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Optimum Conditions

This is from the booklet of the new Gil Scott-Heron album, which I recommend (though I realize buying CDs kinda puts me in the minority these days):

There is a proper procedure for taking advantage of any investment.

Music, for example. Buying a CD is an investment.

To get the maximum you must

LISTEN TO IT FOR THE FIRST TIME UNDER OPTIMUM CONDITIONS.

Not in your car or on a portable player through a headset.

Take it home.

Get rid of all distractions, (even her or him).

Turn off your cell phone.

Turn off everything that rings or beeps or rattles or whistles.

Make yourself comfortable.

Play your CD.

LISTEN all the way through.

Think about what you got.

Think about who would appreciate this investment.

Decide if there is someone to share this with.

Turn it on again.

Enjoy Yourself.

Gil Scott-Heron

The title track, a cover of a (smog) song, comes across differently after having read this.

The situated moment, the connection with the music as an object (like my current studies of information as a thing), and the duality of music as both individual and collective experience point toward the ways I hope learning can create kinship, enrich identity, reify space as a fluid negotiation. Perhaps music, like dancing and photography, can become a totem of student agency. A totem of a mutual agreement to do away with the hegemonic “rings or beeps or rattles or whistles.”  What will make our students want to “turn it on again” when the CD player clicks itself back to its point of origin and we are returned to our uncontested space? What will it take to feel transformed in this space? To feel “new here, again”?

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