Peter Kivy’s Bach Bird Example, de Saussure, and the Already Present Significance of Music and Language

In Michael Krausz’s article, The Tonal and The Foundational:  Ansermet on Stravinsky, Krausz argues against Ansermet’s claim that Stravinsky’s atonal music is both sub-standard and unnatural.  Krausz approaches the issue from a non-foundationalist epistemology, “which assumes that there are no uninterpreted facts of the matter and no single ahistorical Archimedean interpretive framework from which we can make our cultural entities intelligible” (383).  To illustrate his point, Kraus cites Peter Kivy’s example of the “Bach-bird,” whose song brings to Kivy’s mind, Bach’s Little Organ Fugue in C.

While my musical consciousness is busy fitting the Bach-bird’s song into a possible Western notation, based on major and minor seconds, the Indian’s musical psyche is just as busy accommodating it to the world of microtones.  Does he hear the cheerfulness of the Bach-bird’s song?  Why should he?  He doesn’t hear the same ‘music’ in it that I do.  I should no more expect him to hear the cheerfulness in the Bach-bird’s song than the cheerfulness of Bach’s fugue.  For he would need my musical culture to hear both of them; and that, by hypothesis, he does not have” (Peter Kivy, The Corded Shell, p. 92, as cited in Krausz, 383).

Kivy’s point is that in light of the fact that scales in the Western musical tradition are based on sequential patterns either alternating between major and minor seconds or composed of either major seconds (whole-tone scale) or minor seconds (chromatic scale), we in the West are accustomed to hearing music whose harmonies and melodies are based on these particular scales.  In Indian and other non-Western music, the scales themselves are different and contain, as Kivy observes, “microtones,” that is, intervals smaller than minor seconds.  Consequently, the harmonies and melodies derived from non-Western scales sound very different from those based on major and minor seconds.  For many musically socialized in the West, Indian music sounds dissonant or out of tune; however, to those having grown-up listening to Indian or non-Western music whose scales contain microtones, the same music is considered consonant and beautiful.

Kivy’s observations seem analogous to Ferdinand de Saussure’s claims regarding language.  That is, according to de Saussure, every meaningful sound is immediately connected with a certain concept. When I say the word “tree” to a community of English language speakers, this word/sign doesn’t somehow connect with a distinct universal concept “tree” shared by human beings. Rather, when I say tree to my fellow competent English-speakers, the sign is already meaningful—it already signifies.  This is the point de Saussure makes when he claims that the sign is composed of two parts: the signifier (the “sound-image”) and the signified (the concept). By itself, the signifier signifies nothing.  Stated otherwise, the signifier (“sound-image”) always signifies in connection with the signified (concept). This is markedly different from an Aristotelian view of language.  For Aristotle, concepts are shared by all human beings and can be arrived at through a process of abstraction.  Aristotle does acknowledge that the particular word that one might attach to a universal concept is conventional and depends upon one’s culture and language community.  Thus, if I am Russian, I will attach the word “дерево” to the concept, tree; if I am Czech, I will attach the word “strom,” to the same concept. This view suggests that there is a kind of universal language of concepts that maps on at a later stage to particular, spoken languages.  De Saussure finds this untenable, as we think in particular languages, whose words derive their meanings from within or internal to the language system itself. Moreover, de Saussure highlights the non-necessary connection between the mental image of an object and a particular word in a spoken language.  In other words, to the question, “why is the mental image of this object possessing leaves and a trunk associated with the word “tree” in English?”, de Saussure answers, “it is a social convention.” This is not to say that one individual within a particular language community can call an object whatever he or she decides to call it. As Heidegger might put it, we are, after all, thrown into our language communities and find ourselves already immersed within a language that, as it were, has us. Similarly, de Saussure’s point is once you are “in” a particular language community, the arbitrary origin of the connection becomes stable and even something to which I, as an individual member of that community, must submit.

Feminist Perspectives on Music as Performative and Political

Related to my previous post on the philosophy of music, I want to say a few words about feminist perspectives of music, which like Adorno’s and Attali’s accounts are also attuned to the social and political dimensions of music. In particular, feminist musicologists such as Susan McClary and Ruth A. Solie seek to unearth the various ways that patriarchal narratives and practices have shaped our views of music. Keeping with certain shared feminist philosophical and political concerns, feminist theorists promote a diverse, multiple, inclusive view of music and are suspicious of theories limiting what counts as “genuine” music. Highlighting that such narrowly defined accounts have tended to portray Western, male-dominated, European (classical) music as the norm or ideal form of music, feminist theorists show how female composers and performers have been systematically excluded from making significant contributions to this musical “canon.” Rather than stress static, homogeneous, ideal musical forms, feminist musicologists emphasize diverse musical styles and dynamic musical practices—practices arising from particular historical periods and addressing specific socio-political concerns. As with other cultural practices, music too informs our views of “gender.” As a social force, music can help both to solidify and to subvert “gender” stereotypes.

Although unified with respect to their common goal of liberating women from all forms of patriarchal oppression, feminist music theorists employ diverse and, at times, conflicting philosophies and strategies. For example, some feminists appeal to an alleged “feminine essence” rooted in biological differences between the sexes. Consequently, those working in this vein of feminist thought argue for a distinctly female or matriarchal art, characterized by “natural” feminine traits—traits or characteristics often set in opposition to “natural” male traits. Perceiving dangers in the gender essentialism underlying the concept of matriarchal art, other feminist theorists articulate a social constructivist account of “gender,” applying constructivist theoretical principles to their analysis of music. That is, just as “gender” is constructed via socio-political practices, institutions, cultural narratives, and the like, so too our understanding of what “true” music is, who counts as a “master,” and what counts as an ideal musical work or performance is shaped by our views of “gender.” Thus, music, like “gender,” is performative and political, taking shape through embodied practices and emancipatory struggles.

Adorno and Attali on Music as a Sociopolitical Force

I am currently working on a small but fascinating writing project, sketching various dimensions and expressions of the philosophy of music. Two twentieth-century theorists, Theodor Adorno and Jacques Attali, have captivated my imagination, as both foreground the socio-political dimensions of music. Theorists in this vein raise questions concerning the essence and value of music as limited to the realm of musical art. That is, if the nature of music involves something beyond the sphere of musical art itself—and is by nature implicated in socio-political activities and in shaping the cultural consciousness—then by what criteria do we establish the strictly musical versus the strictly social aspects, which count as purely musical and which political, and does music’s value somehow become obscured or diminished by emphasizing social and political dimensions as essential features of music?

For Adorno, music possesses a unique ability to awaken our soporific social consciousness. Music must resist commodification in order to be a powerful force for socio-political change; thus, Adorno lays stress upon unconstrained, unique, autonomous musical structures—structures that evidence originality and highlight individuality, which is the exact opposite of mass produced, commodified music. Likewise, Adorno’s position recognizes that musical compositions, unlike traditional philosophical texts, can impact and occasion social change by performative and other means wholly unavailable to philosophy construed as a “purely” rational enterprise. For instance, atonal music such as twelve-tone serialism calls into question the naturalness of music and thus argues that music’s form, content, harmonic structures, scales, and so forth are conventional; they are non-absolute human practices that change over time and differ within a society, as well as across social, cultural, and historical boundaries. Similar to the way that innovative musical structures and contents can create extreme dissonance and unsettle a listener bodily, music’s socio-critical function can likewise unsettle our cultural complacencies and dulled moral sensitivities. His strong stance on the objectivity of musical value, which has been highly criticized, does not sit well with his insistence on music’s conventional and progressive nature.

For Attali, the relation between music and power is brought front and center. Music is a site of struggle in which voices are always fighting to be heard. The mass production of music—its commodification—slowly eradicates the human elements of music. Paradoxically, the excess of musical products and the resultant repetition and “sameness” of commodified music both silences music and deafens society. Consequently, Attali calls for a return to the humanity of music, to its communal, personal, and difference affirming origins. Likewise, we must recover the activity of attentive listening, of hearing the complex timbres and tones of the world and the other. If we would but listen, music has much to say about how to establish harmonious, difference-affirming relations between individuals and collectives, freedom and constraint—themes central to social and political theory and practice.

Part II: Scotus On the Harmony, Beauty, and Consonance of a Moral Act

In the previous post, I introduced a number of important themes connected with Scotus’s view of a moral act and commented on passages in which he employs musical imagery and terminology to explicate his view. In this post, I want to discuss one additional passage where Scotus once again draws upon musical metaphors and concepts to unpack various aspects of his moral theory. Having highlighted Scotus’s use of the term “consonance,” I then develop his image further, bringing his dynamic view of natural law, as well as his emphasis on the beauty of moral acts and the creativity and practical skill of the moral agent into conversation with my own thoughts on the interplay of contingency and stability and our role as co-composers in an ongoing improvisatory symphony which is this world.

In Ordinatio III.37.25-28, Scotus uses the term consonare (“to be consonant”) four times to explain the relationship between natural law in the extended sense and natural law in the strict sense. For example, the Subtle Doctor states, although the precepts of second table of the Law, that is, natural law in the extended sense, “do not follow necessarily” from the precepts of the first table of the Law, that is, natural law in the strict sense, nonetheless, the former are “highly consonant (multum consona)” with “those first practical principles that are known in virtue of their terms and necessarily known to any intellect [that understands their terms].”[1] Building on Scotus’s metaphor, perhaps we might think of natural law in the strict sense as an unchanging melody given by God in order to reveal himself—his love, beauty, goodness and so forth—to his creatures. This divine melody is a theme that reverberates throughout the created order and sounds most strongly in the human heart. Natural law in the extended sense is the harmonic background supporting the divine melody and drawing attention to its beauty. One could imagine a different harmonic background upon which the melody might be played—one could conceive, for example, an alternative consonant or even an extremely dissonant harmonic background.  However, just as with a masterpiece like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, whose main theme is so distinctive and pronounced yet is so intimately tied to the harmonies, rhythms, and unfolding compositional “story,” if Beethoven were to completely reharmonize the piece, changing the time signature and main tonal center, we would hear the piece as a different, new composition.

Similarly, God as divine master-composer could have, as Scotus might put it, according to his divine power (de potentia absoluta), presented us with a different set of natural laws in the extended sense and with different divine positive laws; yet, he has chosen in his wisdom and creativity, according to his ordained power (de potentia ordinata), to give us the second table of the Law as we have it.[2] That he also chooses to dispense with or reharmonize certain aspects or selected precepts of these laws at different times and with respect to different individuals is his prerogative qua master-composer. Such free activity in no way impugns his character since neither natural law in the extended sense nor divine positive law (for example, circumcision in the Old Testament or certain dietary laws) entails the necessity of natural law in the strict sense.

Developing our musical analogy further and bringing in the two power theme just mentioned, once you are given a specific musical framework, structured according to a particular set of theoretical principles—analogous to the world into which we have been thrown and the natural laws given in the Decalogue—a certain regularity or order is established. As a result, those who live and work within this context must learn to work creatively with rather than against the given structures and principles. Refusal to do so not only alienates the musician from the artistic tradition, but it also hinders his or her own development as a musician and, in effect, silences his or her work, rendering it either obscure or unintelligible. If musicians here represent humans who must live and move and have their being within God’s world and live according to his laws, then one can draw the comparisons relatively easily: human being is lived best when humans live harmoniously with God’s laws—laws which are crafted to enhance, rather than impede their freedom and creativity.

In addition, once a musical framework has been given and established, those working in it are socialized by it. That is, although the musical scales, theoretical rules, harmonic progressions, and so forth could have been otherwise, that they not, creates a “feel” of permanence and attaches a sense of stability to present framework. In other words, this particular framework becomes the framework. Consequently, since the musicians occupy the same framework, shared understandings of consonance and dissonance will develop naturally.  Such shared perceptions also materialize due to commonalities in the very being of the musicians themselves (for example, refined auditory skills), making them well-suited for creative work within this context. Analogously, humans created by God are well-suited for the world in which he has placed them—a world in which they are summoned as co-composers to beautify and better themselves, others, and the world itself. Given our historical and temporal existence, the shared understandings of consonance and dissonance form a continuum of greater and lesser degrees, allowing for many variations on the given themes and much “movement” within the structures. In other words, there is a dynamism built into the framework itself permitting and even beckoning artists to improvise the “original” themes so that they might be heard anew through the passage of time.

Here I want to return to our Beethoven example and engage in a thought experiment. What if Beethoven crafted his masterpiece in such a way that in order for the main theme to sound most beautifully, select themes introduced in the opening movements were meant to be developed, placed within new extended harmonies and set over syncopated poly-rhythms unconceivable to those hearing only the earlier movements? Instead of a static one-time composition, what if Beethoven’s symphony was intended as a multi-authored work, inviting multiple co-composers to co-create a dynamic, ongoing piece? The structure of the piece—its “narrative” or form—as well as its central melodic themes are givens; they remain constant and are the framework within which the performers as co-composers must choose to operate. Nonetheless, within the various movements or epochal periods, the themes may be reharmonized, ornamented, and improvised upon in myriad ways. The main themes and “storyline” must remain identifiable, but the structure itself both fosters and invites (by design) co-composers of various intellectual levels, practical skills, and moral character to contribute to the beauty of the whole. If we can imagine such a state of affairs, then perhaps we can apply the analogy to God’s free creation of the world and his invitation to humans to participate in his, as it were, on-going redemptive historical improvisational symphony, whose last movement continues to be written.

Although I have highlighted the dynamism built into the structures and framework of an artistic composition, I want to emphasize again that choosing to work with the givens is not to forfeit one’s freedom or one’s creativity. The expert musician is well aware of this fact, as she is one who has chosen to devote herself to the study of the masters, the principles of music theory, and the customary practices of the art, both submitting to and innovatively expanding the tradition.

Lastly—and hopefully the Scotistic echoes of this section will be heard—as a freely created structure, the framework itself could have been otherwise; however, the fact that it is not means that a certain level of stability and regularity characterize the present framework (analogous, of course, to the present world). If we acknowledge these givens and work creatively with them as co-composers in an ongoing improvisatory symphony, we do well. Yet, as free beings, we can choose to reject this framework along with its principles and the authority of the person or persons “behind” the givens. To do so is certainly possible, but it is not without consequences for oneself, for others, and for the piece itself.


[1] Scotus, Ord. III, d. 27, n.25 (ed. Vat. X 283); Williams, “The Decalogue and the Natural Law,” 603. In Ord. IV, d. 17 Scotus likewise employs the image of consonance to describe the relation between natural law and positive law. See, Wolter, Will and Morality, 197–98.

[2] For Scotus’s discussion of God’s absolute and ordained power, see Ord. I, d. 44 (ed. Vat. VI 633–69); Wolter, Will and Morality, 191–94. God’s ordained power speaks of his self-imposed limitations to act in accord with laws he himself has freely willed to be the case.  God’s absolute power speaks of his ability to non-contradictorily and justly alter, revoke, reconfigure, or transcend such ordained laws. As Scotus explains, to the extent that God “is able to act in accord with those right laws he set up previously, is said to act according to his ordained power; but insofar as he is able to do many things that are not in accord with, but go beyond, these preestablished laws, God is said to act according to his absolute power. For God can do anything that is not self-contradictory or act in any way that does not include a contradiction (and there are many such ways he could act); and then he is said to be acting according to his absolute power” (Wolter, Will and Morality, 192). See also, Courtenay, “The Dialectic of Omnipotence.” Courtenay observes that the two power distinction was based on the “fundamental perception […] that what God created or established did not exhaust divine capacity or the potentialities open to God” (ibid., 243).


A Sneak Preview of My Foucault Book (Forthcoming 2012, Wipf & Stock/Cascade)

Jazz in Blue MosaicI am happy to announce that my book proposal, Foucault and Self-Writing: On the Art of Living as Improvisation has been accepted by Wipf & Stock and will be published via their Cascade Books Imprint. In case you are unfamiliar with Wipf & Stock’s Cascade Books Imprint, here is an excerpt from their website:

“Cascade Books is the most selective of the four imprints of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Under this imprint we publish new books that combine academic rigor with broad appeal and readability. Encompassing all the major areas of theology and religion, Cascade Books has published such major authors as Stanley Hauerwas, Jürgen Moltmann, John Milbank, John Howard Yoder, Margaret Miles, and Walter Brueggemann.”

One among many things I have found attractive and laudable about Wipf & Stock is their commitment to resist as much as possible the market-driven approach to publishing.  For example, their stated vision is “to publish according to the merits of content rather than exclusively to the demands of the marketplace.”

Even though it will not be completed until early 2012, below is a brief description of my book to pique your curiosity, attract your interest, and hopefully arouse your reading desires:

Although it is fruitful to bring Foucault’s philosophical and socio-political reflections into conversation with the visual arts, enacting a similar dialogue with music and with jazz in particular reveals insights unavailable to the visual arts or plastic arts.  Music is itself inherently temporal in nature, unfolding and revealing itself sequentially. Musical performance and jazz improvisation in particular, are communal group-oriented activities. The individual musicians unite around a common piece (a “text”) and perform or birth (“interpret”) it together. Just as music is intrinsically temporal, we as humans are finite, temporal beings. Our subjectivities are shaped over time; we improve, regress, redefine, and rewrite ourselves over time. As free-yet-tradition-situated beings, ever engaged in various power relations with other free beings, we like the jazz musician have the requisite capacities to carve out distinctive subjectivities and to create and recreate our own voice, not ex nihilo but through re-appropriating the “already-said” in fresh ways.

Mos Def and Social “Mathematics” from the Remnants of the Ghetto: Giving the Numbers a Voice

Actor and hip hop artist, Dante Terrell Smith, better known as “Mos Def,” grew up in Brooklyn and exhibited musical and acting talents at an early age.  Mos focused on musical theater in high school, attended New York University, and went on to establish himself as both as an actor and a significant voice in the world of hip hop, recording several solo and collaborative albums.  Mos’s lyrics are filled with layers of socio-political and religious commentary and critique, allowing for multiple interpretations and dialogic interdisciplinary engagements.  Below I offer one possible way to enter into dialogue with a song called “Mathematics” from his 1999 debut solo album, Black on Both Sides.Mos Def

The body of the song opens with a six line stanza rhythmically interweaving the numbers one through ten in between concrete, historical particulars (Pete Rose—i.e. “Charlie Hustle”) to more abstract, universal, and religious allusions (e.g., “Seven firmaments of heaven to hell, 8 Million Stories to tell”).  Then in the next stanza, Mos moves away from the abstract and becomes more personal.  In these nine lines, he highlights how the poetics of a socially conscious hip hop—in particular the voice that it gives to the voiceless— lifts the “powerless up” from the social sinkholes of stigmatized spaces (ghettos, prisons, and “streets too loud to ever hear freedom sing”) and, in his case, has allowed him to overcome some of the socio-political obstacles faced by African Americans so that he might speak on behalf of suffering others.  Yet, as the last three lines indicate living in a condition both created and abandoned by the state—not to mention a socially ostracized, stigmatized “space” (projects, no-go zones etc.)—breeds violence, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness among those forced to occupy those infernal spaces.

The body of my text posesses extra strength
Power-liftin powerless up, out of this, towerin’ inferno
My ink so hot it burn through the journal
I’m blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle
Hip-Hop past all your tall social hurdles|
like the nationwide projects, prison-industry complex
Broken glass wall better keep your alarm set
Streets too loud to ever hear freedom sing
Say evacuate your sleep, it’s dangerous to dream

The next section begins to develop and elaborate the kind of “mathematics” Mos has in mind.  Having to live in such inhumane circumstances of course takes its toll on a person’s psychological, emotional, and physical well-being, and often paradoxically, accelerates and intensifies the construction of the subjectivities that the hegemonic class had hoped to eradicate. As Mos explains, those who internalize the stigma and negativity imposed on them by the dominant narrative—the “chain cats”—end up dead, crushed in spirit and ground to dust for the economic gain of the (largely white) elite class.

But you chain cats get they CHA-POW, who dead now
Killin’ fields need blood to graze the cash cow
It’s a number game, but shit don’t add up somehow

When your world—the social space into which you have been thrown by forces outside of your control—is created, founded, and built upon injustice and exploitation, even something as supposedly clear-cut, steady, dispassionate, and uncontroversial as mathematics becomes a site of socio-political polysemous meanings.  So how does the “shit” not add up? Here are a few examples.

Like I got, sixteen to thirty-two bars to rock it
but only 15% of profits, ever see my pockets
like sixty-nine billion in the last twenty years
spent on national defense but folks still live in fear
like nearly half of America’s largest cities is one-quarter black
That’s why they gave Ricky Ross all the crack
Sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki
A five minute sentence hearing and you no longer free

First, Mos critiques the music industry whose sights are set not on artistry and beauty but on profits.  Then he highlights the government’s out of control spending on national defense while simultaneously creating an atmosphere of public panic of the socially constructed “terrorist” as the new “other” to fear. Lastly, he offers his interpretation of the Ricky Ross case.  In a series of controversial articles in 1996, Gary Webb argued that the new all-out war on drugs had a disproportionate impact on blacks, particularly young black males on the lower end of the socio-economic and educational spectrum.  In the Ross case, as Webb explains, you have on one side, “Ricky Donnell Ross, a high school dropout, and his suave cocaine supplier, Danilo Blandon, who has a master’s degree in marketing and was one of the top civilian leaders in California of an anti-communist guerrilla army formed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.” Both men were arrested for major drug trafficking offenses; however, according to Web’s story, even though Blandon testified in court that “the first kilo of cocaine he sold in California was to raise money for the CIA’s army, which was trying on a shoestring to unseat Nicaragua’s new socialist Sandinista government,” and admitted that his modus operandi was to employ guys like Ross, “a South-Central teen-ager who had the gang connections and street smarts necessary to move the army’s cocaine, a veritable blizzard engulfed the ghettos,” after all the deals were made in the “justice” system, guess which one ends up in the hole after his “five minute hearing”?—Ricky Ross.[1] The section ends with a jab at the new big brother State with its surveillance techniques now legalized and expanded beyond panoptic prisons.

The next seven lines continue to describe life in the urban hellholes, the ghettos and hyper-ghettos where people become hardened and turn to crime and other parallel economic (and often illegal) structures carved out in response to socio-political and economic ostracism and spatial confinement.  Note again the hopelessness and the sense of human potential wasted.

Rock your hardhat black cause you in the Terrordome
full of hard niggaz, large niggaz, dice tumblers
Young teens and prison greens facin’ life numbers
Crack mothers, crack babies and AIDS patients
Young bloods can’t spell but they could rock you in PlayStation
This new math is whippin motherfuckers’ ass
You wanna know how to rhyme you better learn how to add
It’s mathematics

Next we have a structural mirroring of the opening stanza playing off the one through ten number theme and closing with an eleven line description of the “numbers” problem where dead-end low wage (non-salaried and hence no benefits–health insurance, retirement fund, etc.) jobs and poverty-stricken living produce and give rise to drug use, trafficking, and other criminal activities.

Yo, it’s one universal law but two sides to every story
Three strikes and you be in for life, manditory
Four MC’s murdered in the last four years
I ain’t tryin to be the fifth one, the millenium is here
Yo it’s 6 Million Ways to Die, from the seven deadly thrills
Eight-year olds gettin found with 9 mill’s
It’s 10 P.M., where your seeds at? What’s the deal
He on the hill puffin krill [crack cocaine] to keep they belly filled
Light in the ass with heavy steel, sights on the pretty shit in life
Young soldiers tryin’ to earn they next stripe
When the average minimum wage is $5.15
You best believe you gotta find a new ground to get C.R.E.A.M.[2]

The white unemployment rate, is nearly more than triple for black
so frontliners got they gun in your back
Bubblin crack, jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty
and end up in the global jail economy
Stiffer stipulations attached to each sentence
Budget cutbacks but increased police presence

From the hopelessness of the ghetto, you move to the hopelessness of the prison and the cycle continues; however, along the way, should you survive the prison camp, the panoptic gaze makes sure that the negative narrative inscribed in your body and indelibly marking your soul stays with you—no bars needed as confinement, stigmatization, segregated spaces, and negated freedom operate on the outside through a network just as rigidly structured and socially impermeable as the hierarchical social strata of the carceral system. Lastly, Mos doesn’t mince words about the role race plays in this deadly numbers game.  Whether chattel slavery, Jim Crow, the ghetto, or hyper-incarceration, “blackness” continues as the mutable target socially constructed in the past as (subhuman) “thing” and now as the “dangerous other” whom, since we can no longer legally lynch, must be destroyed by more socially acceptable means.

And even if you get out of prison still livin’
join the other five million under state supervision
This is business, no faces just lines and statistics
from your phone, your zip code, to S-S-I digits
The system break man child and women into figures
Two columns for who is, and who ain’t niggaz
Numbers is hardly real and they never have feelings
but you push too hard, even numbers got limits
Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret:
the million other straws underneath it
It’s all mathematics


[1] The full article, as well as others on the topic, can be accessed here:  The quotations above are taken from this link.

[2] I had no idea what C.R.E.A.M. meant, but after a bit of searching here I found out that it is an acronym which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” and was made famous “by the Wu-Tang clan […] to describe money. Ever since the Wu-Tang commenced their rap reign in the early 90’s, CREAM has become the universal hip-hop word for money.”