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Posts tagged ‘expression’

Traveling Music

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Just as music speaks to every corner of the human soul, it compels us to seek new forms of expression and connection to share to the world. We dance and sing, clap and play, laugh and cry to music. We seek companionship or solitude, we seek the merriment of food and drink, we seek inspiration from the mysterious methods of music that keep us alive. Music combines with all our arts and thoughts to create the very fabric of creativity.

Throughout history, there has been a worldwide trend of those who seek to share their music with the world. In feudal Japan, monks known as komuso traveled throughout the country, playing long bamboo flutes called shakuhachi to help bring enlightenment and protection to themselves and the villages they visited. They wore baskets on their heads that covered their entire faces, to represent their lack of ego and identity: the focus would not be on the person himself, but on what he did and how he did it. By hiding their faces and sitting in street corners they gave a focus to their music that separated it from the identity of a single person, instead reflecting the universality of the music. In West African countries such as Ghana, a caste of people called the djeli have performed similar tasks for centuries: they travel for miles, reciting poetry, commenting on social structures of their day, singing and playing instruments, telling stories of both history and myth. They possessed great wisdom and knowledge, tempered by experience and the promise of open road ahead of them.

These traits – these people, who encompass so many facets of human existence, are similar to the bards of England, the skalds of Scandinavia, and the ashik of Eastern Europe.  They were also rhapsodes and philosophers of Ancient Greece, the azmari of Ethiopia, the medicine men of many Native American tribes. People have always looked to them as teachers, scholars, friends, advisers, family. By traveling and sharing their music, art, and thought, they revealed to communities the world over news from far-off lands, guidance to the soul, and the connection of past to future, place to place, with music acting as the universal bridge for all connection and culture to flourish. Our very own Austin, Texas could easily be seen as a modern equivalent of the sheer depth of cultural connection that music can bring from people to place.

Through our music and stories and history and art and culture, humanity has defined itself in ways that seem opposite but could not fit better together. We express ourselves individually, yet those expressions form our culture – and our culture informs our expression. We function as ourselves within our collective root, and our collective communities tell us who we are. Though our society has long passed the need for individuals to travel the world telling stories and singing songs, the spirit of these traveling musicians lives on in our capacity to share culture with one another through platforms such as OurPangea. We can share our lives, passions, hopes, and dreams from one community to the next, “traveling” through frontiers of cyberspace for one another – as teachers, scholars, friends, advisers, and family. We have combined the possibilities of the future with the unbound spirit of discovery from the past, and the wisdom of yesterday into the culture of tomorrow, all for a better today.

So here at OurPangea, we’re packing our bags and headed for the airport (not literally, of course!) of our next great frontier. We have taken inspiration from Austin’s modern bard scene and from the cultural connections it has brought and we know we can spread it through the world, with everyone starting to dance and sing, clap and play, laugh and cry to the music that we travel with.

Finding your Freedom on the Internet

Expression is the most important freedom. This is not just the most important, this is the ultimate freedom.

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Freedom of expression implies much more than the name suggests. To start, we need to define expression. Within this argument we are defining expression as the ability to translate an idea into reality. This can take the form of moving, cooking, reading, writing, etc. It implies that you are able to use what ability you have. Now, and this is important, free expression does not deal with the moral correctness of the action or thought. In fact, this is where the argument gets interesting.

The Freedom of Expression is ultimately something that only society, that is other humans, can grant. Society, of course, needs some underlying structure and leadership unless we want total chaos. The Freedom of Expression does not presuppose that we shouldn’t surrender certain freedoms to maintain stability and security. I think we should. But we should also do more to encourage this freedom. Not by breaking down laws, which is bad, but by giving us better tools to express.

In the end we are shaped by our surroundings. This means our environment, history, and society shape who we become. What this also means is our surroundings shape who we are not. When we talk about the influence of our surroundings we are talking about the influence it has over our perception. Perception shapes our reality, and without free access to information our reality is locked in. Without access to all information our perception is constrained. To a degree, however, this is a good thing. It allows us to fit in with our surroundings; a lush forest dweller’s (think Oregon) mindset in a desert will not suffice, the opposite also being true. So it’s not that this influence is bad, it’s just that it is not as open as it can be. If our surroundings shape our perception, the way to change our perception is to change our surroundings (or intake). You can move to a new state or country, you can find new friends, or you can find new information.

Now, changing your perception might put you at odds with your local society or culture’s standard, but not to fear. If we had someplace on the Internet where we could interact with entire communities of people we might be able to escape from part of that. At the very least it would help us find people who share similar ideas, or are willing to help us explore them. What we need is an audience.

What I want to do with OurPangea is make it easier to find an audience. If you were able to find the people who were interested in same things faster, you can escape the “physical prison” of your surroundings. I am not saying we should substitute life with a virtual world, I am saying it is a good medium to share ideas with people who are interested. The Internet is for the mind, but it should also serve as reminder that we are also our bodies. I think sci-fi speculation often forgets this, without our bodies we don’t have our mind. They are permanently intertwined and we would do well to remember this.

If we use the Internet to create a collection of audiences (a.k.a. communities) we should be able to reach this level of freedom. If we were able to access a larger variety of communities we would be able to find people who support similar mindsets, not just the ones around us. Instead of conforming to the society around us, we will be able to find the communities that will support us. Not everything we think is right, morally or logically, and open discussion can only help. If we had an audience to discuss with we would be able to define our reality as we like it, not as our environment dictates. Of course, at some level our environment will always dictate who we are, but it’s nice to think we can have more a little more say in the matter.

If everyone were able to express themselves freely, either their actions, ideas, or art we would see a very different world. We will still be governed, but we will also have more freedom. Without stability (government) we lose the ability to be free as we will all operate out of fear. If we were able to find our audience we could be more free. We would be able to express freely alongside everyone else. We would be able to act without judgment and think without fear. We could choose to be more open minded.

A Community Network is designed to open up the world for you. If a Community Network existed, you would have access to everyone. You would be able to find the audiences who support you. You would find the people who will support your freedom of expression. You would gain a new freedom and through it the life of your choosing.

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