poem

Prince of darkness

In a late hour, looking through a gothic window of the castle old

At a winter night, he heard an echo from the distant past

Dancing in the empty halls with a howling wind, merciless and cold

And saw a long way he had made back here… alone.

 

Surrounded by trembling shadows, in a fever of midnight gloom

He crossed the chamber, lit by dim torchlight, and sat on a silent throne

Unwilling any longer to constrain, he let the memories to fill forsaken room,

The room, that like himself had seen so many hopes, – long since gone

 

In defiance of old wounds, he recalled the day he was betrayed,

The day his tender heart was pierced by the arrow of disdain

And how then to endure, he allowed the weaker version of himself to fade,

Stepping on the path to the unknown – to find the source of devastating pain

 

How with valour he descended to the dark, where ancient demons dwell,

Fear, anger, pride – old enemies of his lurked in the labyrinth of mind,

How one by one he challenged them and drove them back to hell;

At last, the frailty he despised so much was forever left behind

 

A hard-fought victory that awakened him from a long and weary dream

By the will of fate was no one to be shared with, but silence of the night;

Alone, but not lonely anymore he looked at where he had been,

The verge of pristine darkness, beyond which he found light…

 

 

Artyom Shalamov       [January 2016]

Prayer of Mars to the Sun

 

 

 

Long ago, when we first beheld you in the brilliance of day

Now-forgotten mystery was revealed and vows were made,

Led by your guiding light, we have wandered in the Milky Way;

However hard the path may be, I follow you and I am not afraid

 

Darkness flees and the illusion falls when full of glory you rise and shine

And emanate the light of knowledge over the sphere of grief and loss

Where tired gentle souls seek to transcend the wheel of time,

The dark ocean of existence them you help to cross

 

Your arcane glow mystics aspire within themselves to find,

Your ardent flame – eternal light, of which comprised my soul,

Destroys the ignorance and illuminates the restless mind

In order to reveal the truth, which rests in hearts of all

 

Among the stars and planets you are the King, and I am your knight

You are the source of life and of all living beings you are a friend,

Whatever lies ahead, prepared for your sacred cause I am to fight

And in my heart your pure light I shall keep until the end.

 

Artyom Shalamov       [April 2016]

A few thoughts on how to deal with the past

  • Most of the times, we do not realize how much time we spend reflecting on the past. This is an innate part of our nature that allows us to grow and evolve as individuals, learning from our mistakes and success. However, there is a flip side of that process, which, if not kept in check can very much affect our lives in a negative way.

    It is good to be able to retrieve whatever information you need from the past and move on, knowing that at any moment you can “come back.” But often, many of us find ourselves lingering there for much longer than it is needed for a variety of reasons. Most common of which, perhaps, include fault-finding (in self or others) and regret (why I did this, why I said that and so on). It is possible even to be stuck in the past, and I’ve actually experienced that myself, when it may seem as if you are going in circles. Certainly some people are more prone to it than the others due to differences in the ways of thinking, emotions, and so forth.

    It can easily drain a lot of your energy over the course of time, the energy that could have been otherwise spent much more efficiently. The truth is that there is no simple way of dealing with it, as it requires self-inquiry and a great deal of willpower to leave the past where it is. However, it might be easier to deal with this problem of “retrograde” thinking if you conceive and accept certain ideas. First of all, we can’t change the past whatsoever, or… can we? Second is that we live only in the present moment, which is constantly involved in the process of being transformed into the past, which leads us to the possibility of transforming the past, but only through our actions in the present ! Meaning – our actions in the present create our past, our karma.

    That idea brings us to a very important point. We are all influenced by our past actions (our karma) whether it is good or not very much so and people tend to think that they can’t change it, but it appears that we can! We just need to live in the present moment, remembering the past, so that we can learn from it, but not linger in it for too long, and create the reality of the present (and through the present that of the past) that we want. In such manner, our past karma will gradually exhaust itself and we shall begin to see the reality we’ve created. In that sense, you can create your destiny.

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2016-02-20-success-begins-where-your-fear-ends

Here’s Why The Force Awakens Won’t Stand Up To Its Predecessors

 

I think there is a big chance that The Force Awakens will mostly fail. What I mean by that is it will fail to preserve and develop the spirit of the Star Wars saga. It may well be a good blockbuster movie (we expect a lot from a movie featuring “Star Wars” in its name, don’t we?), but most likely it will not measure up to the standards set by previous episodes. There are several reasons why I think so.

First of all, the plot raises the most concerns. We know that George Lucas worked on the plot since 2011, but Disney, which bought Lucasfilm, later rejected it and chose something else. From what we know already it is clear that the plot is set after the ending of the VI Episode and the Republic is at war with a new powerful evil enemy. We know for sure that there is also a dark side user, wielding a ridiculous looking light saber. Now this raises many questions to Disney. In the last episode the Emperor, who was perhaps the most powerful sith lord of all time, was destroyed along with his most powerful weapon, Death Star. It was a clear and decisive victory for the Republic. And now it turns out it was not. We see hordes of tie fighters, we see a villain (or rather villains) donning masks, and rebels, who are supposed to be rulers of the galaxy, who should have abandoned their rebel status.

There were two ways to continue the Star Wars saga: the first is to jump back to the times of the Old Republic (I would personally prefer this) where many worthy stories lie (just think of Revan or Darth Bane being made into a movie), and the second is to continue where it ended, after episode VI. Disney chose the second option, though I think the first one would be ideal. In doing so, Disney made a mistake, making it look like the ending of the VI episode was insignificant; now they’re trying to step in the same river twice.

Secondly, from what we’ve seen in teasers for the movie, not only is the atmosphere of the original trilogy lost, but so is that of the later trilogy as well. Now it looks like a Disney movie. Because Disney is not the same as Lucasfilm, it’s just that simple. It does well in its own niche, shooting movies like Pirates of the Caribbean or cartoons. But Star Wars is a completely different story. Over the years it has transformed into a huge mass phenomenon, almost a cult. So yes, money rules the world again; 4.06 billion dollars is the price for which the hopes of Star Wars fans were sold along with Lucasfilm.

Thirdly, I don’t like the cast in general. Disney decided to make the most from the presence of actors from the original trilogy, this much is understandable. But as much as I liked Harrison Ford’s Han Solo or Carrie Fisher’s Leia when I first saw A New Hope more than twenty years ago, the fact that time takes its toll can not be ignored. One of the reasons episodes one, two and three succeeded was the great choice of actors, who were all new, but all of them had charisma and talent and looked very authentic in the Star Wars universe. But I don’t like the new actors inThe Force Awakens whatsoever, as they lack charisma needed for a film of Star Wars‘ caliber. I’m afraid that mix of charismatic older actors and dull younger actors will be the last nail in the coffin for The Force Awakens.

So far the only factor that I consider in favor of the seventh episode is that the music for the film was composed by John Williams, but I doubt that this will be enough for overall success.

han610

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-12-07-star-wars-the-force-awakens-will-be-a-fail-of-the-year

 

Does free will exist ?

This question has been a subject of numerous philosophical, scientific and religious studies, yet it still raises many arguments as to whether we are free when it comes to determining our own actions. And if we are not, then what makes our actions predetermined ? Likewise, if we do have free will, what is the source of it, or, in other words, if the free will is a consequence, then what is the cause ?

Free will-deniers support the determinist theory, according to which any action of human-beings (as well as other known living beings) is a product of chemical reactions and electromagnetic impulses that occur in their brains. That theory practically views a human as a bio-machine, whose behavior is completely pre-programmed by the nature. Supporters of this theory mainly substantiate it by the results of neuroscientific experiments, such as the experiment conducted by Benjamin Lebet, which, basically, measured brain activity of volunteers in the process of decision making (something as simple as moving a wrist). The results showed that decision awareness and the action of moving a wrist itself are always preceded by the brain activity (he called it the readiness potential) by a several hundreds milliseconds.

And, thus, scientists, who advocate that free will does not exist, usually use the results of this experiment to show that they are absolutely right. However, Benjamin Lebet himself didn’t deem his experiment as a proof of the absence of free-will. On the contrary, he saw the results as a confirmation of the existence of free-will, since volunteers despite incoming brain impulses were able to suppress the urge to act after becoming aware of it. Lebet said that “Human subjects became aware of intention to act 350-400 ms after RP (readiness potential) starts, but 200 ms. before the motor act. The volitional process is therefore initiated unconsciously. But the conscious function could still control the outcome; it can veto the act… The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place.”

I would, however, argue about the letter part of the statement because this experiment, like many others similar scientific experiments, measured human behavior only on a quite primitive level. Therefore, its results can not be extrapolated to the decision-making process in complex life situations, which would demand performance of many logical operations, as well as compliance with moral categories. In other words, free will includes, but not limited to, the ability to consciously refrain from an act, initiated by the brain impulse.

If we are to come to the right conclusion eventually, it would be a vain attempt to try to comprehend such category as free will by mere scientific experiment. Therefore, we must seek philosophical explanation of this phenomenon rather than merely material one. After all, in a general sense, science is supposed to serve only as a tool for confirmation or refutation of philosophical concepts.

If we assume that will is a power to act, and liberty is a state, in which we are not compelled to act in a certain way, neither we are restrained in our actions, then is it actually possible to have free will ? In fact it is possible, but the capacity to be free is different for every individual. Here I agree with a French philosopher Voltaire, who wrote in his “Dictionnaire philosophique” (1764) that “The word «liberty», «free-will»,” is therefore an abstract word, a general word, like beauty, goodness, justice. These terms do not state that all men are always beautiful, good and just; similarly, they are not always free.”

In that case human’s own actions serve as a criteria that defines the capacity for freedom. On a more esoteric level it means that when one’s actions do not violate the laws of the Universe, that capacity naturally increases. However, more often than not ignorance and other vices lead to wrong actions, hence preventing the growth of free will. Another citation of Voltaire from “Dictionnaire philosophique” agrees with that statement: “In what sense then must one utter the phrase-” Man is free “? in the same sense that one utters the words, health, strength, happiness. Man is not always strong, always healthy, always happy. A great passion, a great obstacle, deprive him of his liberty, his power of action.”

Therefore the amount of free will that a person has at a given moment depends on the nature of his/her previous actions, and the amount of freedom a person will have in the future is defined according to the present actions of that person.

Music For A Cold Autumn Night

  • Sometimes it’s easy to fall prey to late autumn depression during its short days and cold long nights. But it also can be a good time to focus on yourself, your inner world, and to become more meditative. Just as trees shed their leaves, you can shed whatever is burdening you by going on your inner journey, and who knows what treasure you might find there. One of the things that can help you in that is music that was created specifically to help us achieve inner peace. Here are the five albums that you may find helpful on your internal quest.
  • 1. Band: Carbon Based LifeformsAlbum: twentythree [2011]This is an ambient album produced by the masters of the genre from Sweden. It comprises a light airy, yet at times very deep, atmosphere. The overall feeling ranges from cosmic, mysterious contemplation (Arecibo, VLA) and melancholy (held together by gravity) to the light atmosphere of “Kensington gardens”, with other tracks somewhere in between. Great music for daydreaming, abstract thinking and going within yourself. All tracks do exceptionally good in conveying the feeling of the album, but my personal favorite track is “Terpene”.

    2. Band: Mystical Sun

    Album: Primordial atmospheres [1994]

    Primordial Atmospheres from the now far distant mid 90’s is one of those albums I keep returning to over and over again. If I were to choose one word to describe this album, It would be “other-worldly”. Every track has unique sounds that will echo in your subconscious mind and combine to create soothing an imaginary world, where you can stay to heal yourself. It is very good for meditation (especially the long track, Journey to Samadhi) or just relaxation and daydreaming. My personal favorite track here is “Akasha

    3. Band: Between Interval

    Album: Autumn Continent [2006]

    Starting from the first track Autumn Continent slowly submerges you in the atmosphere of fading, as if you have seen numerous cycles of life and death to become transcendental and just contemplate everything in silence. Most tracks have little or no beats to focus on creating ethereal atmosphere, in which beautiful soundscapes emerge from the depths of your mind. Although it may seem at times that some tracks sound somewhat gloomy, in fact they are not. Every track, as well as the whole album, carries a light of hope within itself. I’d personally pick out “Early Life Remainings” and “This Dominion” as my favorite tracks.

    4. Band: Biosphere

    Album: Substrata [1997]

    One of the hallmarks of electronic music of all time (at least in my opinion) that has been reissued more than a dozen times is very good to listen in autumn. It is hard to describe this album, because it is very experimental and abstract by nature. It’s like a journey to the unknown, which can transform you. “Sphere of no-form” is a very transcendental track, which I do not expect everyone to understand; “hyperborea” and “silene” are two other tracks that hold special place in my memory.

    5. Band: Adrian Von Ziegler

    Album: Vagabond (song: Autumn Forest) [2013]

    For those who aren’t very much into abstract music and are more of romantic nature, this song written by a talented Swiss composer should be perfect. It is quite emotional and has a distinct medieval flavor. What I like about it the most, is the way the sound flows, never becoming repetitive, and how different instruments complement each other, creating a warm and harmonious river amid cold and gloomy autumn.

  • https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-11-02-autumn-music-for-mind-and-a-heart

What Your Music Taste Says About Your Intellect

The influence of music on human emotions has long been known, but it appears that the relationship between a human mind and sound (and music particularly) is much more complex and interesting. The human mind, which is really what we think, how we process the information coming from the outside world and use it, very much depends on the emotional state. In fact the two are so much intertwined that it is reasonable to consider them as a whole.

There are different ways of improving mental health, but all of them affect human brain in one way or another. Some – by chemical reactions (antidepressant drugs), others – by stimulating certain parts of the brain using electromagnetic impulses, transferred through electrodes connected to a human body. Music is also often used in treating different mental conditions by positively affecting emotional state of patients. Physically music is nothing but a sequence of waves emanating in time and space at frequencies that our ear can perceive. However, music therapy looks much more safe compared to other methods, since chemical drugs always have some negative side effects, and the influence of electromagnetic stimulation hasn’t been studied well enough to firmly conclude that it is absolutely safe.

So, how it works exactly ? A human brain produces electric impulses at certain frequencies (brain waves). And a particular frequency is associated with one kind of activity or another. Here is a diagram, showing this process.

Thus, sounds we hear create sort of response in our brain, particularly in the auditory cortex and we are able to discern pitch, tonality, rhythm, melody etc. Music therefore affects our brain waves. However, different kinds of music do so in a different manner. Fast-paced music with a lot of beats, expressing passion is likely to stimulate beta brain waves, whereas more harmonious sounds and deep sounds invoke alpha or even theta waves. Those of you, who are familiar with musical genres such as ambient are more likely to understand what I mean by harmonious sounds. But those who are not, can imagine some classical music or can go and listen the masters of that genre, like Steve Roach or Pete Namlook.

Here is where it gets deeper. Sound affects not only the mind but also the intellect. The intellect is a higher consciousness (and therefore is superior to the mind), which allows us to form concepts, ideas, to have morals and think abstractly. Music affects the intellect in a very subtle way, due to the fact that music is a product of intellect itself, because it is born as a concept or abstract idea, and then developed into a concrete piece of art. Therefore, since the intellect is the source of music, they are interconnected, directly influencing each other. On a physical level it can be explained by the fact that the auditory cortex has connections to the frontal lobe of the brain, just behind the forehead, where much of our capabilities for abstraction, anticipation, and inference sit. It has also been proved that children who attend school classes show an increase in IQ, compared to children who attend other art classes or none at all.

 Another theoretical explanation of the phenomenon I found in the ancient text of Vedic culture – “Vishnu Purana”, where it is said that the sound is a rudiment of space, which in turn is a product of intellect (book 1, chapter 2).

However, the degree to which the intellect can be affected by the music depends on the strength of the intellect. Another side of this fact is that a person’s level of intellect can be judged, by implication, according to what type of music he/she prefers. And here the preference is directly influenced by the capacity to perceive, understand and enjoy certain type of music. For example, my friend, who knows my music tastes very well and tried listen to the kind of music I usually listen, told me that he can’t focus on it and it somewhat slips from his memory. I think we are safe to assume that everyone has an affinity with a certain type of music. Of course it can change in the course of time, depending on age, level of education, life experience and many other factors, since the intellect develops as well.

Sound can heal people, but it can also cause panic or even death at certain frequencies. The power of sound is immense, since it is one of the essential characteristics of the Universe, and, perhaps, we’ve just begun to understand the significance of sound and its influence on human beings.

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-10-29-what-your-music-tastes-say-about-your-intellect