Do they exist?

Not, apparently, in the world of ‘the glass bead game.’

There are no women of power or intellect. There are no mothers, sisters, daughters. There are no random women walking down a street. There are no instances of the word ‘she’ in the entire book so far. The only hint that the female sex even exists, is a brief mention that members of the order of Castalia do not take wives.

Yes, I know this was written in the 40’s, but it’s supposed to take place in the 23rd century. And you’d sort of expect an intellectual writer like this to be somewhat forward thinking…

These ‘monks’ or whatever they are, are supposed to be so educated and smart about art and music and mathematics and culture that they play abstract games with these concepts as pieces on the board. But how can you know anything about art or culture or the world when you have no idea about over half of the human population?



Mind games

I’ve started reading ‘The Glass Bead Game’ by Herman Hesse, mainly because the title made me think of go. The story features a fictional game that is very abstract and deals with concepts and ideas as the ‘pieces’. The players are intellectual elites who use pieces of knowledge or pieces of culture to play their games. The opening of the book is a history of the game’s origins and evolution to its current state, in the future world of the novel.

This opening, detailing a fictional future world where intellect and the mind are valued, made me wish our world could be like that. Thinking and knowledge for the sake of it, for the improvement of your own self and your understanding of the world–is not ‘in fashion’ anymore in our world. Knowledge and intellect are valued only as much as they can be used to make money or increase power. Philosophy is laughed at, the arts are considered a waste of time, history is viewed as a political tool, music is for selling tickets.

Can we return to an age of thought and reason and imagination and introspection? It’s what our species does best–what makes us stand out from the other animals. Let’s not let it fall away in favor of fighting and destruction.




Word A Day: Accorder


 Definition: One who accords assents or concedes

Here it is! The first word I’m not familiar with. I am familiar with ‘accord’, of course, but I’ve never seen this noun version used.

When I first saw this I thought of a musical instrument, like a recorder, or an accordion.

Thinking about music, I wonder if musical instruments–and the ability to play them–will become gradually extinct, as people more and more use computer programs to compose and play music.

Harps and grand pianos and cellos are huge, unwieldy and very very expensive instruments, and if the sounds they produce can be reproduced by a computer, these high cost contraptions may become collectibles.

I’m sure musicians will be shaking their head at this thought, and I as a guitar player certainly do too. There is no way currently, for computers to be able to copy the effect of human touch on music–the precise bending of a string according to the current mood and feel, the speed at which the bow is drawn across the strings, the pressure, all adjusted precisely and improvisationaly, by human instinct–but in principle, there is no reason we couldn’t eventually replicate that ability on a computer. The controls may be virtual, and may even resemble the original instruments at first, but the physical object itself would no longer be creating the sound.

We already see many popular modern musical groups using no instruments other than computers, and voice. Often not even voice. It makes me wonder if any instrument other than the computer will ever be invented again.

New sounds are surely being invented, though. They evolve and spread throughout pop music like a new species, eventually dying out as the new popular sound emerges. But the instrument that produces them is still a computer program. Since the electronic synthesizer, I don’t think any new musical instruments have been invented.

Music will always be around, but I suspect that in the future, actual physical instruments, besides the voice (which will likely become heavily augmented in professional singers) will be a thing of the past, and all music produced will be produced via a computer program.

I’ll still be strumming my guitar though!