Humans will soon have new bodies that forever blur the line between the natural and synthetic worlds, says bionics designer Hugh Herr. In an unforgettable talk, he details “NeuroEmbodied Design,” a methodology for creating cyborg function that he’s developing at MIT, and shows us a future where we’ve augmented our bodies in a way that will redefine human potential — and, maybe, turn us into superheroes. “During the twilight years of this century, I believe humans will be unrecognizable in morphology and dynamics from what we are today,” Herr says. “Humanity will take flight and soar.”
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Hugh Herr · Bionics designer
At MIT, Hugh Herr builds prosthetic knees, legs and ankles that fuse biomechanics with microprocessors to restore (and perhaps enhance) normal gait, balance and speed.
On Friday June 1st at ACIM Gather on Paltalk 3pm Pacific time 6 pm Eastern Time. Please join us for an hour of discovery and fellowship.
Human decency is much different than political philosophies and personal morality. On NPR a woman who is a political strategist made the statement that Roseanne Barr’s Twitter had nothing to do with politics but was a statement of inhumanity that she (Rosanne Barr) lacked the humane decency toward another (paraphrasing). This is an important idea in my opinion. Political leanings should have nothing to do with decency, humanness, and basic moral character.
Each of us sees life differently, according to how we were taught as children and the basic dynamic of our families. Our differences at all levels are to be celebrated, not judged in such a manner as leaving us demeaned. Morality and the embracing of humanity can’t be taught. It is, I believe, an internal gyroscope of life’s direction. Instinctively we know to preserve life and embrace the beauty of diverseness in our environment. Each rose is slightly different as each puppy from the same parents has different looks and personalities. These differences are the very bases for infinite variety we know to be so about the nature of reality. Only by cooperating with the differences in any system is life preserved. Darwin’s survival of the most fit does not deal with strength but is a statement of those capable of fitting into systems and working with in a system. This however, does not eliminate the rogue mind or the artistic and intellectual endeavor to explore outside the boxes.
All systems tend to weaken if they are not infused with new ideas and diversion. If we look back on history we can find many examples where systems and plans failed not because they were wrong or bad, but because they became stale and weakened in their ability to accept new and different into the system and adapt as needed.
Part of survival and humanness is being able to think abstractly in such a manner as to step aside from what we have been taught and to see what is necessary for us to move forward and preserve life in a manner that embraces the basic inalienable rights of all life. This moment where we step outside of our family background, our personal prejudices, our ego minds desire to always be right is our rogue mind. Our rogue mind reaches out to the Universe in search of the new and the miracles of life unfolding. Miracles don’t happen if we are incapable of being decent toward all life. We miss the beauty and excitement the eternal hope and faith of life continuing. We miss the joy of a rose unfolding in the morning dew and sun, of a new life of all sorts being born… all giving us a kind of sustenance that is particular to those who set aside judgment of good and bad, of black and white, and look with love into the great unbounded whole we call the Universe.
No matter what our gender, our belief about gender, and sexuality, our religious/spiritual and political beliefs we are united as life. Expressing in infinite variety created out of life embracing life in a moment of creation.
No matter what your story, you were conceived in a phenomenal moment where time, space, and life stood still. A moment of love, and in this we are given insight into decency, morality, and humanness.
This SagittariusFull Moon is a call to adventure and initiation into greater truth and freedom. Opposing the Sunis Gemini — the light of the mind — the fiery SagittariusMoon illuminates our soul’s wisdom, the knowing we carry in our hearts and in our bodies. This Full Moon also inspires a higher perspective on our life’s path, allowing for new possibilities as we create our future.
Adding fuel to the Sagittarius fire, the Moon forms a grand trine with Chiron in Aries and the North Node in Leo. Fire can burn away illusion, and the truth that emerges has the power to heal. We liberate the healing gifts of this trine when we trust and act on our inner guidance, and share our truth with love and vulnerability. Physical movement can be especially helpful now; if you’re feeling stuck, go for a walk or a run — dance or stretch.
Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius, is retrograde in Scorpio, suggesting that the fierce fire activated by this Full Moon is best channeled into confronting our own inner demons. We’re called into our emotional depths to uncover and face our fears, and root out the belief systems that hold us back.Byron Katie’s four questions essential to “The Work” — the work of freeing ourselves from the mind’s limitations — can be useful now. For any thought that triggers an emotional reaction, we can ask: “Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?Who would you be without the thought?”(http://thework.com)
Jupiter’s trine to Neptune in Pisces opens doorways to higher consciousness. Our receptivity to the invisible, subtle realms is heightened, and our dreams and intuition have important messages for us. We can make strong progress in our spiritual understanding and growth, and it’s helpful to take time for rest, meditation, and just being. Venusoccupies a third water sign, Cancer, forming a water grand trine that facilitates emotional and sexual expression and intimacy.
Reinforcing the inward pull of Jupiter retrograde, Mars, ruler of Scorpio, has entered its retrograde shadow as of May 12. We’re already starting to feel the influence of Mars retrograde (June 26 – August 27), a time to slow down, rethink our desires and direction, and regenerate our vitality. Mars conjoins the South Node in Aquarius, indicating a loss of vitality and power when we try to force our ideas on others, follow the dictates of our mind rather than our heart, or sacrifice our authenticity to be accepted by others.
Retrograde Saturn in Capricorn reminds us that our happiness doesn’t depend on outer circumstances, but that we have the authority to determine our inner state through our mind’s interpretation of events. While Saturn’s strength at the Full Moon can stir up fear, triggering the urge to control the flow of life and shut down our heart, we can access this lunation’s higher potential through trust and surrender. “In surrender, life is served up in perfection you couldn’t imagine with the controlling mind. Surrender assumes that the highest possible outcome has already been selected by your essence and that you are experiencing exactly what your soul intends, no matter how you think it looks.” (Ariel Spilsbury)
Written by Emily Trinkaus for the Mountain Astrologer Magazine
A Full Moon symbolizes the fulfillment of the seeds planted at a previous New Moon or some earlier cycle. Each Full Moon reminds us of the seeds that may be coming to maturity, to their fullness, to fruition, to the place where the fruits or gifts are received. It may seem that fulfillment of our goals takes a long time. Some intentions may manifest within the two week phase prior to the next New or Full Moon. Some however, depending on their complexity, may take a much longer time. Just remember that our thoughts and emotions set Universal Action in motion and much work takes place behind the scenes as everything is orchestrated for fulfillment. Keep visualizing your goals as though you have already attained them and they will eventually manifest. Do not concern yourself with current conditions or worry about controlling it. The universe takes care of those details. Just keep seeing what you want, and move in that direction with your actions, and give no energy to what you don’t want. Patience is required.
Thursday, April 26, marked the passing of my good friend Charles Neville. Here is the remarkable piece “Healing Chant”, featuring Charles on soprano sax, for which the Neville Brothers won a Grammy in 1989:
I call Charles my good friend, even though it’s hardly as if we were ever really that close – at least in the conventional sense. It’s only that I felt a strong affinity for him, a deep connection, and could always sense that he could feel something along those lines too. Our friendship was something which was just there, and enduring, however much or little actual conversation ever took place.
Recently I was chatting with one of the many friends Charles and I had in common. We were talking about regrets. I found myself bemoaning the fact that I’d fallen so short in getting to know Charles any better, in spending more time with him. Then I realized, and said, that, if Charles were around today, he’d say something along the lines of, “It’s OK. We had what we had. We connected. We understood each other. That’s what’s important. More than time spent, or ‘knowing someone well…'”
I think this all has to do with the nature of Charles Neville – that he was, in a sense, everybody’s friend. After all, this was a person who once said, quoting the Dalai Lama, “Loving kindness is my religion.”
As to the actual music of “Healing Chant”: it won the Grammy Award that year for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” – I think because this was the only category it could even vaguely be shoehorned into. It could just as easily be called Jazz, World Music, West African, New Orleans Funk, or any number of other things – or combinations of things…
Students of the creative process will be interested to hear something about the genesis of “Healing Chant”. The soprano sax line was freely improvised by Charles over an already-recorded background, in what he – and everyone else present that day – thought was just a kind of “practice run”. But then, once he’d finished, what he’d done was so good – so exquisite, so sensitive, so sublime – that they decided they just had to keep it.
Students of music will probably want to note how Charles’s melodic phrases tend to end on some pretty extraordinary “spots” – hardly what one would expect from what’s come before – thus stretching the otherwise static harmony into a myriad of different directions and implications. Also noteworthy is Charles’s frequent use of whole tone scales – hardly something one would expect to find in the “pop” field (if indeed this music really belongs in the “pop” field at all…) – giving his long spooling-out melody a mysterious floating quality. Further, Charles makes truly masterful use of silence – of the pauses and spaces between phrases – in effect “playing the silence”* as much as the tones (and, as Miles Davis once said, “…sometimes those silences can get pretty loud…”).
The graphics accompanying this recording are also remarkable: an orange-gold moon transforms itself gradually into black and silver, then into a sunburst, a rose, drum-heads, then back into the moon – but a different moon than before.
All of which is appropriate on a whole ‘nother level, since Charles was a longtime practicing Buddhist. And this may be something of a tangent, but I feel it bears mentioning here that Charles was also someone who ultimately conquered a highly recalcitrant addiction (to heroin), a master of Tai Chi, a painter (plus drawings, too!), and a very gifted and wryly humorous raconteur (I would read his autobiography, if such a thing ever came out, in a New York minute…).
The music of the Neville Brothers has been described as a fusion of “…rhythm and blues, gospel, doo-wop, rock, blues, soul, jazz, funk and New Orleans’s own parade and Mardi Gras rhythms, in songs that mingled a party spirit with social consciousness…” (Jon Pareles’s obituary for Charles in the New York Times). Within this amalgamation of various sounds Charles supplied much of the jazz element, plus a center of calmness and serenity.
But Charles also worked on a good many side projects of his own –
One of which I remember in particular was a band he called Diversity, which I was fortunate enough to see and hear one afternoon at the NOJHF (this would have been sometime during the early Eighties, if memory serves…). And Diversity certainly lived up to its name, including both jazz and classical players, black and white, men and women. The rhythm section of Diversity consisted of the normal bass and drums, as you’d find in most Jazz bands, but, instead of a piano, Diversity had a harpist (I think this was the classical player Rachel Van Voorhees…) and a steel drummer (Gregory Boyd?), who were somehow able to meld their two highly diverse instruments into one sound. Superimposed on that foundation was a front line of Charles doubling on alto and soprano saxophones, a trumpet player, and a violinist – this last thus giving the nod both to classical music and to western swing. The trumpet player was a study in herself: young woman whose name escapes me, wearing a short black tight miniskirt and mid-calf boots, who drove the crowd wild with the hotness of her playing (though I think bare knees and thighs, deployed in highly sensuous – and very sexy – dance moves as she played, may have had something to do with that too…).
Also, I would be thoroughly remiss if I left out Charles’s involvement with the Jazz Poetry Group (JPG) during the late Seventies. The JPG was, as I understand it, the brainchild of bassist Ramsey McLean (also a composer, songwriter, poet, and novelist), and featured: Ramsey on bass, Charles on saxophones (mostly alto); Ron Cuccia (“The Ezra Pound of the Neutral Ground†”), speaking/reading his own poetry; Leigh (“Little Queenie”) Harris, (sung) vocals; John Magnie, piano; and Ricky Sebastian, drums. They put out only one album – produced, as I recall, by the legendary Cosimo Matassa – which they recorded over two nights at the Contemporary Arts Center in front of live audiences. I was lucky enough to be in attendance on one of those concerts, and it was one of the most amazing Jazz performances I’ve ever heard. Looking back, I think this was because everyone was young and in their most prime form, full of hope for the future, pushing the limits while also drawing extensively on many long deep traditions. There was also the push-pull of the deeply spoken/intoned poetry – at times pretty sombre – in the male voice, with the high spritely lyrical singing of the female voice, and the activation of both the sensual and the imaginative aesthetic centers by the conjunction of music with poetry. And to make things even more interesting, the music included a whole lot of original compositions of the highest quality; I remember especially a piece by Ramsey McLean – “Requiem for the Living”, written just after the death of his father – over which Ron Cuccia read a poem about his own visions of horses. Sadly though, the JPG faded away shortly after that, their album seems to have become exceedingly rare, and information about them very hard to come by. The only presence of the JPG on YouTube is the one single they released – the song “My Darlin’ New Orleans” (words: Cuccia; music: Neville/McLean) – which is really worth a listen, since it captures something of the delight and exuberance of New Orleans during the Seventies and features a short but sweet solo by Charles; hear it here.
Yet another project Charles was involved with fairly late in his life, and which I wish I could have heard, is that he played in a band led by avant garde veteran Archie Shepp on a tour of North Africa. Oh to have been privileged to listen to even just one set of such music…
For more information on Charles Neville, including transcripts of some of his stories, a live recording of “Healing Chant”, and a discussion of Charles’s final album, Safe in Buddha’s Palm, click on this page of the website for Gwen Thompkins’s radio program Music Inside Out. Also, an hour-log interview, vividly showcasing Charles’s considerable talents as a raconteur and his wry sense of humor, can be accessed by clicking on the orange arrow just below the title (this interview also contains a more detailed account, told by Charles himself, of the of how “Healing Chant” came about…). Finally, for those who wish to pursue deeper listening, there’s also a link to a playlist of all the music discussed in the interview.
For more recordings and videos by or featuring Charles Neville on YouTube, click here.
(Photo credit: Matt Anderson)
* Props to Andrea Skinner, whom many of the BB readership may remember with great fondness, for articulating this concept for me…
† “Neutral ground” is the term for “median strip” in the language of the New Orleanians.
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