front 242
    • Front by Front
    • 05:22:09:12 Off
    • 06:21:03:11 Up Evil
  • The Future Sound of London
    • Dead Cities
  • Garbage
    • Garbage
  • Green Day
    • Dookie
  • Hardkiss
    • Delusions of Grandeur (Double LP)
  • Killing Joke
    • Pandemonium
    • Light (Single)
    • Nihil
    • Juke Joint Jezebel (The Giorgio Morodor Mixes) (Single)
    • XTORT
  • Led Zeppelin
    • IV
  • Little Sister
    • Little Sister
  • Luna
    • Penthouse
  • Luscious Jackson
    • Fever In Fever Out
  • Massive Attack
    • Blue Lines
    • Protection
    • Sly (Single)
  • Moby
    • Every Time You Touch Me (Single)
  • My Bloody Valentine
    • Loveless
  • New Order
    • Republic
    • Best Of
  • Nine Inch Nails
    • Down In It (Single)
    • Pretty Hate Machine
    • Head Like a Hole (Single)
    • Sin (Single)
    • Broken (EP)
    • Fixed (EP)
    • March of the Pigs (Single)
    • The Downward Spiral
    • Closer to God (Single)
    • Further Down the Spiral
  • The Orb
    • Orbvs Terrarvm
  • Passengers
    • Original Soundtracks 1
  • Pearl Jam
    • Ten
    • Jeremy (Single)
    • Vitalogy
  • The Pet Shop Boys
    • Discography
    • Very
    • Go West (Single)
    • Disco 2
    • Alternative (Double LP)
    • Bilingual
    • Before (Single)
  • Phish
    • Hoist
  • Pink Floyd
    • Pulse (Double LP)
  • The Pizzicato Five
    • The Sound of Music
    • Sister Freedom Tapes
  • Polygon Window
    • (Quoth) (Single)
  • Pop Will Eat Itself
    • Amalgamation (EP)
  • Primitive Radio Gods
    • Rocket
  • Primus
    • Tales from the Punch Bowl
  • The Prodigy
    • Music for the Jilted Generation
  • Simon and Garfunkel
    • Greatest Hits
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
    • Siamese Dream
    • Pisces Iscariot
  • Soundgarden
    • Superunknown
  • Stereolab
    • Mars Audiac Quintet
    • Emperor Tomato Ketchup
  • Strange Cargo
    • Hinterland
  • They Might Be Giants
    • Flood
    • Why Does the Sun Shine? (EP)
    • Back to Skull (EP)
    • John Henry
    • Factory Showroom
  • Torch Song
    • Toward the Unknown Region
  • Underworld
    • dubnobasswithmyheadman
  • U2
    • The Joshua Tree
    • Achtung Baby
  • Weezer
    • Weezer
  • When In Rome
    • When in Rome


Dead Cities

Monday, February 17, 1997

The Future Sound of London — Dead Cities… The soundtrack to every postmodern urban thriller you’ve never seen. Imagine running through the dark back alleys of London sometime around 2050. It’s about 2 in the morning, and a thick mist of British fog sits in the air, but the metallic hum of traffic congestion and flickering neon is still inescapable. This CD comprises not songs, but an unending texture of drum beats, scraping synths, the occasional choral escape, and an ever-present murky urban rumble. It’s to be taken in like a movie — turn off the lights (most of them), and pop this baby in loud. Mmm… Pure escapism.

Check out my CD collection. How does yours compare, eh?



Sunday, February 16, 1997

Call me barbaric or thoughtless, but for the longest time poetry really never did anything for me. I read the words and knew what they meant, yeah, and could interpret meaning and all that jazz, but poetry never struck me in that deep recess of my soul that other modes of art such as music and visual art did. Maybe it’s because I’m forcing my mind open to everything right now trying to get as much out this canned College Experiencetm as I possibly can, or maybe it’s a sign of some sort of mental maturation (is that a word?), but I’ve found a poet whose works do mean more to me than the words their written with: Elizabeth Bishop. Now, I’m not yet an Elizabeth Bishop expert. In fact, I would say that I’m still not really someone who’se going to be able to discuss her work well. I’m not only naive to who she is, but to what poetry really is (meaning: what it is more than just words on paper). Give me a few years, decades, a lifetime and maybe I’ll feel more secure about it, but until then, how ‘bout a poem? Click right here

Note that it’s in the sestina format. I like this over rhyming structures because it’s a little more subtle. It achieves a certain rhythm by highlighting particular words which are forced to be repeated in a way which is not always obvious. I guess I can’t argue that this is somehow a superior format to rhyming poetry, but I think a sestina allows a little more elegance by suppressing the structure, allowing the meaning to come through with a gentle stroke of form. See how I called myself naive to poetry in the above paragraph? Proof right here.

Now I’m beginning to try and write my own poetry. Maybe I’ll put some up here when I’m feeling better about it — I’m still trying to make absolute damned sure that I am not writing bad teen angst poems.



Saturday, February 15, 1997

I found an old typewriter at work a few days ago — a Selectric II (a business machine, I suppose) by none other than IBM. It’s not in real good shape. Some of the letters don’t work predictably, the space bar always double types, and the carriage return never quite returns to carriage to its proper position at the beginning of the new line, but it has what no computer does: writer’s ambience. Yes, I push the little on button to the right of the keys and stick in a fresh sheet of paper and the words just flow! The first two sheets I typed weren’t full of real good or particularly sensical words, but they were there.

Josh waxes philosophic on the matter. It felt so pure. The fact that it sometimes worked unpredictably (see above) removed the anxiety of putting the words onto the paper and not having them be immediately perfect. (Sure, not a problem for most, but for perfectionists like myself…) I could write a stupid sentence or two, and many, many, many sentences of questionable grammar (note most in this tirade) without having to worry about it. I was every novelist, journalist, and playwrite before the advent of the godlike box, err, computer. Well, maybe not. Suffice it to say that I felt quite liberated that afternoon.

So, now I’ve got a goal — to get myself a good ol’ used typewriter. I want manual, despite the warnings that typing on a manual is like driving without power steering. The Selectric II purred at me softly like my computer: bad. I want something that will sit there, still, quite, and force me to keep what I say on the paper. None of this going back and editting bullshit until the whole thing is completed. I’m not going Luddite here, don’t worry. I still understand the uses of typing on a computer. (Hey, guess what I’m typing this on!) And what else am I going to play Redneck Rampage on? But I need a typewriter…