Preposterous Universe

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Friday Random Ten idea needs some spicing up. Since nobody else runs with my ideas, let's follow up on the suggestion that we can use the iPod as a divination device. Simple enough -- just use the first ten songs that show up randomly exactly as you would use Tarot cards, and peek fearlessly into the future.

Here is the most common Tarot Spread, the Celtic Cross, as explained by Byzant Mystical. Each position plays a role in elucidating the larger story.
  1. The Covering: The important events, issues, attitudes or influences around the question or current situation
  2. The Crossing: Current obstacles, problems, conflicts and opposition that the questioner must deal with
  3. The Crown: The best that can be achieved or attained from current circumstances
  4. The Root: Past events or influences that have played an important part in bringing about the current situation
  5. The Past: Events or influences from the more recent past that have influenced the present but are now passing away
  6. The Future: Future events and fresh influences about to come into play that will operate in the near future
  7. The Questioner: The questioner's attitude and how they relate to the current situation
  8. The House: How other people around the questioner affect and view matters in hand
  9. The Inside: The questioner's hopes, fears and expectations with regard to the question or the current situation
  10. The Outcome: The eventual outcome of events shown by the other cards
Okay, so let's consult the iPod oracle and see what we get. (Really it's better to ask a specific question, but this is just a proof-of-concept.)
  1. The Covering: Pretenders, Back on the Chain Gang
  2. The Crossing: Isaac Hayes, Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic
  3. The Crown: Cream, Toad
  4. The Root: Von Freeman, Blues for Sunnyland
  5. The Past: Either/Orchestra, Born in a Suitcase
  6. The Future: Howlin' Wolf, Built for Comfort
  7. The Questioner: Led Zeppelin, The Wanton Song
  8. The House: Dexter Gordon, Our Love is Here to Stay
  9. The Inside: Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, Cottontail
  10. The Outcome: Living Colour, Elvis is Dead
Well. Of course we skip right to the Outcome, which is kind of ambiguous. Although Elvis is Dead doesn't seem like a cheery title, the point of the song is to get over it and move on, which doesn't sound like such a bad point of view. The Future, Built for Comfort, can't argue with that. I will choose to overlook the implications of The Wanton Song popping up in the Questioner slot. Overall, I think the oracle paints an interesting if somewhat tentative picture of a hedonistic individual, facing some constraints from events of both the recent and distant past, but striving gamely to overcome them, even if the energetic-but-nonsensical scat of Cottontail indicates a certain confusion about current priorities.

What really worries me is The Crown. If the best I can hope for is the allegorical equivalent of a minutes-long Ginger Baker drum solo, I'm in trouble.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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