♪I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)

The “I.G.Y.” of the title refers to the “International Geophysical Year“, an event that ran from July 1957 to December 1958. The I.G.Y. was an international scientific project promoting collaboration among the world’s scientists. Fagen’s lyrics reference, from the point of view of that time, an optimistic vision of then-futuristic concepts such as solar power (first used in 1958), Spandex (invented in 1959), space travel for entertainment, and undersea international high speed railsolar-powered cities, a transatlantic tunnel, permanent space stations, and spandex jackets.

The International Geophysical Year was an actual event in world history. Taking place from July 1957 to December 1958, the I.G.Y. centered on a global series of events highlighting physical sciences and their applications, including seismology, meteorology, and rocketry.

Like a middle-aged man revisiting the “Futurama” he saw at a world’s fair in his youth, Fagen’s “I.G.Y.” captures the essence of this postwar world in an almost regretful retrospective. The outwardly hopeful yet internally disenchanted aura that marks the song represents a society’s aspirations of greatness while also reflecting a deeper understanding of the imperfection inherent in reality.

This paradoxical relationship between promising dreams and discouraging truths is brought out in the lyrics of the song. The refrain’s “what a beautiful world this will be; what a glorious time to be free” fills the listener with an uneasy desire to believe what is being said. The lyric: “well by ’76, we’ll be A-O-K,” when looking at the ’50s with the eyes of ’82, reveals a somber sense of the long road ahead.

Though the words are interesting and thought-provoking, the shining strength of “I.G.Y.” is its captivating world of musical textures. From the song’s mystical, engaging, and almost cosmic intro to the wistful and gently piercing synth-harmonica that reappears throughout, “I.G.Y.” invites the listener into its realm and immerses him in the rich musical landscape. The experience is greatly enhanced when the song is played in a high-quality stereo surround setup; brilliantly defined instrumental and vocal tracks separated among speakers give an added dimension to Fagen’s ingenious arrangements.

Years after hearing this song for the first time, I found myself watching the movie October Sky, which was based on the childhood of rocket pioneer Homer Hickam. When Homer’s achievements were recognized in a school assembly, a large banner was seen hanging in the packed auditorium proclaiming “International Geophysical Year.” I couldn’t keep myself from believing that all of the young people present must have had a touch of that same optimism, though their hopes were yet unclouded by any worries of their future.

Standing tough under stars and stripes
We can tell
This dream’s in sight
You’ve got to admit it
At this point in time that it’s clear
The future looks bright
On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from new york to paris
Well by seventy-six we’ll be a.o.k.

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

Get your ticket to that wheel in space
While there’s time
The fix is in
You’ll be a witness to that game of chance in the sky
You know we’ve got to win
Here at home we’ll play in the city
Powered by the sun
Perfect weather for a streamlined world
There’ll be spandex jackets one for everyone

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from new york to paris
(more leisure for artists everywhere)
A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We’ll be clean when their work is done
We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free

Calculating World Peace… #B4Peace

Here’s an easy peasy way to practice peace by numbers! Zen Master Seung Sahn simplifies this technique so that the child in us can understand. A brilliant little except from: Wanting Enlightenment is a Big Mistake.

A student at the New Haven Zen Center once asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “You say that one must return to the mind of a child. Also Jesus talks like this. Then what is the role of intelligence in spirituality? What is the role of intelligence in understanding Zen?”

“What do you want, right now?” Zen Master Seung Sahn replied.

“I want peace and quiet.”

“Peace? What is peace?”

“No turbulence. No movement, I guess.”

“Yah, that’s not bad,” Zen Master Seung Sahn said. “Peace is a very good word. But what exactly does it mean? What is true peace?

“Sometimes we use calculators. If there is already a number on the screen, you cannot make another calculation with the calculator. The answer will not come out right. So this is why there is a button marked ‘C’. If you push ‘C’, the screen becomes clear: it returns to zero. Then any kind of calculation is possible.

“If you keep a clear mind, then you will get happiness everywhere. This is complete peace, like a child’s mind, holding nothing whatsoever. So always just push ‘C.’ If your mind is angry, push ‘C,’ and it will become clear. If your mind is sad, push ‘C’, and your mind will become clear. Don’t-know mind is push-‘C’ mind. If you have a lot of thinking, only go straight, don’t know; then your thinking will disappear.

“But when you do not return to ‘zero’ mind, from moment to moment, you cannot see this universe as it is. If you are thinking, then even if a mountain appears before you, you do not see this mountain; you only see your suffering thinking. If you keep a sad mind, and hold your sad mind, then even if a beautiful view appears, you cannot perceive it. You are only following your thinking. So you lose this world, from moment to moment. I always say, ‘When you are thinking, you lose your eyes.’ You have eyes, but when you look at something with a mind full of thinking, you do not see that thing. Also, you do not hear completely, smell completely, taste completely, or feel completely. It is like a calculator where the numbers stay stuck on the screen: you cannot do any new calculations. This is why Zen teaches that you must return to your original mind, from moment to moment. This is pushing ‘C’. We call this ‘only don’t know.’ Continue reading

Kozo, this has got to be one of the most inspiring, unifying post for peace I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing. If blogging is not your profession, it should be! It’s wonderful to experience real inner peace from practical everyday events as you have shown us. You certainly lead a blessed life, especially when seen through the eyes of your little Buddhas. I’m humbled and deeply grateful we are BBFs; along with the rest of the blogosphere, we honestly appreciate you as the beautiful “prince of peace” that you are. ♥
P.S. You had me at the floaters and flotsam… LMAO! 😀

everyday gurus

Avengers

My five year old son has tons of friends. Part of the reason why he is so blessed is because he calls anyone he likes, plays with, talks to, or looks at his friend.

“My friend is digging a hole to bury Darth Vader in,” Jett mentions as we leave the park.

“Which friend is that? What is his name?”

“I don’t know his name. He is just my friend.” Looking at me like I don’t know what friend means.

The look might be justified. Maybe as we grow older we forget what a friend is. I can’t tell you how many people have questioned me about my friendships. I am/used to be friends with some pretty famous people. Other “friends” would always say things like, “you’re not really friends with so-and-so. Just because you met someone does not mean that they are your friend.” I would counter, “Well, I’m…

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