Reviews by C and D (Arthur No. 20/Jan. 2006)

Originally published in Arthur No. 20 (Jan. 2006)

C AND D: Two guys bicker about new records.

TV on the Radio
“Dry Drunk Emperor”
(Touch and Go)
D: I’ve listened to this probably a hundred times by now, and I still find it overwhelming. It’s a devastator.
C: For those out there who haven’t heard it yet, this is the song TV on the Radio released in the wake of Katrina, free to everyone via the Touch and Go website [go here]. This is what they said at the time: “we were back in the studio thinking and feeling again and made this song for all our everybody… in the absence of a true leader we must not forget that we are still together…. hearts are sick … minds must change … it is our hope that this song inspires, comforts, fosters courage,and reminds us… this darkness cannot last if we work together. let us help each other… heal each other …. look after one another … the human heart is our new capitol…. this song is for you…. us…..we….them… it is free. pass it on. TO THOSE AFFECTED BY HURRICANE KATRINA: NEW YORK CITY’S HEART IS WITH YOU… STAY STRONG! WE LOVE YOU.”

We don’t usually do this sort of thing, but this is a special case. Here are the song’s lyrics:

DRY DRUNK EMPEROR
baby boy
dying under hot desert sun,
watch your colors run.

did you believe the lie they told you,
that christ would lead the way
and in a matter of days
hand us victory?

did you buy the bull they sold you,
that the bullets and the bombs
and all the strong arms
would bring home security?

all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross jock skull and bones
mocking smile,
he’s been
standing naked for a while!
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!
and bring all the thieves to trial.

end their promise
end their dream
watch it turn to steam
rising to the nose of some cross legged god
gog of magog
end times sort of thing.
oh unmentionable disgrace
shield the children’s faces
as all the monied apes
display unimaginably poor taste
in a scramble for mastery.

atta’ boy get em with your gun
till mr. megaton
tells us when we’ve won
or
what we’re gonna leave undone.

all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross jock skull and bones
mocking smile,
he’s been standing
naked for a while.
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!!
and bring all his thieves to trial.

what if all the fathers and the sons
went marching with their guns
drawn on Washington?
that would seal the deal,
show if it was real,
this supposed freedom.

what if all the bleeding hearts
took it on themselves
to make a brand new start.
organs pumpin’ on their sleeves,
paint murals on the white house
feed the leaders LSD
grab your fife and drum,
grab your gold baton
and let’s meet on the lawn,
shut down this hypocrisy.

C: The harmonies they get on this are just shattering. And the chorus…
D: This is soul, with zero retroism. That’s not supposed to be possible anymore and yet here it is. Pure righteousness.
C: I find this song overwhelming too. Not just for the song itself, but for the spirit in which was recorded and offered to the public, and the immediacy and selflessness involved. That’s what being an artist is about, in times like these. They get to something really tragic about the current situation: all those poor idiots who have been buying the Bush balderdash since 9/11… because they did that, now we are all paying for their mistakes, and will do for decades. And I’m broke, man. My pockets are empty. And I’ve got it easy. Think of all the unnamed, uncounted dead civilians in Iraq, all the dead and mistreated in New Orleans, all those detained in the secret torture prisons in Poland…
D: This song is so good I can’t believe somebody made it. The build and release, the chorus, the singing, the lyrics, the fife and drum…
C: It’s a call to imaginative action, for less talk and more walk. This is prime Fela Kuti-level stuff, seriously: talking truth directly to power, giving comfort and uplift to the powerless. I’ve never heard this song on the radio, yet it’s exactly the kind of song radio was made for.

Cast King
Saw Hill Man
(Locust Music)
C: Debut album from 79-year-old white fella. Recorded in a shack in Alabama.
D: Seniors rock. Look at this guy. I think our friend T-Model Ford might have some new competition!
C: He recorded eight songs for Sun Records in the ‘50s. He he had a touring country and bluegrass band, Cast King and the Country Drifters, but it didn’t work out and he never released an album.
D: Sweet baby Jesus, what is wrong with this country?
C: I find myself wondering that often these days…
D: The first line of this song is “I don’t care if your tears fall in my whiskey.” What more do you need?
C: The guy’s voice is so rich, it’s a pleasure just to hear his singing. The sadder the lyrics, the brighter the music. The songs are clever, catchy, simple. How could nobody care for three decades? This nation is so cruel to its artists.
D: There’s some Johnny Cash here for sure.
C: To our modern ears, of course. But I’m starting to wonder. Who came first? Not that it matters as much as, well, just how many other guys are out there still who are this good, who we’ve never heard? Maybe it’s a lot more than we think. People who got skipped over by accident of history or circumstance. That’s the lesson of the reissue culture that’s so strong right now—the Numero Group label’s releases, the stuff they talk about in Wax Poetics, all the rediscoveries of people like Vashti Bunyan and Gary Higgins and Simon Finn—all of this teaches us that actually the cream doesn’t always rise to the top. It often sinks to the very bottom.

Nina Simone
The Soul of Nina Simone dual disc
(Legacy/RCA/Sony BMG)
C: You’re not going to believe this, either. A new dual disc release: one side is a greatest hits run, the other side is vintage live footage. Deep vintage.
D: [looking at track listing] Whoa! None deeper vintage. Pure black power, 1960s. Look at this!!! [Reading aloud scrolling text on screen] “By the end of the ‘60s, the civil rights movement was in a shambles; its key leaders were dead, and race riots had erupted in several U.S. cities. ‘It felt like the shutters were coming down on anyone who dared to suggest there was something seriously wrong with the state of our country,’ said an angry Nina Simone. A ray of community hope appeared in the sammer of ’69, when the Harlem Festival—called ‘a black Woodstock’ by its producer, Hal Tulchin—came to Central Park. Crowds of up to 100,000 flocked to six free concerts. The stars included Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Simone. These excerpts from Simone’s performance have never before been shown in America.”
C: I’ve never even heard of this festival.
D: Me neither.
C: How is that possible? I thought we knew our shit. My god. Are they saying this footage has just been sitting there since 1969? Listen to her go. Listen to this band. Look at that set, look at this audience. Look at the songs she’s playing—“Revolution,” “Four Women,” “Ain’t Got No—I Got Life” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Look at the setting. Look at the situation is which this was performed.
D: This is right before she went into self-imposed exile.
C: She looks absolutely purposeful. There is a resolve in her voice, in her comments to the band and the audience, in that gorgeous face of hers as she sings that is just absolutely… She looks like a woman about to leave, because she’s been wronged. You know she’s gonna slam that door.
D: No whining. “My life has been much too rough,” she sings. [Listening to “Ain’t Got No—I Got Life”] Listen to the band swing! Unbelievable.
C: She’s holding back tears for the entire performance… She finally breaks—just a bit—on “To Be Young Gifted and Black.”
D: I think this is the greatest single live performance I have ever seen.
C: Especially when you consider the context. This is just extraordinary. Le Tigre and other no-skill apologists who say technique is irrelevant would do well to watch this. The reason people are listening to what she has to say is because she had skills beyond even her conviction.
D: It’s an absolute travesty that the American public hasn’t seen this footage until now.
C: Can you imagine what the rest of this festival must have been like? Look at that lineup. Sheesh. We’ve got to ask again: WHY HAVEN’T WE HEARD OF THIS UNTIL NOW? Where are our cultural historians? Why do we know about Jimi liberating the national anthem and not taking the brown acid and all that other Woodstock jive but not about this? It’s criminal.

Niger: Magic & Ecstasy in the Sahel dvd
by Hisham Mayet
(Sublime Frequencies)
C: And now for somebody who knows how to document and distribute important stuff immediately, rather than waiting for 36 years…
D: [spills beer in joy] YES! The mighty Sublime Frequencies strike AGAIN!
C: 70 minutes of footage of hot blast from the streets of Niger, one of the quote poorest unquote nations in the world. Oil can drum duos, one-stringed instrument maestros, harmonizing ululators, invocation dances. Divination ceremonies and informal nighttime initiation rituals, Taureg trance funk at the end.
D: Absolutely riveting.

OOOIOO
[Untitled]
(Thrill Jockey)
C: New album from project featuring Yoshimi who is in Boredoms. Don’t really understand the provenance of this album—recorded in 2000 but only released this year? Weird vocal calisthenics, big tribal drum thrusters, chimes and flutes and birds and trumpets, synthesizers, tablas, loopage and harmony chants, Sean Lennon and Yuka Honda amongst the guests, the best album booklet I’ve seen in 2005—it seems to illustrate a place directly midway mushroom wonderland of the Allmans’ Eat A Peach album centerfold and the post-toxic landscapes of Lightning Bolt—and check it out, here on Track 7: straight-up female Tuareg ululations!
D: Sometimes I think Bjork gets all the attention for trying to do what Yoshimi is already doing.

Pearls and Brass
The Indian Tower
(Drag City)
C: We really shouldn’t be reviewing this til next issue cuz it’s not out til January 24. But excuse me, I think I need to turn this up.
D: Cream covered by Kyuss?
C: Yeah, kind of, huh? It’s actually three dudes from Pennsylvania.
D: These are some pretty knotty riffs. Quite a brush. A hedgerow.
C: Thorny stuff, but they still give you a riff. Here, have one.
D: Why thank you.
C: Total air guitar and drum practice CD. “The Face of God” is the face they make when they play, I bet. And there’s the vocal harmonies, and the fingerpicked acoustic blues.
D: This is bigrig truck driving music.
C: Forty-wheeler stuff—for the poor dudes trying to forget about the price of gas as they drive the nation’s clogged freeways. If it’s time for a Convoy remake, then this is the soundtrack.

The Fall
Fall Heads Roll
(Narnack)
D: The Fall is now at its best since the ‘80s, and I can say that with some authority.
C: This is the kind of spare, rocking Fall we all want. I like the words—Mr. Smith’s is still a totally idioscyncratic lyrical approach—but sometime I think just hearing his caffeinated bark against a good beat is enough. It’s a very rhythmic thing—the words are almost secondary to the song’s breath. There’s something about that “ah” that he still does at the end of each line that just feels good when you imitate it. I know that sounds weird but try it-ah.

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John Adamian on COLLEEN (Arthur No. 20, Jan 2006)

Originally published in Arthur No. 20 (Jan. 2006)

UNDER A BLANKET
Amidst the culled samples and loops of antique instruments, where in Colleen‘s music is Cécile Schott?
By John Adamian

Lockstep rhythms, heartstring-tugging melodies and overpowering volume can bring the masses together. People talk a lot about the communal and social nature of music. The language we use reinforces the connection: “groups” and “bands” play in front of “crowds.” But some music—like that of the contemporary French musician/composer Cécile Schott, who records under the name Colleen—is intensely solitary, almost private. Not in the candid, pulled-from-the-diary, confessional sense, but in the I’m-alone-inside-my-head sense, holed up in a zone between headphones. In Colleen’s music there are no words, and computers and effects create its blanketing layered feel. It’s the music not of crowds, but of solitude.

My wife and I just had our first baby, Bernadette, a few months ago. Ever since we brought her home from the hospital we’ve had a lot of music in rotation in the CD changer. We’ve tried Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the Rolling Stones, Nina Simone, Raymond Scott, some old Brill Building pop, Vashti Bunyan, the Louvin Brothers, Art Blakey, Gary Higgins, new ones by the Clientele and Broken Social Scene, and lots more. A few records seem to go over well with the baby—a field recording of the Bayaka, forest people from the Congo, a couple of Glenn Gould playing J. S. Bach, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, two Elizabethan composers, and two discs by Colleen. The mix is pretty seamless and it creates a sufficiently womblike atmosphere for all of us, but Bernadette clearly prefers the Colleen discs.

Colleen’s first record, 2003’s haunting Everyone Alive Wants Answers, is made up entirely of looped and layered samples, snippets culled from her record collection; the music creates a cocoon from thrums and furious zithers. It might seem simply soothing at first, until it casts its menacing shadow. For her followup, this year’s equally captivating The Golden Morning Breaks, Colleen (who had previously played only guitar) decided to abandon her method of using reprocessed bits from preexisting recordings and play all of the instruments (cello, music box, gamelan, melodica, etc.) herself. She then, in effect, sampled herself.

If Colleen’s music feels hermetic, of its own world, it’s not entirely coincidental. Schott, 29, works and performs almost exclusively by herself. She shuns collaboration. She doesn’t see herself as fitting in with a group of like-minded musicians. And maybe she’s right. Working for months at a stretch on her recordings, Schott prefers not to let anyone hear her work until she’s entirely through with it. She doesn’t exactly reveal herself through the music of Colleen as much as she loses herself in it. She avoids traditional touring because of the frantic travel from one city to the next without time to soak anything up.

I spoke with Schott twice by phone about her work, once from her apartment in Paris and once just after a soundcheck for a show at a London museum.

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BULL TONGUE by Byron Coley & Thurston Moore from Arthur No. 20 (Jan. 2006)

first published in Arthur No. 20 (January, 2006)

BULL TONGUE
Exploring the Voids of All Known Undergrounds
by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

August Born is Hiroyuki Usui and Ben Chasny. Hiroyuki you may know as the Japanese chap who has recorded under the name L. There was an L record on VHF a few years back that was astounding. Beautiful, home baked organic spirit folk-sonik drone breeze. The self titled August Born (Drag City) is the first in a purported series of “music by mail” sessions Hiroyuki has been involved in. Not email but snail mail, a slow process, which shows in the careful and gorgeous strains which this recording delivers. Simple and haunting vocal lines with classic Chasny guitar moves, expressive of his work with both Six Organs of Admittance and Comets on Fire. There’s an August Born track on the Bread, Beard and Bear’s Prayers CD that Comets’ Ethan Miller compiled for this mag’s Bastet imprint. A perfect winter sound.

More Ben Chasny finger-scorch news is the junk burn collaboration he’s done with squelch lord and fellow Comets creep Noel von Harmonson called NVH/CHASNY PLAYS THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS on the Folding label. It truly howls and is just one of the amazing new releases on this long-standing cassette label. Folding comes out of the Northwest and has always delivered some of the more confused and beyond-the-unknown explorations of the lost universe. Along with the NVH/Chas tape is an awesome foray into sound deviltry by someone/something called Telepathe. Their tape “I” which features Mick Barr is one of the swingenest kosmo-jungle reverb from God’s ass recordings we’ve been priveleged to hear this year no doubt. One more killer Folding jammer is the Child Abuse cassette which may be a goddamned lame name but is saved by the nutso retardo sleeve which has some little dude hand tethered to a stick looking very pissed off. It’s horrible yes but so ridiculous that you can see MAYBE where these mofos are coming from (answer: we don’t know). Child Abuse is a drum/organ twisted nut of a sesion and pretty damn fucked and really doesn’t audibly portray the sad violence of their moniker. Which is OK and adds new depth to their motive. What the fuhk.

A couple other great tape labels are Jyrk and Sloow Tapes. Jyrk is from the Bay Area and is infamous for unleashing the force that is D Yellow Swans who have been on a tear lately. The “D” standing for something “D”ifferent on each release (Dead, Destroyed, Disabled, Deaf etc.). They are consistently happening in their electroacoustic amps and wires noise/hum concertos and anything they release is gonna be worth your while. A young woman named Inca Ore, an associate of D Yellow Swans has a Jyrk tape called Milky Petals of the Solar Meadows and by that title you can bet she’s got something to say. And she does but in some strange other-planet tongue. What seems like a sensual loop of vocal matter gets entwined with live barbed wire ululations and comes at you like a repetitive salivation machine. Heavy move and we want more. Sloow Tapes out of Belgium has been releasing small numbers of fine rips by the likes of My Cat Is An Alien and others. One of the latest is certainly one of their greatest, the Slingshot Feud Vol. 2 cassette by Family Underground. Real sex-surround sound and dusk to dawn huzz. All yours.

Four hot new(ish) poetry journals of the sort that burn with modern energy and multi-levered thought/rock, roll/sexx prayerz-on-fire sensation have hit our desks recently and we feel the need to share the word. Mirage #4/Period(ical) is on its staggering-to-believe 120th issue which we guess is not so staggering-to-believe as it’s a single stapled one-sided xerox read which is really its minimalist charm. It’s edited by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy out of San Francisco. Killian is an interesting playwright, poet, critic, novelist who supposedly has a book being published all about Kylie Minogue, whether in verse perspective or in perverse invective remains to be read. Dodie has written some of the most astounding beyond feminist lit of the last decade. She created a helluva stir when she wrote and published an amazing fem take-off on the Burroughsian cut-up technique called Cunt Ups, which is must for any progressive library shelf. Their po journal has new and ongoing work by young writers who catch the editor’s eye as well as a few surprises such as this issue’s print of a great 1959 poem by the deceased homo-beat legend John Wieners. Next up is the irrepressible Industrial Sabotage out of Toronto, Canada. Edited by the non-stop archivist, poet and all around good guy J W Curry, this is the foremost publication of the ongoing history of Canada’s amazing concrete/language/etc lit scene, primarily jumping off and around the wonderment that is bpNichol, an artist/poet who died in 1988 and left behind a living trove of experimental and loving word-work. Curry has been involved with archiving thousands of items of A list to ephemera of bpNichol’s output for well on 30 years now and has yet to exhaust his endeavor. If you think record collecting is deep dirt digging, then try to get into avant garde post war poetry. His mag is awesome, multi-hued and a great glimpse into what is one of North America’s strongest literary scenes since forever. Speaking of which it’s exciting to see the folks at St Marks Poetry Center in NYC making a fresh move with the first issue of The Recluse. Whether this mag is taking the place of the long running Poetry Center journal The World or will co-exist alongside it is anyone’s guess. Regardless, it has the cool passion aesthetic of young, serious, touch-the-sky poetry that the downtown New Yok scene has always exuded: a dynamic of voices multi-psyched, daring and thoughtful. Last, for now, is another mag outta the SF scene, a new one called jouissance. First ish has not only rad poemz by the abovementioned Kevin Killian, but also some from the ass-slapping mind of Dennis Cooper (one called THE JPEGS is about a Ray Romano/Bernie Mac sex-mail exchange). The mag has good interviews with Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu and novelist Scott Heim (whose book Mysterious Skin is being made into a film by Greg Araki), as well as writing by Dodie Bellamy. Cool shit.

While he has laid hand and/or hip on more record-projects than almost anyone, Calvin Johnson has not previously released a solo album. Dunno why this is exactly, but Before the Dream Faded (K) is really a good one. Calvin’s dark voice is probably known to some of you from Beat Happening or Dub Narcotic Sound System or somewhere, but it’s really a rumbling rose here, because it’s the album’s one constant. The instrumentation and arrangement techniques wiggle around like a hot can opener on god’s ass, but there is a foghorn in the night. Hooray! Songs go into all the hoped-for hoops and come out smelling great. As a note, when heard on CD, from the next room, one local thought this record sounded BOGUS. However, heard close up and on vinyl, she agreed it rocked like a berry. On a Calvin-related note, have been digging the curves of the new Old Time Relijun LP, 2012 (K). Must be the sixth or seventh by these Olympia mutants, but the Spotlight Kid vibe is so strong this time, I feel like we better pull out all their old records and give them a thorough sequential listen. Another record ripe with not-entirely-expected Beefheart sprong is the eponymous, posthumous MLP by Selten-Ubel (ABC Group). This Knoxville, TN group existed for only a couple of shows and broke up in ’01. But the five songs here have a very swank post-core blump into the shadows of a Magic Band.

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Sunn 0)))) and Earth, profiled by author Brian Evenson (2005)

A Deeper Shade of Doom
How do the drone-metal bands Earth and Sunno))) get something out of nothingness?

By Brian Evenson
Photography and layout by W. T. Nelson

Originally published in Arthur No. 20 (Dec 2005)

EARTH: BLACKING OUT
In 1993 the Olympia, Washington-based band Earth released their second album, Earth 2. No drums, no voices, two guitars, nothing else. It was ambient music done by a demon on downers—highly lugubrious, with slowed-down underwater metal riffs. Earth 2 traded in the glam, stagy evil of classic heavy metal for a brooding darkness, simultaneously a descent into hell and a sort Buddhist chant pushing you toward either Nirvana or nothingness (you choose). It was the kind of wandering super-vibrating music that makes your leg tingle where you’d broken it ten years before. Not only was it something you couldn’t dance to, it was something you couldn’t move to. It slowly shut you down. And with each of its three tracks over fifteen minutes long, by the time you’d finished the album you felt like you’d never start back up again.

Earth 2 is the ur-album of drone metal (it’s probably not a coincidence that their name is the same one originally used by Black Sabbath). It’s nothing at all like the grunge stuff—Nirvana and Mudhoney for instance—that their then-label Sub Pop was putting out then. But after Earth 2, the band—really just guitarist Dylan Carlson and whoever he wanted to partner with at the time—moved in different directions. Phase 3: Thrones and Dominions, a hard-to-find album from 1995 that you can pick up on disk for around $90 (or at itunes for $9), added one more guitarist and, for one track, a drummer. 1996’s Pentastar (In the Style of Demons) was still drone-y but just a hair away from being a rock album: cleaner sound, drums on all the tracks, deliberate shapes to the songs (most of which ran around five minutes), and even some vocals.

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"Twice a day for the last 32 years": DAVID LYNCH on meditation – interview by Kristine McKenna

Originally published in Arthur No. 20 (January 2006)

The Whole Enchilada

David Lynch was 27 years old and depressed. Then he started meditating…

By Kristine McKenna

In person, David Lynch bears only the vaguest resemblance to the image most people have of him. He is, of course, an artist of extreme complexity, but he’s not a weirdo, and the people who work with him adore him because he’s respectful and appreciative of their contributions to his art.

Lynch has been working under the radar on his latest film, Inland Empire, for quite a while; it commenced principal photography two years ago in Lodz, Poland, and features Polish actors Karolina Gruszka and Krzysztof Majchrzak, along with Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton and Justin Theroux. It will be his first digital film, but it won’t be his last as he loves the freedom digital affords. “Film is over for me,” declares Lynch, who’s thus far handled the financing of Inland Empire, which is being produced by his longtime partner, Mary Sweeney.

I’ve been interviewing Lynch semi-regularly for 25 years now, and each time I see him I’m struck by his ability to retain the best parts of his personality; he remains an enthusiastic, open and very funny man, and he never fails to tell me something useful and inspiring. I spoke with him this past summer, ahead of his fall speaking tour of universities to promote the work of the new David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace…

Arthur: You’ve said in the past that your daily meditation practice is what enables you to maintain such a high level of creativity. What was going on in your life at the point when you were able to commit yourself to meditation?

David Lynch: I was 27 and I was in the middle of the first year of Eraserhead and things were going great. I had this unbelievable place to work—the stables at AFI—I had all the equipment I needed, I had people helping me, I had money to do it, and it was like a dream come true, yet I wasn’t happy. That saying ‘happiness comes from within’ started making sense to me and meditation seemed like a good way to go within. I’d always thought yogis sitting cross-legged in the woods were wasting their time, but I suddenly understood that all the rest is a waste of time. Meditation is the vehicle that takes you to the place where you can experience the unified field and that’s the only experience that lights the full brain. It’s a holistic experience and it’s not a foreign place—it’s a field of pure bliss consciousness and it’s the whole enchilada. People think they’re fully awake when they wake up in the morning but there are degrees of wakefulness, and you begin waking up more and more when you meditate, until finally one day you’re fully awake, which is the state of enlightenment. This is the potential of every human being and if you visit that unified field twice a day, every day begins to feel like a Saturday morning with your favorite breakfast, it’s sunny, and you’ve got the whole weekend ahead with all your projects that you’re looking forward to doing.

There are many types of meditation; why did you pick transcendental meditation?

I lucked into it. My sister was doing it, then one day she mentioned it to me and I don’t know why—maybe it was the sound of her voice and the time that I heard it—but bang! I said I’ve gotta have that. Transcendental Meditation is the way of the householder in that it allows you to stay in the world. Some people like the recluse way and want to go into the cave, and there are mantras that will take you right out of activity and put you into that cave. But transcendental meditation is a way of integrating these two worlds and activity is part of it. It’s like dipping a white cloth into gold dye; you dip it and that’s meditation, then you hang it on the line in sunshine and that’s activity. The sun bleaches it until it’s white again, so you dip it and hang it again, and each time you do that a little more of the gold stays in the cloth. Then one day that gold is locked in. It isn’t going anywhere no matter how violent the activity, and at that point two opposites have been united at a deep level. In the west people think yeah, like I’m really gonna give up my dental practice and go to the cave, but you don’t have to quit dentistry. Meditate before you go to work and you’ll start liking the people that come in and you’ll start getting ideas about dentistry. Maybe you’ll invent something and get into the finer points of a cavity and honing that bad boy. Things get cooler.

If you were running the world, what’s the first thing you’d do?

I’d get people going on consciousness-based education. Stress levels in children are going way up and there are so many bad side effects to stress. Kids are on drugs, they’re overweight—they are not happy campers and being a kid should be a beautiful thing. Kids take to meditation like ducks to water. The so-called knowledge we try to cram down their throats is useless and that’s why there are things like cheating—it’s all a bunch of baloney. It’s a sick, twisted, stupid world now. It’s ridiculous.

What’s America’s problem?

It’s locked in an old, ignorant way of thinking. Things are pretty low right now but lots of people are working to enliven that field of unity in world consciousness. John Lennon described meditation as “melting the iceberg,” and when that heat starts coming up some people love it, but it can be too much for some people and they fly apart. So, it’s gotta come up gently—it has been coming up pretty gently, too, but the bunch running the show here in America are working overtime in a negative way.

How did you interpret 9/11?

You don’t get something for nothing and America’s been up to a lot of nasty business for a long time. But Maharishi [Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement] says instead of fighting darkness you should just turn on the light, so let’s turn on the light and start having fun.

What makes you angry?

There’s an increasing amount of censorship in America and that is not a good sign. It really makes you wonder what’s going on with this country.

Is man on the road to extinguishing himself?

No. Quantum physics has verified the existence of the unified field and Vedic science understands how it emerges—in fact, Vedic science is the science of the unified field. There’s a whole bunch of trouble in this world but the way to get out of it is there; just enliven that field of unity. It sounds like magic but it’s science—it’s the real thing and the resistance to it is based on fear. But it’s not something to be afraid of—it’s us.

Your beliefs are deeply optimistic, yet many people find darkness in your work; how do you explain that?

Films and paintings reflect the world and when the world changes the art will change. We live in a world of duality but beneath it is unity. We live in a world of boundaries but beneath it it’s unbounded. Einstein said you can’t solve a problem at the level of the problem—you gotta get underneath it, and you can’t get more underneath than the unified field. So get in there and water the root then enjoy the fruit. Water that root and the tree comes up to perfection. You don’t have to worry about a single leaf if you get nourishment at that fundamental level.