inside ‘2045: THE YEAR MAN BECOMES IMMORTAL?’
‘2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal’ takes its name from the eponymous Time Magazine article by Lev Grossman (Grossman 2011). The article explores Google’s chief engineer Ray Kurzweil’s view on technological singularity, a point in time set in 2045 by the scientific community in which humans and machines will finally merge, converting us in basically machines, allowing us to stop ageing and live indefinitely. Through this paradigm of the future I explore my own views on mortality, death and the possibility of afterlife.
The idea of death had always fascinated me. I remember, as a child, wondering what would happen when I died. I don’t know if that’s something that other children thought about too, I never shared these thoughts with anyone, but this is something I would often think about before falling asleep, besides of my desire to become a footballer for FC Barcelona. I wondered what would happen to the ‘me’, whether this ‘me’ would just disappear completely.
These thoughts stayed with me throughout my life. The learning and exploration of different religious, new age and scientific paradigms would enrich this mysterious enquiry at the same time as providing further contradictions and complexity to my quest.
Reading Lev Grossman’s article triggered my interest in the figure of Ray Kurzweil and his idea of Technological Singularity. I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology and felt inspired by this paradigm of the future in which our technological society could finally overcome death. As much as I felt inspired by the Ray Kurzweil’s views of the future, I was also growing increasingly inspired by the teachings of Alan Watts. Watts was a British-American philosopher, author and speaker who became a pioneer in translating Eastern wisdom and philosophies for a Western audience. He rose to prominence thanks to the counterculture movement, who adopted him as a spiritual spokesperson, and offered views diametrically opposed to the ones of Kurzweil.
My fascination for paradoxes, especially those concerning progress and technology, found a dialogue between Kurzweil and Watts difficult to resist for a new composition. The piece would be as much a celebration of technological singularity as it would be a celebration of nature’s cycles of life where death plays a pivotal role. I wanted my music to reflect that paradox, I wanted to explore death under these two opposed perspectives in an attempt to find an answer to that question that had been asking myself since I was a child.
I studied ‘death’ under three different prisms: Eastern Philosophical, Western Scientific and Shamanic Societal Beliefs. The findings from this study and research were transformative. To me it became clear that there is beauty in the idea of dying, that we cannot separate life from death and that it is the imminence of death that gives beauty and purpose to our lives. When every moment can be our last, things become more beautiful and more intense. The song and closes the piece, Passing on the Torch, using the words of philosopher Alan Watts, sums up that feeling quite well:
“So therefore in the course of nature once we have ceased to see magic in the world anymore, we are no longer fulfilling nature’s game of being aware of itself. There's no point in it anymore, and so we die, and so something else comes to birth which gets an entirely new view. It is therefore not natural for us to wish to prolong life indefinitely. But we live in a culture where it has been rubbed into us, in every conceivable way, that to die is a terrible thing. And that is a tremendous disease from which our culture in particular suffers.”
So ‘2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal’ reflects this personal journey of mine that started as a child. The piece was transformative and in a way made me overcome my fear of dying. This transformation cannot be explained at a rational level alone using my Western Scientific hat, it needs further layers of understanding that occur more at an intuitive and emotional level. These levels are the ones I tried to reflect into the music and the piece, therefore a piece that cannot be understood at a rational level alone. It has to be felt, not thought.
Some interesting details of the piece: it is structured in 5 sections mirroring the five stages of a fruit tree, a metaphor of the cyclic nature of time and life. The first three sections (block 1) represent the process from life to death, the last two (block 2) open to door to immortality taking the cycle back to life again. All the individual segments that constitute the blocks follow the timings of the Fibonacci Sequence (1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 45 55), imitating the way nature creates its structures using Fibonacci based sequences. The piece is exactly 55min long, with the two main blocks separated at the Golden Ratio at 34min.
COWDRAY PARK gallery - 9th July 2016
ST JAMES’S PICCADILLY GALLERY - 6th July 2016