Book: “Global Tribe: Technology, Spirituality and Psytrance” by Graham St. John

Front Cover

Equinox, 2012 – Music – 392 pages

Trance events have an uncanny ability to capture an era, and captivate an audience of travellers occupying the eternal theatre of the dance floor. As this book shows, the tendency within psytrance is to thwart the passage of time, to prolong the night, for those who adopt a liminal lifestyle. Amid the hustle and hubris of the psytrance carnival there is a peaceful repose that you sometimes catch when you’ve drifted into a sea of outstretched limbs, bodies swaying like a field of sunflowers in a light breeze. And you feel intense joy in this fleeting moment. You are the moment. You are inside the flow. You are all. Embodying the poetry of dance, you are living evidence that nothing lasts. And this is a deep revelation of the mystical function of trance. It is difficult to emerge from this little death, because one does not want the party to end. But it must end, even so that it can recommence-so that one can return to repeat the cycle. The result of fifteen years of research in over a dozen countries, this book applies a sharp lens on a little understood global dance culture that has mushroomed all over the world since its beginnings in the diverse psychedelic music scenes flourishing in Goa in the 1970s and 1980s. The paramount expression of this movement has been the festival, from small parties to major international events such as Portugal’s Boom Festival, which promotes itself as a world-summit of visionary arts and trance, a “united tribe of the world.” Via first-hand accounts of the scenes, events and music of psychedelic trance in Australia, Israel, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US, Turkey and other places, the book thoroughly documents this transnational movement with its diverse aesthetic roots, multiple national translations and internal controversies. As a multi-sited ethnography and an examination of the digital, chemical, cyber and media assemblage constituting psytrance, the book explores the integrated role that technology and spirituality have played in the formation of this visionary arts movement and shows how these event-cultures accommodate rites of risk and consciousness, a complex circumstance demanding revision of existing approaches to ritual, music and culture.

(Google Books — recommended by Robert McEwen, H.W., M.)

The Buddhist take on happiness, civilization and the masses

“Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.”

–Ajahn Chah, meditation master, Wat Pa pong, Thailand

“We do not believe that people are good because we see that they are good, but by believing that people are good we eliminate our own fear and thus we can intimately associate with them.  To believe in the compassionate power of the Supreme Being which we cannot see is a discipline in order to believe in the invisible good in others.

“Civilization has nothing to do with having electric lights, airplanes, or manufacturing atomic bombs.  it has nothing to do with killing human beings, destroying things or waging war.  Civilization is to hold one another in mutual affection and respect.”

–Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii

“The masses have their heads on backwards.  If you want to get things right, first look at how they think and behave, and consider going the opposite way.”

–Lama Drom Tonpa, eleventh century

(Source:  Living Religions by Mary Pat Fisher)

Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming | Nick Hanauer

Published on Aug 12, 2014

Nick Hanauer is a rich guy, an unrepentant capitalist — and he has something to say to his fellow plutocrats: Wake up! Growing inequality is about to push our societies into conditions resembling pre-revolutionary France. Hear his argument about why a dramatic increase in minimum wage could grow the middle class, deliver economic prosperity … and prevent a revolution.

Watch more TED Talks on inequality:

Book: “The Journal of Albion Moonlight” by Kenneth Patchen

“The question is not: do we believe in God? but rather: does God believe in us? And the answer is: only an unbeliever could have created our image of God; and only a false God could be satisfied with it.”
― Kenneth PatchenThe Journal of Albion Moonlight

The Journal of Albion Moonlight

by Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen sets off on an allegorical journey of his own in which the far boundaries of love and murder, madness and sex are sensually explored. His is the tale of a disordered pilgrimage to H. Roivas (Heavenly Savior) in which the deranged responses of individuals point up the outer madness from which they derive in a more imaginative way that social protest generally allows.Like Camus, Kenneth Patchen is anti-cool, anti-hip, anti-beat.


Almost Naked Man in Vatican Nativity Scene

Controversy erupts over a queer Nativity scene every year at Christmastime. In 2017 the debate focuses on a semi-naked man in a Vatican Nativity and two pink-robed Josephs set up as lawn ornaments with the baby Jesus in a Los Angeles yard.

Critics attacked the gay implications of a new Nativity scene at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican this month.  They blasted it as “sacrilegious,” “fiendish” and “a lobbying tool for the homosexual rights movement.” The innovative Nativity shows a semi-naked man to illustrate the charitable act of clothing the naked. It was donated by the Abbey of Montevergine, which has special significance to the LGBTQ community. According to legend, the Madonna of Montevergine miraculously freed a homosexual couple after they were tied to a tree and left to die the winter of 1256. Pros and cons are presented in the new reports reports such as:

Pro: Is this the gayest nativity scene ever created by the Vatican? (

Anti: “Vatican’s ‘sexually suggestive’ nativity has troubling ties to Italy’s LGBT activists.” (

“The Consolation of Philosophy” by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

The Consolation of Philosophy

The Consolation of Philosophy

by BoethiusVictor Watts (Goodreads Author) (Translator)

Boethius was an eminent public figure under the Gothic emperor Theodoric, and an exceptional Greek scholar. When he became involved in a conspiracy and was imprisoned in Pavia, it was to the Greek philosophers that he turned. THE CONSOLATION was written in the period leading up to his brutal execution. It is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing prisoner and his ‘nurse’ Philosophy. Her instruction on the nature of fortune and happiness, good and evil, fate and free will, restore his health and bring him to enlightenment. THE CONSOLATION was extremely popular throughout medieval Europe and his ideas were influential on the thought of Chaucer and Dante.  (

Link to 78-page text:

(Recommended by Richard Branam.)


To quote Mike Zonta, H.W., M., “Translation is ‘magical thinking’  based on self-evident axioms and syllogistic reasoning (which is so say that Translation is not magical thinking at all).”  And to quote Heather Williams, H.W., M., “Translation is the creative process of re-engineering the outdated software of your mind.” Translation  is a 5-step process using words and their meanings and histories to transform the testimony of the senses and uncover  the underlying timeless reality of the Universe.

Sense testimony:

Aspects of individuality may be toxic to the group.

For Christmas: The Berlin Freedom Concert, 1989: Bernstein Conducting the Glorious Ninth, Including the “Ode to Freedom”

The year 2017 marks the twenty-eighth anniversary (astrologers please note!) of the fall of the Berlin Wall during the annus mirabilis of 1989.  On Christmas Eve, Leonard Bernstein conducted Beethoven‘s Ninth Symphony in the western part of that formerly divided city.  Then, on Christmas Day, the concert was repeated in the eastern sector, and televised all over the world.

Here is a video of that performance:

As noted in the commentary, the orchestra, aside from German musicians, included players from the UK, the US, France, and the USSR – the four great powers whose armed presences still had yet to be withdrawn from Berlin.  Also novel is the inclusion of children’s voices in the choir.

But the most extraordinary aspect of this performance is the one change Bernstein felt called on to make in Friedrich Schiller ‘s “An die Freude” (“Ode to Joy”), Beethoven’s setting of which is the basis of the fourth movement, and indeed the whole point, of the Ninth Symphony.  There is a myth, even a somewhat valid speculation, that Schiller originally wanted to publish an “An die Freiheit” (“Ode to Freedom”), but was kept from doing so by the political climate of his times.  There is also speculation that the idea of an ode to freedom is what attracted Beethoven to the poem in the first place, possibly making the German word for joy, freude, a coded message of freedom (in German, freiheit) – something in which Beethoven believed very strongly.  For the two performances in Berlin just after the Wall came down, Bernstein had the singers substitute the word “freiheit” (“freedom”) for “freude” (“joy”), to recognize and celebrate the end of that oppressive structure, making this, as the commentary puts it, a “Freedom Concert” indeed…

It must also be noted that the Ninth Symphony is in the key of d-minor, normally considered a “sad” key, as noted by Claudio below.  So where does Joy or Freedom enter in?  Well – and I think this is also the point –the Ninth Symphony actually ends up in D-Major, generally considered a “happy” key.  So, like many pieces by Beethoven, the Ninth Symphony is, in the words of the English (Liverpudlian!) conductor Simon Rattle, “a journey from darkness into light”.


I still remember this performance from when it was first televised.  The sheer emotionality of the performance, the sense of relief and happiness, indeed of both joy and freedom, at the end of a decades-long nightmare, is still palpable.  All the performers are putting everything they have into it.

When I listened to this performance again a couple of nights ago,  something very strange happened – or perhaps I saw some aspects of it that had heretofore escaped my notice:

I found the opening of the first movement appropriately eerie, even spooky, and settled in expecting to be thrilled.  But then, a while later, I found myself thinking that, if I’d been conducting, I’d’ve taken the whole thing at a somewhat faster tempo.  The music seemed to call out for a lot more oomph – one might even say a certain kind of swing.  I kept on thinking the same thing all through the second movement as well.  I began to wonder why exactly I’d found this performance so remarkable back in 1989, other than because of its historic context.

Then, before the start of the the start of the third movement, the slow movement – at about thirty-five minutes into the performance on this video, with almost an hour left to go – the  the four vocal soloists take their places and there is a certain amount of switching of chairs among the musicians.  It is clear that Bernstein is going to go directly from the third movement into the Finale, skipping any kind of pause.

Once everyone and everything is in place and ready to go, Bernstein stands very still, eyes shut, leaning back against the railing behind him.  Certainly he’s girding himself for the final effort – there’s still a lot of very vigorous music to get through.  But, in watching this performance again, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that some still small voice was telling him, “That’s all fine and well, Lenny.  But still pretty conventional.  You’ve got to pull it together, make this night something really special.”

What follows is remarkable.  Bernstein takes the slow movement really slow – slower than I’ve ever hear it played – before or since.  But instead of falling apart, as one might expect, the music enters a realm of calm and serenity that is hard to describe.  The Finale follows directly, and continues on the same level of the sublime.  In particular, the moment when the bass soloist sings, almost shouting, “FREIHEIT!” (“FREEDOM!”) at the top of his lungs, and the following variations on the Ode for the chorus and vocal soloists, sound to me, even all these many years later, like a great cry of defiance (and triumph!), and are enough to bring tears to these jaded old eyes.

The way Bernstein and his assembled forces handle the second part of the Finale, wherein the music becomes more and more chromatic and moves much more slowly, also deserves mention.  I’ve always had a problem with this part of the Ninth, being so enamored of the rousing melody of the Ode and its variations, but, watching and listening to this performance again, I began to see this slower section in a whole different way.  For a long time, I’d been thinking of it as “star music”, enjoying its increasing chromaticism while still having trouble connecting to it the way I did with the previous section.  This time I realized this slower part of the Finale was actually a matter of “beyond-the-stars” music – music which models the act of piercing the dome of the heavens, of transcending “normal reality”, to reveal the dwelling place of God – the shimmering presence, “under and back of the universe of time, space, and change” (as Thane used to put it), of the Divine.

At the very end, the performance over, Bernstein stands there very still, and for quite a while, before taking any bows.  He looks exhausted of course, but also like a man completely fulfilled – like someone who’s finally accomplished everything he’s set out to do in life.  And indeed, Bernstein passed away less than a year later.

Finally, I must say something about the poor vocal soloists.  If it sounds like they’re straining, it’s because they are.  In Beethoven’s day, orchestras were tuned to a considerably lower pitch.  Also, if there was an envelope around, Beethoven was going to push it, so he wrote some very high and challenging parts for this symphony.  Sadly the comfortable ranges of human voices has remained about the same, so modern-day singers of the Ninth are required to maneuver at the very top of their ranges; this is particularly hard on tenors


On a more sombre note, and because the readership of this blog consists mainly of Prosperos – who have an extreme aversion to any kind of sugar coating of reality – said readership is invited to look closely at the documentary footage at the beginning of this video – at the footage of the Berlin Wall being dismantled.   Notice the structure of that wall, how it is put together – particularly its cross section, with its rounded tube-like top.  Then compare those images to the proposed designs for the wall certain people are getting ready to erect along the southern border of our own country – supposedly to protect us from the Mexicans.  Then be reminded that the Berlin Wall had an official name, given to it by those who inflicted it on the world: “The Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart”.

After that, a certain amount of questioning and reflection may be in order…


Merry Christmas!