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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

RIP Ray Manzarek


What a bummer to read that Ray Manzarek has died.   

I was born in 1966, and the psychedelic rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s was the music I grew up on.   Later I became more interested in jazz fusion, bebop, classical music and so forth -- but the psychedelic 60s/70s music (Hendrix, Doors, Floyd, Zeppelin) was where my love for music started.  This was the music that showed me the power of music to open up the mind to new realities and trans-realities, to bring the mind beyond itself into other worlds....

Hendrix was and probably always will be my greatest musical hero -- but Ray Manzarek was the first keyboardist who amazed me and showed me the power of wild and wacky keyboard improvisation.   I now spend probably 30-45 minutes a day improvising on the keyboard (and more on weekends!).  I don't have Ray's virtuosity but even so, keyboard improv keeps my mind free and agile and my emotions on the right side of the border between sanity and madness.  Each day I sit at my desk working, working working -- and when too much tension builds up in my body or I get stuck on a difficult point, I shift over to the piano or the synth and jam a while.   My frame of mind re-sets, through re-alignment with the other cosmos the music puts my mind in touch with.

The Doors and Ray had a lot of great songs.  But no individual song is really the point to me.  The point is the way Ray's music opens up your mind -- the way, if you close your eyes and let it guide you, you follow it on multiple trans-temporal pathways into other realms, beyond the petty concerns of yourself and society ... and when you return your body feels different and you see your everyday world from a whole new view....

The Singularity, if it comes, will bring us beyond petty human concerns into other realms in a dramatic, definitive way.   Heartfelt, imaginative improvisation like Ray Manzarek's can do something similar, in its own smaller (yet in another sense infinite) way -- opening up a short interval of time into something somehow much broader.

As Ray once said:

“Well, to me, my God, for anybody who was there it means it was a fantastic time, we thought we could actually change the world — to make it a more Christian, Islamic, Judaic Buddhist, Hindu, loving world. We thought we could. The children of the ’50s post-war generation were actually in love with life and had opened the doors of perception. And we were in love with being alive and wanted to spread that love around the planet and make peace, love and harmony prevail upon earth, while getting stoned, dancing madly and having as much sex as you could possibly have.” 


w00t! ... those times are gone, and I was too young in the late 60s early 70s to take part in the "getting stoned and having as much sex as you could possibly have" aspect (that came later for me, including some deep early-80s acid trips to Doors music), but my child self picked up the vibe of that era nonetheless ... all the crazy, creative hippies I saw and watched carefully back then affected more than just my hairstyle....   Somewhat like Steve Jobs, I see the things I'm doing now as embodying much of the spirit of that era.   Ray Manzarek and his kin of that generation wanted to transcend boring, limited legacy society and culture and revolutionize everything and make it all more ecstatic and amazing -- and so do I....


I recall a Simpsons episode where Homer gets to heaven and encounters Jimi Hendrix and Thomas Jefferson playing air hockey.  Maybe my memory has muddled the details, but no matter.   I hope very much that, post-Singularity, one of my uploaded clones will spend a few eons jamming on the keyboard with the uploaded, digi-resurrected Ray Manzarek.

Until then: Rest In Peace, Ray....


3 comments:

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Patrick Meng-Frecker said...

Hey Ben, huge fan of your science, this was cool to see a bit more personal side of you.