Clark: “The Portable Phonograph”
notes & response:
-We build character and culture to shield ourselves from knowing that the moment we’re born into this world, we begin to die.
-“And his voice was magnificent, too. It wasn’t an ordinary voice. It sounded like an organ talking, only it was human.”
-One of the problems with the body is that it has to be one place; yet we can do lots of things to other beings’ bodies.
-“The machines had eliminated the unneeded service.”
-Money is the new universal immortality object—that seems to be why so many strive for it—pure power.
-“The machines that couldn’t stop, because they had been started, and the little men had forgotten how to stop them, or even what they were for, looking at them and listening—and wondering. They couldn’t read or write any more, and the language had changed, you see, so that the phonic records of their ancestors meant nothing to them.”
-Power seems to have power over most, if not all, men.
-“They stand about, little misshapen men with huge heads. But their heads contain only brains. They had machines that could think—but somebody turned them off a long time ago, and no one knew how to start them again. That was the trouble with them. They had wonderful brains. Far better than yours or mine. But it must have been millions of years ago when they were turned off, too, and they just haven’t thought since then. Kindly little people. That was all they knew.”
-“It’s natural for man to be a crazy animal because he’s consciously aware of his own death.”
-“It took me six months to make my apparatus. And near the end I was ready to go; and, from seeing those machines go blindly, perfectly, on in orbits of their duties with the tireless, ceaseless perfection their designers had incorporated in them, long after those designers and their sons, and their sons’ sons had no use for them—When Earth is cold, and the Sun has died out, those machines will go on. When Earth begins to crack and break, those perfect, ceaseless, machines will try to repair her—“
-“It came from everywhere and from nowhere. It was within me. I do not know how they did it. And I do not know how such music could be written. Savages make music too simple to be beautiful, but it is stirring. Semisavages write music beautifully simple, and simply beautiful…They knew music when they heard it and sang it as they felt it. Semicivilized peoples write great music. They are proud of their music, and make sure it is known for great music. They make it so great it is top-heavy.”
-“It was like the machines. They started them—and now they can’t stop. They started destroying life—and now it wouldn’t stop.”
-Noam Chomsky— Surface Structure ←←← Deep Structure
-“And it was all one vast machine. It was perfectly ordered and perfectly neat.”
-“So I brought another machine to life, and set it to a task which, in time to come, it will perform. I ordered it to make a machine which would have what man had lost. A curious machine.”
How does one make music of the machines of ever evolving, ever changing generations? That really is a beautiful notion, is it not—to think of making harmony out of the chaos or calamity of transience? The instruments that are put in place really only help to give shape to the soul. However, the instrument does not necessarily have to exist as a mechanism or a machine. The mouth, the lips, the tongue—they’re all instruments that work in some sort of synchronized fashion with hopes of producing romantic harmonies, or language. Human beings tend to perform this way from day to day, occasionally with order and most likely more often with a lack of desire for order. Yet we fit so well within the crevices of this machine. But how can one make a machine that encompasses what man had lost—the curious machine? From where does this machine receive its curiosity if it’s merely programmed to be responsive; or perhaps the ability to respond to transience is what makes the machine curious? Curiosity should begin to control the power that we so desperately strive to achieve.