Books! What are you currently reading or just finished?


Just finished:


It’s as good a time as any for some gnostic hard truths…


Was this any good? Any special/original insights? Seems like it’d be interesting.


It is a great read, and there aren’t enough books on Darboven!


I love Cioran!
He can be so invigorating while ultra pessimistic.
Haven’t read that one tho. It seems darker than some of the later ones…


this is very good so far!


I’ve been reading Essays and Fictions by artist Brad Phillips and it’s really good. It’s a mixture of autobiography and fiction (sometimes in the same essay or story, but sometimes not).

If you want to sample some of his writing before committing to getting the book (which I would highly recommend) here is his essay on Heaven’s Gate



Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s Programmed Visions


I’m considering Cioran’s “The Trouble With Being Born” and “On the Heights of Despair”. Has anyone read those?


I just started reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. In short, it’s an exploration of/comparison between our intuitive/emotional (“fast”) and analytical/logical (“slow”/Vulcan IMO) ways of thinking, and perhaps also a way to become more aware of ourselves succumbing to the easy-but-wrong answers we come up with too often when we don’t force ourselves to use the logical way of thinking. also some interesting talk about physiological factors in all this. really fascinating!

a quick example:

If a baseball bat and a ball cost a total of $1.10, and the bat costs $1 more than the ball, then how much does the ball cost?

if you say “$0.10”, you’re wrong, you answered the same as most people, and maybe you’ll want to read the book to learn about why we make bad decisions like that :stuck_out_tongue:


When I visited my parents in Miami I got to about page 200 of this book. It was fun! It’s like a party style board game as a book…and for one lol


I’m extremely interested in this. Our current bombardment-of-information / short attention span culture leaves me looking for a bit of respite in this kind of thinking! :sunny:


I’ve read the trouble with being born a while ago. It made a strong impression on me, it acted as a sort of dark tonic. I sometimes find aphorism frustrating but I love his, some sad ones, some funny ones and a few on Lao Tseu and Hamlet. That’s all from memory since my copy seem to have disapear from my bookcase but I remember being penetrated by some kind of joyfull nihilist courage while reading it.


Roads states pretty early in the book that this is about his process of composition, and he doesn’t try to cover, for instance, improvisation. Nevertheless, I found some relevance to my process, which often is at least partially improvisational.

He does love to use granular synthesis/microsound as the example for everything, and his favorite word “multiscale” turns up a lot. But it’s a pretty useful way of thinking.

I guess my main criticism is that he tries a little too hard to make the case that electronic music freed composers from constraints that they previously felt.

Pre-electronic Western composers did have a tendency to treat notes as indivisible, homogeneous, atomic units; 12TET tuning mostly dominated to the point people forgot other alternatives existed, and timbre and spatialization options were more limited. But those were not absolutes, particularly for performers – it was understood that composers wrote notation, and conductors and performers interpreted it, adding expression. (A few composers even insisted their written scores were the music itself, and it didn’t matter whether anyone heard or performed it.)

Those same biases were maintained in electronic music in the form of keyboards, notation software, the design of MIDI, piano roll sequencing, etc. In fact what MIDI calls expression is anything that deviates from notes that you can play on a piano.

I found it curious that Roads didn’t associate his argument with the point that, in electronic music, there is usually no division between “composer” and “performer.”

I do appreciate his thoughts that formalism and determinism really only take you so far, and that algorithmic composition processes are weakest where it comes to matters of form – that music needs human direction and insight at crucial moments.

Anyway, it was a thoughtful and thought-provoking book, but as usual, I want to read something lightweight and fun now. :slight_smile:


I think depending on Roads’s perspective, this point is less clear: I remember seeing the more serious music majors around me performing pieces by other people that were largely electronic in nature: somehow there was still some sense of scores (even if they were arcane Pd patches) and interpretation. And in our history course, our main interaction with electronic composition was something like Philomel, where in the recording there’s a clear delineation between Babbitt’s composition and the soprano’s interpretation.

Of course, I think you’re right that it’s less common on the whole. And thanks for such a thorough review!


just finishing the last in this self-assigned series. despite (or perhaps because of) their ominous subject matter, each one is fascinating and also quite a page-turner: horror/thrillers in nonfiction. each explains a different piece of the world we live in, and how we got here…

interviews with (‘ex’)-nazis in a small town in germany just after the war:

nixon and the 60s:

follow the money: the koch brothers and all that:

the enduring (and the author argues, foundational) strain of the irrational/magical thinking in american culture, how it plays out on both the left and the right:


Ah, didn’t realize that was still a thing in the academic side of electronic music.

Another thing about the book is it made me want to learn about serialism, because I know little about it and Roads makes it sound completely bonkers. It might explain why I dislike a lot of the “serious” music of that era.


I know very little of it too, but “bonkers” is right :joy:. The context of the World Wars and classical music’s close ties with nationalism helped me understand what they were looking for, when the serialists set out to find a new musical language, but I think what they ended up with is pretty silly xD


The Rest is Noise does a pretty solid intro, I think, and deals with the background @alanza mentions. Still can’t really get into it, but glad to know more about it.


So influential as of late, a very original take on Parmenides and the forgotten inception of Western thought. I should have found this years ago.


As Kingsley notes, Parmenides’ logic aims at demonstrating that reality is changeless, whole, unborn and immortal, and one—a description strikingly similar to the ways in which absolute reality is described in many mystical traditions, such as Advaita Vedanta, Zen, and Dzogchen. That this is no mere material or metaphysical monism is indicated by the initiatory motifs of the proem; the setting and hymnal language of Fragment Eight; the unnamed goddess as the speaker of these words; and the figure of the historical Parmenides as priest of Apollo. Kingsley reads Parmenides as saying that this “ultimate reality” is not on some supercelestial plane, but rather is very simply the reality of the world all around us. We live in an unborn and deathless world of oneness, wholeness, and changelessness—but we are unable to recognise it because mortal perception itself is dualistic. Thus, as in Empedocles, everything in Parmenides’ cosmos is divine—and, importantly, the divine is not “somewhere else,” but rather, right here and now.