Monday, October 10, 2005

Get Up, Get Out

California, here I come

David Axelrod - "The Human Abstract" (mp3)
(Purchase here)

I made the mistake of making a generalization. Last Christmas eve, I sat on a beach in Oahu watching children and adults playing against the sunset, and I thought, "Good things await in the coming year." Two days later, close to 300,000 people's lives were taken away in an instant.

The past month and a half, even this past week have been a devastating lesson in impermanence.

As the horror of the quake in Kashmir and Stan in Guatemala and El Salvador were unfolding, Mike Davis extrapolated on the idea of global warming and presented a harsh warning. While the man of quartz often speaks in colorful extremes, one nugget caught my eye:

"Scientific discussions of environmental change and global warming have long been haunted by the specter of nonlinearity. Climate models, like econometric models, are easiest to build and understand when they are simple linear extrapolations of well-quantified past behavior; when causes maintain a consistent proportionality to their effects. But all the major components of global climate -- air, water, ice, and vegetation -- are actually nonlinear [emphasis added]: At certain thresholds they can switch from one state of organization to another, with catastrophic consequences for species too finely-tuned to the old norms. Until the early 1990s, however, it was generally believed that these major climate transitions took centuries, if not millennia, to accomplish."

In other words, life ain't a boxed lab experiment.

The first comment warns, "I don't doubt that human activity affects climate, but no scientist can accurately determine what the globe's climate was like throughout human history." Out of reason more than my highly limited background in science, I suppose I agree. However, I am unsure if Davis' point is so much a solid prediction of the future as much as personal accountability in the present. Regardless of whether we are to face these disasters tomorrow or years from now, how will each of us address these struggles? With many of these maladies now affecting US soil in such a graphic (and televised) manner, now seems an apt time to consider this question. I certainly hope the response is not solely inward; actually, an embrace of otherness, that others can be separated and delineated from the fabric of our respective lives.

In the liner notes to the new David Axelrod compilation, The Edge, Cannonball Adderley notes of the producer's music, "there's a layer of violence no matter how pretty it is." Such is the nature of life, true songs of experience. In light of this posting's subject matter I considered "The Signs, Part One," from his third 'solo' LP, Earth Rot. However, "The Human Abstract" seems a better summation of the qualities I speak of. Majestic pianos are buttressed by brutal horns, willowy strings are whipped by Palmer's beat. The Lab once spoke of Axelrod as music to sip tea by; yet, both Dre and Shadow have been seduced by his work.

Postscript: I'll be in West Angles, so the blog will be dependent on my connectivity sit. In any case, regular updates guaranteed after next Thursday, Sept 20. Steady marinatin'.


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