Today's entry is on 2012 and the end of the world. Sort of.
I've got this photo on my wall of a Big Jay McNeely performance from 1951. Big Jay is this sweaty black guy laying on his back, clearly under the trance of the devil’s cabbage, playing the ever loving FUCK out of this saxophone, and all these young white kids standing around him watching it are losing their fucking minds. I love the picture; because it perfectly captures this pure, extreme bliss these people are experiencing while Big Jay lays it down, and it captures a performer that’s clearly deep in the zone.
They look like they were in ecstasy. You could tell that this was one of those performances where the crowd, the artist and the music all just synched up perfectly - that rare burst of wonder and magic when you see a truly inspired performance. A really amazing performance like that isn't just "entertaining," it can change our expectations of human potential and lets us all know that unseen heights of connection are possible. It lets us know there are things in life that are really fucking cool and that these things that people create can actually make life more enjoyable.
It doesn't have to be a song, it could be an athletic performance, or it could be a painting, or even the written word crafted so perfectly that it sneaks into your perceptions and rewires your imagination.
You can call it the zone, you can call it Zen, you can call it brilliance, but however you describe the particular expression - whatever the fuck you want to call it -
there's something unmistakably satisfying about seeing a fellow human hit some rare air.
There's a special strain of bliss that pumps through the cerebral passageways when you know you're in the presence of the purest expression. When a person has tapped into that frequency where their whole being has tuned in, and they're awash in a mad dance between selflessness and ego, directed by a radiant consciousness and opened up wide in front of a multitude of strangers who came there with hopes of seeing just that very thing. With the fuel of their awe, and the energy of their appreciation it bursts to even greater heights, and if it's captured on TV it's a motherfucking historical moment.
It doesn't happen all that often, and sometimes you can go years without seeing someone really nail it, but when it happens again it will be all worth the wait.
Every now and then someone steps up in front of the world and really fucking smashes it, and it makes sitting through every other uninspired performance by every wannabe, bullshit artist, and mediocre hack more than worth your time. Every now and then human beings are exposed to a new benchmark.
I search for that shit. It’s a precious inspirational fuel for me. I love it when I see it, and in all my years on this planet searching for it, very few people have ever grabbed it, held it down, fucked it, lit it on fire, and blew up the fucking solar system with it like Pink did at this years Grammy awards.
Her performance was like Jimi Hendrix doing the star spangled banner while Michael Jackson moon walked and Susan Boyle sang back up.
The shit was fucking EPIC.
I was floored.
I watched it 5 times in a row on youtube.
Even with the shitty, grainy, pixilated youtube footage and compressed sound coming out of computer speakers it was fucking stunning.
I don't even want to see it in High Definition on a big screen TV, because I'm afraid I might watch it and then jump out a fucking window.
I'm not worthy.
I was in the green room of the Icehouse comedy club in between shows Friday night, and we were watching “The Best of Pride” on Spike TV. If you’re new to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, Pride was a big organization from Japan that was in competition with the UFC until the UFC purchased them. They had some insane fights over there, and some of the greatest fighters ever carved out the majority of their career there.
There was something extra special about those fights. Part of it was that they were in Japan, and their culture is so much different than ours. The pageantry of the event was off the charts – giant video screen entrances that really built up the hype, and rules that were quite different than we have here.
First of all, they didn’t allow elbows on the ground, because they caused cuts and they didn’t like the idea of a cut stopping a fight. Although elbows on the ground are very effective weapons, the people running Pride felt like it was better to leave them out to avoid potential indecisive doctor stoppages. What they were allowed to do however, is stomp each other in the head while they’re down and soccer kick each other in the face while they’re down. THAT is some pretty brutal shit, and there’s something about that added element of danger that just cranks the dial up on the excitement meter considerably when you’re watching it.
I was watching the fights in the green room Friday night with a buddy, and when Shogun tried to stomp Little Nog’ and punt his head while he was standing over him my friend audibly gasped.
He’s not a martial artist, but he is a fan of the UFC and enjoys some pretty brutal fights, but the purity of intent he witnessed in that move - completely without remorse - of standing over a guy laying on the ground and trying to smash his head like a roach – that kinda freaked him out.
“That’s too much.” He said. “That’s like they’re trying to kill each other.”
I can kind of see where he’s coming from. At least the fights that take place in the UFC under the guidelines of the unified ruled don’t allow such savagery. Stomps and soccer kicks are quite a bit more dangerous with the cage too, because a fighter can get trapped against it and not be able to move their head out of the way like they would be able to in a ring.
I agree with it, but I have to admit there’s something extra crazy about watching fights where they’re allowed to do shit like that. I’m not saying we should allow it back, but FUCK it made some of those fights intense.
One of the fights on Spike Friday night was Rampage vs Arona, a fight that ended with the most insane slam in the history of the sport. Rampage was caught in Arona’s triangle, and he hoisted him through the air up over his head like a pillow and slammed the back of his skull into the floor in fly swatter fashion, knocking him completely unconscious. I remember having seen it at home thinking it was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in sports. I, and the folks watching it with me that night were legitimately concerned that Arona might in fact be dead. The sheer savagery of the slam forced me to rewind it at least 5 times, because it couldn’t possibly been as bad as I thought it was.
Every time I watched it, the crazier it seemed.
Another thing I really liked about Pride rules was their judging of a fight.
They treated the fight as a whole unit, and the rounds were just to give the fighters a break so that they could refresh and charge out harder. The rounds were not counted as individual units, but rather strung together as a whole and judged as a complete fight, just how God intended it to be done.
The first round was 10 minutes long, a concept I also liked.
Nothing more frustrating than when you’re watching a good, close fight, and one guy struggles for 4:30 trying to get his opponent down on the ground, and when he finally does the bell goes off in 30 seconds. I like the idea of giving fighters the extra time to work, and breaking it up when it’s just starting to shift momentum can be frustrating. I could see the argument that a 10 minute round is just too long for guys to go all out, but that just means that they have to be better conditioned and better at pacing themselves. Over all, these rule differences; the longer first round, the fight being judged as a whole, and brutality of stomps and soccer kicks made Pride rules much closer to the idea behind the original UFC.
I think in order for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts to move forward and be accepted by mainstream culture it’s important that we adhere to the guidelines we operate under right now with the unified rules. It’s plenty exciting just the way it is, and what’s really important right now is moving the sport forward and getting it sanctioned in more states and more countries. The rules we have right now are fine.
That said, it sure is nice that we have all these awesome fights from Pride to watch now too. I think when all is said and done the Pride years will go down as some of the most important moments in the sports development and history. Having these shows airing on Spike right now is a real fucking treat.
I’m a big fan of the work of the genius inventor and author Ray Kurzweil.
If you’re not familiar with his work, Mr. Kurzweil is a proponent of the idea of a technological “singularity.” What he proposes, is that technology is increasing at an exponentially expanding pace that will eventually lead to some sort of convergence between human and artificial intelligence. Each technological innovation is building on the next, and one day it’s going to lead to computers so powerful that they’ll be able to recreate and even surpass the power of the human mind and eventually we’re going to figure out how to download consciousness directly onto these machines and we’ll “live” forever.
Pretty trippy shit when you think about it, but really, where else could all this technology stuff lead? I’ve always wondered what the human thirst for innovation is really all about.
I think the original desire stemmed from a need to improve the quality of life, create tools, get more food, etc., but it’s moved way, way past that now. It almost seems to have a destiny of it’s own today.
While people suffer all over the world from poverty and starvation some of the most complex and expensive scientific projects have nothing to do with fixing any of that shit.
No, the “great work” of the scientific community – the single project that is the most exciting and incredible technological undertaking humans have ever taken part in has nothing to do with improving the quality of life for people in trouble right now. It’s an immense and amazing machine called the Large Hadron Collider.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a $10,000,000,000.00 project involving 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries where they’ve built this monstrous 27-kilometer long machine designed to send particles flying around this loop just a cunt hair slower than the speed of light, slamming them into each other to try to recreate the conditions milliseconds after the big bang. What they’re looking for is a theoretical particle called the “Higgs Boson,” otherwise known as the “God Particle.” The only possible side effect of this fantastically complicated experiment is the ever-so-slight chance that it might produce a black hole that eats its way through the earth.
Don’t worry about black holes or any other space-time ripping complications and side effects though, because there’s no way the half-insane, socially detached super-geniuses operating that thing would ever let that happen, right? If they thought it was possible for everything to go horribly wrong and destroy the world they would certainly shut the whole project down. Right? I mean, forget about the fact that they’ve invested an enormous chunk of their finite lives designing, constructing and completing this thing, if they thought for a second that it might possibly cause harm they would shut it all down and walk away willingly, right? Right?
I’m not so sure that those motherfuckers might not just roll the dice and take a chance.
It’s a little known fact that before the detonation of the very first nuclear bomb there was a very real concern amongst some scientists that the explosion might create a chain reaction that would destroy the entire Earth’s atmosphere. No one had ever caused a nuclear explosion before, so no one really knew exactly what was going happen.
So what did they do? They said, “Fuck it… Let’s see.”
Now, there are people that will say that those scientists with concerns back then were just misinformed, and that the destruction of the Earth was never a real concern, but that’s real easy to say today.
Truth is, they really didn’t know exactly what the fuck was going to happen, and there was a lot of trial and error involved with the effects of spitting atoms. Anyone that disagrees with that need only look at the old videos of soldiers willingly running directly towards a nuclear blast as a part of a military drill. Obviously that shit is frowned upon today, and if you tried to get a U.S. soldier to do that in 2010 they might fucking shoot you.
Why do we have this constant thirst for technological innovation? You can chalk it off as simple human curiosity - the very reason we evolved from the lower apes in the first place - but I have a feeling there might be a lot more to it than that.
As time goes on and I spend more and more time in the isolation tank under the magical trance of the sacred plant contemplating the mystery of life – I’m increasingly leaning towards the notion that it’s not all that cut and dry.
The idea I’ve been bouncing around in my head over the last couple years is that life, the planet we live on, the universe it resides in and everything that takes place in the entire dimension is really just a gigantic, impossibly complicated mathematical program moving towards a predetermined outcome. That everything; from subatomic particles, to hyenas, to the blow jobs, to solar flares – everything that exists in the entire universe is really just a part of an infinitely complex program totally beyond our comprehension that is moving towards a very certain goal.
In “nature” we see natural patterns in all life forms; the alpha male wolf forces the weaker beta out of the pack because life as a wolf is hard as fuck, and the only way for the species to survive is if only the strongest of males are allowed to breed. The powerful genetics of the Alpha are passed down creating robust offspring to insure that hunts will be successful, keeping the wild game population in check and maintaining the survival of the species and the balance of nature.
Their behavior makes sense to us, and we deem it “natural.”
We see bees pollinating plants and building their fascinatingly complex hives, and we just write it off their “natural behavior.” They’re doing what they’ve been put here to do, but how many people apply this type of thinking to the human race as a whole?
It’s kind of a funny thing about people; we don’t really like to think of our own behavior and purpose here as natural.
Since we’re conscious we like to believe that we have control over our path and purpose.
We generally concede that there are certainly some unavoidable human tendencies; sexual desire, jealousy, anger, etc. But we like to think that these “instincts” can all be brought under control in a “civilized” world, and that we have control over our outcome as a species.
I’m not entirely sure about that.
I wonder if that notion is just a matter of us not looking at ourselves as deeply and objectively as possible. I wonder if it’s not the same arrogance that we display when we classify all of these other living things as animals, but not ourselves. We’re “humans,” a completely different distinction.
I’ve been called an animal- both as a compliment and an insult - but that designation is always to imply that somehow you’ve crossed the line of normal behavior or performance and entered into a place where people are not supposed to go.
I wonder if that lack of objectivity in viewing ourselves is a part of a system that nature has set up for us to make sure that we stay on track to achieve our collective goal. With the tool of conscious self-awareness comes the puzzling spectacle of infinite questions and possibilities. To manage this chaos, we’re given a pattern to follow. We almost universally don’t consider ourselves as animals. We’re above that, and because we’re above that, we don’t even consider the possibility that every single aspect of our behavior, from laziness, to ambition, to curiosity, to violence might just be a part of an insanely gigantic living, progressing program set in place to move us towards a predetermined outcome.
We think we’re lusting after a new car or a bigger TV is because of a foolish desire to keep up with the Jones’, but what if that compulsion is really just because our need for the newest, coolest shit is really something programmed inside of us to insure that we consume and continue to support innovation and the creation of new technology by spending our money on the latest, greatest shit. Our need for “newer, bigger, better, faster” is really just a progression we’re instilled with that’s no different than a bee’s instinct to produce honey and pollinate trees.
What we see and think of as “blind” instincts all over nature might naturally exist in the most complicated species in the most complicated way. Our entire, infinitely complex world we live in might actually be formulated exactly for the purpose of a single goal, and we might exist to facilitate that very thing. That might very well be why we’re here, we’re just a little too arrogant to consider it.
We see this pattern all over the natural world where there are levels of complexity; amebas are simple compared to worms, and worms ain’t shit compared to monkeys, and monkeys ain’t shit compared to us - but what life form trumps the mighty human? I think it might be technology.
We don’t like to think about it this way, but technology might very well be a life form of it’s own, but since we create it, and since it’s nothing like us and doesn’t have a heart or a nervous system, we just think of it as some shit we make.
I have a feeling it might be more complicated than that.
If you were an alien, objectively looking at life on this planet you might very well look at technology as a type of life form.
In nature we see many patterns of parasites infecting a host and causing the host to destroy itself so that the parasite may be born. There’s a aquatic worm that grows inside of a grasshopper, and once it’s developed sufficiently to live outside the host it programs the grasshopper’s brain to head towards water, jump in and drown while the worm burrows out of it’s body and hatches into the water.
The superior organism has lead the inferior one willingly to it’s own destruction so that it can reach the next stage in it’s development.
I think that very well may be what’s happening to us.
Technology; a thing that we think of as something lifeless that we create might actually be a life form that’s living in a symbiotic or even parasitic relationship with human beings. Just like other life forms the old models die off and are replaced by the new ones with a constantly flowing pattern of improvement and adaptation.
Just like you can search the fossil record and find the ancient hominid ancestors of man you can look in my garage and there’s a box of old cell phones and computers that eventually lead to the iphone.
Maybe it’s not the Large Hadron Collider that blows a hole through eternity and becomes the end of everything and the beginning of a completely new cycle, but maybe it’s a new invention created from the lessons learned from firing the collider up that does the trick. It’s not like we’re going to complete the experiments with the collider and stop there.
No one is going to say, “OK, we’ve made black holes, now lets stop making newer, even crazier shit and turn our attention to feeding the poor.”
Not a fucking chance. It’s going to keep moving… and where’s the end? What’s the finish line? A portal to unseen dimensions? Time travel? What if it’s the creation of the next phase of the universe itself? One of the greatest mysteries in all of science is the “birth” of the universe. Because of our own biological limitations we’ve imposed the concept of a “birth” and “death” on the very universe itself. They’ve even come up with an incredible theory of the entire infinite vastness of space emanating from an impossibly small, infinitely dense point and exploding in milliseconds to become everything that we know of today - The Big Bang.
The thought that I’ve been tossing around over the last few years - is what if it’s the human race itself that creates this moment. I mean, if the most sophisticated and complicated experiment human beings have ever undertaken – the very culmination of our technological mastery – is a machine that’s designed to recreate the moments right after the big bang, do you really think we’re going to stop there?
Not a fucking chance. It’s going to keep going. It’s going to keep moving forward despite the protests and concerns of those paying attention. It’s going to be buried deep in the back of your list of priorities when it comes to things to pay attention to. Between sex, and sleep, and work and play, and love and hate, and John and Kate you’ll barely even know it’s going on. You’re going to be sitting at home smoking a joint, drinking a beer watching celebrity rehab, and some half-mad, obsessed genius that sleeps 5 hours a night and pounds redbulls all day is going to come to a point where he’s not exactly sure what’s going to happen if he takes his life’s work to the next level. He’s going to stand there, looking at the button, not exactly sure what to do. Then he’s going to take a deep breath, and say, “Fuck it… Let’s see.”
BIG BANG, and the Universe starts again from scratch, this time doing everything a little bit better and a little bit faster, until it’s time to say, “Fuck it…” again. This process will go on for infinity, every time getting further, more complex, more advanced, but never finished. You and your life and me and mine are just a part of a cycle that’s been around forever. There was no beginning, and there will be no end.
Happy New Year, bitches. We’re just getting started.