D.C. al Coda

    Friedrich Nietzsche had claimed, “without music, life would be meaningless.” In other words, music is life. There is nothin;g that could relate more to life than music. I find this to be extraordinarily accurate. There are, it seems, an infinite amount of ways in which the two relate; however, I will only be focusing on one angle here to explain the title of this series of posts. First, though, some context is needed…

    There are three distinct ways we can perceive time, which determines the way things occur through our collective unconscious. In chaotic time, everything happens at random and any effort to place meaning to their succession is hopeless. This was the perspective of primitive man, and seems to be the perspective we are being pushed into, with younger generations yelling “YOLO!”—You Only Live Once—as well as corporations telling us to “Just Do It.” It’s no different from how a child views the world. It is reckless, and means there is no connectivity, which in turn dissolves a society. Without cause and effect, and/or karma, being linked with time, people couldn’t be held responsible for their actions. The obligations of parents to children lose all legitimacy, as well as obligations to our neighbors and community. 

    Linear time is the unilateral perspective of “progress,” which took some time to catch on, due to only a small clerical elite in Medieval Europe understanding it. Centuries later, the Age of Enlightenment had transmuted Christian linearism into a secular faith. By the late 19th century with the Industrial Revolution, the western dogma of “history-as-progress” had split into religious dogma, positivist dogma, and evolutionary science, and none were to be questioned. 

    Modern day thinking falls under this linear time perception, where we are constantly evolving, along with the naive notion that this also means we are progressing. If we look back at the last several decades, with technology as the exception, this is clearly not the case. And there is a strong argument that technology could be a major contributor to this naive belief. So, what else is there?

    Before linear thinking, the collective thinking of time was of constant change and cycles, much like the seasons of the year. Cyclical time was the natural and dominant perspective during the time of the Ancient Greeks and of Renaissance humanism (not to be confused with humanitarianism or humanism in its modern sense). This was when there was a revival of cultural legacy, literary legacy, and moral philosophy of classical antiquity had taken place. It was a time that consisted of a healthy balance of both non-Christian and Christian morals, without the religious dogma that drove us into linear thinking. 

    The idea is seasonality, which permeates all ife, including American history. The cyclical generational attitudes are the prime factors in analyzing history and politics. Race, gender, economic class, religion, and political beliefs are all influential in determining the course of history. This is why it is imperative that we “unlearn” the linear orthodoxy of understanding history. Linear time has a beginning and an end, which explains why each generation seems to believe they are living during the end times. We must toss out the belief that positive change is incremental and human-made only.

    Now, with that in mind, let’s think about music. In written sheet music for any piece of music, there can be a D.S. al Coda. This is used to indicate repetition in the piece, but is primarily used to designate a passage that brings a piece (or a movement within a piece) to an end, or to a part that is relatively different from the previous. 

In a story, it could be the dramatic rising action before and during the climax. Pertaining to my past addiction to heroin, which I like to call a “Coda with a curse,” it’s the ritual of habit that brings you closer to death. You know the end is coming, but the deeper into addiction, the more death becomes welcomed. This is where we are with our new chaotic thinking, that has again evolved from a linear way of thinking. 

There is also D.C. al Coda, which is a repeat, going back to the beginning onto a particular place (Coda). In larger works, this might occur after one or more repeats of small sections, indicating a return to the very beginning. This is our return to cyclical time thinking, but there’s more to it than that. There is a musical piece written with a repeat to the beginning that consists of two contrasting sections, where the first is in a continuous binary form, starting in a key then changing into another. This is the Da Capo Aria.

We are in a societal crisis today, so with the second principle of the Kybalion, “as above, so below,” there exists a crisis on a micro level—that of identity within an individual. We have become so distracted and bombarded with external forces trying to influence us, we don’t even know who we are anymore. 

Da Capo Aria is a return to the original key from the beginning and is usually adorned with more expression, emotion, and reflection, using harmonious notes that are usually improvised. In opera, it is used to stop the action and reflect on a character’s feelings or a theme, notion, or an idea, before returning to the beginning or action. 

Does anyone truly have the time anymore to ponder what their or our purpose is here? We are here to flourish and prosper, living a life that meets all of our needs, right? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be the whole story for human beings.

It could be that our purpose is to just simply be alive, but that would place us within the same natural hierarchy as plants and animals. Although these are conscious beings, we are much more than that. We are able to not only do things but are able to understand, or are conscious of, what we are doing. 

Every part of the human body has a purpose or function that benefits the whole. Since our hands, feet, eyes, etc., all clearly have their own tasks or purpose, we can safely say that, in the same way, each human has his own task beyond all of those. We are each born with specific skills and talents that we must uncover, understand, and master. They are then used to create new things or ways of doing things that are beneficial to one’s self. And if they are of good morals, they become beneficial to the whole when we share them with the world. 

“It’s the activity of the soul,” as Aristotle claimed, “that expresses our virtues.”

Life consists of recurring sections, or life lessons that are repeated until we see the situation from a different perspective, thus allowing an understanding of the lesson gained for us to grow and move on. Today, we have entered into the contradicting second section of the Da Capo Aria, where things are different, distorted, or completely inverted. With the need of a return to our foundations of cyclical perspective of time, the Aria will result in bringing us back to the beginning, along with the knowledge and wisdom of experience learned, which makes it easier for us and better able to express ourselves in more creative and innovative ways—our true purpose in life. 

Just as one finger doesn’t work the same as the whole hand, everyone must make this change, and continue to create throughout our lives. One sunny day doesn’t make a summer; therefore, it isn’t enough to make one flourish and prosper, unless we all participate as the natural human collective.