Lauren Lucy Caddell '23
There’s always something going on in the news, and the number of important topics to cover right now can be almost overwhelming. Vaccine mandates, Russia and Ukraine, the spiraling Virginia governorship. But most significant of all is the state of our lunches.
Almost nothing this year has been predictable, and the same goes for our lunch. It’s pretty well known by now – or I would hope it is – that we’re eating outside until further notice to avoid the rather terrifying notion of accidentally breathing on one another when we have our masks off. We went from eating indoors relatively normally at the start of the year to reinstating the tents when COVID-19 case numbers got bad. It’s a bad situation and probably somewhat uncomfortable, if not flat-out detrimental to our health, right? Wrong.
The tents are honestly the best thing that have happened all year. Have you ever heard Friedrich Nietzsche’s saying “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”? Of course, that’s assuming no one has died – or dies, future tense – from the aftereffects of eating outside. But outside of that, it’s obvious that the tents go a long way toward helping build character. We’ve practically been spoiled before when we were allowed to sit in heated buildings. Really, the only negative side of the whole situation is the constant monitoring. We went from being strictly limited to three people per table to being spaced one person for each six-foot-square bubble. It can be rather difficult to understand the teachers’ occasional shirking of lunch duty, because why would you rather eat inside a classroom than outside in the natural world? But one consequence of this is that recently some minor migration of the chairs has occurred in the tents, mysteriously into circular formations around whatever space heaters there might be.
Speaking of heaters, a shoutout is in order. Where would we be without those things? It doesn’t seem to matter that they blow gasoline straight into whatever lunch you managed to scrounge that day, as long as they provide some chance of keeping your hands from going numb. There’s no other explanation for the cult-like, definitely-not-covid-safe circles that have permanently formed around them.
Almost as importantly, where would we be without all the drama the tents provide? What The Exchanged should really be covering is whether or not the catastrophic collapse of the STA Little Field tent was actually a conspiracy theory concocted by the entire STA administration to…get some extra days off, or so it seems. Being able to teach all their lessons in empty classrooms really sounds like a dream come true. I guess they’re really happy about those million-dollar DTEN computers they bought last year. Sorry, that was a bit of an exaggeration. Turns out they’re only five thousand dollars each.
Anyway, it’s also possible that the schools are trying to train us to eat faster. You’d think they were doing enough of that already by cutting the NCS lunch period in half to make room for the Lower School, but the administration is demanding. There’s no easier way to get us to scarf down lunch than to put us in twenty-degree weather every day for a couple months. Hopefully by the end of this we’ll all be highly trained and prepared for possible recruitment into the TV show “Man vs. Wild”.
Benjamin Acosta '23
People die every week. Throughout human history, around 100 billion human lives have been tragically cut off. As mad scientist Dr. Sergio Canavero points out, this is “genocide on a mass scale.” But science is on our side. Just three weeks ago, science allowed surgeons to transplant a genetically modified pig heart into Mr. David Bennett, in what may be the first fully successful xenotransplantation. As science has guided us, the human life expectancy has doubled in just a century and a half, and as the field of surgery makes such significant advances, we approach a world without death, without this mass scale genocide!
It is a general axiom of human thought that great achievement leaves our species only temporarily satisfied, and gives rise to one question: What next? Well, the next step is really quite obvious: brain transplants. Or rather, whole-body transplants, as the brain is the part being preserved. Out of the top ten causes of death, only two are directly related to the brain—stroke and dementia—meaning that millions of people are dying with intact brains! If we could salvage those brains, where supposedly consciousness and memory reside, while scrapping the bodies, then heart and lung illnesses, bodily wounds, and diarrhea would cease to be problems at all!
Of course, this idea is not new. Over the past hundred some years surgeons have grappled with the challenges of connecting the blood supply of the severed head to the recipient body (vascular anastomosis), of dealing with immune rejection, and of connecting severed nerve fibers together, and their progress is promising. There are a few names to know when it comes to the history of head transplantation (brain transplantation is less of a thing, since it’s a little trickier), such as Carrel, Canavero, Demikhov, Guthrie, 任晓平 (Ren Xiaoping), and White. These names (listed in alphabetical order rather than chronological or some other method) all have the first name Dr. and are fairly interesting names, especially Carrel, Guthrie, and Demikhov, which three can be summarized by the following: dog. I hope this wisdom offers some value.
White managed in the ‘60s to create real-life, living, paralyzed monkeys on pulmonary support with transplanted heads drowned in immunosuppressants, and the heads could perform some basic motor functions, which was quite amazing, even if the high doses of immunosuppressants proved lethal. 任晓平 and Canavero are the more relevant names, as they have in the past decade made progress in spinal anastomosis (attaching the isolated brain to the recipient spinal cord) in animals with the use of fusogens like polyethylene glycol. Working together, they supposedly saw some success in reattaching severed monkey heads and following Canavero’s outlined head anastomosis venture (HEAVEN) surgical procedure, performed a human head transplant in 2017 with 任晓平 on a human specimen. However, the awesomeness of the success there is somewhat diminished by the fact that it was between two corpses. While there is some vagueness surrounding cancelled live procedures and Canavero’s next intentions, the immortal future is perhaps not far from reach.
Hot take: pig. There’s a reason fetal pigs are so popular for dissection and why the recent pig heart transplant was so successful: pigs are anatomically similar to humans. So if a human can host a pig heart, why can’t a pig host a human brain? As soon as Dr. Canavero figures out his head transplants, I’m sure he won’t take long to figure out brain transplants, and then he’ll turn to testing with pigs due to a number of evident advantages.
First, there is a serious deficiency in organ donors. So using one human body with its two kidneys, heart, spleen, and appendix just for one car-crash victim would almost seem like a waste. And there are ethical problems with killing people for their bodies, while pigs abound, protected only by a few animal rights activists.
Also, it is a universal truth that pigs are far cuter than humans. It is no small chance that the film Charlotte’s Web, starring the pig Wilbur, was one of the top 60 films of 2006, grossing almost 150 million dollars, while the same year Zyzzyx Road, which grossed only 30 dollars, starred only human beings. The numbers speak for themselves.
Lastly, studies have shown that pigs neither exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 nor can they transmit it. Who knows how long the virus will protract its world domination by creating more variants? As anti-masking sentiments and quarantine contempt escalate, selfies of new covid-resistant porcine bodies are almost guaranteed to go viral.
Though pigs only have 15-year lifespans, the brain can just be transplanted again! The practice of reincarnating dying humans’ brains into pigs may be the most important technological and scientific innovation of all time as we defeat death, the ultimate oppressor, with a diamond scalpel and some polyethylene glycol. And as saved people flaunt their snouts on TikTok, repigcarnation will doubtless become the hottest new trend for all people. We will not only create a brighter future for those with fatal illnesses, but may well even end up evolving humanity as the world begins to see the surgical operation’s true potential.
As Eastern Europe teeters on the brink of war, and tensions in the South China Sea remain high, there is much fear among the American population about the prospects of another major war. These fears are totally misguided, and let me explain why.
Overpopulation is the world’s greatest problem. It’s the cause of poverty, hunger, lack of water, lack of vaccines, and a multitude of other issues. How do we deal with overpopulation? Thanos knew the answer: death. In our circumstances, war is just the smartest option. We need to kill a lot of people. Death is just natural, and what is more natural than war? We have been fighting since the beginning of society because, in order to regulate our population, we have always needed war. Now—hear me out—we only have to send those who would like to go to war. This also means that if we have a massive world war, we can eliminate those war-hungry criminals that pollute our society with violence.
Additionally, the best periods of American prosperity have followed wars. Think of the roaring 20s: After World War I, we received a ton of money because our intervention in the war, and our economy boomed. Then, after ten years of peace, our economy went into the gutter. Luckily, FDR realized the problem, which is why he faked the attack on Pearl Harbor to get us into World War II. Afterwards came the 1950s, where we all drove around chrome cars, listened to Frank Sinatra, and had a great time. If we have a war right now, the stock market will soar, domestic production will be kicked into high gear, and we will create countless inventions. It has been a formula since the beginning of time.
War will reinvigorate our people’s flagging sense of nationalism. We must assert ourselves as an American Empire of Liberty and the greatest world power the Earth has ever seen. The only way we can do this is by winning a massive war and having negotiating power because of it. In order to provoke a great world war, we must make a smart first strike. I would consider nuking a piece of China or Russia. They are our biggest threats and both have an abundance of allies, allies which we can eliminate. As justification for the strike, we can just make up some stuff about how bad the other country is. We’ll just say they had weapons of mass destruction, since that worked last time. The rest of NATO probably won’t be with us, but it’s not like they spend anything on their military anyway, so who cares.
In addition, war is fun. Wars make cool documentaries, and since we will win, we’ll get to be the heroes of those documentaries. The country we invade will be the villains because we can make up whatever we want about their motives. Hell, we can say each nation we fought was run by pedophiles, and the children won’t know any better. Also, think of all the cool action movies starring the Rock that we could make. After cryogenically freezing him so that he becomes immortal, he can play all of America and show why we are the greatest country in the world.
To conclude, life is boring. I need purpose in my life and war seems to be the only possible option. Everything else in my life seems insignificant and dying for my country in a war is the only thing that would make my life worth anything. People would remember my name and finally care about me. I don’t have a death wish, but if I die in a war, it would be pretty cool. Maybe the Rock can play me.
Maryam Mohseni '24
At their creation, memes were just weird pictures shared on corners of the internet. Today, they’re part of everyday social media interactions and have emerged as one of the most important mediums of communication. But what even is a meme? The easier question is, what isn't? According to an analysis by Smithsonian Magazine, memes can be anything. From something as monumental as a belief in God to catch phrases, idioms, or a type of music can become a meme. Today the general understanding of a meme is anything that’s a joke on the internet, usually including some form of self-deprecation, sarcasm, or irony. Memes can be images, videos, or text based, and can be reproduced, republished, or reinterpreted by others, leading to an entirely different rhetorical message.
The word meme was first introduced by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In his book he defined the word meme as a unit of cultural transmission. He claimed that anyone that sees a meme is a replicator, but since humans can’t copy one thing exactly the same, we modify or create new memes. So, if we are constantly in the process of creating new memes, then how have they changed over the years?
The first memes to ever appear were the classic top text/bottom text on the picture which emerged with the rise of the internet in the early 2000’s. These are the simplest forms, as there was little technology back then. At the same time were Rage Comics: multi-panel illustrations that would depict a frustrating, ironic, or somehow hilarious real-life situation. The minimal amount of effort required to create the comics (the vast majority were constructed in Microsoft Paint) helped make them widely accessible, contributing to their virality and status as a commonly understood method of communication, with each face (such as the now-ubiquitous Trollface) becoming recognizable regardless of language.
Then, in 2007, Rick Rolling opened the door for more video-based memes, as did the creation of YouTube. The site’s emergence as a legitimate content-hosting platform led to an increase of video memes, starting with early examples like “Numa Numa” and “Chocolate Rain” and eventually giving way to movement-based memes like the Harlem Shake, which invited people to join in on trending content.
Tumblr’s emergence as a social media platform prompted memes’ rise to the mainstream. Most meme content on Tumblr was taken from the aforementioned original sources, reaching a wider audience. Memes accounts were created and accumulated mass followings, a practice that would continue with Facebook and Twitter accounts later.
Of course, a timeline of memes wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Vine, which, during its short life, transcended YouTube as the foremost producer of video-based memes. With only six seconds and no upload feature- creators were forced to be innovative, finding loopholes either by recording part of the original content on a computer screen or recreating it themselves. Early Vine memes were often as simple as pronouncing things wrong. Then the app was updated so that users could create memes using content from outside the platform as well. Most Vines considered iconic today came from this second wave of content creation, and we’re all better off for it.
Over the past two decades, memes have transformed from a somewhat underground form of casual humor to becoming an everyday part of social interaction. Often, they are used as comedic devices, but they’ve also become capable of spreading ideas, opinions, and information. The internet is filled with all sorts of people and ideas, and memes will constantly evolve every year. What will memes look like 10 years from now? Only time will tell.
Holden Lombardo '23
Note: For the purposes of reader assistance, simplicity, and reduced stress, I have thoughtfully labelled the parts of the following “comedic” article in which the reader (you) should laugh, out of consideration or pity (laugh here).
I think we can all agree that the human hand is rather outdated. Perhaps, in the days of climbing trees and hunting prey, these small, strange, slender limbs called fingers played a pivotal role in the survival of mankind. But, as a species, we cannot live in the past. In the twenty-first century, fingers are, at best, somewhat handy (pun intended — laugh here). So I acknowledge the relative importance of fingers, but do we really need ten? From what I understand of science, the heart is also relatively important and I only have one of those. I propose we lose the index fingers on both hands.
Although many people claim to value the index finger as important and useful, reality contradicts their ill-conceived notions, proving it the least valuable of the five. The thumb obviously must remain for a reason more than evident: thumbtacks. Now, I’m not entirely knowledgeable about the relationship between thumbs and thumbtacks, but I definitely don’t want to eliminate thumbs only to kill the thumbtack industry and displace millions of workers. Another clearly useful finger is the middle finger, which was “discovered in 1872” according to the dictionary. The middle finger is vital, since this finger holds rings of all sorts, including wedding rings, ring pops, and others. Next, the ring finger isn’t actually important at all but I think it’s “cool” so it stays. Finally, many people believe the false narrative that the pinky is an irrelevant finger. In actuality, the pinky is not a finger, but a toe.
On the average day, I use my fingers for three main reasons: to write, to type, and to peel a banana. Now, I understand that these three activities are essential and important aspects of student life. However, allow me to explain the actual insignificance of fingers to these activities. First, with the absence of the index finger, one can simply replace it with a pencil built into the hand. The pencil finger would ensure students always arrive to class prepared, so I can stop borrowing pencils every period (laugh here if you care for the writer who spent a certain period of time writing this article so roughly seven people could read it). Secondly, typing is actually bad for you. This is because computers are bad for you because videogames cause violence, so you shouldn’t actually be typing anything anyway. Thirdly, to avoid the necessity of peeling bananas, simply purchase pre-peeled bananas from the following website: www.theexchanged.com.
According to “The Exchanged Article and Contribution Guidelines 2021-2022,” every article must be at least 500 words, so here are a few more:
Taco Soy Flower Dragon Water Disguise Philanthropy Noodle Condominium Reckless Spoon Racket Demise Mr. Schultz Toaster Fern Sink War Pillow Scissors Kettle Lizard Rocket Paper Three More Words
"Urban Dictionary: Middle Finger". 2022. Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Middle%20Finger.
Disclaimer: this is a work of satire
We all need to get Covid on the Close, at the same time. No, I don’t want us all to die, but considering the high rate of vaccination in our community, it shouldn’t worry us. As long as we all get Covid, quarantine with online school for two weeks, we can come back and be completely immune for nearly ninety days! This would allow us to resume full school with every tradition we love. In addition, there would be no eating outside, no testing, and no masks.
Now, I hear you asking “how are we supposed to make sure everyone has Covid?” The answer: an ultra-spreader. We find a couple of people who we are sure have Covid and are contagious. Then, we put them in an air-tight room with each grade of each school, making sure that every person gets breathed on and breathes Covid in. An ultra-spreader is like the game Infection, but you can’t run away and there is an actual infection going around. After the ultra-spreader, we can have two weeks of online classes to help people fight their (minimal) symptoms. Also, the period of virtual school and quarantine will prevent us from spreading it to those outside the Close and allow for a quarantine period where students don’t feel bad about missing school. Giving everyone Covid until our entire school has it may sound scary, but a significant amount of our community has already gotten it, have any of them died while vaccinated and boosted? No.
What is the worst that could happen? If we all have our vaccines and booster shots, then we will not die or be seriously hospitalized. This is simply the best way to return to normalcy. On the other hand, if we don’t follow through on this plan, we will be stuck with Covid protocols for God knows how long. Our school as a whole will be better off in the long run if everyone gets Covid.
Additionally, it makes sense on an individual level. Imagine I told you that you were going to stub your toe within the next two hours and it will hurt. Instead of wanting to wait in suspense for the painful sensation to course through your body, you would likely just want to get it over with so you wouldn’t have to worry. The same goes for Covid. Anthony Fauci said “sooner or later, everyone is likely to get Covid.” If we believe his words to be true, why shouldn’t we try to be smart about when and where people get it, so that we can make the most out of herd immunity. We must accept the reality of the situation and do our best to take advantage of it. Even if you assume that you are so safe and careful that you will never get Covid, you cannot say the same for everybody else. We’re not going to eradicate Covid, but if we face it head on, we can at least get rid of it from our community for a significant period of time.
Emily Wadlow '22
I’ve been staring at a blank word document for the past half an hour. Criminal Minds is playing in the background. I’m scrolling through Instagram absent-mindedly. I’m not particularly interested in either of my distractions, but I can’t seem to stop. At this point, does my schoolwork even matter? Is a bad grade on an English assignment really going to cost me the class, kick me out of my college, and change the course of my life for the worse? The answer to these questions is no. This blasé mentality for second semester seniors has been affectionately dubbed “Senioritis.”
Senioritis typically gets a bad reputation as the downfall of students and the cause of their academic demise. However, it is important to remember the positive aspects of this so-called debilitating disease. The past three and a half years have been one long crunch week. From Physics freshman year to AP Latin senior fall, I’ve been running on coffee and desperation. Finally, I can breathe again. Remember coming home from school in third grade just to say “No homework!” with a grin and promptly plop on the couch to watch Disney Channel? That’s what the second semester of senior year feels like. In the absence of homework (or more accurately the absence of motivation), I have taken much-needed time to reconnect with what makes me happy.
My new philosophy entails doing only the work I find interesting, such as reading an article for Modernity or answering a journal prompt for religion. Will I spend hours preparing for my billionth Latin test on De Bello Gallico? Nope. It simply won’t bring me joy. Instead, I’ll catch up on the last few issues of Vogue which I never got to in the Fall. Maybe I’ll even play a board game with my family in hopes of cramming in some bonding before I leave for college. I’ve also had the chance to indulge in some quality time with myself during school.
My typical schedule involves waking up at 6:15 am (realistically 6:30 am), driving forty minutes to school, halfheartedly trudging through my day, doing homework, dancing, then finally arriving back home at 9:30 pm for a quick dinner and bed. Although the core of this routine remains the same, I’ve taken to spicing up my days with me-time. Rather than spend my free periods cramming for the next quiz, I’ll drive to Nando’s or Chik-fil-a for a nice lunch. After all, anything is preferable to NCS lunches in the freezing cold while heaters inexplicably burn my legs without warming the rest of my body. Although I love NCS, I still need to retain some semblance of dignity.
The seniors have worked very hard to make it this far at NCS, which is no small feat. We are going to take these last few months to fully appreciate ourselves and celebrate our accomplishments. We deserve it. So, if you see a senior heading in the opposite direction of Chapel or Assembly, let it slide. We all know it’ll be you someday sneaking off for some much-needed time with friends while perusing the aisles of Target.
Many of you are familiar with “Hot Take Tuesday.” For those who haven’t heard of it, every Tuesday the anonymous and private @closememes4quaranteens Instagram account invites its followers to share their hottest takes using a question sticker on its story. These takes can be mild opinions of lunch preferences or as controversial as college decisions. Because the people submitting the takes and the admin posting them remain anonymous, the takes can get very hot very fast. When the takes are posted, followers can vote “hip” (agree) or “anti” (disagree). We, the admins, thought it appropriate to give our two cents on the topic of “Hot Takes.”
Here are some guidelines for submitting takes:
1. Be concise. The hottest takes are less than six words. No one wants to read an analytical essay on their feed and no admin wants to spend the time piecing together a take that doesn’t fit in one sticker.
2. Know your place. If you’re an underclassman, keep upperclassmen in check. When the seniors are obnoxious (as they should be) and the juniors are complaining (as they deserve to), remind them that they should enjoy the few remaining months they have on the Close. Upperclassmen: humble the freshman and sophomores. Alumni: why are you participating?
3. Always vote. A lot of times, the polls are the most exciting part of each take. The only way you can view the opinions of the Close is by exercising your constitutional right to vote.
Happy hot taking!
Shreyan Mitra '23
Some of you may have had the fortune of listening to the following exchange (German lines translated to English):
“First and last name?”
[Continued attempts at spelling]
This conversation originates from a Polish-made comedy set in World War II and is probably one of my favorite conversations to introduce the Polish alphabet. No matter which Slavic language I look at, Polish seems to have the greatest bamboozling ability of the lot. The reason is simple: Polish has perhaps the widest variety of letter combinations in its language family. Poland, like other West Slav and South Slav states, has considerably greater experience with Catholicism than do East Slav countries such as Russia or Ukraine (who are predominantly Eastern Orthodox). So while Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus use the Cyrillic alphabet, languages like Serbo-Croatian or Czech use versions of the Latin alphabet, even though the sounds both groups use are similar.
Combine that observation with letters found nowhere else in eastern Europe and you have a language that makes Gestapo officers tear out their hair.
But if you have about fifteen minutes and some kompot, you will not have to suffer the same fate. Here comes your Polish crash course, featuring the one and only Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz:
B (Cyrillic Б) sounds exactly the same as it does in English. Nothing to worry about.
Rz (Closest Cyrillic Ж, Czech/Sorbian Ř as in Dvořák) is like the French “j” or the English “s” in “treasure” but with a slight presence of the English “r” at the beginning.
Ę (Closest Cyrillic Эн) is a nasal version of “eh.” If you’re feeling lazy you can get away with just saying “en.”
Cz (Cyrillic Ч, Serbo-Croat/Polish ć) is the English “ch” as in “change.” Little side note here—the Polish “ci” is pronounced as if I wrote “czi.”
Y (Cyrillic Ы) is close to the short i but comes from deeper within the throat. Given the fast pace of spoken Polish, however, you may be able to treat it as short i without losing meaning.
Sz (Cyrillic Ш, Serbo-Croat/Polish ś) is pronounced “sh” as if you’re shushing someone.
Szcz (Cyrillic Щ) is usually pronounced as a stressed “sh,” but in Grzegorz’s case, you’ll have to separate the sz and cz.
K (Cyrillic К) sounds like the English k.
Ie (Cyrillic E) is pronounced “yeh.”
W (Cyrillic B) is pronounced like the English “v.” It tends to catch a lot of beginners off guard.
I (Cyrillic И) is pronounced like the long e.
And there you have it. Here’s the summary of what you should have learned:
The idea of taking a stab at Polish may seem strange at first, almost as random as any other hot take. But if you do set aside some time each day to read about the language, from where it came, and its relationship with its sister languages, you may just open up a whole other sealed bag of cultures.
Why not learn something new?
Theo Johnson '23
The following is an excerpt from the June 2003 Edition of the Sacramento Pastęl Magazine of New York, known to be the best explanation for why Jazz is the best music:
As you know from reading my articles every month, I see Jazz almost everywhere I go. The job of a Travelling Jazz Critic, though, is quite deceiving. I research the musicians I interview. I take care to familiarize myself with the culture of Jazz I encounter each month. I try to see Jazz as it is. But each time I think I have its full image right in front of me, I find myself squinting to see it clearer.
“If Jazz is present every second of our lives,” Jazz artist Publius Dann asked me during an interview in his New Guinea home, “how come millions of young people still listen to Drake, Juice WRLD, and Doja Cat? Or, even worse, Kanye West?”
As the official Travelling Jazz Critic for the Sacramento Pastēl Magazine of New York, I don’t like to answer questions like these. Life is best lived as Jazz is played: feelings and experiences, no answers. The problem is, Jazz seems to be fading out more and more each day. Luckily, the work of Publius Dann I encountered on my travels to New Guinea provided the answer the world needs.
Jazz is the best genre of music.
Upon my arrival at Publius Dann’s home in New Guinea, the artist greeted me at the door and invited me to a short house tour. As he guided me through his home, we both listened to his album GH Pq VW.
The sound was unlike anything I’ve ever heard: there was no melody, rhythm, or harmony. The dynamics were abstract. The music sounded like a child crying in high pitched screams as a mother sighed her tired, deep, moans. The music seemed to speak.
“The truth is,” Dann said, “the music does speak. What I’ve done in my career an artist like Kanye or Doja Cat could never do--I’ve given language music and music language.”
What Dann described was the idea that laid the foundation for his album. Dann, like all musicians, knew music only as written in the 12-semitone octave (an octave being 8 whole notes going from A to G). But Jazz was being held back by this arbitrary system of notation. To Dann, the same hardships that birthed Jazz in the early 20th century were coming to light again with the restrictive twelve-note octave.
Dann’s system of “Thelomonks”, as he calls it, is an entirely new way of composing, playing, and experiencing Jazz.
“Kanye West rewrites the same melody a dozen times and acts like he’s taking risks,” Dann said as we passed a Basquiat in his living room, “I’m rewriting all of Music. That’s taking risks. That’s Jazz.”
Using the function T=log2(h440)26, Dann mapped the frequency of all musical notes in hertz, a scientific unit, into Thelomonks, Publius Dann’s “artistic” unit.
Thelomonks divided the traditional twelve semitone octave into 26 notes, where each letter of the alphabet would represent one note (A in Thelomonks represents A in semitones or 440 hertz). This way, Dann could turn words, stories, and poems into music. The album’s first song “JAZ” is eight minutes of Thelomonk notes J, A, and Z. Dann had found a way to play Jazz in its truest form.
“I’ll tell you what, if people still won’t believe that Jazz is the truest form of music after they hear my stuff, show them this,” Dann said. He was showing me the final, and secret, piece of his album. The strange thing was, we were in a room with no sound system or instruments, and Dann’s singing voice was severely damaged from years of smoking.
What I didn’t realize was that Thelomonks were not limited to turning words into music. Dann could also speak music into words. The secret finale to his album was a poem, composed from the notes of Wayne Shorter’s classic Jazz song “Footprints” transcribed into Thelomonk notation*.
“You can only show them this in your magazine if you promise me one thing.” Dann said, “Tell them about Jazz. And I’m not talking about Kenny G. Tell them about the Jazz that’s right in front of you, but that you have to squint your eyes to see. There’s something intangible, but powerful. It’s everywhere but only a few of us can feel it. Promise me you’ll tell them about Jazz. Promise me you’ll tell them to find it.”
Footprints by Wayne Shorter in A
By Publius Dann
GH GH GH
GH kL Ef
GH Ef A VW
*The size of the letter denotes which Thelomonk note was closer to the hertz of each semitone--you’ll find that Shorter used two pairs of notes [Ef / Pq and kL / VW] equidistant from A in Thelomonks, reflected in the equal size ratio of those Thelomonk letters. Dann theorizes that the sound of Jazz and the truth of the universe exists in these decades-old ratios.