Curiosity and inquisitiveness lead us into the domain of action, where we investigate and experiment.
Having embarked on the quest to know, we actively investigate by experimentation and other means. We are now fully engaged in the world as it is, employing secondary processes such and reason and logic to satisfy the longing to know. As we do the tangible, day-to-day laboratory work of investigation, keep the primary processes that reside in the imagination nearby. We will need them to achieve our creative potential.
- Andrea Wulf, Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012): a history of how eighteenth-century astronomers “traveled thousands of miserable miles to observe a rare and awesome celestial phenomenon” and thereby understand the solar system.
- Cara Robertson, The Trial of Lizzie Borden: A True Story (Simon & Schuster, 2019): “ . . . she draws upon court transcripts, unpublished reports and Lizzie’s recently discovered letters to tell the story chronologically, from murder to verdict to the case’s long, strange afterlife.”
- Christina Thompson, Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia (Harper, 2019): “The people who live there, seemingly magically marooned in a tropic Arcadia in the middle of a vast oceanic nowhere: Where did they come from, when did they get there, and how?”
- Simon Heffer, The Age of Decadence: A History of Britain, 1880 to 1914 (Pegasus, 2021): “. . . he does not rely just on secondary literature and makes excellent use of wide-ranging archival research. That approach gives the book a fresh perspective.”
- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, All the President’s Men (Simon & Schuster, 1974), “the third person narrative by the two Washington Post reporters whose investigative reporting earned their paper a Pulitzer Prize, is a detective story. It turns Watergate into a fast‐moving mystery, a whodunit written with ease, if not elegance.”
- Paul Pringle, Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Los Angeles (Celadon Books, 2022): “Pringle’s fast-paced book is a master class in investigative journalism, explaining how a reporter wrestles information and documents from reluctant sources and government officials.”
- Matthew Schwartz, Confessions of an Investigative Reporter (Keohler Books, 2020).
- John Pilger, ed., Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs (Jonathan Cape, 2004).
- James Aucoin, The Evolution of American Investigative Journalism (University of Missouri Press, 2006).
- Robert S. Boynton, The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers About Their Craft (Vintage Press, 2005): “IN the three decades since Tom Wolfe anthologized a group of writers under the rubric ‘New Journalism’ and identified them as rivals to the best novelists of their time, a next wave has been gathering. Robert S. Boynton calls this movement the New New Journalism, and he interviews 19 of its leading practitioners in his book of the same name.”
Experimenting in the abstract:
- Jason McBride, Eat Your Mind: The Radical Life and Work of Kathy Acker (Simon & Schuster, 2022): “Kathy Acker — proto-punk, tough-stemmed flower, ransacker of texts, literary heir to William S. Burroughs and Gertrude Stein, sex worker, loather of establishments, striver for maximum impudence . . . slowly built a vital and subversive body of work that erased the distinctions between fiction, poetry and nonfiction.”
- George E. Lewis, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008): “Founded in 1965 and still active today, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is an American institution with an international reputation. George E. Lewis, who joined the collective as a teenager in 1971, establishes the full importance and vitality of the AACM with this communal history, written with a symphonic sweep that draws on a cross-generational chorus of voices and a rich collection of rare images.” “. . . a book that did justice to the work of the AACM would have to move beyond a project of vindication, and would have to include more than just the voices of musicians.”
- David Nicholls, American Experimental Music 1890-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 1990): “From the end of the nineteenth century a national musical consciousness gradually emerged in the United States as composers began to turn away from the European conventions on which their music had been modeled. It was in this period of change that experimentalism was born and America subsequently became, as it still is, a major source of new musical ideas for European musicians.”
Technical and Analytical Readings
- James N. Druckman, Experimental Thinking: A Primer on Social Science Experiments (in pdf format) (Cambridge University Press, 2022): “In some ways, I have been writing this book for much of my life. At an early age, my mom, Marj Druckman, taught me how to systematically address problems and think about them from multiple angles. Meanwhile, my dad, Dan Druckman, exposed me to the social sciences and taught me how to think about experiments.” [the author, from p. 7 of the Acknowledgements section]
- James N. Druckman, Donald P. Greene, James H. Kuklinski and Arthur Lupia, eds., Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
- James N. Druckman, et. al., “The Growth and Development of Experimental Research in Political Science”, American Political Science Review 100(4): 627-636 (2006).
- Bradley David Tuggle, Intricate Movements: Experimental Thinking and Human Analogies in Sidney and Spenser (Routledge, 2019): “. . . late sixteenth-century English poets found some remarkably radical ways to interrogate and redefine the status of humans.”
- Eugen Fischer and John Collins, eds., Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism: Rethinking Philosophical Method (Routledge, 2015): “Eugen Fischer and John Collins have brought together an impressive, and important, series of essays concerning the methodological debates between rationalists and naturalists, and how these debates have been impacted by work in experimental philosophy.” They “claim that the perennial divide between rationalism and naturalism has been ‘radically reshaped . . . through the advent of experimental philosophy'”
- Sandra Cerny Minton and Rima Faber, Thinking with the Dancing Brain: Embodying Neuroscience (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2016): “Each chapter in the book addresses thought processes in dance by: describing the processes, explaining the brain networks involved, providing connections to academic classroom pedagogy, applying the information to movement and dance, and guiding the reader through movement explorations and improvisations pertinent to each process.”
- James Saunders, ed., The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music (Routledge, 2009): “. . . part one consists of nine chapters exploring issues central to experimental music, while part two documents the work of contemporary figures to demonstrate a broad scope of practices and possibilities.”
- Thom Holmes, Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture (Sixth edition; Routledge, 2020), “presents an extensive history of electronic music—from its historical beginnings in the late nineteenth century to its everchanging present—recounting the musical ideas that arose in parallel with technological progress. In four parts, the author details the fundamentals of electronic music, its history, the major synthesizer innovators, and contemporary practices.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
In any era, new music illustrates the virtue of investigation and experimentation of musical forms. To the modern ear, the music of composers such as Kurt Weill, Hans Haass, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Alois Hába, Dieter Schnebel, Paul-Heinz Dittrich, Friedrich Cerha, Luciano Berio, Rolf Liebermann, Cristóbal Halffter, Henri Pousseur, Mauricio Kagel, Rolf Riehm, Brian Ferneyhough, Hanspeter Kyburz, Iannis Xenakis, Vinko Globokar, Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Michaël Levinas, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann, Andreas Raseghi, Wolfgang Rihm and Johannes Kalitzke will more than adequately illustrate the point. Works by these and other twentieth-century composers have been offered on a superb compilation of performances at a music festival in Donaueschingen, a small town in southwest Germany: the CD compilation is called “75 Jahre Donaueschinger Musiktage – 1921-1996.” Some of the links here appear to be from those performances.
New music has reached into eclectic popular culture. Leading figures in this movement include:
- Jambinai, is a Japanese group with a substantial playlist, whose albums include “apparition” (2022), “ONDA” (2019), “A Hermitage” (2016), and “Différance” (2016). Here they are live at Trans Musicales de Rennes in 2014.
- Sarah Davachi (b. 1987, Canada) is a composer and performer whose work is concerned with the close intricacies of timbral and temporal space, utilizing extended durations and considered harmonic structures that emphasize gradual variations in texture, overtone complexity, psychoacoustic phenomena, and tuning and intonation. She has an extensive playlist, and her albums include “Two Sisters” (2022), “Mother of Pearl” (2021), “Antiphonals” (2021), “Cantus, Descant – Figures in Open Air” (2021), “Figures in Open Air” (2020), “For Harpsichord / For Pipe Organ and String Trio” (2020), “Vergers” (2020), “Barons Court” (2020), “August Harp” (2020), “Laurus” (2020), “Let Night Come On Bells End The Day” (2020), “All My Circles Run” (2020), “Dominions” (2020), “The Untuning of the Sky” (2020), “Pale Bloom” (2019), “Gave in Rest” (2018), and “In Concert and In Residence” (2016-2021), and “Qualities of Bodies Permanent” (2015).
- Zaimont, Sonata for Piano Solo (2000): the music moves constantly, as though seeking something new.
- Ernest John Moeran, Fantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings (1946)
- Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, “Down a Rabbit Hole”