Listening for a Change
By John Scarborough
Contributing my first post to my brother Karl’s blog reminds me of a game he invented when we were young. Using Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook, he would (with my factotum contributions) create charts showing players’ skills as a hitter, fielder, or pitcher. Using a combination of a spinner and dice with each at-bat, we would generate data that, by consulting our charts, would indicate a strike, a ball, a strikeout, a base-on-balls, a fly ball to the outfield, etc. We would play this for hours. Whenever a problem arose requiring a judgement that our rules had not foreseen, we would discuss it. As the older brother, Karl would make the final decision. Although he always ran the risk of projecting an appearance of impropriety, he was (usually) a just commissioner.
I read that Pythagoras extrapolated from his observations of physical changes resulting from a lyre’s strings being struck, to a hypothesis that planets in motion must generate a kind of music.
Decades have passed. Once again, Karl has asked me to join in. But it’s an altogether different game. This time, winning isn’t a goal.
Last night I dreamed that I had removed a large amount of earwax from my ear. I held it aloft, as one might hold a torch. I felt a sense of relief. I think I was responding to the prospect of improving my perceptions by writing. (And I can write better if I listen.)
From the Kena Upanishad: The Self is ear of the ear…That which is not heard by the ear but by which the ear hears – know that to be Brahman.
Gurdjieff once sought “objective music,” defined as music that would have the same effect on everyone regardless of their opinion of it. I read that Pythagoras extrapolated from his observations of physical changes resulting from a lyre’s strings being struck, to a hypothesis that planets in motion must generate a kind of music. I wanted to hear that. No such luck yet. But a musician friend recently told me that in her late teens, she had been walking her horse across a field when she heard at first a faint, and then a clearly audible collection of eerie, gorgeous, sometimes harmonious and sometimes discordant sounds for which she could not but stop walking and listen. She has not heard anything like that since, but when she speaks of it, her face shines.
In Hindu psychology of ancient origin, the five basic elements constituting the physical world are each generated by our organs of sense; hearing, for example, contributes akasha (space/air).
With our ears, may we hear what is good.