Mapping the Medium, Episode 4: A Musical Moment

Two Boys Playing Music Instruments

Photo by Pok Rie

(Music)

Welcome back, and thank you for joining me for Episode #4. …

As I do in the beginning of every episode, there are three things I need to address before we can get to the main body of our topic. … Firstly, I want to remind anyone who may be new to listening to this podcast that you might have difficulty following along if you’ve not heard the previous episodes in the order of their release dates. I truly appreciate your willingness to do that, as your ability to understand these topics is very important, and each episode provides crucial bits of insight into the subsequent ones. . … Secondly, as always, I have a question for you that relates to a previous episode. This one pertains to episode #3, ‘Do You Hear What I hear?’. .. Here it is. .. If you happen to be outside and turn over a log in a wood pile, and see a black spider with a red hourglass on its belly, what type of sign would the red hourglass be? You can respond on this episode’s ‘read more’ link on mappingthemedium.com, or beneath this blog posting on culturalmetapatterns.com. I look forward to reading your thoughts. .. And now, thirdly, here’s a little insight into what this new episode #4 is about. … In order for you to get the most out of our current topic, I’m going to ask you to do something a little different. It will take a bit more of your time, but I hope you will find it enjoyable. .. Since this ‘piece’ I want you to hear is not yet on public domain where I can include excerpts in this podcast, I ask that you please go to the following web address and listen to what you find there. So grab a notepad and jot this down. Here is the address.
https://archive.org/details/PeterAndTheWolf_753
Once you’ve gone there and listened to the piece, I’ll meet you back here and we’ll pick up where we left off, exploring and mapping ‘A Musical Moment’. See you then!

(Music)

Ok, now that we’re back from our online field trip, let’s get on with our topic. …. If you’ve heard ‘Peter and the Wolf’ before, I certainly hope that brought back wonderful memories for you. And if you haven’t heard it before, I certainly hope you enjoyed exploring music in this very innocent way. .. ‘Innocence’ is really the best mindset for us to wear when gearing up to explore the many facets of semiotics and ‘archetypes’. …
As I explained in previous episodes, we each have a multi-layered and multi-dimensional semiotic ‘scaffold’ in our individual minds that has exponentiated during our lifetime of interactions and cognitive mapping, resulting in individualized ‘models’ of the Medium reality that affects our personal perspectives on the world around us. This is what effectively ‘places’ each of us in our relational positions in the universal extension of thought. And when we ‘know’ this and are aware of the effects of this, we can then improve our ability to better recognize what actually lies ‘outside’ of our individual perspective and is ‘universal’ to ‘all’ human beings.
In episode #3, we briefly touched on some very basic elements of semiotics in order to introduce you to the mechanism that generates the momentum for what we sense as cause and effect in our individual perceptions. We will expand on our understanding of semiotics in future episodes of this podcast, but it’s important that we parallel that understanding as we go forward with the difference between semiotics and the more universal mechanism of ‘archetypes’. So it is in this episode that we will explore the very basics of ‘archetypes’, and music is definitely an aesthetically pleasing way for us to do that. …

Born into the late 19th century, but with his most profound work taking place in the mid 20th century, Carl Gustav Jung became a renowned Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, whose work was influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. There are many aspects of Jung’s work that relate to so much of what we will explore in this podcast, and I definitely recommend that you consider learning about this brilliant man if you are not already familiar with him. For now we are only going to focus on Jung’s ideas and perspectives regarding ‘archetypes’ and their relations to what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’.

Archetypes are primitive, collectively inherited, unconscious ideas, patterns of thought, images, etc., that are universally present in individual psyches, and are a worldwide recurring motif in literature, art, mythology, and religion. There are many different kinds of archetypes, but they are all unconscious, cognitive models, after which other things are patterned. They can be categorized as settings, situations, or something symbolic. Here are some examples of archetypes; a garden, a mountain, a quest, a martyr, a damsel in distress, a savior, fire, water, wilderness, a tyrant, a wizard, and many more. They recur in all global cultures, religions, and societies. Collectively, archetypes are the primitive, base footers on which semiotic, cognitive scaffolding attaches and develops.

If we were to try and apply a commonly understood, modern analogy to the relationship between semiotics and archetypes, semiotics might be thought of as the cognitive mapping ‘software’ that engages in an exchange of activity that is external to ‘self’, while ‘archetypes’ might be thought of as the cognitive mapping ‘internal’ hardware, that is fundamental to knowledge as a ‘collective’, and provides the platform for what arises as semiotic cause and effect. Let me explain more of how I come to this analogy, but in order to do that I will need to backtrack a little to a field of study I mentioned in episode #1; Epigenetics’. ….
Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms cause by ‘modification’ to gene expression, rather than alterations to the genetic code itself. The Greek prefix ‘epi’ in epigenetics refers to features that are ‘on top of’ or ‘in addition to’ the genetic basis for inheritance. What’s fascinating about this field of research is how these scientific discoveries are confirming that there is ‘continuity’ in all things, and every ‘thing’ is just an aspect or ‘mode’ of the greater Whole. For example, in a December 1st, 2013 Nature Neuroscience article, located online at http://www.nature.com/articles/nn.3603, researchers found that when mice are taught to fear a particular odor, both their offspring and the next generation are subsequently born fearing that same odor. The findings indicate that environmental information may be inherited transgenerationally. And in a more recent study published in the scientific journal ‘Cell’, found at www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(19)30448-9.pdf, researchers confirmed that the nervous system ‘can’ transmit messages to future generations.
If we look at this with a parallel frame of mind regarding semiotics and archetypes, we can consider how semiotics is ‘epi’, or ‘on top of’ or ‘in addition to’ primitive archetypes. In other words, what makes our species ‘human’ in a genetic sense is our common genetic code, and what makes our species human in a cognitive sense is our primitive and collectively common archetypes. Our genes are influenced by our environment, or Medium, per epigenetics, and expressed as creative diversity manifested over and above genetic copies. Our collective, cognitive foundation (archetypes) is also influenced by our environment, or Medium, per semiotics, and expressed as creatively diverse ideas, and manifested in our verbal, non-verbal, and written dialogue.
I imagine that right about now you might be asking yourself, “What does all of this have to do with music?” Carl Jung had no skills as a musician, but he had an understanding of music’s emotional power. He did express his thoughts on this matter in a letter he wrote January 20th, 1950 to author Serge Moreux about how music is an expression of the emotive aspects of the collective unconscious. And I quote:
“Dear M. Moreux,
While I thank you for your kind letter, I must tell you that unfortunately I am obliged to limit my activity for reasons of age and health, and so it will not be possible for me to write an article for the projected number of Polyphonie.
Music certainly has to do with the collective unconscious-as the drama does too; this is evident in Wagner, for example.
Music expresses, in some way, the movement of the feelings (or emotional values) that cling to the unconscious processes.
The nature of what happens in the collective unconscious is archetypal, and archetypes always have a numinous quality that expresses itself in emotional stress.
Music expresses in sounds what fantasies and visions express in visual images.
I am not a musician and would not be able to develop these ideas for you in detail.
I can only draw your attention to the fact that music represents the movement, development, and transformation of motifs of the collective unconscious.
In Wagner this is very clear and also in Beethoven, but one finds it equally in Bach’s “Kunst der Fuge.”
The circular character of the unconscious processes is expressed in the musical form; as for example in the sonata’s four movements, or the perfect circular arrangement of the “Kunst der Fuge,” etc.
I am with best regards,
Yours sincerely,
C.G. Jung”
End Quote.
Side note: You can reference this letter by researching Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 542.
As we have touched on previously, semiotics dates back to the origins of biological dialogue, and according to Carl Jung, archetypes are the anchors of primitive pattern recognition in human beings. …. Noting that archeologists have uncovered bone flutes dating back to 45,000 years BCE during the Paleolithic era, it’s clear that music is an innate aspect of our base organism. Listening to and exploring the sounds in Peter and the Wolf is a great way to discover how ‘tone’ touches us in our understanding of archetypes. The sounds of the instruments assigned to each of the creatures in the story as representing archetypal, primitive knowledge of the physical characteristics of those creatures, and the way the melodies are played according to the actions of each creature, quickly takes over the narrative, and we can follow the tones in the story without the actual semiotic signs, or words. When the words do follow in parallel unison with the melody, we ‘feel’ how both are tugged from our emotional core, and elicit a trinity response. This manifests as the epigenetic influence of the ‘sensory sound’ of the Medium, the cognitive influence of the ‘semiotic expression’, and the emotional response as we follow the flowing, suspended ‘potential’ of the melody. In starting with an innocent reflection of a piece like Peter and the Wolf, we can then expand on that and better understand how a more complex piece of music, or a different type of cultural genre of music, is artistically expressed and received by humans from a perspective relative to their placement within the Medium.

Expression and reception of music can be more deeply examined by reflecting on them together as a Janus-like, cosmic law. For ease of your research, the spelling of Janus is J-A-N-U-S . . To understand this means to understand that even in the case of what appears to be a contrary, something is only recognized as a contrary in ‘relation’ to that which appears to be its opposite. This can be applied when considering a musical ‘moment’, which is typically heard as ‘standing alone’ within the larger composition. This can also be applied to the importance of the silence between notes. There is no ‘standing alone’ or ‘silence’ without that which is not standing alone, or that which is actually a played note. There is always a relationship between what appears to be contraries, meaning there is always ‘continuity’ in all things. Stop here for a moment and think of what we reviewed in episode 3 about how we recognize ‘self’ only in relation to that which is ‘not self’. . .. This is also a good place in this podcast for me to mention Charles S. Peirce’s three ‘categories’ of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. … I encourage you to read more about these, as we will delve into them in later episodes down the road. But before we do that, we will need to incorporate many other beautiful, parallel topics, into our map legend, color being one example. There are many additional tools needed for our journey. …But with regard to music, it’s also interesting to consider how it relates to patterns of sound throughout nature and all of the various life forms. There is even recent research being conducted in the field of ‘plant bioacoustics’, indicating that plants and fungi may share information acoustically as well as chemically.
So in the spirit of Janus and what Carl Jung referred to as the ‘circular character of the unconscious processes”, and in order to bring us full circle back to my opening statements in this episode, I present now a short piece of music played by a single stringed instrument that just happens to connect back to my opening words. While you are listening to this music, see if you can make that connection.
(VIOLIN) https://freesound.org/s/114722/
Now, from a child-like, innocent perspective, imagine the poisonous brown recluse spider, taking a bow, after playing that beautiful music with the violin that he carries on his back, and ask yourself, why do we recognize the sign of a violin on his back versus just an oddly shaped brown marking. Because it is innate human nature to look for, recognize, and differentiate patterns and signs. It’s extremely important that we use this gift to ‘gather’ our understandings, not separate them. Nature constantly hints at this not only on the backs and bellies of spiders, but from every angle of our perception. We need only to pay attention.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Mapping the Medium. I hope you will consider sharing it with others. If you have interest in being a guest on this podcast, or would like to share your thoughts or show your support by donating or sponsoring, please visit http://www.mappingthemedium.com.

Until next time, be well, be safe, be inquisitive, dialogue with others of different perspectives, and never forget to listen for the music.

(MUSIC)