Even more amazing and progressive than making music through the medium of technology is the concept of being, playing, and listening in the same room at the same time. Only a few have stumbled on this astounding new theory and have begun to experiment with it. With mediating devices such as smart phones, recorders, and cameras left at the door (as guns were in ages past), all tests show that the attention, emotive and physical reactions of those present were tremendously heightened. The dogmatic pseudo-scientific faith in mediated communication has led to an absurd and inefficient cul de sac, such as two people communicating with each other on smart phones while walking next to each other. Or the notion that without physical presence musicians could be said to be “playing together.” What is called progress today has actually been regression from the high point of communication reached in the earliest days of human existence, when not only two but a large number of people could communicate within arms length of each other, with no prostheses to interfere. Not only could they talk, but they could actually reach out and physically touch each other; like other animals they could even know the other through smell. Communication was only at the speed of sound, but the distance covered was negligible.
The bold investigators, arousing stunned and horrified opposition, have been arguing that the mediation developed over the past two hundred years has only increased the blockage of sound wave and other physical communication between persons. That earlier form, increasingly out of favor, was rich in sensuality compared to the very reduced, flattened-out form obtained through mediation, called “information.” The attempt of innovative technologists had been to come as close as possible to the actual presence of the other while at the same time preventing it. The notion that unmediated communication is inadequate has been found to be a myth, just one more “received opinion” that facts are disproving. Investigators have been painstakingly breaking this down in order to release the energy of what they are calling “direct communication.”
For obvious reasons of control and pacification the social and political authorities prefer technological mediation, arguing that this reduction is the only efficient means of managing human relationships. Yet blinded by their faith, during the Occupy Movement they thought they would hamper communication between persons by banning amplification. Much to their dismay they found that the movement, forced to restore and invent new techniques of direct communication, expanded enormously. In fact what was re-invented in Zuccotti Park became a world-wide model, through the very mediating technology that was expected to wall people off from each other.
The gramophone was the origin of all sound communication beyond the physical movement of molecules. Now spread to the entire planet, it is thought to increase the mutual presence of subjects to each other. Now study after study has proven that this actually decreased that presence. People have become more abstract to each other, virtual rather than concrete existences, and have lost the capability to speak in each other’s presence beyond a few banalities, called “everyday life.”
With that abstraction has come paranoia, leading to a society where every other is a threat one must guard against, realizing the Hobbesian fantasy of the war of all against all. Given the lack of training and experience in facing one another without the wall of a device to protect them, there is good reason to pull out one’s gun, the best substitute for mediated communication. Hence the open carry laws: when out in the jungle of other people (even one’s family) one must have the protection of both mediating devices, a gun and a phone. The new still-experimental concept, however, offers a solution far cheaper and more efficient: eliminate both the phone and the gun. It’s an improvisational situation, but those who have tried it have found it to reduce paranoia and violence, and the management of relationships has actually benefited enormously.
Subjects of one experiment were told to walk down the street with no protection but clothing, and were found to have a profoundly different experience. At first they felt awkward, since they were the only ones without their eyes glued to devices or ears filled with virtual sounds. Soon however they reported things previously obscured, made eye contact and even spoke with strangers and, in real time, observed faces, trees, the shape of objects in space, sounds previously heard only on field recordings. They found their visual perspective of the scenery changed constantly, indeed following the movement of their bodies (turning their heads, for example, instantly provided a new vista). Moreover, after only an hour or so they could make judgments about all these things without reporting and checking them first with anyone else.
These subjects, stripped of their usual protective mediating devices, were directed to enter a room where musicians were making odd sounds. The sounds seemed unreal since they had never before heard them on their devices, the only known means of determining reality. At first this caused the subjects great fear, but suddenly, trapped in immediate sensuality they burst into joy. A number exclaimed: This is actually happening right in front of me! There is no one to experience this but myself and these others! I don’t have to record it in order to experience it; I’ll never hear these exact sounds again. I have nothing to compare this with, and no reason to make a comparison. This is what life could be!