02 June 2017

Xenakis' birthday was Monday

I have stopped taking an iPod around as I am trying to preserve my ear drums. One area of concern was my affection for La Légende d'Eer, which I especially enjoyed in public places.  

The five quotations included by Xenakis in the original program:

Each group would spend seven days in open country, and on the eighth, they had to break camp and head out for four days to finally reach a place where one discovers, stretching all across the sky and over the earth, a beam of light straight as a pillar, akin to a rainbow, but much more radiant and pure. – Plato, The Republic

note: The first quote is the source of the title Xenakis chose for the musical component of the Diatope.  It concerns a soldier named Er who returns from the dead and describes what he saw on the other side.  The vision culminates with Er’s sighting of the "Spindle of Necessity,” a great shaft encircled with eight rings representing the eight celestial spheres known to ancient astronomy.  On each ring is perched a siren singing a tone corresponding to the circumference of its orbit and together forming a cosmic harmony.  Seated on thrones amidst the sirens are the three Fates, or “daughters of necessity,” who accompany with their voices the harmony of the sirens: Lachesis, singing of the past, Clotho of the present, and Atropos of the future.

From there emerged a crying out, indistinct, one I likened to a voice of fire,  just as there emerged from the light…a holy Word blanketing all of Nature, and the purest of fire was thrust out of the humid natural world toward the sublime area above. – Hermes Trismegistus, Pymander

For indeed, what is man within nature?  A void in the face of infinity, a whole before the void, a center between nothingness and wholeness…unable to perceive the void from whence he came, nor the infinity in which he is submerged. – Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Christ went on: “I traversed the worlds, I ascended into the suns, and soared with the Milky Ways through the wastes of heaven; but there is no God. I descended to the last reaches of the shadows of Being, and I looked into the chasm and cried: ‘Father, where art thou?’ But I heard only the eternal storm ruled by none, and the shimmering rainbow of essence stood without sun to create it, trickling above the abyss. – Jean-Paul Richter, Siebenkäs

In the first stages of the explosion, the general distribution of the star’s energy closely matches the distribution known for theoretical black holes at a temperature of 12,000 degrees Kelvin.  In the case of SN 1970g the radius was measured at 3x1014 centimeters, in other words, as large as the orbit of Uranus.  Once the supernova’s radius is known, it is possible to determine its absolute luminosity.  For SN 1970g, this was calculated at 1042 ergs per second, or one trillion times that of the sun…  During the 30 days following the explosion, the radius of the surface from which the light was emitted increases at a near-constant speed of 5,000 kilometers per second.  At the end of this period, the star’s photosphere, in other words, its visible surface, reaches a radius of 2x1018 centimeters, a much larger radius than that of our solar system. – Robert P. Kirshner, Supernova

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