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Photo of Daniel Foss
Instruments: Vocals, rants
Jams Attended:21
First jam:07/04/1994
Last jam:04/27/1996
Commentary:

The chamber music of Imre Prozac, a part of my earliest childhood, as in Listening to Prozac, Prozac Plays Prozac, Prozac's Quartet #3 with the Prozac String Quartet, in fact the entire ambience of mid-1980s Hungarian postminimalism, had nothing whatsoever to do with the Sheepfiends, but this was true in a very important way. Another unimportant debt in Sheepfiends cultural heritage is deeply owed to the French sociological theorist Jean Baudrillard, whose avowedly faddish theory of the hyperreal I found gross and outmoded long before I understood it. I decided to understand it merely because, well, if I could write software saving a major corporation $30 million on a slow day, while simultaneously grasping to perfection wherein I wasn't entitled to a nickel more of that money than I was, still am, paid, I could understand stupid crap like the hyperreal.. The Sheepfiends begins where the hyperreal leaves off. It's music which cannot be unless it isn't. The least important or necessary element of Sheepfiends music is, of course, its most invariable component, which, I need hardly say, is taping the Sheepfiends. What has been taped thus becomes the "Sheepfiends jam," and arduously acquired mental disciplines, taught by the Sivananda Ashram three doors down the street, have been deployed in never permitting awareness of a reason to ask why something has been taped and something has not. If it be true, it has not; all that is known is, it isn't on the tape. The tape is what we have. Have for what? For, if there is nothing good on, deconstruction, perhaps. Or, even better, making money. I have written software for an immense corporation whose corporate HQ is an important, very important, part of what Chicago looks like. Philosophically, this inclines me to the supposition that the corporation and my salary along with it will pass away without a trace quite soon and with steady cashflow from Sheepfiends cassettes, CDs, and tie in sales, I can put a little by. Sheepfiends embodies the orphic principle along with the disorphic principle in antagonistic contradiction which by design is ill-understood. The musical and unmusical, the good and bad, each has its mike and amp channel. I mix, but know not what. All Sheepfiends and friends are free to say "that rocks," "that sucks," and so on, but I alone know not what I am doing to have full confidence of having done it right, once the final cooked tape has been selected, properly edited and altered from the raw. CF. Claude Levi-Strauss "The Raw and the Cooked." It is because it isn't. But not necessarily. But I wouldn't always go that far.


At the very end of Chinese Antiquity, the Jin Dynasty briefly succeeded in reunifying the Empire (280-304). Outside the frontiers were the proto- Turkic southern Xiungnu. "The Xiungnu and other northern nomad groups, taking advantage of the disunity and instability of China, increasingly infiltrated the frontier. In 304 a Sinicized Xiungnu chieftain declared himself the only legitimate heir to the imperial throne and established a state called Han (later changed to Zhao) in Shanxi; and from this base the Xiungnu sacked Jin's capital, Loyang, in 311, capturing and eventually killing the Jin emperor. The Jin government reorganized itself under a new emperor in the ancient western capital, Changan, but in 316 this too was overwhelmed by the Xiungnu." (Hucker, 1975, p. 135).

At this time, a major revival of Daoist philosophy occurred; there were many schools. There are, by definition, always many schools of Daoism, if it is properly Daoist. The schools agreed on nothing; or, technically speaking, the only thing they agreed on was Nothingness, *wu*. While some debated "Who lost China," coming up with all sorts of answers, mostly unimaginable, the most famous Taoist school, the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, resolutely adopted a (drunken) posture of "who cares, why bother."

"One of the Seven was always attended by a servant carrying a jug of wine and a shovel, so that his master might take a drink whenever he thirsted and might be buried on the spot if he happened to fall dead. Another, having walked a great distance to a friend's house, turned on his heel without even saying hello and returned home; when asked why, he explained with a shrug that he went because he felt like it and came back home because he wanted to.

Anticipating the Sheepfiends, the group improvised music, poetry, and "pure conversation" whilst intoxicated on liquor and, I wouldn't put it past them, possibly smoking their hempen garments.

Guo Xiang (d. 312), author of a commentary on the Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu), adopted a Daoist version of the Confucian functionalist friction-free hierarchy in a heroic intellectual effort (and it was exclusively an intellectual effort) to save Civilization; it having been obvious that any Daoist intellectual effort was, necessarily and by definition, essentially futile. In his commentary on the Zhuangzi, Guo Xiang "honored Confucius as China's foremost patron saint," (Hucker, p. 201) a magnificent achievement of textual annotation, as lesser beings, like ourselves, surely must realize, having gathered from our superficial readings of the Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu) that the latter, to all outward appearances, loathed and despised Confucius.

The Daoist rationalization for the Confucian hierarchical social order, that is, "feeding the Superior Man," is thus:

"Now, the workman does not act to cut down the tree; his action lies in using an ax. The ruler does not act to manage affairs personally, and the ruler is able to use ministers; if the ax is able to cut down the tree, and the workman is able to use the ax--if all do what they are properly able to do, then Heavenly principles are manifested spontaneously; it is not a matter of taking action. If, on the other hand, the ruler does the ministers' work, then he denies his rulership; and if ministers take over the ruler's powers, then they deny their ministership. Therefore, each should perform his own function, and then superiors and subordinates will all be successful, so that the principle of nonaction [*wuwei*] will be attained.

"Nonaction does not mean folding the hands and being silent. It is simply that one should always do what is natural; then a person is content with his nature and his fate. If one cannot avoid [being a ruler], one should not act oppressively with severe punishments; one should simply embrace The Way, cherish simplicity, and tolerate any extreme that is inevitable. Then everything in the world will fulfill itself.

"Now, sorrow and pleasure arise from losing and getting. A scholar who understands the Mysteries and harmonizes with the Transformations is always content with the times and always comfortable in making necessary accommodations. In quiescence he is at one with the creative processes. Wherever he goes, he is not self-conscious. What is to be got, what lost? What dies, what lives? Since he accepts whatever he is given, sorrow and pleasure have no way to get mixed into the matter." (Hucker, p. 202)

The mystic Bao Jingyen, around the year 300, became the Uncarved Block, made his consciousness a Oneness with the mystery of actually-existing social relations, and by means of inner illumination had a Direct Experience of the following:

"The Confucian literati say: 'Heaven gave birth to the people and then set rulers over them.' But how can High Heaven have said this in so many words? Is it not rather that interested parties make this their pretext? The fact is that the strong oppressed the weak and the weak submitted to them; the cunning tricked the innocent and the innocent served them. It was because there was servitude that the people, being powerless, could be kept under control. Thus servitude and mastery result from the struggle between the strong and the weak and the contrast between the cunning and the innocent, and Blue Heaven has nothing whatsoever to do with it." (Hucker, p. 203)

This isn't Karl Marx or some other terminally hard-core-unemployable depressive Jewboy whining & wallowing-in-selfpity; this is an authentic Sage of the Mystic East talking. And he's got a complete theory of the class struggle, ideology as an expression of class interest, structure and agency shaped by coercion and violence, and alienation as the means whereby exploitation sustains and reproduces domination.

We know, of course, that Mystical Experiences cannot lie. Right?

****

At the end of the first century, thanks to a triumph of diplomacy on the part of the Later Han Dynasty of the sort that would later be known as "Byzantine," the southern Xiungnu, in the service of the empire, defeated and shattered the confederacy of the northern Xiungnu. Part of these set out on a very long migration.

Second only to silk, the northern Xiungnu were, in chronological terms, China's greatest gift to Europe. Centuries later, they were halted in what is now northern France by the Roman general Aetius, commanding Visigoths, who themselves had migrated from what is now Romania. The commander on the other side was called Attila the Hun.

Daniel A. Foss


Cris,

Yesterday, did I or did I not distinctly state with Alice aforethought that *all sex-type stuff* in posts in re Kali-flower Kate, et al, Al is a good friend of mine, etcetera, were phony? I did. It was *toute entiere* phony. Why? I am forbidden to associate with the female gender in Chicago. The management of the Heartland Cafe on Lund Av, near the Morse Av El stop called the Chicago Police on me as a Probable Serial Killer because there was Something In My Eyes (possibly LSD, I forget), and the pocket full of quarters was Obviously a gun; on top of which, I was Just Sitting There.

Diane is at this time in Wellington NZ, where she belongs. No, that didn't come out the way I wanted. But anyhow, Diane is not due back until November. That's a threat. If you really insist, I'll fantasize Diane looking like you. Got no idea what you look like, but I'm supposing there's some phenotypic variation of genetic origin from Diane. Which is what I have in mind. Don't get me wrong. Diane has a wonderful smile. I stare at that smile early and often, like a Chicago voter. <sigh>. Below the neck, Diane looks like my mother, except she looks like my mother if my mother knew how to cook.

Alsomore, you aren't an anthropologist. Diane is an anthropologist. A true anthropologist does not take anything anyone who is not an anthropologist seriously. Such a person is an "informant." So, Friday night, I got home at 6:30am Saturday morning after a conversational hasslement over "the future of our relationship" via Telnet-TALK. Ten hours of it. This is why, Saturday, I blindfolded myself, an idea picked up from Scotto, dressed in dishrags left behind from Diane's last refrigerator-polishing, and had myself Human- Sacrificed at the Sheepfiends Jam by an imaginary anthropologist. Brian still hasn't caught on to this, since there were at least eight other levels of unreality I never mentioned on the tape.

Are we clear, now?

Daniel A. Foss