Julliard School Of Bluegrass In Cultural Evolution

stProbably 30 years ago I noticed there was a ‘Julliard School of Bluegrass’, because all of the Bluegrass bands had had a large increase in technical skills, the music had become more sophisticated as a result. The first performers I remember were Norman Black and his wife, David Grissman, Bela Fleck, Red Clay Ramblers. It kept evolving, Luther Wright and the Wrongs were a fun fusion with rock and now Chris Thile, who plays everything.

Country music has gone through the same evolution. Peoples minds are very different in 2016 than at any previous time in history. It isn’t just IQ that has a Flynn Effect, and the sophistication of writing in the print media isn’t the only effect on IQ or judgement in general. Someone who appreciates the Blue Grass of a Chris Thile cannot have a mind so simple as the original fans of Flatt and Scrugs (tho BlueGrass fans were an elite even then 8) :

All that prompted the memory of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, brilliant stage performances,  many talents in every performer, their version of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors is WOW, and so sad the last surviving copy is so lousy. No kidding this is worth watching with the family, an intellectual Cirque du Soleil of Vaudeville on acid strain with more clowns and excellent circus music, recursive implementation of Shakespeare with meta-refs about 1985 or so. No mind exits without some meta :

Which reminds me of another thing I observed in these evolutions. There has always been use of ‘recursion’. In computer science, it is a function calling itself. In literature, it would be Shakespeare appearing as a character, slightly different than the original and/or in a different environment, in a Shakespeare play, composing versions of the play itself.  (Engineers find that a cool idea, it shows up in SciFi a lot, tho it would break your brain to watch it. Shakespeare is hard enough to manage in the language-expression translation.) Escher in image art, so sad there has never been an Escher in sculpture***. Music always did it.

From those small beginnings I remember in Mad Magazine has grown at least one genre of meta- and recursive and recursively meta in nearly every field of artistic endeavor. After Hofstadter’s book “Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” it was everywhere.

Now we select our friends by how meta- they are, and metalevels increase with every generation. New research horizons in psychology and sociology, perspectives to apply to history, …

I should have been a professor*. Really, just sitting around writing down neat thoughts all day, being a pompous asshole in faculty meetings, sexually exploiting the coeds with a daddy complex. What a life. Knowing you are so important in the formation of the minds of the future, and being able to define what is admirable, and to guide the reporting of the rift between reality and those ideals. Had I only been smarter, I wouldn’t have ended up a simple software engineer. I could have designed civilizations like The Generalissimo is doing.**

Meta- is catching, by the way. Repeated exposure leads to system-level thinking, and your life can never be simple again.

In that context, another example of sophistication of stage performance is Penn and Teller. I think this is absolutely brilliant mixing of humor, patter and performance, no mind at the finish is as simple as it started :

The trends to mixing classes of art extends into classical music, e.g. Vanessa Mae. Around this time so many serious performers  started dancing or otherwise performing :

This woman isn’t so well known in the US, but Shakira is singing and dancing and everything :

I didn’t mean to review all of the arts, it just happens.

*My friend in the academic world, chairman of a department and then Provost of a small college thinks my characterization of Professors is incorrect and inadequate. Interesting that she added functions I missed, e.g. teaching, counseling students, meeting with students on special projects, and faculty work. She claims most are honorable wrt students and sex, doesn’t dispute the rest. Significant, I choose to interpret that as.

**The Generalissimo’s efforts are here, along with Scherrhy’s experiences as an experimental subject grown to colleague to The Generalissimo.

***So I repeat my good joke to my son, who immediately corrects me about the sculptures. He didn’t mean this simple kind :


He meant the full 3D equivalent to the staircase, where you have to stand in one place to see it, looking through a peep hole.

Then my wife chimed in with “How about the faucet standing in space with a continuous stream of water coming out?”. More surreal than I associate with Escher, but that is an engineer’s impression in 2017. It is the kind of opinion that doesn’t matter at all. You shouldn’t be reading this drivel.

Except, think how easy it would be to change that overall impression. It isn’t held deeply, backed by a hundred facts that you can cite in support. Half a dozen repetitions of an opposite point of view, presented in a way that is acceptable to me, I could easily change my impression. If I then wrote it here, it would be come one of the half a dozen repetitions of an opinion-changing message that you need to hear in a wide variety of topics that begin to change your general understanding of an issue.

Do that for half a dozen different items in my mental space, and you could weaken support for a major piece of my values. Patriotism, say. How hard would it be to change the meaning of ‘patriotism’, from one of ‘I am strong for the state that serves Justice and Peace’ to ‘I am strong in serving the state’? Shade it 10% per generation in a positive feedback system, the net present value of investing in professors is obvious. Yes, they have blown a culture, and I am annoyed with the class, which is indeed unfair.

But it won’t change much, me, one J Random Engineer expecting the intellectual class to police its intellectual standards to a level beyond ‘whatever gets grants and professorships’. But, I bet my net present value of this opinion will, compounded over another half generation, prevail.

This is meta, a message about messages. Meta is catching, and you will never think simply again.

See why you shouldn’t read warnings?

Charles Hugh Smith just published this, which I hadn’t seen before finishing all that.



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