Spanish Guitar : Pattern Recognition : Chaos Theory : Rhapsody in Blue

I am listening to the new Mythos CD. It has some Spanish guitar on it and one song in particular… “Leyenda”. I’ve heard this song before, perhaps a Discover Channel show on flamenco guitar or something, and there is a guy that sits on the sidewalk downtown and plays spanish guitar and I hear him play this song often. It has many many notes in it and while listening to it I can appreciate the ability of the player. Imagine if each finger is plucking notes and you were to pick just one of them to play louder and louder while maintaining a blistering pace. What we hear overall is a wonderful song and that is what it is. Yet what it is is only individual notes (yes… this is a cross thought on organizational psych). While listening to this, I wanted to hook up each individual string of the guitar to a different machine, so that it would be possible to tune out all the other strings and to hear only that one. I wanted to play individual strings for people and see if they could guess the music, song, style, whatever. Perhaps I could continue to add notes and/or strings to it and come to a point where the overall melody became recognizable. The same effect is seen in visual stimuli and pattern discernment. The visual mind is capable of creating patterns out of random objects quite easily. How easily does the mind do this? I am not familiar with the research on the matter and so my question is really one in asking and not rhetorical.

A rhesus monkey rhetorically asks for a reses peanut butter cup.

I do not know where that came from. HA! But I diverge from my thought. The mandarian madman’s madam’s mammaries made momma mad. Oh boy, I’ve gone nuts.

The point in all of this is somewhat of a behavioral cue. The assertion is that one cannot study thoughts and so one must study behavior. Fortunately we can study the processes of thoughts and infer what is going on. But the point is the same. Blackmore makes the point of the mimicking ability of the mind. Mimicking is seen as an evolutionary trait and it seems feasable to me that the brain able to decide which actions are more likely to be helpful than others to be to one more likely to pass on its genetic information. In other words, two cavemen are mimicking behavior in order to find something to eat. One is kicking at rocks (he saw another guy do this) and another is digging a pit (he saw a guy do this too). The one kicking the pit thinks that it is done so that animals fall in, causality. The other has no such causal connection. He saw Bob do it and so he does it. A pattern is seen. Likewise, the ability of mimicking, infering causality, might also lead to empathy with others, a notably advanced trait in humans (though not absent from animals some recent findings conclude).

Is the ability of the mind to see the pattern in a Rorsharch test, notes of music, flashing light bulbs, and religion, all bound up within the same sort of process of the brain? Even the book that I am reading now which starts at the Big Bang and describe it from then until now (and what exactly dark matter is and all that jazz), with the underlying notion that God did not create the heavens and the earth in 6 days and that it (all of it) is one big cosmic accident, puts things into patterns and causality. Talking with people more knowledgeable than myself (which includes most everybody on the subject) on Chaos theory there is a lot of hoopla given to random occurence. Dostoyevsky made the same remarks in his “Notes From the Underground” , a book about the Chaos Theory inside our heads. Yet when I pick up a book of Chaos Theory at the bookstore and browse through it, not reading it… just glancing around, the overall impression I am given is one of patterns. Who isn’t familiar with the now famous Mendelbrot Set? And while one book showed fractals in computer graphics, satellite photos of the earth, and closeup images of a river, there is still an overall understanding of the processes behind the river. We may not know where a tree is going to grow exactly, or what shape the limbs will be, but we can guess strongly the nature of the riverbank to be, the flora to grow and so forth.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This leads me back to the notes. Sometimes when I am playing I’ll have in mind a particular phrase to hit, a note to reach, an oomph to achieve. Sometimes the particulars are important. It isn’t important to me that I hit A or E on the way up the scale, as long as I reach that top C. Remember the clarinet (or is it an oboe) on the opening of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. It wavers low and then up the scale to hit a high, faltering, sweet note… and then the melody. Are the notes in between the bottom and that famous crying top note important? They are in whole but I’d warrant not so much individually. Sure, you hit a bad not in the middle and you’ll notice. But the thing about music is that you can hit a lot of wrong good notes and not make a difference, but be a wrong bad note and everyone notices. This reminds me of a stream of thought in the book Flow where the author talks of two opposing states which are problemic in the mind. One is attention to every little detail and the other is the inability to attend to details. (Focus: the eagle that chases two rabbits catches neither). I’ve said it a million times in training bartenders, a key part to learn is what to ignore. You cannot attend to every detail, particularly in a volume bar. You get behind, you get frazzled, you get mad and angry. But you must be aware of what is going on around you also. There is a sweet spot in the middle, of awarenes and intentional ignoring where proficiency and happiness move up. This is the flow spot that the author spoke of in the aforementioned book but it’s been noted for a while by myself in a bar situation.

The point, somewhere beneath all of that, was that not all things matter, not all things mean something. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, Freud said.

This morning’s workout went great. I got a good sweat going, though I wasn’t as fast as I was the last time. There were different girls there at the gym, and again I had to focus on some spot in mid-space and just workout. Tuesday I was my good self. Yesterday I was not, I was my worst self. Today I am shooting for best.


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