Last Night a DJ saved My Life
Process Theology and DJ Culture
a collage developed by Jay McDaniel
a collage developed by Jay McDaniel
Videos on the work of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life Foundation
Paul D. Miller, also most famously known as ‘DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid’, which is his stage name and self constructed persona, is an experimental and electronic hip-hop musician, conceptual artist, and writer. He was born in 1970 in Washington DC but has been based in New York City for many years. He is the son of one of Howard University's former Deans of Law who died when he was only three, and a mother who was in charge of a fabric shop of international repute. Paul Miller then spent the main part of his childhood in Washington DC’s nurturing bohemia. Paul Miller is a Professor at the European Graduate School (EGS) where he teaches Music Mediated Art. DJ Spooky is known amongst other things for his electronic experimentations in music known as both “illbient” and “trip hop.” His first album, Dead Dreamer, was released in 1996 and he has since then released over a dozen albums. He was the first editor of Artbyte: The Magazine of Digital Arts, which has since ceased publication. Miller’s articles have widely been published in, for example, The Source, The Village Voice, Artforum, Paper Magazine, Rap Pages, and many other magazines and journals.
The essence of DJ-ing is mixing and remixing.
Mixing, juxtaposing, and creating something new out of what is already there.
Remixing is more than DJ culture.
EN: In terms of DJing rising as a valid creative activity, how do you relate to the act of remixing? Looking back at history, it appears that it is a sort of bridge to producing original content by DJs. Is this what most DJs who want to be professionals in EDM aspire to or are expected to do, in your opinion?
Remixing is a universal activity.
The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction...The many become one and are increased by one.
Always we are seeking intense experience through patterned contrasts.
Yet, Whitehead insightfully notes, the absence of mutual inhibition is not sufficient to achieve deeply beautiful experience. Beauty requires not only the absence of conflict (harmony), but also the realization of new contrasts (intensity). It is through the realization of patterned contrasts that “new conformal intensities of feelings” are achieved (Process and Reality, 252). It is in the aim at intensity where the depth and richness of experience is purchased. “Thus the parts contribute to the massive feeling of the whole, and the whole contributes to the intensity of feeling of the parts” (252). Each occasion of experience aims at the achievement of beauty, then, in the sense that it seeks to bring the elements within its actual world together in a way that avoids the painful clash of conflicting ends (harmony) and furthermore seeks to relate these elements together in such a way as they not only avoid the conflict of mutual inhibition, but deepen the intensity of experience felt through the introduce of new contrasts.
The unity of the universe is God. God remixes by taking our experiences, which are remixes in their own right, and mixing them into the unity of an ongoing dance. God is a DJ who remixes remixes.
The consequent nature of God is the fulfillment of his experience by his reception of the multiple freedom of actuality into the harmony of his own actualization..It is just as much a multiplicity as it is a unity...The image, and it is but an image..is that of a tender care that nothing be lost.
Like God, the human DJ creates shared moods and tries to direct people to a better place.
DJ -ing is not just about choosing a few tunes. It is about generating shared moods; it’s about understanding the feelings of a group of people and directing them to a better place. In the hands of a master, records become the tools for rituals of a spiritual communion that for many people are the most powerful events in their lives.
Today the DJ is a pioneer and gatekeeper.
The DJ stands at a juncture of technology, performance and culture in the increasingly uncertain climate of the popular music industry, functioning both as pioneer of musical taste and gatekeeper of the music industry. Together with promoters, producers, video jockeys (VJs) and other professionals in dance music scenes, DJs have pushed forward music techniques and technological developments in last few decades, from mashups and remixes to digital systems for emulating vinyl performance modes...more
The human DJ is also a performing artist.
DJ Culture in the Mix (Bloomsbury, 2013) edited by Bernardo Attias, Anna Gavans and Hilegonda Rietveld is a book that explores, in its own unique way, the ever-changing landscape of DJ culture, particularly in the genre known as electronic dance music (EDM). The book focuses on the DJ specifically as an artist. This approach is much-needed in a time when the DJ has become ubiquitous in the mainstream.
The DJ is also a cultural icon.
EN: It appears that DJ culture is becoming an emerging field in academia. What do you think this means for EDM, and DJing as a creative act? Does an academic interest mean that DJ culture is entering a similar position as other music genres?
The DJ can be an agent for positive change.
WHAT WE DO
We are all DJ's. The spiritual journey is a remixing process.
"In addition to music and dance, the practice of DJ mixing also has important philosophical implications for ravers, particularly as a metaphor for how to follow a spiritual path and live one’ s life in an artful and harmonious manner. Essentially, what a DJ does is to take a number of tracks, and each of which has its own distinctive feeling and structural components (i.e., rhythm, tempo, melody, harmony, timbre, instrumentation, etc.) and blend them together so that the transitions are seamless and the entire set is an integrated whole. In order to accomplish this task, a DJ must utilize the similarities between the tracks, through techniques like beat matching a key and, at the same time, must also utilize the differences between the tracks to create a sense of dynamics and forward momentum.
But there are problems, too. The overly masculine ethos of DJ culture is one of them. It violates the law of peace, love, respect, and unity.
Interestingly, these accounts of DJ culture—despite differing temporal and geographic contexts—describe DJ culture as primarily a “masculine” pursuit. These articles bear witness to profound technological and cultural change while nevertheless reminding us that some things have changed little across time, space, format and technology.
Maybe love can save the world.
"When the Western world accepted Christianity, Caesar conquered; and the received text of Western theology was edited by his lawyers.... The brief Galilean vision of humility flickered throughout the ages, uncertainly.... But the deeper idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained. The Church gave unto God the attributes which belonged exclusively to Caesar.There is ... in the Galilean origin of Christianity, yet another suggestion which does not fit in very well.... It does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operate by love, and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is a little oblivious as to morals. it does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present."
Addendum: God and the DJ
What God (as understood in process philosophy)
and the socially engaged DJ have in common
1. Both share music they love. God's music takes the form of fresh possibilities for the well-being of life as received by each creature, moment by moment.
2. Both want people to dance. God's aim is that all living beings find the joy they seek.
3. Both hate fights. God is active in the world in non-violent ways and seeks a world that is free from violence.
4. Both have flexible playlists. The primordial nature of God includes multiple possibilities which God can 'play' for the world relative to different situations.
6. Both adapt to the moods of their audiences. God feels the feelings of all living beings, sharing in their joys and sufferings.
7. Both have fairly strong personalities but are not self-centered. God is not vain or preoccupied with flattery, but is instead focused on each and every living being.
8. Both are committed to the world as a community of communities of communities, each of which is creative, compassionate, participatory, humane to animals, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind.
9. Both are good at mixing. God mixes all the events in the universe into a single ongoing dance tune that is forever evolving through time and never ends.
Where they differ
1. God does not have a face or a body. God is not located in a particular space but is instead everywhere at once,including inside the heart of each human being as a lure to love.
2. God's has a playlist without limits. God's playlist consists of an unlimited range of possibilities that cannot be counted.
3. God never leaves the party. God is perpetually faithful to the universe, having made a covenant never to abandon it.
What is God? The arc of love and justice pervading the universe and the receptacle of all experiences: the calling and the empathy.
You might also enjoy The Ongoing Birth of Hip-Hop and Joy for Its Own Sake: Pentecostal Dancing, Rave Dancing, Rabbinic Wisdom, and Process Theology