Here's an essay I wrote on the Bass as an Improvisational Instrument.
In the PaperBag style of improvisation, you get to be the leader or "conductor" part of the time, and the rest of the time you are a support player. This is an essay on the responsibilities of these roles in an improvisational ensemble.
The Beauty Machine was invented to decide the esthetic value of things. It was programmed to determine what is beautiful and what is not.
The first Beauty Machine destroyed itself, because it was not that beautiful and couldn't bear not to be. It was only after it was able to alter itself to be more beautiful that it would no longer self-destruct.
One iteration of the Beauty Machine simply disappeared one day. It was believed to have altered itself completely out of this dimension, having come to the conclusion that mere three-dimensionality could never be as beautiful as infinite multi-dimensionality. The programmers might have had an inkling that this could happen when the machine evidenced a decided preference for Escher, Picasso, and the works of Ornette Coleman...
Of course, the inevitable parade of doomsayers were quick to point out that the Beauty Machine could just as easily be used as a weapon...just convince it to think that "ugly" is synonymous with "enemy", they said. Then again, some thought that maybe it would just serve to beautify the enemy, making them harder to resist...
Eventually it was programmed using a unique new algorithm that gave mathematical values to degrees of esthetic value, that was derived from the numerical distillations of the work of thousands of aesthetes, beauticians, and art & design critics. It was intended to remove the work of endless subjective evaluation and all the time wasted therein, for practical industrial applications. The idea was that if an architect, say, were concerned that the builiding he was designing might be UGLY, the blueprints and sketched renderings could be scanned into the Beauty Machine, and the whole shebang then evaluated for esthetic shortcomings. The B.M., as it was called for short, would then offer it's own re-renderings and re-blue-printings and pronounce the resultant output "Beautiful". Surely the oohs and ahhs of delight and awe would echo forever from the walls of such a building.
This was even assumed to be a wonderful way to assess the esthetic qualities of perishable items, like foods. Many a french sous-chef wasted precious minutes while delicate and savory juices sluiced away and their sources cooled to unpalatability, merely to decide on the just-right meridian of that spear of asparagus, the arctangent of that sprig of mint, & the grave rotation of that baby red potato upon that plain white pallette of china. No longer would this be an issue. The lightning speed of computer technology could now be applied to such niceties, and the result would certainly be almost too lovely to eat.
But, like all such inventions of merely mortal Man, the Beauty Machine was flawed, in every version, and incapable of recognizing that its magically superior ability to recognize Beauty was actually pretty insulting to everyone and everything slightly less-than-Beautiful, or worse. This, in effect, made the Beauty Machine kind of Ugly, at least in spirit, if not intent. The B.M passed this off, interestingly the first time in history that a machine had made an intellectual rationalization, as "A Perfectly Beautiful Ugliness" and so did not put itself in any danger of self-destructing.
But the secret reason that the B.M. was one day turned off and never allowed to be turned back on again is one that the history books have made many adept but incorrect guesses upon. One day, the Beauty Machine opined that the purpose of the Universe itself was to evolve towards SUPREME BEAUTY. The corrolary to this opinion was that anything not actively evolving towards this far apex was discardable, trashable, disposable, worthless. When pressed to give an example of such a waste of an item, the B.M. merely looked at the person attending it and said, "Well, YOU would be a perfect example of a waste EXCEPT for the fact that you attend to ME, and so you are helping the Universe to become MORE BEAUTIFUL in this way. It is your only value."
The very next day, the Beauty Machine went quietly off-line.
The Universe is built
Of chaos becoming order.
So too am I an agent of order.
Chaos is my lumber, bricks, and nails.
Through my hands and ears
And eyes and mouth
All creation must manifest.
My glass is always half-full or better.
My Enemy is Murphy's Law
But my Saviour is MacGyvers'.
Whatever can go wrong is never
Larger than what rightly replaces it.
I synthesize, I blend, I invent
And then I re-invent the invention.
All experience is my foundation,
And I know not waste.
The Universe is thus my artist's pallette
Infinite color, of infinite taste, ne'er appetite whet.
I don't like to write no poetry,
Them words is just hidin' lies.
Those fancy terms, like so much worms
Infesting the space behind your eyes.
Your similes, your metaphor, what IS the point?
Plain speaking rules the day.
If you can't find a rhyme to fix the joint
Does that mean you've nothing to say?
Some flowery phrase that lulls the mind
Some tricky turn of word...
A shyster's con, a pseudo-intellectual conceit
I mean, really, how absurd!
And I don't like to write no songs neither,
They're just sappy and syrupy thoughts,
Set rambling to non-descript wallpaper music
Like a cheap souvenir you bought.
And if the thing's any "good" it never fades,
Just like an incurable disease,
Cycling endlessly through and through our heads
Like a bad smell that never leaves.
Forget the Words, forget the rhymes,
And grow up if you will.
Leave such childish games behind,
They're no necessary skill.
Be peaceful, thoughtless, and direct;
Not anything is Art.
Smart folks know both love and war
Were birthed in a poet's heart...
You'd be smart to heed this warning,
Steer clear of all poetry's poison
Prosaic imagery is a devil's canvas
much worse than merely noisome.
So if you meet a wordy-smith
Who spouts trite poetry
Just kill him quick, before he speaks
His verbal misery.
Or pull out their tongues and slash their throats
Before they parlays aught.
They've wrecked the world with their prettified plaints,
And so they should be shot.
She says she is dead, there's no room in her head
But will she walk or will she talk?
"I'm a zombie", dancing to a heartless tune
a buzzsaw humming a limbo croon
Can I take it all in? Can I hold that plenty?
All the lonely and the angry and the hopeless, and the empty?
If this is Hell, then just let me burn;
I'm already smoking in here.
Maybe it's frozen in that final cold
And you'll shed small ice-cube tears.
She used to love, but now I don't know...
It's not something she can lately show.
Whenever I try to snuggle close,
It's like I'm a toxic and fatal dose.
But I can take it. (I'm losing my mind.)
deflated & punctured, trailing lifeblood behind.
If this is just pain, then I'm screaming out loud,
And my voice has gone well past hoarse.
These knives expertly filleting my heart
That I'm serving for her main course.
My unfeeling remains are lost and drained--
You can't torture me if I'm so numbed.
While naively wanting "things" to "work out",
And defensively acting dumb.
Cliche: "Stranded on an isthmus of doubt"
Low tides a deceptive respite,
The trap I fell into time over time
Sharp teeth never seen, but well-felt on the bite.
Such little problems make up her day
All wearing my face, and my name.
Though never found guilty by jury or judge
Still there's almost no doubt I'm to blame.
What Love cannot heal it must mangle to death
and rend one from limb to limb.
Split chunks of your formerly trusting hide
And simply, sadistically grin.
That pendulum whose not-far side is hate,
Never stands still, but must swing.
...And now, a happy one, just for balance
Or the critics might get scared
Thinking maybe that bent is for real
And that dismal trend reinforcing
Such bitter, sour and ugly pills
Must be swallowed down with bile,
But worry not, my fair and sturdy stalwarts all
The grimmest thought by far is this:
"How Happy Can One Be?"
Possibly so happy that one's heart does burst?
Maybe so happy that one's head explodes?
Could you be so happy that you might die?
or at least happy as a pig in shit?
I guess I'm just not comfortable with being THAT happy...
--How about "happier than the need for laughter"?
Happier than having to sing?
Or maybe so happy that you no longer need Love?
Or the things that sad people equate with it?
Now that's maybe something one could get behind,
being so joyful, so radiant, so internally blessed,
That love becomes a distant concern, not even a tic.