Essay: A reflection on Dead Cities

Author: Alan Walker 18 November 2008

As I approach the end of the book, "Dead Cities", I marvel at Mike Davis' intellect. He can impart clarity to notoriously difficult academic topics: cosmology, plate tectonics, planetary evolution and has an arsenal of cross topic analogies to draw parallels between the theories of creation with the mental hypothesis of philosophers. Take for instance (in the essay "Cosmic Dangers on History's Stage?") his comparison between Hegel's "bad infinity" and the causal relationships and resonances that shape meteoric impact cycles. Looking on the www for an expansion of the Hegel quote, I found this linked conceptual point "The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. The ceaseless activity of their own inherent nature makes these stages moments of an organic unity, where they not merely do not contradict one another, but where one is as necessary as the other; and constitutes thereby the life of the whole". There is apparent linearity in the sequence with linkage to the seasons with availability of light heat and water as sub-systems. Are these the resonance that the theorist Shaw in his rambling text "Craters, Cosmos, and Chronicles" relates to the meteor impact cycles, expanded to a cosmic scale, and reliant on the unique events that shape and position Earth in the Universe? It seems so to me. Everything connected, but the connections sometimes misleading when simple answers are sought. No wonder man of old took refuge in magic to explain the unexplainable.

Thus would I like to position the fundamental basis for my musical work "The Beginning of Winter" - it has a context that I would place wider than a sequence of harmonic vibrations. Davis succinctly plants this thought: ".there are no perfect Newtonian clocks. Abstract linearly calibrated time-like it's negation, pure stochrasticity-is an illusion, reinforced by our own species-specific dimensional scaling and self-referentiality. with . it's properties on non-linear recursion under specified conditions of observation. identifies the contextual meaning of time". Distilling this down, you could say: linearity and chaos are human constructions that enable us to understand hugely complex systems and to enable us to recursively function as agents within those same systems that influence us. And returning to Hegel, his trueism "Truth in philosophy means that concept and external reality correspond" and tie this to Kant's "Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play" we have a kind of swirling fractal like resonance that says to me: create something - grab it out of the ether. It may be that expressing the sum of your life experiences in a primal scream of creativity turns into a work of genius. Use tools as a rudder to steer the cosmic boat. That is how I make art anyway, straight from the soul, subliming past the fog of conscious intervention (which is the enemy of pure expression).

My moment of conjunction when all the elements lined up was when I thought of that simple title "The Beginning of Winter". Immediately the components all attracted as does a crystal form, locking into a pure metaphor, describing the elements at that very special moment in this year of my life.

The album is a return to my more "composed" style. Pastoral in theme. Here, read more about the compositions.