The diptych of Rio and Casablanca Moonlight introduces From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing. The paired songs communicate art’s ability to lift us into the Infinite. This recalled to me the Epic Convention of beginning an epic poem by invoking a Muse. The Muse addressed here can be seen as art itself inspiring the audience into the Infinite.
Invoking art as a Muse to bring forth the Infinite is a natural way to begin an album that Nez describes as “the breakthrough music and album for me.... It was the first music I wrote based on a universal infinite.” As well as explaining the nature of the Infinite and its relation to theodicy and love, Photon Wing aims to capture the Infinite through art itself.
In Casablanca Moonlight, Nez sings, “Movies of Havana are all that I can see / Still enchantment wakes me / Enchantment takes me to the promise of perfection outside the dream.” The dream is the finite world created by our senses. The “enchantment” of the movie “wakes” Nez from this illusion and brings him to the truth of the Infinite where he finds “perfection”.
Nez did not understand his fascination with Fred Astaire in the 1960s. It was not until 1989 when he saw an interview with the dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov that he understood.
King: Fred Astaire wasn’t tall.
Baryshnikov: Slim and long.
King: What did Astaire do? Why do so many dancers talk about Astaire?
Baryshnikov: It’s unmatched perfection. It’s a taste, understanding of his strength, and weaknesses in a way. He was not a sexual animal, but he made his partners look so extraordinarily related to him.
King: When a great dancer like yourself looks at an Astaire -- you watch the Astaire movies -- could you do what he did?
King: No, and he couldn’t do what you did. This is apples and oranges.
Nez further explained the significance of Baryshnikov’s words to him: “...humans -- whom mortals wrap themselves around -- follow along until the higher thought becomes receptive to the divine idea -- and the human lets the mortal sense go. The dancing of Astaire is the human letting the mortal go. The moment was right at the edge of chaos -- I found all this fascinating -- and instructive.”
But what does it mean for the human to let the mortal go?
“Keep in mind,” he later elaborated, “the mortal is replaced -- it doesn’t turn into detritus -- it vanishes -- never having been there -- as the immortal is revealed in the very place and time of the appearance of mortality. This is part of the science of Spirit.”
Nez’s critical evaluation of Astaire’s dancing is consistent with his sentiments about the art of film in Casablanca Moonlight. Both illustrate the lack of spectrum between the Infinite and finite. There is no in between. The Infinite disproves the existence of the finite.
In Movies of the Mind, the individual roles of Rio and Casablanca Moonlight can be deduced from the diptych’s introduction. “Who knew the blank white movie screen would be his tabula rasa? Who could have imagined the collective dreaming in a theatre would force such questions as -- What is real? And, what is unreal? And, if life is a journey -- then where is home?”
The tabula rasa is the “breakthrough” provided by the Infinite. Home is the Infinite itself, found outside the "dream" of the finite. “Collective dreaming in a theatre” could be used as a description of our idea of reality provided by the senses. However, the “dreaming” inspired by the film has the art’s unique ability to inspire a glimpse at the infinite vision beyond our mortal senses’ deceit.
The Infinite Mind -- God -- is another Muse invoked by extension as we know He brings inspiration to the artist to create the art. This is another example of the infinite cycle created by art, bringing ideas from the Infinite and using these ideas to deliver its audience into the Infinite. God is seen throughout the album as Nez borrows various definitions: Light, Love, Spirit, Life, Truth, Mind. These will be some of the next subjects of our discussion.
What do you think of art lifting us into the Infinite? How successful is Photon Wing in this respect? What other art does this bring to mind?