Consonance, says the dictionary, is the combination of several tones into a harmonic unit. Dissonance results from the deranging of this harmony by the addition of tones foreign to it. One must admit that all this is not clear. Ever since it appeared in our vocabulary, the word 'dissonance' has carried with it a certain odor of sinfulness. Let us light our lantern: in textbook language, dissonance is an element of transition, a complex or interval of tones that is not complete in itself and that must be resolved to the ear's satisfaction into a perfect consonance.
Music needs the juxtaposition of opposites to achieve its drama, so harshness and dissonance are simply part of the material a musician can use to create a musical work. All one thing is a bore-all dissonance, or all fatuous consonance. George Winston and Guns and Roses are two sides of the same worthless coin in my esthetic world.
We have already seen that when positive authority suggests a change in behavior, the recipient will accept it provided he is capable of doing so and provided it does not require drastic modification of belief or frustrate important needs. By carrying out the suggestion, one can simultaneously reduce dissonance and preserve intact one's relation to positive authority. But what can reasonably be expected when the suggestion to change is beyond the recipient's capability or frustrates his deep needs or predispositions? In such a situation, a conflict arises between his desire to comply with authority and the abilities or needs which make compliance impossible. One way to resolve such a conflict situation (or to reduce the dissonance) is to change one's conception of authority. If a suggestion emanating from positive authority is unacceptable, the conflict may be removed by becoming disaffected with the authority and transforming it either into a negative authority or into a nonexistent one. This is exactly what Leon and Joseph did.
These stories are important to me, not because they happen to be about South Asians, but because they're circling around a certain strain of loneliness that goes deeper than cultural dissonance, that has to do with the yearning to connect with someone else, or with some unreachable vision of home.
I speak without reservation, from what I know and who I am. I do so with the understanding that all people should have the right to offer their voices to the chorus whether the result is harmony or dissonance. The worldsong is a colorless dirge without the differences that distinguish us, and it is that difference which should be celebrated not condemned.
That, of course, was the thing about the fifties with all their patina of familial bliss: A lot of the memories were not happy, not mine, not my friends'. That's probably why the myth so endures, because of the dissonance in our lives between what actually went on at home and what went on up there on those TV screens where we were allegedly seeing ourselves reflected back.
Anne Taylor Fleming
Against The Stream is more than just another book about meditation. It is a manifesto and field guide for the front lines of the revolution. It is the culmination of almost two decades of meditative dissonance from the next generation of Buddhists in the West, It is a call to awakening for the sleeping masses.
The dissonance that I felt daily flew in the face of what Silicon Valley says about itself: that it is a meritocracy, that it values intelligence and creativity, that everyone has a fair shot if they just work hard enough. This was true only if you were technical, and even that may not always be enough: in the age of the social network, who you know and who your friends were was becoming increasingly important.
There is no one part of the brain which recognizes or responds emotionally to music. Instead, there are many different parts responding to different aspects of music: to pitch, to frequency, to timbre, to tonal intervals, to consonance, to dissonance, to rhythm, to melodic contour, to harmony.
My last album as J. Tillman, 'Singing Ax,' that was really a premeditated death rattle of the aesthetic precedent I had set. I realized I wasn't creating spontaneously; I was enforcing all these parameters. I was too self-loathing or something, and there was this obvious dissonance between my conversational voice and creative voice.
When Claude Debussy studied at the Paris Conservatory from age ten to age twenty-two, many considered him a rebel because of his treatment of dissonance and his disdain for the established forms. He reputedly turned to a fellow student during a performance of Beethoven with the words, "Let's go. He's starting to develop.
This is the greatest mystery of the human mind-the inductive leap. Everything falls into place, irrelevancies relate, dissonance becomes harmony, and nonsense wears a crown of meaning. But the clarifying leap springs from the rich soil of confusion, and the leaper is not unfamiliar with pain.
Distance, the dissonance insurmountable, would be not the end, but a magnet. When fingertips kiss, they imprint and cement something, that cannot be disintegrated. Time becomes a phantom, the wind becomes an anchor, and old dreams- blankets of warmth. Lull with me, Lady, there is no greater escape. Love and war, even when buttered on toast, still makes for the breakfast of champions.
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Situations produce vibrations. Negative, potentially harmful situations emit slow vibrations. Positive, potentially life-enhancing situations emit quick vibrations. As these vibrations impact on your energy field they produce either resonance or dissonance in your lower and middle tantiens (psychic power stations) depending on your own vibratory rate at the time. When you psychic field force is strong and your vibratory rate is fast, therefore, you will draw only positive situations to you. When you mind is quiet enough and your attention is on the moment, you will literally hear the dissonance in your belly and chest like an alarm bell going off, urging you from deep within your body to move in such and such a direction. Always follow it. At times these urges may come to you in the form of internally spoken dialogue with your higher self, spirit guide, guardian angel, alien intelligence, however you see the owner of the 'still, small voice within.' This form of dialogue can be entertaining and reassuring but is best not overindulged in as, in the extreme; it tends to lead to the loony bin. At times you may receive your messages from 'Indian signs', such as slogans on passing trucks or cloud formations in the sky. This is also best kept in moderation, to avoid seeing signs in everything and becoming terribly confused. Just let it happen when it happens and don't try looking for it.
For too many women in America are becoming sick with exhaustion and stress as they try to do things that can't be - shouldn't be - done. Too many are eaten up by resentment toward their husbands, who are not subject to the same heartless pressures. Too many are becoming anxious and depressed because they are overwhelmed and disappointed. Too many are letting their lives be poisoned by guilt because their expectations can't be met, and because there is an enormous cognitive dissonance between what they know to be right for themselves and what they're told is right for their children. Too many feel out of control.
I did grow up in a military family but lacked the perspective to grasp the cognitive dissonance carried by most people who serve in the armed forces or the circumstances that push lots of folks into the military. I don't blame G.I. Joe or Rambo for that atmosphere, but they certainly reflected the final stage of a two generation cultural myth.
As I look back over the other best friendships I've had that also ended, I wonder if, in addition to simply having a finite amount of time for such intimacy, we also have certain periods in our lives in which we seek out people who seem to embody the things we lack. Then, when we gain those things for ourselves, we no longer need that friend in the same way, which causes a serious dissonance in the relationship. Perhaps this is why these particular friendships burn so bright and then disappear so completely.
Brenna was fixing some kind of a small computronic device when he found her in her quarters. "Judd," she said, putting down her tools. "You can't be here. The dissonance""" He interrupted her panicked words. "I need to ask you something important." "What could be more important than your life?" She sounded close to tears. "Your life. If you die, I don't know if I'd stay sane." A simple truth.
...one of hallmarks of a creative person is the ability to tolerate ambiguity, dissonance, inconsistency, things out of place. But one of the rules of a well-run corporation is that surprise is to be minimized. Yet if this rule were applied to the creative process, nothing worth reading would get written, nothing worth seeing would get painted, nothing worth living with and using would ever get designed.
I spoke with the crows before leaving for Los Angeles. They were the resident storytellers whose strident and insistent voices added the necessary dissonance for color. They had cousins in California, and gave me their names and addresses, told me to look them up. They warned me, too, what they had heard about attitude there. And they were right. Attitude was thick, hung from the would-be's and has-beens and think-they-ares, so thick that I figured it was the major source of the smog.
English audiences of working people are like an instrument that responds to the player. Thought ripples up and down them, and if in some heart the speaker strikes a dissonance there is a swift answer. Always the voice speaks from gallery or pit, the terrible voice which detaches itself in every English crowd, full of caustic wit, full of irony or, maybe, approval.
Mary Heaton Vorse
Art knows no happier moment than the opportunity to show the symmetry of an extreme, during that moment of spheric harmony when the dissonance dissolves for the blink of an eye, dissolves into a blissful harmony, when the most extreme opposites, coming together from the greatest alienation, fleetingly touch with lips of the word and of love.
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.
And adab towards language means the recognition and acknowledgement of the rightful and proper place of every word in a written or uttered sentence so as not to produce a dissonance in meaning, sound and concept. Literature is called adabiyat in Islam precisely because it is seen as the keeper of civilization, the collector of teachings and statements that educate the self and society with adab such that both are elevated to the rank of the cultured man (insan adabi) and society.
Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud
The primary purposes of the political pamphlets of the early 1700s were neither to enlighten nor educate the masses, but to incite partisan conversation and spread commensurate ideas... Facts were not permitted to fetter the views they espoused, and the restraints of objective journalistic credibility were discarded by pamphleteers bent on promoting subjective slant to an insatiable general public for whom political dissonance was an integral part of social interaction.
Gavin John Adams
There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery. If there is a hundredth of a fraction of a false note to candor, it immediately produces dissonance, and as a result, exposure. But in flattery, even if everything is false down to the last note, it is still pleasant, and people will listen not without pleasure; with coarse pleasure, perhaps, but pleasure nevertheless.
Some people look like they sound better than they actually sound, because they look confident and have good posture, " once musician, a veteran of many auditions, says. "Other people look awful when they play but sound great. Other people have that belabored look when they play, but you can't hear it in the sound. There is always this dissonance between what you see and hear" (p.251).
Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today "" the age of science "" science fiction is our mythology.
Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today - the age of science - science fiction is our mythology.
Improvisation was the blood and bone of jazz, and in the classic, New Orleans jazz it was collective improvisation in which each performer, seemingly going his own melodic way, played in harmony, dissonance, or counterpoint with the improvisations of his colleagues. Quite unlike ragtime, which was written down in many cases by its composers and could be repeated note for note (if not expression for expression) by others, jazz was a performer's not a composer's art.
I found a brief piece of by Antonio Vivaldi around this time which became my 'Pinhead Mood Music'. Called Al Santo Sepolcro (At The Holy Sepulchre), it opens more like a piece of modern orchestral music, and although it it moves toward Vivaldi's familiar harmonies, there is always the threat that it will fall back into dissonance. The piece progresses in an exquisite agony, poised on a knife edge between beauty and disfigurement, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. Perfect.
I practiced law for five years and that gives you insight into a certain mind-set that maybe a lot of writers haven't had firsthand access to. There's an almost casual cruelty, a very low level of overall awareness, but sometimes there's also knowledge that real damage is being done-this attitude of 'Oh, what the hell, ' this kind of moral cognitive dissonance. These are people who have never missed a meal. It's an unknowingness, an unawareness... Many people were operating from a very narrow range of experience, and yet they had complete faith in it. Their way was the correct way, the only way. They had virtually no awareness of any other way of life except in terms of demonizing things... It's an extremely blindered experience of the world.
I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir of stars, accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a piercing refrain of glory, glory, glory. And I sensed that not only the grand movements of the cosmos, but everything that had happened in my life, was a part of that song. Even the hurts that seemed most senseless, the mistakes I would have done anything to erase-nothing could make those things good, but good could still come out of them all the same, and in the end the oratorio would be no less beautiful for it.
I'm aware of Yusef Lateef and Sun Ra and John Coltrane. My music cup runneth over. I try to encourage people: don't cut anything off, don't limit yourself. Give it a good listen: you might find something in that goofy Sun Ra noise, that dissonance. Before I learned 'official musicality' - which you should avoid at all costs - I listened to some Sun Ra and Yusef Lateef and John Coltrane and that's where 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' came from. When you intentionally and aggressively pursue musical communication with those powerfully impactful musical geniuses, you will pick up something.
I took my pill at eleven. An hour and half later I was sitting in my study, looking intently at a small glass vase. The vase contained only three flowers - a full-blown Belle of Portugal rose, shell pink with a hint at every petal's base of a hotter, flamier hue; a large magenta and cream-coloured carnation; and, pale purple at the end of its broken stalk, the bold heraldic blossom of an iris. Fortuitous and provisional, the little nosegay broke all the rules of traditional good taste. At breakfast that morning I had been struck by the lively dissonance of its colours. But that was no longer the point. I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.
Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to - but don't. It exacerbates and often rewards all the other drivers of willful blindness; our preference for the familiar, our love for individuals and for big ideas, a love of busyness and our dislike of conflict and change, the human instinct to obey and conform and our skill at displacing and diffusing responsibility. All of these operate and collaborate with varying intensities at different moments in our lives. The common denominator is that they all make us protect our sense of self-worth, reducing dissonance and conferring a sense of security, however illusory. In some ways, they all act like money; making us feel good at first, with consequences we don't see. We wouldn't be so blind if our blindness didn't deliver rewards; the benefit of comfort and ease.
I'd finally reached the end of myself, all my self-reliance and denial and pride unraveling into nothingness, leaving only a blank Alison-shaped space behind. It was finished. I was done. But just as I felt myself dissolving on the tide of my own self-condemnation, the dark waves receded, and I floated into a celestial calm. I saw the whole universe laid out before me, a vast shining machine of indescribable beauty and complexity. Its design was too intricate for me to understand, and I knew I could never begin to grasp more than the smallest idea of its purpose. But I sensed that every part of it, from quark to quasar, was unique and - in some mysterious way - significant. I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir of stars, accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a peircing refrain of glory, glory, glory. And I sensed that not only the grand movements of the cosmos, but everything that had happened in my life, was a part of that song. Even the hurts that seemed most senseless, the mistakes I would have done anything to erase - nothing could make those things good, but good could still come out of them all the same, and in the end the oratorio would be no less beautiful for it. I realized then that even though I was a tiny speck in an infinite cosmos, a blip on the timeline of eternity, I was not without purpose. And as long as I had a part in the music of the spheres, even if it was only a single grace not, I was not worthless. Nor was I alone. God help me, I prayed as I gathered up my raw and weary sense, flung them into the wormhole - And at last, found what I'd been looking for.
By far, the most important distortions and confabulations of memory are those that serve to justify and explain our own lives. The mind, sense-making organ that it is, does not interpret our experiences as if they were shattered shards of glass; it assembles them into a mosaic. From the distance of years, we see the mosaic's pattern. It seems tangible, unchangeable; we can't imagine how we could reconfigure those pieces into another design. But it is a result of years of telling our story, shaping it into a life narrative that is complete with heroes and villians, an account of how we came to be the way we are. Because that narrative is the way we understand the world and our place in it, it is bigger than the sum of its parts. If on part, one memory, is shown to be wrong, people have to reduce the resulting dissonance and even rethink the basic mental category: you mean Dad (Mom) wasn't such a bad (good) person after all? You mean Dad (Mom) was a complex human being? The life narrative may be fundamentally true; Your father or mother might really have been hateful, or saintly. The problem is that when the narrative becomes a major source of self-justification, one the storyteller relies on to excuse mistakes and failings, memory becomes warped in its service. The storyteller remembers only the confirming examples of the parent's malevolence and forgets the dissonant instances of the parent's good qualities. Over time, as the story hardens, it becomes more difficult to see the whole parent - the mixture of good and bad, strengths and flaws, good intentions and unfortunate blunders. Memories create our stories, but our stories also create our memories.
It happens that in our phase of civility, the novel is the central form of literary art. It lends itself to explanations borrowed from any intellectual system of the universe which seems at the time satisfactory. Its history is an attempt to evade the laws of what Scott called 'the land of fiction'-the stereotypes which ignore reality, and whose remoteness from it we identify as absurd. From Cervantes forward it has been, when it has satisfied us, the poetry which is 'capable, ' in the words of Ortega, 'of coping with present reality.' But it is a 'realistic poetry' and its theme is, bluntly, 'the collapse of the poetic' because it has to do with 'the barbarous, brutal, mute, meaningless reality of things.' It cannot work with the old hero, or with the old laws of the land of romance; moreover, such new laws and customs as it creates have themselves to be repeatedly broken under the demands of a changed and no less brutal reality. 'Reality has such a violent temper that it does not tolerate the ideal even when reality itself is idealized.' Nevertheless, the effort continues to be made. The extremest revolt against the customs or laws of fiction-the antinovels of Fielding or Jane Austen or Flaubert or Natalie Sarraute-creates its new laws, in their turn to be broken. Even when there is a profession of complete narrative anarchy, as in some of the works I discussed last week, or in a poem such as Paterson, which rejects as spurious whatever most of us understand as form, it seems that time will always reveal some congruence with a paradigm-provided always that there is in the work that necessary element of the customary which enables it to communicate at all. I shall not spend much time on matters so familiar to you. Whether, with Luke¡cs, you think of the novel as peculiarly the resolution of the problem of the individual in an open society-or as relating to that problem in respect of an utterly contingent world; or express this in terms of the modern French theorists and call its progress a necessary and 'unceasing movement from the known to the unknown'; or simply see the novel as resembling the other arts in that it cannot avoid creating new possibilities for its own future-however you put it, the history of the novel is the history of forms rejected or modified, by parody, manifesto, neglect, as absurd. Nowhere else, perhaps, are we so conscious of the dissidence between inherited forms and our own reality. There is at present some good discussion of the issue not only in French but in English. Here I have in mind Iris Murdoch, a writer whose persistent and radical thinking about the form has not as yet been fully reflected in her own fiction. She contrasts what she calls 'crystalline form' with narrative of the shapeless, quasi-documentary kind, rejecting the first as uncharacteristic of the novel because it does not contain free characters, and the second because it cannot satisfy that need of form which it is easier to assert than to describe; we are at least sure that it exists, and that it is not always illicit. Her argument is important and subtle, and this is not an attempt to restate it; it is enough to say that Miss Murdoch, as a novelist, finds much difficulty in resisting what she calls 'the consolations of form' and in that degree damages the 'opacity, ' as she calls it, of character. A novel has this (and more) in common with love, that it is, so to speak, delighted with its own inventions of character, but must respect their uniqueness and their freedom. It must do so without losing the formal qualities that make it a novel. But the truly imaginative novelist has an unshakable 'respect for the contingent'; without it he sinks into fantasy, which is a way of deforming reality. 'Since reality is incomplete, art must not be too afraid of incompleteness, ' says Miss Murdoch. We must not falsify it with patterns too neat, too inclusive; there must be dissonance.
We are all poor; but there is a difference between what Mrs. Spark intends by speaking of 'slender means', and what Stevens called our poverty or Sartre our need, besoin. The poet finds his brief, fortuitous concords, it is true: not merely 'what will suffice, ' but 'the freshness of transformation, ' the 'reality of decreation, ' the 'gaiety of language.' The novelist accepts need, the difficulty of relating one's fictions to what one knows about the nature of reality, as his donnee. It is because no one has said more about this situation, or given such an idea of its complexity, that I want to devote most of this talk to Sartre and the most relevant of his novels, La Nausee. As things go now it isn't of course very modern; Robbe-Grillet treats it with amused reverence as a valuable antique. But it will still serve for my purposes. This book is doubtless very well known to you; I can't undertake to tell you much about it, especially as it has often been regarded as standing in an unusually close relation to a body of philosophy which I am incompetent to expound. Perhaps you will be charitable if I explain that I shall be using it and other works of Sartre merely as examples. What I have to do is simply to show that La Nausee represents, in the work of one extremely important and representative figure, a kind of crisis in the relation between fiction and reality, the tension or dissonance between paradigmatic form and contingent reality. That the mood of Sartre has sometimes been appropriate to the modern demythologized apocalypse is something I shall take for granted; his is a philosophy of crisis, but his world has no beginning and no end. The absurd dishonesty of all prefabricated patterns is cardinal to his beliefs; to cover reality over with eidetic images-illusions persisting from past acts of perception, as some abnormal children 'see' the page or object that is no longer before them -to do this is to sink into mauvaise foi. This expression covers all comfortable denials of the undeniable-freedom -by myths of necessity, nature, or things as they are. Are all the paradigms of fiction eidetic? Is the unavoidable, insidious, comfortable enemy of all novelists mauvaise foi? Sartre has recently, in his first instalment of autobiography, talked with extraordinary vivacity about the roleplaying of his youth, of the falsities imposed upon him by the fictive power of words. At the beginning of the Great War he began a novel about a French private who captured the Kaiser, defeated him in single combat, and so ended the war and recovered Alsace. But everything went wrong. The Kaiser, hissed by the poilus, no match for the superbly fit Private Perrin, spat upon and insulted, became 'somehow heroic.' Worse still, the peace, which should instantly have followed in the real world if this fiction had a genuine correspondence with reality, failed to occur. 'I very nearly renounced literature, ' says Sartre. Roquentin, in a subtler but basically similar situation, has the same reaction. Later Sartre would find again that the hero, however assiduously you use the pitchfork, will recur, and that gaps, less gross perhaps, between fiction and reality will open in the most close-knit pattern of words. Again, the young Sartre would sometimes, when most identified with his friends at the lycee, feel himself to be 'freed at last from the sin of existing'-this is also an expression of Roquentin's, but Roquentin says it feels like being a character in a novel. How can novels, by telling lies, convert existence into being? We see Roquentin waver between the horror of contingency and the fiction of aventures. In Les Mots Sartre very engagingly tells us that he was Roquentin, certainly, but that he was Sartre also, 'the elect, the chronicler of hells' to whom the whole novel of which he now speaks so derisively was a sort of aventure, though what was represented within it was 'the unjustified, brackish existence of my fellow-creatures.