With what conceit modern man thinks his inventions and shortcuts the ultimate in levels of happiness. The invention and intervention of the internet into modern life has made many of its users regard the past hassles of doing without it as a kind of Dark Age, preceding the beginnings of decency. Life was never really worth living, or was insufficiently liberated, before the internet (or B.I. as the new dating system introduced by the World Government now classifies years), is the attitude unconsciously implanted in us by the net. No need to listen to 20 minutes of commercials to get to a weather report that was vital to you 15 minutes ago. Now you have it in advance, and your life is more commodious as a result.
But this conceit overlooks a psychological reality that few ever bother to contemplate, and that is that in previous times every liberating transformation of society, whether through technology or art, was viewed by its possessors as an equally liberating and equally significant event in Human History. Its aficionados were just as enthusiastic and eager about its liberating effects as we are about the internet, or the possibilities of influencing the world through blogging or other net activities. Yet, if they (or we) knew for certain what the next development would be, and could see it, they and we would not be so currently enamoured with our current paramour.
Such advances in technology can seem puerile now to the modern generation, but to those who lived through the reality of them, they did not seem so. Silverwolf was reminiscing with Blue Dog about the thrill we both experienced as cubs and pups when we acquired our first crystal radios, little diode jobs that you clipped onto a piece of metal, and listened to with one earpiece. In an age when you had to buy batteries to power the “new” 6 transistor radios (made in Japan), the idea of being able to listen to Thomas Cassidy’s incredible voice presenting the Gas Company’s Evening Concert for free, even under the covers if you clipped it to a house ground, was a thrill not incomparable to getting hooked up to hi-speed internet.
Likewise, earlier thrills must have been equally rushy or more so to the participants. A horseless carriage! Well, hoss, what will that lead to? An electric percolator? No need to build a stove fire on a sub-freezing morning to have a hot cup of wolfbane. An electric typewriter? Doubled the firm’s productivity in the first year. A chain saw? Hang up the “misery whip” pushed back and forth for an hour by two men in the fog. The wheel? Well, that sure makes things a lot easier, Pharaoh.
And the electric guitar and amplifier: now every teenage boy whose parents have a garage can sound not that far different from the 45rpm he just played on that newfangled phonograph that even has the speakers come off, so you can put them where ever you want, as long as it’s within three feet of the console. A band that actually sounds like the band on the record, and without a whole lot of talent needed to do it. Wow! And then Stereo. Why, it sounds like it’s live, right in the room! Who needs a real band?
But Silverwolf thinks that one of the biggest explosions ever of what he wants to call “the acid machine” came with the liberation of music during the transition of Renaissance to Baroque music, under the aegis of the Italian composers like Vivaldi, Corelli, and Albinoni. But let him first explain what he means by “an acid machine”.
An “acid machine” is a social process, technological or artistic, that provides its enthusiasts with a mechanism with which they feel they can control or conquer either the world, or their own artistic aspirations, while eating away at all the restrictions that formerly hampered that art or technology. It usually feels like a revolution. The video recorder and VHS cassette are one example which those readers not yet gaga will still remember. Frailer minds may recall that in frailer times, in the kinematic arts, the same effect was accomplished by the 8mm and Super8 mediums, which gave the amateur a crack at duplicating the effects of the multimillion dollar feature film, for a fraction of the cost. As Jean Cocteau so rightly observed, film would never be liberated until it was as easy to make a film as it was to write a poem. 80 years later, the accurate predictions of that opium visionary have come true with the point and click video card camera.
So an acid machine can be the internet, a crystal set, a Fender amp or pickup, a bicycle, or an entirely new way of looking at an art that has slumbered for centuries and millenia in a comatose state of underdevelopment. Such was the state of Western European music going into the 1500s, and by the emergence of the 1700s it was as radically changed as is our internet world from the world of 1880.
And if you want to hear what this “acid machine” of music really meant to the composers of that time, listen to the works of Corelli, Albinoni, and Vivaldi, and hear for the first time a joy and energy that would have been impossible to express if not for the advances of Monteverdi and Frescobaldi. In that ebullient euphoria of their music, you can hear the excitement of the men of that time as they discovered their “acid machine”.
787 years from now, Trina Sorensen will be sitting under the palm trees of the University of Uppsala in Sweden, working on her required paper on “early bloggers of the 21st century”. It will seem a bore, and she will wonder how they could get so excited over such a primitive technology as the internet. And she will hardly be able to wait to get home and explore the “acid machine” of her times.
What will it be then?
Hoooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf