Humans can smell unrehearsed changes.
Actually, fuck it, all humans are psychic and kidding themselves and can instantly tell the difference between a mistake you don’t like and didn’t plan for and a mistake you are open to and ready to accept. If you’ve fucked up according to the plan, you’ve fucked up, no doubt about it. But whether or not it makes amazing music is another issue. The second this transition happens, half the audience perks up and the other half shuts down. These moment-to-moment attitude changes are at the heart of any jam.
I Jam. I jam for Life. “To jam” is a disgusting and suspicious term because it’s so messy and quick. But that’s how I enter a BBQ, and that’s how I play music. The world of musical taste seems to be broken into two parts, those who are insulted by the concept of Jamming and those who aren’t satisfied by anything BUT jamming. I’d argue that this concept covers all things, and most things can be correctly evaluated by figuring out what the percentage of Jamming vs. not jamming is in any endeavor.
Jamming is a sensitive concept in music because it alternately means “Just going with what you feel at the moment along with everyone, exploring,” or “Fucking around because you are an asshole who suxx at music and loves wasting everyone’s time.” The first camp enjoys only the application of skill and passion to the learned patterns of an artistic vision: ya’know, confident songwriting, practiced and pulled off by people who can play their instruments. This covers all recognizable musical genres and fits very well into capitalism. You really feel like you’re getting something for your money when the band pulls off that hit you’ve been streaming. The other side cherishes spontaneity and the unique moment of expression at the expense of almost everything else, including making any kind of sense at all. Both sides devolve into different kinds of hardcore sucking, with crass cliché at one end, and ego masturbation at the other.
Ultimately the problem boils down to the fact that music is a massively subjective endeavor, but it’s a calling and a constant process so there needs to be specific terms for everything. So how do you get specific and technical about a slippery, messy subjective thing? You take your time. Everyone and their feelings and their art and their livelihoods are pent up and invested with maximum immediacy, and the Internet is a giant shit-stained bloodbath of bathroom wall engaged in endless name-calling over who’s wasting time and who’s being real enough. Suddenly whether or not you’re “into jamming out” takes on towering existential importance. Is that a fragile moment of pure freedom I hear or did you just shit in my ear? Are you an absolute master of being stuck inside a dying closed system? The jury’s so far out it’s hard to even talk about.
Outside of music, a lot seems to work like this. To jam or not to jam, to be free or to be deliberate. This decision takes on dire cosmic consequences when applied to anything outside of the HippyZone. (If you play music at all, any kind of music, you are composed of 10% more hippy than someone who doesn’t. I don’t care how Republican you are.)
Being deliberate and technically methodical about a broad subjective topic seems like a losing battle. Which brings me to the Higgs Boson, the newest subatomic particle, just discovered, sort of, by the gazillion dollar European research center CERN. It’s the ultimate rock star particle science moment! It’s also such a far reaching discovery that it essentially relates to everything in this world. Pretty vague.
My all-time favorite crazy scientist is R. P. Feynman. Lay-famous for explaining the Space Shuttle Challenger’s explosion disaster using a cup of water and a pen, he lived a life full of mundane highbrow science, calmly explaining that he “didn’t know about much” except extremely complicated particle physics and was both devoted to and propelled by his own irrepressible senses of curiosity and charm. He also played the bongos, was an expert safe cracker and helped build the atomic bomb. One of his favorite complaints (he was an exceptionally mellow man) was to decry the overall popularity of Einstein’s general relativity theory and how that popularity played out at cocktail parties. Back in the ’60s, you’d go to a party and some smart-ass beatnik would start frontin’ bohemian cultural-relativity and back it up with passing reference to Einstein. “Everything’s relative, man. Haven’t you heard?”
This used to drive Feynman crazy, because if you’re actually a particle physicist, and you are working with nearly incomprehensible theory all the time and applying it mathematically to specific problems, the speed of light is a towering constant in the universe and everything is relative to that. You constantly have to throw away theories because they don’t play nice with the speed of light, and then you go to a party after work full of proto-hipsters and they’re all like “Hey daddy, everything’s, like, everything now, Einstein said so!” It’s probably similar to the feeling one has when you spend all your time creating amazing and tasteful pop songs and then you’re at a show where another “musician” squats over farting guitar pedals and calls it a set.
The Higgs Equivalent Cocktail Party Physics would probably be “Hey, they found it. Humans are right about everything now and forever.” The fact that someone said it was there and then billions of dollars later IT’S THERE, means we’re actually doing all right as a race of people. We’re doing it, we’re moving forward. Alien overlords are asking Alien scientists watching us from Jupiter “Did they figure out what makes matter solid yet?” and the Alien scientists can now say “Yeah, sort of, they’ve gotten to the simplest version predicted by current theory, but they are still hung up on dark matter.” “OK, well, let’s check back in a hundred years.”
The aliens are waiting and we have to move at the speed of money on the biggest subjects of reality. This is because science has a great philosophical and historical need to be testable and quantifiable, when actually the great answers to the greatest questions can also be explained by squinting through a margarita at a crucifix on the beach. All that time spent being deliberate and methodical must be maddening if you walk into a room where that isn’t a requirement. In the same way, if you already instinctively know all the answers, it must be really, really annoying to be asked to explain why, and to prove it. These are reasons not to leave your house. Or if you do leave your house, these are reasons to go on a rampage. Rampage seems to be more immediately satisfying, like a crazy, never-ending jam sesh. But carefully figuring everything out about everything using science is epically satisfying. And I promise, science gives us a better chance of attracting aliens. Amazing aliens.
So the most pressing questions about the Higgs theory doohickey are (according to our particular obsessions as humans), “How will it be used to kill people rill gud?”, and “How exactly will increased knowledge of reality lead to a better human society (i.e. faster porn delivery)?” Yeah, that’s both directions. Before that gets figured out, I imagine this discovery will lead to an interesting new fancy cellphone or two. Then, just as everyone is forgetting about good ol’ Higgs, TIME TRAVEL will be invented. Then, a very subtle hell will break loose…
The Google time travel apps will probably be constantly self correcting and interactive, like the app that constantly tells you what era the conversation you’re having belongs in, or the app that sends you pictures of your distant relatives in the past and future doing things more depraved that what you’re doing (to make you feel better). Or Instagram TimeTravel, which actually ages your subject by 100 years. The “Time Cop” app would just be Jean-Claude Van Dam’s voice telling you when you’re about to fuck up history. Time travel dating would be really confusing and awesome, sexting your crush in the past and future. But if you try to sext them in a time before sexting existed, it just comes out as sky-writing, which would really knock their socks off.
Actually, despite our expensive advanced Higgs discovery I have a feeling we’re never, ever going to invent time travel. Here’s my theory: When a time machine gets invented eventually, the use of it can go one of two ways, good or bad. GOOD as in, “People only use time travel to better human lives or learn about important stuff and just be careful and chill about it,” or BAD, as in, “I’m gonna get rich or rule the world or figure out how to kill my enemies before they're born or something stupid and doomed to the failure of hubris.” (See every time travel movie ever). When it’s going well, we don't notice it, because it’s careful. When it’s going badly, everything gets so fucked up in the time stream, with everyone killing each other's grandparents and the earth being destroyed before it’s created and Hitler going back and inserting his DNA into every living man and dog and 30 story orphan mills everywhere and environmentalists going back to blow up the cotton gin and the steam engine and every sports event being “mysteriously” affected by telekinesis or tazers, or something – EVENTUALLY some brave soul says ENOUGH and decides to go back in time and PREVENT THE TIME MACHINE FROM BEING BUILT.
Then *Blammo!* all the bad stuff never happened and the earth gets reset to when there was no time machine, back to a time when people merely dream of traveling through time. Then the whole thing starts over again. This might mean that Time Machines are being continually invented and then prevented from being invented all the time. Again and again! All that we're left with is a “Vague feeling of having invented a time machine.” Which, now that we’re mentioning it, I am kind of feeling right now…
Anyway, I’m extremely culpable. Things like this are my fault. I’m more beholden to one side than the other. It’s a personality thing. Dreaming about Aliens at the Olympics. Worrying about Time Travel Hitlers. Jamming out.
• The coming of Rape Drink and our future abominable party drinks.
• Also, bring back Weaponized Dosing! We can take it!