“Planetarium”: Other-wordly example of collaborative composition in today’s music world

Collaboration among composers is becoming more common in the modern music world, as is mixing of popular and classical music genres.  Such is the case with “Planetarium”, a 17-movement, 76-minute “rock band” suite by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryan Dessner, and James McCallister, with a substantial chamber orchestra with voice.  Collaboration may tend to become a necessary part of getting commissions in today’s music business.

It’s pretty obvious to compare this to Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”. But this work includes Halley’s Comet, Black Energy, Black Hole, the Kuiper Belt (or Oort Cloud), and offers 15 minutes for Earth.

The album has interesting still art work that looks like it would fit into Clive Barker’s “Imajica”.

The best movement to my ear was Mars, which did sound a little more like Hollywood.

Perhaps this music could comport with the YouTube series “Outward Bound” which presents the challenges for colonizing and terraforming each planet or its moons (and some other stuff, like deep space, hive minds, uploading consciousness for immortality, and the like).  There are interesting ideas there as to how artificial gravity on a colony would mix with low gravity on a moon (a teacup setup is recommended), and on the idea that super low temperatures (like on Titan) could facilitate the computing power it would take to store consciousness (or mine digital currencies; any alien civilization will invent block-chain).

Review by Metro Weekly.

4AD Official site, with other videos, and concert schedule.

Legacy review of “Outward Bound” videos.

(Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 1:30 PM EST)

“Life After Death”: the geography of the Afterlife (Martin)

I received, from author Stephen Hawley Martin, a complimentary review copy of his Second Edition (2017) “Life After Death: Powerful Evidence You Will Never Die”.  I think the first edition was in 1995.

The author believes that consciousness generates the Universe and permeates it.  Consciousness exists apart from matter and energy – you could wonder if it has anything to do with dark energy, or with unused dimensions in string theory.  Consciousness tends to aggregate into concentrates that seek some sort of physical vehicle for expression.  Since ultimate conscious entities can make choices, in theory conscious entities – expressed (on this planet at least) with reproductive life forms, oppose entropy, which would cause the Universe to degrade.

Human being (and animal) individual consciousness comes about as genetics and “morphogenetic” influences cause a “soul” or conscious entity to become expressed or “received” by a physical body.  Many other sources talk about “free will” and self-awareness as connected to microtubules within neurons able to deal with quantum uncertainties.

Martin’s book, which is a bit random in its presentations style, focuses most on evidence from “near death experiences” or NDE’s, and many examples of reincarnation.  He mentions AMORC, or the Rosicrucian Order, as well as the Monroe Institute (20 miles south of Charlottesville VA) which he says the CIA has used to train agents in remote viewing. He cites cases of intelligent people with very little cerebrum matter, and notes that even plants can “behave” despite not having brains.

I think there is a logical question.  Do most newborn babies develop a “new” soul, or are most actually reincarnations?  If the universe expands infinitely and has infinitely many centers of consciousness, there could be an “infinite series” of reincarnation – but then again, some series will converge! He mentions AMORC’s (Rosicrucian) teaching that typical reincarnation cycles last about 140 years.

The author suggests that homosexuality may result when the person was of the opposite sex in the previous incarnation (although this idea runs the risk of confusing sexual orientation with gender identity or fluidity, very different concepts).  It’s all too easy to imagine the “Putin” argument that acceptance of homosexuality can lower procreation (and give returning souls another chance).

He also talks about “life between lives”, as being “what you want”.  Some souls “get stuck” as “asylum seekers” and become ghosts.  The sites “Afterlife Knowledge” and Mike Pettigrew’s give a geography of the Afterlife.  Note the “hollow heavens” available to those with strict religious beliefs;  “Focus 27” seems to be the most advanced level.   The author notes that a lot of souls got “stuck” after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, but not after 9/11, because the deaths were more instantaneous. That would suggest that the way you die does affect your next course in the Afterlife.

The  soul life might be the “real life”, whereas earthly life is like a “dream” (as in the song “Row your boat”);  In a dream during sleep, you don’t remember how you got there, although you know who you are.  This is the concept of Christopher Nolan’s movie “Inception” (2010).  Other films worth mention here are “Cocoon” (Ron Howard, 1985), or even  the “Chiller”, “The Disembodied” (1957). The appropriate term for a person who has passed away is “discarnate”.  We could also ponder “Our Home: Astral City” (2011, Brazil), “What Dreams May Come” (1998, Robin Williams), and “Defending Your Life” (1991).

Martin mentions the “life review” that occurs at time of passage, that seems to give the person access to every moment in his or her life as if on a video.  The term reminds me of “content evaluation” in the POD book industry.  As evidence of his theory, Martin also notes that people with Alzheimer’s disease often become lucid and get most of their memory back just before they pass on, as if the memory came from a repository of cosmic consciousness.

Martin also talks about Grace as a cosmological concept that matches up with that in the Christian and other faiths, as organizing nature.  He explains telekinesis (or maybe self-teleportation as with young Clark Kent in “Smallville”) as instances of “mind over matter”.

He does mention angels a couple times, and I’ve wondered if these are immortal physical beings, or maybe someone like Jason Ritter’s hero character Sean Walker in NBC’s series “The Event“, someone who doesn’t know he is an alien, and almost immortal, until the end.  In my own novel manuscript “Angel’s Brother” I play with the idea that a soul could experience another (younger) person’s body through “consolidation” (through a fictitious virus) but the process backfires when one of the persons separates as piece of ball lightning and then reconnects himself.

Martin mentions the Myers-Biggs personality charts (p. 173), and considers himself “INTJ” (introverted-intuitive-thinking-judging), about 2% of the population.  I fall into that category (“feminine subjective” by Rosenfels), and can be unpopular, viewed as a spectator rather than a participant.

I think the concept of relation between soul and living person can be put into analogy with a phonograph recording of a performance of a music work.  This concept may have been more applicable in the past before the Internet and digital age with cloud storage.  But an “instance” recording of a work can wear out (bad styli in the past) and need to be replaced, but the actual work and performance still lives forever.  You could even draw a comparison to object-oriented programming, with “classes” and “instances”, where rebirth is “instantiation” (or “construction”).

I have visited the grounds of the Monroe Institute (Aug. 2014), but you have to arrive very early for a one day event.   The long sessions with Hemi-Sync require a considerable time commitment.   I visited the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose CA in 1975.

Author: Stephen Hawley Martin
Title, Subtitle: “Life After Death: Powerful Evidence You Will Never Die”
publication date 2017, 1995
ISBN 978-1543134322
Publication: Oaklea Press, Richmond Va; Paper, 13 chapters, 206 pages
Link: sales

(Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 at 9:15 PM EDT)

“Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience”: Malick condenses his Tree of Life


Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience” (40 min), as narrated by Brad Pitt, comes across as a philosophy supplement to Terrence Malick’s ponderous “The Tree of Life” (2011).  But instead of Andrew Desplat’s music, we are treated to the closing passages of Mahler’s Second Symphony as the Universe is born (an earlier choral passage appears later).  Other classical music includes the Te Deum by Arvo Part, and the conclusion of the Bach B Minor Mass.  I was irritated that the National Air and Space Museum cut off the Bach during the credits to make announcements. I thought I heard a little of Havergal Brian’s “Gothic” Symphony, too.

The film shows the origins of simple life, and then gives us a lot of “free fish”, and coelenterates and mullosca to boot. Finally we see a great blue whale, with no hint of its participation in a distributed chain of consciousness.

The narrator, though, does talk about the evolution of sentience, and the idea of having a body associated with consciousness that is self-aware. You do get the feeling that undersea life forms are much more “alien” than land animals, and that the same might be true on other planets with life.

There’s plenty of volcanic scenery (Hawaii and maybe Iceland, maybe the Aleutians).  We see the dinosaurs perish with the great asteroid strike near Belize, and then a scene with apes using tools that reminds one of the “dawn of man” in “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

The best shot in the whole film is one of Dubai, over top of the Burj Khalifa, at night, with all the artificial islands and structures.


I was not aware of a companion feature “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey”, 90 Min, from Terrence Malik, with Cate Blanchett as narrator, also from Broad Green Pictures.

Most days, there is only one show at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, at 4:10 PM.

Wikipedia attribution link for aerial picture of Dubai, NASA, p.d.  Second picture shows the aftermath of a Texas Hill Country flood (from museum).

(Posted: Friday: Oct. 14, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)