Acting and music on the Tree

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Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Escarabajo » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:20 pm

I know a lot of thelemites are into music and/or acting. I'm curious if they break down differently in the qabalah. I'm guessing acting uses more of Hod, while Music is more of a pure Netzach thing (although I would be inclined to put both primarily in Netzach).

Just wondering what people think about these two arts. Does anyone here have an opinion on either?

You know how good musicians usually dont make good actors, and vice-versa? I'm wondering what the difference would be in terms of the two skills. This is, to some extent, a general discussion question but I'm interested particularly how they relate to the Tree (and while we're at it, the zodiac symbolism, etc.)
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:51 pm

I think the most important elements of the Tree and music to notice are that Yesod refers to rhythm (especially those primtive rhythms which arose from the womb) and Tiphereth to harmony.

On the difference of music vs. acting, I'm not at all sure I agree with you that good musicians do not make good actors and vice versa. Some of the greatest actors have had extensive music training, and overlap (or multi-discipline) isn't all that rare. And I suppose it depends on the kind of acting - for example, great musicians often make phenomenal comedians because they understand timing so thoroughly. They also make excellent directors often.

On astrology, you can look at the luminary sign interpretations on www.solunars.net and see actual statistics that don't require speculation.
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Escarabajo » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:16 am

very interesting about harmony and rhythm. What might melody be - netzach?

I was thinking of acting as using more interpretation and mental processes, hence Hod. I was thinking of Netzach as representing more of the energy and stirring that music can create.

I was thinking of, let's say, Keanu Reeves etc. doing music, or countless 80s pop icons like Prince trying acting back in the day and not shining particularly brightly. OK, my examples weren't particularly high brow or informed, but I have yet to see any "musical genius = acting genius" predictability although I grant they're more closely related than many other fields. My own pet theory is that acting requires the ability to cast aside one's personality, whereas music tends to broadcast it. that's why I think actors can play the role of rock star, usually singing other's music (like Jeff Bridges put out a country blues album, I believe) whereas musicians tend to look uncomfortable acting behind the camera.
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Takamba » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:41 am

Sting is an excellent actor. Hugh Jackman can sing and dance. Jamie Fox and Russel Crowe have great soulful talents they just don't show case them so much (well, except maybe Jamie Fox does now).

Where you put the difference between musicianship and acting isn't where I'd put it. Many great musicians (Prince is an absolute genius musically) expect they should be easily born into acting, but they make the mistake you make about it being a "thinking problem." Acting for me is not at all a thinking concern. In fact, the last thing I want to do is think about it. But watch some people on screen and stage and you can tell right away they are thinking "hmm. what's my next line, where's the cue? What would "the Kidd do?'" But good acting is getting the actor to leave the room and the character to do what the character ought to do. :)

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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby RobertAllen » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:59 am

There are bad a good actors. One thing that makes an actor bad is the misconception of what acting really is. Cameras are partially to blame for this misconception because cameras are capable and eager to catch happy accidents—something that could not have been planned and which cannot be recreated. As a result, the bad actor has this idea that they should simply be out of control; or in their own mind: real. They assume real means without pattern or music—in other words: random, chaotic. This leads them very quickly to the idea that any formal structure, or technique will be counterproductive.

The fact is, so clear to those of us who deal with issues of repeatability on stage, even the most realistic acting is still music—artifice. In this regard, the best 'contemporary realism' is intrinsically musical—based on those rhythms and forms that only seem spontaneous and without shape. This effort to appear spontaneous and without style can only really be achieved with research, practice, and an appreciation for the inherent music, unconscious for most of us, in the way we act now—the improvisational music of our lives that we are so close to we don't ordinarily see it. The actor who thinks it is enough to 'simply act naturally' is just lazy—they are hoping to get lucky, be in a zone they don't fully understand when the camera is rolling.

The bad actor has nothing in common with the musician.

I have personally attributed both music and acting to Tiphareth, being in a way the two aspects of that sephirah:
Apollonian music
Dionysian acting

Of course these are crude divisions that tend to break down is real world practice. But generally, all the arts would happily find a place in Tiphareth, their differences being accounted for by making sub-attributions. For example, theater being the most impure and mixed of the arts it might be attributed to the Malkuth/Nephesh of Tiphareth, following that model where each sephirah has it's own tree. Music as the most ideal, abstract, and by the tradition of Aristotle the highest of the arts might be the attributed to the Supernals/Neschamah of Tiphareth, or at the least Chesed as the highest, actual emanation of the manifested Tree below the abyss.

FWIW, some of us don't think Sting is a very good actor. :wink:

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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:22 am

And, of course, Robert, you were the perfect one to answer this :)

Rhythm is so crucial to both areas. Even in our ritual work, I train people (when reading lines of text) to find the music - find the rhythm - in the text lines. Now, to a great extent these lines were written to have this internal rhythm that moves the waves of energy; but some prose messages are fairly resistant to cadence. Nonetheless, and despite this, the best delivery is generally when the speaker finds the cadence pattern that is in the lines.

I was going to be a little more generous than you by noting that there are different approaches to acting - different styles of training and performance. Some of these rely more on calculation, some more on unleashing the unplanned - some instances require more of setting the personality aside, but most rely on getting deeper into it and using it as one's toolkit. And yes, as you indicate - as a director I appreciate the (planned) surprising twists an actor can find in rehearsal (in development), but I rely on the discipline the actor brings to rehearsal and performance. - Of course, there would be quite different types of plays than I've directed, which require the opposite.

If anything, I'd have flipped the OP's descriptions on their head: Actors are performers; but not all musicians are performers. Some are technicians. But the greatest acts are usually those where an adequate-or-better musician is also a great performer and delivers... what do they call it? ... oh yeah, a great show.
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby RobertAllen » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:45 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:I was going to be a little more generous than you by noting that there are different approaches to acting - different styles of training and performance. Some of these rely more on calculation, some more on unleashing the unplanned - some instances require more of setting the personality aside, but most rely on getting deeper into it and using it as one's toolkit. And yes, as you indicate - as a director I appreciate the (planned) surprising twists an actor can find in rehearsal (in development), but I rely on the discipline the actor brings to rehearsal and performance. - Of course, there would be quite different types of plays than I've directed, which require the opposite.

And there are preferences and necessities that are as much about the current state of the arts as they are about 'what I like' or what is appropriate for a given project. I will encourage a more traditional style of acting where I perceive non-realistic styles have become self indulgent. Or as is more often the case, I will do almost anything to force an actor out of his/her safe place in regards to the dominant realism of the day. I suspect even the age of man is a factor in choosing.

As a director I look for and cultivate actors that seem to posses a tightly knit ball of chaotic energy buried somewhere deep in the belly or lower abdomen. These actors give the impression that anything is always possible. No matter how tightly choreographed a scene might become in rehearsal, the audience should nevertheless feel that they don’t know what will happen next—conceivably anything. It is impossible to take your eyes off of this type of actor. As a training exercise, I will often set my students the following problem: “The curtain rises. You are on stage. The blocking we have agreed on is that you stand in one place, motionless, apparently doing nothing. Twenty minutes later the curtain drops. Can you keep the audience in a state of expectation for the entire twenty minutes?”

—from something I wrote. Clearly I am interested in invoking Mars, and more deeply Chokmah as it is reflected through Geburah...

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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Frater 639 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:14 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:If anything, I'd have flipped the OP's descriptions on their head: Actors are performers; but not all musicians are performers. Some are technicians. But the greatest acts are usually those where an adequate-or-better musician is also a great performer and delivers... what do they call it? ... oh yeah, a great show.


I like these points.

In music, I attribute these two things with Hod and Netzach. I think the technical aspects of music are from Hod (the form), and the passion is Netzach (the force behind the form).

Man, passion isn't worth (****) if it isn't trained. I've seen people that wanted to be badass jazz musicians that dressed the part, looked the part, etc:

"You can tell whether a person plays or not by the way he carries the instrument, whether it means something to him or not. Then the way they talk and act. If they act too hip, you know they can't play (****)."

-- Miles Davis

And then, I've heard people that could play perfectly but sound way too technical, with no passion. Machine-like or what not...this is what we hear a lot coming out of the academic forums of music -- all analysis of chord-scale theory, mixed-meters, advanced techniques, etc. and it is "thought"...not felt.

I see the balance in Tiphareth. A great show! And we all recognize Beauty (hopefully). :D

Music is like sex...when you're good, you don't have to think about it. It is natural...

I don't know about acting, but maybe some of the women I've been with do! :lol:
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby RobertAllen » Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:29 am

I'm curious where on the Tree people would place Duende, a performance art value derived from Latin culture.

From a wiki article on the concept:
Lorca writes: "The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.' Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation.". He suggests, "everything that has black sounds in it, has duende. [i.e. emotional 'darkness'] [...] This 'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains' is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched the heart of Nietzsche, who searched in vain for its external forms on the Rialto Bridge and in the music of Bizet, without knowing that the duende he was pursuing had leaped straight from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz or the beheaded, Dionysian scream of Silverio's siguiriya." [...] "The duende's arrival always means a radical change in forms. It brings to old planes unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and it produces an almost religious enthusiasm." [...] "All arts are capable of duende, but where it finds greatest range, naturally, is in music, dance, and spoken poetry, for these arts require a living body to interpret them, being forms that are born, die, and open their contours against an exact present."


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"I remember seeing Atlas looking at a world whose hoops and rings had been broken by Copernicus, where Tycho Brahe placed his back beneath the globe, and a shouting Ptolemy tried to support the round lump, to stop it from falling into the void. In the mean time Copernicus was breaking many crystal spheres that were placed around the globe and was stamping out the little lights that flickered in the crystal jars." (de Hooghe, Hieroglyphica, Amsterdam, 1744)
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Frater 639 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:41 am

It definitely seems to have Saturnian influences (Binah)...but Martial as well. It is a form, which seems to be that side of the Tree, but the fact that it is "dark power" in the "active" performance sense...Also, it inhabits the Charioteer, the path between the two. I would say, for the sake of conversation, that "Duende" Itself is of Binah, while the "inhabited" performer relates to Geburah. The act of transmission/performance relates to the Chariot.

The Chariot speaks to me, in regard to the "feeling" during jazz performance...or being "in the zone"...or, some would say, glimpses of Dhyana and/or Samadhi. This passage specifically (from the Book of Lies):

8
ΚΕΑΛΗ Η
STEEPED HORSEHAIR

Mind is a disease of semen.
All that a man is or may be is hidden therein.
Bodily functions are parts of the machine; silent, unless in dis-ease.
But mind, never at ease, creaketh "I".
This I persisteth not, posteth not through generations, changeth momently, finally is dead.
Therefore is man only himself when lost to himself in The Charioting.


Never read about the "Duende"...very interesting! Thanks for sharing that! :D

ps. I LOVE Lorca. :angel:
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby RobertAllen » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:31 pm

Duende

I guess I would place it in and about Tiphareth. Free associating I would say it is the combined effect and influence of Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn—Nun, Samekh, and Ayin.

Two of your three uncles have been lynched (Death) by whites wearing white robes and pointy hats; sexually transmitted disease (The Devil) is rampant in your community as a result of no-education regarding same; but if you have talent (Art), your gonna be one hell of a blues singer/songwriter/musician as a result of these other two initiations!

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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Mephisto » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:47 pm

Escarabajo wrote:I was thinking of, let's say, Keanu Reeves etc. doing music, or countless 80s pop icons like Prince trying acting back in the day and not shining particularly brightly. OK, my examples weren't particularly high brow or informed, but I have yet to see any "musical genius = acting genius" predictability although I grant they're more closely related than many other fields. My own pet theory is that acting requires the ability to cast aside one's personality, whereas music tends to broadcast it. that's why I think actors can play the role of rock star, usually singing other's music (like Jeff Bridges put out a country blues album, I believe) whereas musicians tend to look uncomfortable acting behind the camera.


It depends on the particularity of the type. For instance, a Jean Cocteau (a French writer/director/etc.) will be able to grasp various artistic disciplines because of his Venus-Mercury relationship, which are both in natural signs in his horoscope. And this is the crux of the thing: any art requires a balance of the mind and the emotions, the Mercurial and Venusian, the intuitive and intellectual. This interplay passes along the (**whips out handy dandy 777**) path of Pe, Martial energy, which is that which manifests this interplay. This is the aspect of art-in-action, it requires Yesod (the paths between Hod, Netzach, and Yesod are,Tzaddi and Daleth, feminine, stabilizing energies) to provide the basis or rythmn of which Jim speaks. This is completed with the harmonizing influence represented by the Apollonian influence of Tiphareth, which directs and harmonizes these diverse aspects. Notice also Jacques Costeau, another French filmmaker who was trained in Oceanography as his primary discipline. He led pioneering research while conducting famous documentaries at the same time. Once again, Mercury in Gemini, Venus in Taurus--the 8-7 interplay, which gives us, btw, the glorious 15 which I won't discourse about at the moment.

I could go on for quite some time but I just wanted to give you an example of Qabalistic analysis as I use it.

You should really read "The Birth of Tragedy..." from which Sir Allen gets his Apollo/Dionysus dichotomy. Good book, as is much of Nietzche's work. I've studied it extensively in college and on my own volition. His analysis of Greek artistic evolution is full of insight, as is Sir Allen. :D
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Re: Acting and music on the Tree

Postby Mephisto » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:48 pm

RobertAllen wrote:I'm curious where on the Tree people would place Duende, a performance art value derived from Latin culture.


I have experienced this rapture during creation, and I call it Kether.
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