& Visionary Recital
“Our High Romantic Argument”
RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG is a Musical & Philosophical-Literary program broadcast from an imaginal window on your radio dial from the TOWER OF SONG. It’s hosted by the Gypsy Scholar & Bohemian Essayist, with a flower in one hand (or name) and a sword in the other. TOWER OF SONG is a “Soul-making” program because it’s essentially an “underworld perspective”—a seeing below surface appearances to the occult or symbolic truth of things. Thus, the TOWER OF SONG program is truly “Underground Radio.”
The RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program—“not for everyone, but for madmen only”—is underwritten by its tutelary deities: Hermes-Mercury, Trickster-god of those radio communications and connecting synchronicities, and Our Dark Lady of the Romantic Tower of Song, Goddess-Muse of Eternal Wisdom & Wit and ancient lonely-tower libraries. TOWER OF SONG program is co-hosted by the Angel of Imagination & Music, along with its “twenty-seven angels from the great beyond” in hyperspace, where Ushahina, angel of the hours between midnight and the dawn, gets you on her wavelength.
The purpose of the RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program is to help guide its listeners—“in the middle of the night”—in searching for, by following the song (the “song-lines” of the planet), and entering into that long-abandoned Romantic “Lonely Tower,” situated in that alternative mental dimension—the “Invisible Landscape.” “Oh let my Lamp at midnight hour / Be seen in some high Lonely Towr / Where I may oft out-watch the Bear / With thrice great Hermes.” (Milton) Because TOWER OF SONG is broadcast in the midnight hour from this ancient tower of the (Romantic) “Visionary Company” (those Romantic “ringers in the tower,” whose poetry embodied “Our High Romantic Argument”), where “the poetic champions compose,” you can hear “those funny voices” sing out: “You can call my love Sophia, / I call my love Philosophy.” [Van Morrison] And, since the beginning of real Philosophy is the “sense of wonder,” the sense of wonder with radio is all in the mind’s eye—radio as Theater of the Imagination—, making RE-VISION RADIO the alternative radio concept that lets you see what it means. And what it means, by way of the Romantic “Arts & Sciences of Imagination,” is that Golgonoozan “artifice of eternity”—The TOWER OF SONG.
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (or the Essay in Argument & Song), because it engages music in a meaningful way (utilizing music’s “intellectual value;” music giving “insight with a flash of understanding;” music as “a force of mental life;” music “bringing on revelations;” music’s “connection with the inner life of the mind;” music’s “personally associative quality”), it strives to utilize the Orphic magic of transporting listeners completely into a song. Thus, the goal of Gypsy Scholar—always in search of the “Great Song”—, in utilizing his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, is beyond having his audience just listen to a song; the goal is to have them enter completely into a Great Song, which, metaphorically speaking, means to find and enter into the TOWER OF SONG. (This musical state of existence is actually a phenomenon that was collectively experienced beginning in the 1960s when the music of that era was recognized as “the soundtrack of our lives,” which felt to countercultural people as if they had entered into great songs and lived inside of them. As Brandi Carlile recently stated to Joni Mitchell about her songs: “Thanks, Joni, for letting us live inside these songs for all these years—my life will never be the same.” [Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration, 11/9/18] This is similar to what the most musical of all philosophers, Nietzsche, envisioned for the future of what he called “Dionysian music”—what the Gypsy Scholar recognizes as Sixties and post-Sixties folk-rock and rock music—, which leads beyond listening: “. . . this state of mind would have to be described in similar terms: we want to listen, but at the same time we long to go beyond listening. That striving towards infinity, that wing-beat of longing even as we feel supreme delight in a clearly perceived reality, these things indicate that in both these states of mind we are to recognize a Dionysiac phenomenon ....”) Thus, when the listener goes “beyond listening” to a great song, he or she has magically arrived—in a Dionysian state of consciousness, a state of ecstasy—in TOWER OF SONG! Having arrived there—“in the middle of the night”—, the “beyond listener,” now “outside” themselves (i.e., ec-static), may be confused as to their identity. “I live my life in growing orbits which / move out over things of this world.... / I am circling around God, around / the ancient tower, and I have been / circling for a thousand years, and still / don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm, / or a great song.” (Rainer Maria Rilke) This “great song” is the song you want to hear over and over without end—“The song that wants to live forever” (Sara Brightman). And, thus, RE-VISION RADIO’s secret key to both Song and the TOWER OF SONG is that they both partake of a metaphorical or symbolical reality. After all, the “beyond listener” must, at some point, ask themselves: What is a “song” anyway? The Gypsy Scholar has found the answer: “Song refers not particularly to the field of music, but to the intangible yet determining and effective element of creative moments illuminated from within by the lamp of spiritual meaning. It serves as a broad metaphor for inspiration in its many forms—poetic, artistic, moral, political, spiritual, intellectual, philosophical, and so on.” (A.E.)
The experimental format of RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program—a “freeform” radio format—is a seamless remixing of Argument & Song; dialectics & music, or logos & mythos. In other words, philosophical-literary essays are put to music, producing the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack. Thus, since there’s a song hermetically hidden in an essay and, conversely, an essay waiting to be revealed in a song, RE-VISION RADIO puts its philosophy best in song. As the lyric goes: “That’s why I’m telling you in song.” [Van Morrison] On RE-VISION RADIO, then, what otherwise takes pages of text to explain, a song can express in a few powerfully meaningful verses; that is, a song can condense and concentrate an essay.
RE-VISION RADIO, through its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, seeks to conjure up (by the music-magic of Orpheus) what media theorists call an “acoustic space” (and, of course, the ultimate acoustic space is the interior of the Tower of Song). In mixing and remixing the noetic texts of Philosophy with the poetic texts of Song—mixing logos and mythos—RE-VISION RADIO offers its listeners an Orphic soundscape; an eclectic medley of the esoteric and the popular, high academic culture and low pop-culture—high argument & deep song—not from the Ivory Tower, but from “that tower down the track:” the TOWER OF SONG. Because everybody knows that to really grok the meaning of a song context is everything, RE-VISION RADIO’s musical essays contextualize its songs, and, conversely, its songs orchestrate its essay, adding layers of intertextual meaning. Thus, with RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, songs aren’t just played willy-nilly; songs are (thematically) showcased. In the same way, this dialectical relationship between Argument & Song means that the prose essay contributes gravitas to popular song and, alternatively, popular song gives wings to the essay (making the academic essay evocative), and thus composing a Musekal Philosophy by way of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack. The dialectical relationship of Argument & Song and their juxtaposition in RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack works through the strategic shifting of argument to song and from song back to argument; an interplay where a dialectical inversion comes about; that is, the essay/argument seems to sing the song and, conversely, the song seems to speak the essay. (The use of music in the essay follows the approach of Brecht, whereby the songs comment on themes and issues of the play. This is achieved by placing songs at strategic points in the essay, which serve to punctuate and sum up the preceding discourse and, moreover, to emotionally drive the noetic meaning of the essay's ideas home.) This yields in perceiving the essay/argument from the prism of the song and vice versa, which results in a multifaceted range of meaning of what the essay speaks and the song sings. Thus, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack evokes the musicality of the essay and, in turn, invokes (lit., for the support of the argument) the intellectuality (the dianoetical quality) of the song.
RE-VISION RADIO’s the fusion of Song & Argument is the rhyme and reason for the Orphic Essay-withSoundtrack, which, juxtaposing argument with song, makes for melodious (aesthetic/lyrical) ideas and discursive notes—a kind of philosophical concert and, conversely, a kind of musical essay. This dialectical intertextuality creates a novel radio art-form: scholarship as performance art (Cf. William Blake’s “Mental Studies & Performances”), which is a Romantic way to “associate ideas in a state of excitement” [Wordsworth] and to “rave on words on printed page.” [Van Morrison] RE-VISION RADIO’S musical intertextuality, because it reads metaphorically between the lines of Argument & Song, becomes the hyper-textuality of a “radio-text” —a soul-inflected montage of spoken word, music, and image, which opens the listener up to synaesthesia.
RE-VISION RADIO’S experimental “radio-text” makes for a postmodern radio “theater of the imagination,” because the TOWER OF SONG website introduces visual images into the aural medium, hence the synergistic integration of the aural space of radio with the cyberspace technology of the internet. In this way, the concept of “RE-VISION RADIO” means that the Gypsy Scholar’s TOWER OF SONG website serves not just as another passive and ancillary (off-air) cyberspace of reference (merely a place to put the “playlist”) but rather an active cyberspace of (on-air) images (a storehouse of images, akin to the ancient concept of “memoria” ) that go with—are integrated with—the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, giving graphic representation to its ideas and themes in the real time of the broadcast. Here, the TOWER OF SONG website, with its thematic images, is an example of the old adage, “A picture speaks a thousand words.” In effect, TOWER OF SONG program, by letting the listener literally see what it means, creates a synergistic interaction between spoken word, music, and image, which further allows the radio listener to have an audio-visual, synaesthetic experience. (In a way, then, the Gypsy Scholar is presenting his own “picture language” of the philosopher Wittgenstein, whose theory of it "likens a sentence to an abstract picture, the structure of which pictures a possible situation.”) Thus, RE-VISION RADIO’S Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, which juxtaposes the spoken word with song, coupled with the Tower of Song cyberspace website, can be understood as an “an artistic work resembling a written essay but in another medium”—the medium of radio. The Gypsy Scholar, in the role of the amateur scholar-artist on radio ( “scholarship performance art” ), is distinguished by his ability to synthesize and play with knowledge and seeks to “create a collage of ideas or intellectual mind-jazz.” (“Today, in the 21st century, the problem is synthesis—collage—how to put it all together, or put it in juxtaposition so it makes some sense.” –Jennifer Stone, community radio host) RE-VISION RADIO’S Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack makes for a rhapsodic program and makes the Gypsy Scholar a kind of postmodern scholar-rapper; a rhapsode who “stitches together” Argument & Song (fragments of knowledge and song; “fragmentation” considered to be the postmodern nature of knowledge). (The Greek word for “rhapsody” [rhapsoidia] comes from rhaptein [to stitch] and oide [ode, song]. In ancient Greece, a rhapsode or rhapsodist was a professional reciter or singer. Ancient scholars connected the word rhapsoidos with the poetic act of sewing [rhaptein] the poem [oide]. The word rhaptein was used to describe the act of poetic composition. Thus, the rhapsode was a “stitcher of songs” or “a reciter of epic poetry.”) THE TOWER OF SONG program is, then, rhapsodic in a double sense: (a) parts of its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack are delivered in a heightened mode of speech or recitation (i.e., in a highly emotional utterance, in an effusively rapturous or extravagant discourse, in an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling); (b) the music played out the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack evokes in the listener powerful feelings and emotional excitement or enthusiasm, which puts the listener in a state of overwhelming pleasure.
RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG was inspired by the “freeform” format—the “magic medium” —of “Underground Radio.” From his imaginal radio window in the TOWER OF SONG, the Gypsy Scholar looks back to the “freeform” midnight radio of the 1960s: “Freeform radio is an art form. The airwaves are the empty canvas, the producer is the artist, and the sound is the paint.” (Julius Lester) “. . . but it was a staple of the underground format. There was a sense of accomplishing something mighty creative. Not just disc jockey work, but weaving songs together in progression to make a statement or a theme.” (Ed Shane) “And I remember thinking to myself, 'What the fuck is this? What is this guy talking about?' It was absolutely hypnotic. It was as if I had just been changed to a different frequency, zapped right into the radio.” (Annie Gottlieb) “There was a mystique that surrounded these [underground] stations [and late-night freeform programs]. As if some private, magic door had been found to a new dimension .... I can't remember anybody who didn't love the music and who didn't want to share it with the audience.” (Ed Shane) Thus, again, the purpose RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program, with its “underworld perspective” (a psycho-mythical perspective), or “underground” perspective, is to help guide its listeners—“in the middle of the night”—in searching for, by following the song, and entering through that “magic door” into the TOWER OF SONG.
For RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program, the weaving together of Argument & Song (i.e., academic essay and popular song), via the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, produces a “radio-text”—haunted by song (“you hear these funny voices”). Thus, most appropriately, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is inspired by the legendary Orpheus, the archetypal “divine rhetorician and singer of love songs.” Questing back—“way, way, way back”—in search of the magical power of music, with the archetype of Orpheus as its guide, RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program broadcasts a Musekal Philosophy (by way of the ancient “Sicilian Muse” of the English poets), which is the dialectical union of words and music broadcast through the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack—the Orphic synthesis of what has been called the “Infinite Conversation” and the “Endless Melody.” This perfect union of Argument & Song is the Romantic ideal of the synthesis of “poetry and thought,” “a union of fact and imagination;” “not Poetry, but rather a sort of middle thing between Poetry and Oratory.” Thus, the Gypsy Scholar, aspiring to “Orphic Scholarship” in a popular medium, would engage in the Romantic “middle thing” of elevated speech appropriate to “rave on words on printed page.” With this Romantic union of poetic furor and critical reason, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack becomes “our high argument,” with its elevated discourse or “oracular voice”—“reason in her most exalted mood.” [Wordsworth] However, the Gypsy Scholar, goes even further back than the Romantic period [18th- and 19th-century] for the inspiration (and justification) to mix Argument & Song (or philosophy and music); “way, way, way back” to the origin of Western philosophy: “Argument mixed with music alone, when it is present, dwells within one possessing it as a savior of virtue throughout life.” (Socrates, Republic) RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program, with the varying moods of its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, means music can be understood to be the consolation of philosophy: “Let us bring to bear the persuasive powers of sweet-tongued Rhetoric and . . . let us have as well Music, the maid-servant of my house, to sing us melodies of varying mood.” (Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy)
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, going back—“way, way back”—, would pick up the fallen standard of the nineteenth-century Romantic Essay, which sought to transcend the boundaries of prose and non-prose and conjoin philosophy with poetry. (This is in keeping with the Romantic writer’s penchant for mixing genres.) The Romantic Essay has been described (based upon its development by Wordsworth and Coleridge) as a “conjunction of Reason and Passion that did not draw particularly sharp lines of differentiation between ‘poetry’ and the ‘impassioned, eloquent, and powerful prose.” For Coleridge, “The love of truth conjoined with a keen delight in a strict, skillful, yet impassioned argumentation, is my master-passion.” Following in this Romantic Essay genre, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is conceived of as “the perfect union of words and music.” Thus, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, like the Romantic Essay, begins with an “impassioned, eloquent, and powerful prose, following from a fairly strict following of traditional ‘public’ discourse to modes of prose requiring the virtual abandonment or annihilation of such discourse and often quite literally disappearing into poetry or into the silence of contemplation and vision.” The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, then, as it periodically abandons its impassioned discourse (words can only go so far) to disappear into song, plays its various “hymns to the silence” [Van Morrison]. Therefore, RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG broadcast exists in a liminal radio space—an “acoustic space”—between Argument & Song; between criticism and lyricism, between knowledge and ecstasy, between head and heart; finding the ancient (Sicilian) muse on the border where prose and music secretly meet.
Thus, with the nineteenth-century “Romantic Essay” as its model, RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is a novel revival of the lost “Art of the Personal Essay” where “Soliloquy bridges the gap between high art and popular song.” The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is designed to communicate a musical sense of philosophy, one that can be understood as “speculative music,” from one point of view and, from another, “Philosophy in a New Key.” [Suzanne K. Langer] “Music has depth and attempts philosophical thought and meaning with discussion of infinity, eternity, and mortality.” (David Gilmore of Pink Floyd) The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack’s Musekal Philosophy is also, in its own way, a (Romantic) “philosophy of music:” a Musekal Philosophy that issues not in a strictly discursive but in a lyrical knowledge. And, in seamlessly remixing Argument & Song through “Mental Studies & Performances” [Blake], RE-VISION RADIO’s scholarship as performance art is designed to make philosophy sound more musical and, conversely, music sound more philosophical. Thus, in the TOWER OF SONG, philosophical-literary essays aspire to the condition of music; to the condition of music translated into words. The Gypsy Scholar’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, attempts to approximate what the Romantics envisioned—the end of philosophy as poetry, or song. In other words, it looks to the charged expression that is poetry and incorporates the supercharged expression that is song.
Therefore, despite the ever-present consensus that academic philosophy and popular song have nothing in common, the Gypsy Scholar asks this challenging question: Who can separate philosophy from song? “Philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life, and is the noblest and best [highest] form of music.” (Socrates, Phaedo)
Because of its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program is both philosophical-literary and musical, a program dedicated to the “life of the mind.” Thus, it’s about Ideas; the ideas in the music and, conversely, the music in the ideas—a Musekal Philosophy committed to the romance of ideas, a simultaneous knowing and loving that would feel like (as two philosophers have put it) “Falling in Love with Wisdom.” [Karnos and Shoemaker, 1993] (Cf. Boethius’ philosophical tutelage under the divine “Lady Philosophia,” who gifted him wings, and Dante’s love for “Lady Philosophia.”) This means that the TOWER OF SONG program fulfills the ideal of a radio program that mixes the separated traditional formats of information with music: it's mentally stimulating and emotionally satisfying and, therefore, plays to both the mind and the heart. In other words, it seeks to unite the principles of logos and eros; i.e., the head’s requirement for clarity and the heart’s desire for ecstasy: “a simultaneous knowing and loving by means of imagining. [James Hillman]. On another level, this merging of both sides of the brain [left and right hemispheres] issues not in a discursive knowledge but instead in a lyrical knowledge. This is because the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is thoroughly song-haunted. Gypsy Scholar, in heightened speech that “associate[s] ideas in a state of excitement,” and with lyrical lusters in snatches from song furiously breaking out between the lines of prose and musical echoes reverberating throughout the radio-text, would evoke a steady stream of correspondences between the ideas and the music manifests as a synchronistic sub-text. In reading between the lines of dialectics and song, the Gypsy Scholar, moving/segueing back and forth between the prose and the music, seeks to orphically conjure up a Soul-text of Musekal Philosophy.
Because of RE-VISION RADIO’s “sympathetic magic” (vibrations of musical tones produced as a result of similar vibrations at the same frequency) of playing off the Argument with the Song, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack’s dialectical interplay of the musicality of the essay and the philosophy of the music means that the argument lends intellectual rigor to the song and, conversely, the song adds emotional lyricism to the argument. In other words (in the context of the TOWER OF SONG’s Sixties and post-Sixties song) music adds the raw energy of “rock” to the prose essay and, alternatively, the prose essay contributes philosophical ambience to the music. (Patti Smith knows exactly what the Gypsy Scholar means: “Three-cord rock merging with the power of the word.”) Thus, while the prose essay hermeneutically informs the music, the music ecstatically transcends the prose essay, giving it emotional heightening. To quote the Dionysian philosopher, Nietzsche, the prose essay is “energized and raised aloft, as it were, through the spirit of the music.” To put it simply: the discursive argument is supercharged by the lyrical song. And, then, when the listeners grok the meaning of the philosophical words and find themselves transported inside the TOWER OF SONG, they not only experience intellectual satisfaction but they can also dance to it!—dance to the words and ideas in ecstatic celebration: “Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?” “I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer. For the dance is his ideal, also his fine art, finally also the only kind of piety he knows, his ‘divine service.’” “And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once....” “At present I am light, now I fly, now I see myself below me, now a god dances through me.” (Nietzsche)
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack attempts to overcome the dichotomy between the prose written word and the lyric of song. Given that RE-VISION RADIO posits a dialectical relationship between Argument & Song, this similarly means that Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack seeks to overcome the dichotomy of the analysis of the song in critical “liner notes” (thoughtful signed essays on the artist by another party, often a sympathetic music journalist) versus its performance. Thus the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (as an Orphic radio-text that is structured by Argument & Song) is designed to allow the listener to dialectically re-cognize the Argument in the Song (as was actively done in the past with the “message” lyrics of Sixties songs, and still done today with the “rhythm and rhyme” rap lyrics of Hip-Hop) and, conversely, to hear the Song in the Argument. As one rock critic has put it: “Not just into the music for the beat, but for the lyrics.” So completely would the Essay-with-Soundtrack mingle Argument & Song that at a certain point the listener can’t tell whether the song speaks for the essay or, conversely, the essay reads for the song. On another level, the argument’s ideas create a contemplative philosophical mood, which is then amplified by the song. On yet another level, the heightened ideas of the essay perform the song and, conversely, the deepened feeling of the song performs the essay. Can the Gypsy Scholar get a witness? “Don’t we know that all of this is a prelude to the song itself ... the song itself that dialectic performs?” (Socrates, Republic)
In RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, which mingles Argument & Song, song aestheticizes the essay and, conversely, the essay con-text-ualizes the song (because for a song, context is everything) and thus opens it to hermeneutical interpretation, allowing a familiar song to be heard in a new way. This sometimes results in actually re-visioning a familiar song with new significance. And because rock music provides the primal energy for the rhythmic pacing of the essay, the essay reciprocally adds philosophical meaning, and thus gravitas, to the song. (This is in keeping with the philosophical weight that a pop-song can carry in the songwriting of the Orphic poet as rock-musician, such as Bob Dylan or, most especially, Leonard Cohen, the quintessential heir to the Romantic poets: “Here was a man, who inside of a pop-song ... you know, puts big ideas, big dreams. It reminded me of Keats or Shelley or, you know, they were poets I was reading as a kid. I said this is our ... Shelley, this is our ... Byron. You know, there was an otherness to the language. It was just a sensory overload of the language that first got to me.” (Bono on Leonard Cohen) And because it has been said that the Romantic Mind is “the union of deep feeling and profound thought,” RE-VISION RADIO, in programming a mix of rigorous intellectual argument and an elevating musical sensuousness, strives to unite reason and imagination, intellect and feeling, head and heart. For RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program, then, the underlying assumption is that from the very first philosophy (head) and song (heart) complemented each other. “When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.” (Kahlil Gibran) In other words, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is designed to connect the head and heart—both intellectualization and feeling—, issuing in a surging, luxuriant soundscape that is both viscerally powerful and intellectually beautiful. “Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end of music if not the love of beauty.” (Socrates, Republic) Thus the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, assaying back and forth between the intellectual and the musical, brings into play a paradoxical reuniting of the head and heart—a Romantic commingling of a “sensuous reason” and a “feeling intellect,” thereby synthesizing the left and right brain. “In music one must think with the heart and feel with the brain.” (George Szell) Therefore, this thoroughly dialectical relationship of Argument & Song manifests in a Romantic inversion of psychic function: “If my heart could do my thinking / And my head begin to feel / I would look upon the world anew / And know what’s truly real.” (Van Morrison)
RE-VISION RADIO, in practicing its own type of the Romantic “Arts & Sciences of the Imagination” [Blake], delights in remixing what the Romantics poetically combined—“high argument” & “deep song.” (“... the Mind, / My haunt, and the main region of my song.” [Wordsworth] Thus, RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, assaying back and forth—with seamless segues—between high academic culture (argument) and low pop-culture (song), takes its cue from the Romantic composer, Beethoven, who, it is said, “took great delight in juxtaposing the exalted and the commonplace," making his music “a union of sensuous and rational.” (“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”) Because the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack utilizes folk-rock and rock music of pop-culture in order to bring together the Ivory Tower and that “tower down the track,” it looks back to the great American “Orphic Scholar,” Ralph Waldo Emerson, who dared to proclaim: “I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low.” (“At the same time, it became important ... to argue that popular culture representations were as potentially complex and worthy of interpretation as the ‘great’ canonical texts of European literature that were always being used to demonstrate the poverty of popular culture and of youth culture in general.” –Carla Freccero, Popular Culture. “The idea of changing culture is important to me, and it can only be done in a popular medium.” –Joss Whedon, screenwriter, director, producer, comic book writer, composer.)
Thus, RE-VISION RADIO’s Musekal Philosophy of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack broadcasts its meaning in two modes: Wordsworth’s “high argument” and Lorca’s “deep song.” (“... they have climbed, / on high with song that is more sweet, more deep.” –Dante, Divine Comedy.) This is none other than what the “Orphic Scholar” had in mimd: “Music that can deepest reach.” (Emerson, Essays) And this seamless segueing, going back and forth, between “high argument” and “deep song” is really a gas! (“So the words dissolve into the music, and the music dissolves into the words, and a refreshment is produced, kind of oxygen.” –Alan Watts) The Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack’s design puts Argument & Song in a complex dialectical relationship, which means that there’s an essay waiting to be unpacked in a song lyric and, conversely, a song waiting to be evoked out of an essay. Like the prose-poem, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (written with music in mind) strives for the “the technical or literary qualities of poetry (such as regular rhythm, definitely patterned structure), but is set on a page as prose.” Again, it is a work in prose that would incorporate “poetic characteristics, such as vivid imagery and concentrated expression.” “Prose, especially if it is ‘musical’ in the sense of employing rhythmically balanced phrases, or if it is notable for its clarity ” is what the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack would ideally be. Therefore, the intent of crafting the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack (inspired by song) is to turn a phrase until it perfectly catches the color of the music.
The goal of RE-VISION RADIO RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program, through its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, is not only to entice the listener to hear the familiar pop-song (empowered by philosophical reflection) anew but also to seamlessly weave together Argument & Song so that the listener feels like the song was actually tailor-made for the essay—this is the magical illusion the Gypsy Scholar creates. Because the Gypsy Scholar believes that for communication of ideas a song is as good as an argument/essay (“That’s why I’m telling you song.” –Van Morrison), the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack progresses in a manner that anticipates the coming song—building or leading up to the crescendo that is the song. (In a way, the essay could be almost seen as a hyper-extended [radio] “lead-in” to the song to be played.) Thus, speaking again about the goal of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, the trick is to mix and remix the Argument & Song so seamlessly that listeners can’t be sure if the popular songs exist for the sake of the academic essay, or (more extraordinarily) the academic essay exists for the sake of the songs; that is, whether the song provides a meaningful interlude in the reading of the essay, or whether the essay is really an intellectual pre-text to the main purpose of playing the popular songs—i.e., showcasing the songs. (So, the question is: are there some popular songs so magnificent that the Gypsy Scholar would, instead of the usual procedure when writing an academic essay—i.e., start with the essay and then have an appropriate song(s) come to mind—start with a song(s) and then build an essay around it?) Can the Gypsy Scholar get a witness? “Don’t we know that all of this is a prelude to the song itself ... the song itself that dialectic performs?” (Socrates, Republic)
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack dissolves the boundaries between scholarship and art, critical analysis and poetry, rhetoric and lyric; between, that is, Argument & Song—so much so that it is designed so that the listener can’t make out where the Argument leaves off and the Song begins, and vice versa. This boundary-dissolving effect of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack means that both aspects of the psyche are given their due: reason and imagination, scholarly/critical intellect and intuitive/artistic heart, academic research and mystical insearch; both secular hermeneutics and sacred hermetic / kabbalistic interpretation, both scholarly rigor and poetic reverie, both Apollonian contemplation and Dionysian ecstasy, both philosophical questioning and romantic questing; both ideas (noetics) and love (erotics). Thus spoke Nietzsche: “Hence, it was here, where the Apollonian is energized and raised aloft, as it were, through the spirit of the music, we had to recognize the highest intensification of its power and, therefore, in the fraternal bond of Apollo and Dionysus the highest point of both Apollonian and Dionysian artistic aims.” (Nietzsche—that “troubadour of knowledge”—, who also looked back for inspiration to the twelfth-century troubadours, and hence discovered their concept of “gai saber,” or, as Nietzsche translated it, “The Gay [Joyous] Science”.) Thus, the romance of ideas that animates the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack unites dialectics and love in “flowers of discourse,” and has, among others, Dante as its guide, since the Florentine poet looked back to the troubadour’s “Dialectic of Love” and desired only to write about the “Love that discourses in my mind” (The Divine Comedy).
RE-VISION RADIO, then, through its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, questing—“way, way back”—carries on, in popular form, the great Platonic synthesis of logos and mythos (i. e., between the earlier mytho-mystical, as it was transmitted through the Greek Mystery Religions, and the newer rationalist development in Philosophy that had broken away from it: “Intellectual rigor [i.e., logos] and Olympian inspiration [i.e., mythos] no longer stood opposed.” Because Plato’s dialectic became—“after it has risen, with an incredible impulse, through the mania [madness] of Eros to the heights of philosophy”—mantic (poetic-prophetic) vision, RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack would energetically channel philosophy back through the powerful medium of radio, where it rises, with Orphic wings, to the heights of enraptured song—“soul music.” (“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” –Plato) Remembering that “Philosophy” for Plato is a “care for soul” and begins in “wonder,” the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack spans both logos and mythos: both the critical analysis and the enraptured intuition, both the down-to-earth investigation and the flight of poetic inspiration; the fusion of scholarly rigor with poetic reverie—the fusion of philosophical aptitude with musical amplitude.
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, in mixing Argument & Song (philosophy and music: a Musekal Philosophy), replaces the “murders to dissect” [Wordsworth] mode of academic (Protestant) scholarship with service to Eros—offering insight, synthesis, contemplation, and celebration. Thus, the Argument aspect of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack strives to operate in the same way as the erotic mania of Platonic philosophy, of which it is observed that “Eros redefines reason in its own terms.” It also strives to be what Romantics wanted their writing to be: reason in her most exalted mood” [Wordsworth] The Argument aspect of the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, then, becomes what that Professor of the “Joyous Science,” Emerson, envisioned as a higher reason: “the living, leaping Logos.” RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, then, is the Gypsy Scholar’s version of this Romantic ideal, particularly in the sense of an Orphic Scholarship that partakes in what the GS calls the “romance of scholarship,” which expresses itself in “flowers of discourse.” Furthermore, concerning the GS’s “down-and-out” move from the Ivory Tower to “that tower down the track,” the Romantic ideal to overcome the “murders to dissect” mode of scholarship with the Eros mode has now been conceived of (by some daring academics) as a “Re-enchanting the Academy.” To the Gypsy Scholar (striving for Orphic Scholarship), this means that RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program is his own way of “Re-enchanting the Academy.” (And, as far as the academic essay is concerned, the word “enchantment” comes from the Latin word incantare [in = En- + cantare = sing]; lit., in-song-ment.) Therefore, because of this in-song-ment, the Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is actually a “Re-enchanment” of the academic form of the essay, which issues in a romance of ideas.
RE-VISION RADIO’s reunion and fusion of Philosophy & Music makes for a Musekal Philosophy, one that envisions the ideal philosopher (according to Socrates and Plato) as a “fervent musician,” or a “musical man.” (“The soul which has seen most truth shall come to birth as a philosopher, or beauty lover, or fervent musician.” –Socrates, Phaedrus Cf. Gibran: "When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.”) And because (according to Plato) Philosophy is really a form of “play”—an artistic endeavor—, it makes the scholar of philosophy a scholar-artist-musician (i.e., an Orphic Scholar), who is distinguished by his or her ability “to play with knowledge and create a collage of ideas or intellectual mind-jazz.” Thus, RE-VISION RADIO’s ideal of the Orphic Scholar is about spontaneous prose; “of speaking from your heart and bellowing it out as if you were a crazed jazz man.” (Cf. the Orphic Scholar, Nietzsche: “For we easily forget that what the poet as wordsmith could not achieve—the attainment of the highest intellectualization and idealization of myth—he could achieve successfully at any time as a creating musician.”)
RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack is a species of “Mental Studies & Performances” [Blake]. In other words, the Gypsy Scholar attempts to make scholarship a performance art. Therefore, the Musekal Philosophy of RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack finally leads not to ponderous academic desiccation but to ecstatic Dionysian celebration—to the “Joyous Science” (of the Troubadours, Nietzsche, and Emerson). This means RE-VISION RADIO’s Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack’s dialectical (the logical discussion of ideas and opinions) trajectory ends in a “music that can deepest reach” [Emerson, the “Orphic Scholar”], which makes for a mood of trance, enchantment, and ecstasy. “All our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.” [Blaise Pascal] And because the ability to express complex philosophical ideas in lyrics of song is the gift of Orpheus—“divine rhetorician and singer of love songs”—RE-VISION RADIO’s TOWER OF SONG program broadcasts what one Sixties singer-songwriter said the music of that creative and revolutionary era promised: “A deep ecstasy that can be had.” Therefore, RE-VISION RADIO’s Musekal Philosophy, via its Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, turns out to be—metaphorically and literally—what one modern philosopher, Susanne K. Langer, envisioned as “Philosophy in a New Key.”
September 22, 2004