Thought as Mass

During the night I had a significant dream – in which I was being interviewed by a couple of journalists in a tiny office crammed with bookshelves. We crowded around a card table which served as a desk. Underneath it there was an awkwardly-shaped box occupying the space where our legs wanted to go.

From this I saw that ideas actually do have mass. This led me to reflect on the relationship between ideas, their generation &/or exposition, and the deevelopment of mass. The ‘mechanism’ by which consciousness us converted into matter is the etherial property of numen – the excitement or ‘magical’ interaction between the stated idea and the response it triggers in others. This in turn is a reflexion of the extent of the probabilities it reflects or expresses in the minds of its audience.

This is most clearly seen in mass market music – whose raison d’être, as the title suggests, is to commodify the articulation by individuals of inchoate feelings arising within the zeitgeist. This process also exemplifies the power of certain ideas to achieve mass. And at the same time illuminates the relationship between intentionality and chance in the reification or concretization of ideas – namely, that ideas arising from predetermined coordinates (ie, traditional ethical or æsthetic perspectives) inherently lack the self-adjusting flexibility to assume dynamic coherence within the greater volatility of transient experience/s offered by today’s electronically-enhanced world.


Franz Liszt as teacher

In general, Liszt was over-indulgent, above all with female students. His kindness and his severity were expressed according to a special system that not all knew. When he saw that a pupil had absolutely no talent, he waived his right to correct the player, because, in truth, it served nothing. He began then to speak French – a bad sign that caused smiles among the initiated. When a female pupil finished her lesson and offered her forehead in order to receive the obligatory kiss if he commented "Trés bien" in a serious voice, she would leave radiantly, but the inner circle knew that the master spoke ironically.

Memoir by José Vianna da Motta