56 Comments

Everyone who makes beautiful music is a hero. They're not the only heroes. But beautiful music is a worthy quest.

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"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams".

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This is so brilliant, I love the way you dip into and out of different eras, countries, literary traditions. This Substack has the feel of having a drink with a very cultured friend who can be interesting on demand about any topic. Tour de force.

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"I’ve never met a music scholar who has paid any serious attention to the work of the Monroe Institute."

Allow me to introduce myself 😎. Mythologist and mystic writing about music on The Abbey. Drop by sometime. 🪄

PS I just did a whole bunch of research into the Grail tradition and Weston's work for the upcoming podcast....

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can't wait for your podcast to drop :-)

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I'm trying for a July 6 release date (the day John met Paul). I need to fit in a trip to Liverpool beforehand (such a sacrifice...), but I'm hopeful I can make the deadline.

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Hiya there, Faith; would you mind if I asked you a few questions? Is the whole binaural thing supposed to work for everybody? Or are some people more sensitive to it, than others? Or, do certain frequencies work better for some people, and not for others?

Long-story-short: I was up all night with insomnia, and tried out a few binaural beats tracks, from YouTube. It didn't seem to do anything, though... Looked up some stuff online, but it was all greek to me. Then, I just came across your comment; figured you might have more insight, than some random website trying to sell me on their products...

Anyway, hope this finds you well. All the best, my friend.

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I have to think that the title character of Jethro Tull's song "Minstrel In The Gallery" may be a member of that secret organization of musicians...

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Ted, this is fantastic... My first installment... Was alerted to your writing listening to Armstrong & Getty (local here in Sacramento region, but syndicated) covering your "State of The Culture, 2024" post. But I didn't subscribe until I had to get all of your Nonesuch album recommendations. Now this... I am personally loving the synchronicity (forgive me) of your studies about ancient musical mysteries with the philosophy of Analytic Idealism (Bernardo Kastrup), the science and philosophy of Iaian McGilchrist ("The Matter With Things" & "The Master And His Emissary"), and the (separate ) historical mysteries of Hermeticism and The Mysteries of Eleusis. Thanks for this gift to your subscribers!

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I’ve always thought the glowing object in the Pulp Fiction briefcase was the same object in trunk of the car in The Repo Man. 🤔

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It's also the black obelisk from 2001, another MacGuffin of no intrinsic meaning, designed merely as bait to lure the astronaut Bowman to his transformation into the Star Child. For unto us a Star Child is born .... the real point of the story ... and from him will arise the Overman, yea verily.

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Or the brother in Basket Case.

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:-D

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"It’s all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."

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Does King David fit into this story, and if so, where?

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author
Apr 20·edited Apr 20Author

He shows up in chapter seven—a great example of a warrior musician.

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Thank you, I need to go back and read the book again.

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I was thinking of Kind David, his lyre and his songs, and his career as a warrior.

Something else also came to me while reading this, which is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which once inspired libraries of books and analysis along these lines. Just the name of the surviving astronaut, David Bowman: bowman Odysseus, David the warrior King with his lyre ... like Orpheus.

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I'd add how in 2 Chronicles 20 they fight a war using praise songs to God.

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It's the God-fearing warrior tradition. It reappeared in late medieval Christendom.

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My impression of late medieval Christendom, is sketchy at best, but it doesn't seem "supernaturalist" as the scriptural account, but I could be very wrong. Where can I read more about that tradition?

I do wonder, even today the military is one of the few ways musicians can earn a living, music is still core to modern armies.

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Absolutely fascinating! The hero's journey transformed from inward to outward? Love the idea of music as a path to enlightenment, not just entertainment. Can't wait to see where this rabbit hole goes.

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Ted, which DFW story is this? I need to read it. Also, this really clarified for me some of my thoughts on Gawain and the Green Knight (I’m a medievalist and a high school lit teacher). The court at the beginning wants heroism as something thing-oriented, entertainment oriented. But the quest is about personal transformation (way more to be said on that point). The court celebrates the girdle at the end because they can still only conceive of heroism as a thing/prize to be won.

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author

This is a self-contained novella published as part of The Pale King. But it has also been published separately as David Foster Wallace: “The Awakening of My Interest in Advanced Tax” (Madras Press, 2013)—which is the version I recommend (and often hand out to people as a gift).

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Can confirm there is a loose affiliation of magical musicians with roots deep in prehistory.

Would love to tell you how I know this, but the faeries would have my hide.

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Careful - don't panic the muggles. ;-)

Seriously, I suspect Jessie L. Weston may have been involved with one of the occult magical orders like the Golden Dawn which were popular in her time.

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I am so going to need a hard bound, genuine paper (or parchment) version of this book when it's ready. And if monks decide to make illuminated copies they suddenly have my full support and I'm making parchment for them. -- I am reminded by this article of a quote by Darren Hardy, author of "The Compound Effect" which is probably the best and only take-away from this particular author I could find (and mention to anyone else), "I want you to know in your bones that your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time." The truth is usually unpopular with the Hollywood crowd and the mundane ebb and flow of humanity but it remains true none-the-less. But given the new format of media today, do we even have time for MacGuffins, or are we just on to the next six-second distraction? If you could build your own MacGuffin what would it be? The "plans for the Death Star" have probably been the most famous MacGuffin for the last 47 years, so you can't use them. Or love. Or the best banana pudding recipe on Earth. ...So what's tangible and desirable enough (as a would-be MacGuffin) to draw the attention of "the wastoid" if not the journey itself? I love where you're going with this. Bravo. Keep it going, please.

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What about King Arthur and the Holy Grail? That's an old McGuffin story. Chaucer did something similar with his Canterbury Tales. The whole pilgrimage thing was a McGuffin. An even older example is the Odyssey. Ulysses supposedly wants to get back to Ithaca and his wife Penelope, but the story is all about the journey. You can almost imagine the story tellers adding complications and challenges to his return much as video game designers add minions and boss fights. His return to Ithaca is an anti-climax.

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What about Bob Marley. He was a Rastafarian. Rastafarians are Coptics. His songs activate the religion.

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Not quite, he was a Rastafarian, and converted later on to Ethiopian orthodoxy which is very similar to comic faith.

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Rituals to enter another realm evoke Carlos Castaneda…

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Enjoying this book. The 'real heroism of everyday life' part reminded me of a comment by journalist and film-maker Adam Curtis :

'Someone once said to me that the most radical thing you can do these days is just not be self-expressive.' [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVx3lt8ZKHw]

While this isn't where this article (or book?) seems to lead, it is a novel approach to some of the problems caused when our 'heroes' are to be found on stage and screen and not in everyday life.

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Finest ever writing, and many thanks for introducing your book. Music to the ears, really. 🙏📚🎶📚🙏

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