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The Music of My Medicine: Part 1, An Initial Outline Catalyzed by A Recent Influence

Over the course of many years of work, experience, and reflection, I have increasing clarity and appreciation regarding the nonacademic influences on my academic and professional life. Despite 4 years of undergraduate study and 12 years of doctorate-level study culminating in 1 undergraduate degree and 3 doctorate degrees, I am very clear that most of the influences and information that shape and create the structure of my presentations and publications never arrived to me within the walls of a classroom. A statement like that latter one would be very easy to make by someone who tends to disrespect social structure or who lacks reverence for the shoulders of giants upon which one later stands; neither of these apply to me, for I have actually been the opposite: excessively reverent, and at times all too willing to share credit and the celebration of success.

In a 2015 interview (magazine format or PDF) I readily acknowledged several of my more conscious "experiences" that have shaped me and my work. I will summarize those and more in the following list, which is somewhat chronological:

  • Model-building, construction, bike racing and repair, and growing up in Texas: To be discussed and explained in a later essay.

  • 1980s: The music of Black Flag and the spoken work of Henry Rollins: Black Flag was a pioneering "punk rock" musical group in the 1980s, eventually and finally lead by front-man singer Henry Rollins from 1981 until the disintegration of the band in 1986. I was introduced to "the Flag" and Rollins' spoken-word work when I was in my last two years of secondary/high school, which not coincidentally was a residential military school, Riverside Military Academy. Rollins' work (eg, Big Ugly Mouth) and the peer conversations that surrounded it (namely with my then best friend Matt Majeske and also Stuart Kendrick) was the initial quickening of my intellectual birth, a time when I first learned about broader perspectives and the importance of being strong and confident while being compassionate and open-minded -- all exemplified by Rollins. Uniquely, the song "I'm the One" stood out as an influential song that I would replay for decades, notably the lyrics, "I caught a handle on the rising sun, Took a day to rise and fall, At the end of the trail I was scarred and burned, But I felt no pain at all."

  • Early 1990's: Henry Rollins' book One from None: One day in a used record shop, early in my college years, I chanced upon a copy of One from None, a book of poetry, perspectives, and interviews published by Henry Rollins. I credit this book with radically, completely, and unalterably changing my life. Rollins himself said of in-flight reading Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, "I thought the plane would crash from the hell coming out of that book." That book ignited me: I shaved my head, I changed my clothes, I changed my friends, changed my goals, and changed my perspectives and way of thinking. Enough said. Also around this time, and notably via conversations with Matt in high school and also at the recommendation of Rollins, I started reading Nietzsche, starting with the most obvious, the compilation A Nietzsche Reader by -- of course -- R. J. Hollingdale.

  • 1992/1993: Introduction to Strunz and Farah's Primal Magic released in 1991: Again completely by chance as I was walking out of a record store in my home town of Houston Texas where I had just recently started my first doctorate-level program, I recall vividly walking past, then reaching down and grabbing a CD (possibly an audio cassette) of Primal Magic by Strunz and Farah. For decades to follow, their music -- along with Nietzsche's philosophy -- would shape my mind and thought like nothing else could or deserved to. Nearly the entire composition lives up to its name of "primal magic", but Twilight at the Zuq and Ida y vuelta for me have been catalytic, if not almost epileptogenic. If two songs could be the theme songs of my books -- and hopefully my life -- it is Twilight at the Zuq and Ida y Vuelta, with greater credit given to the latter.

  • Other significant musical influences: Metallica, especially Fight Fire with Fire: Among other songs and artists, the only other iconic group and song that stands out among my collection is Metallica, especially their Fight Fire with Fire, clearly for its acoustics and rhythm more so than for the lyrics, which are not insignificant.

  • April 2016: Chopin: A few days ago, I found the music of Frédéric Chopin, and while I have typically avoided piano music as I find it occasionally interesting yet generally too percussive (despite my love of bass guitar and drums) in comparison to the "greater rhythmicity" of guitar music such as StrunzFarah/Metallica, I would not have been immediately inspired to reflect on the power of music in my life and write this review had I not been captivated for the past 48 hours by his verse. Time will tell, and perhaps eventually I will select a favorite song from among his many classics.

Relevance of all of this to my current work: I will explain the relevance of all of this as opportunity and motivation synergistically occasion to push me back to this theme. I think some of these experience and insights (forthcoming) will be relevant to others; I am obviously not writing this simply for my own entertainment but rather to "build a construct" that will itself have extended relevance. Meanwhile, please see the video below on the topic of fibromyalgia; perhaps the musical influence will be obvious.

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