Before we move any further with The Sloping Companion it is important to note that I created this forum because I have never found a place entirely comfortable for me to share my ideas about Phish, other music, art and my invention without receiving ridicule and general mockery from those that have fragmented what I was trying to get across on the Internet. Some of my friends that are into Phish have also felt as if some of the message boards have not provided the proper environment for us to flourish as fans of this band. Some available forums are extremely helpful like Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts and Phish.net. However, most of the message boards that have to do with Phish are extremely unpolished and vulgar. I will admit that I have been sucked in a time or two. Then, I left it all behind and it has proven to be extremely beneficial. I have met some of the most passionate people in this community through branching out away from the sad state that is the Phish message board culture. It’s been a good thing and I am glad to say that I have adapted with the technology.
Other forums dwell on an overpowering message and philosophy that is so obviously far removed from the actual interests of fans; still others seemed to be just about making women feel uncomfortable by any means necessary. Most importantly, these negative forums rarely ever have the music of the band at the forefront. We all know the ratios and we all know how some of the guys out there can use it to their twisted momentary advantage in order to further perpetuate their pathology. I was looking to build a team that was concise and set with a promising and well maintained intention of positive encouragement as we move through this life together. I’ve begun to build that team and it has been extremely rewarding on a number of levels. You know who you are and I thank you for reaching out with me. I wanted to begin a blog and website that was clearly written; that was as comprehensive as any other forum that existed on the Internet, covering my thoughts and emotions about Phish and the ideas that have sprung up through me because of a direct attention to the music that has been and continues to be created by Trey, Mike, Page & Jon. I wanted this place to be an environment that would introduce new concepts commonly shortchanged in currently available Internet forums (such as the deep emotional and spiritual connection that can be had by travelling with the band on the search of One, being a musician and a fan, and other related topics as a person goes on a spiritual pursuit through the backdrop of music) and that this would then create a stronger base within the culture in terms of connecting the dots in a way that made everyone comfortable with each other at shows and in the larger arena of life. We’ll see what happens. Reputation and rumors about me swirl in and out each day. I certainly have my work cut out for myself.
I am writing The Sloping Companion to address what I believe are important issues for myself and for a section of fans that may not have the time or energy to dedicate to a collected work. I have been, and continue to be, guided by the compass of multiple relations and premises: that fans of this music do possess a genuine interest in their own experience with Phish and how this may translate into their larger lives, and that the act of comparing and contrasting their experience will result in a deeper and more meaningful appreciation of it and the other cultures that surround us on a daily basis. The Sloping Companion focuses on aspects of all of the things that tie this into an acquisition of One. We will find similarities with other cultures that we may think are totally far removed from our own. It is this intention that I believe will cultivate the readers’ awareness of, and tolerance for, the diversity that exists within the Phish community and within the all encompassing environment that exists as we leave the parking lot and enter into the larger arena of everyday life. Again, this is not for everyone and many will disregard these words. However, this is about One and everyone has in them the potential for the acquisition of it.
The Sloping Companion is structured around a multitude of themes. There are four distinctive themes that I regard as fundamentally important and these elements will be brought up constantly as I blog and add content to my portal. Some of these terms actually have scientific names and I will try my best to explain these components as I write about them on this site.
The Fanbase & Cultural Relativism - Most concepts of how we view ourselves and how the outside paradigm views us promotes the sometimes devalued notion that some magical dividing line separates what we call “Wooks” and the rest of the fanbase. I am embarrassed to use the term “Wook” but it is meant as a clarification and not how I personally view these individuals. The term has taken on such a loose definition that it certainly does not mean what it used to mean when it was first coined and then was led to proliferate in Phish fan culture years ago. The Sloping Companion rejects what most people consider the formal distinction between “us” and “them,” and following from this militantly unified stance, I will try to consistently act as an advocate in terms of what I believe to be the most important lesson I have learned as a fan of improvisational music. This lesson is the search and acquisition of One.
One of the main themes of my collected work on the Internet involves an attempt to better understand cultural relativism and I will spend various blog entries explaining these concepts. I have created characters with specific traits in order to foster any number of responses from people as a research tool over the years. This practice dates back all the way to 1994 when I first began to write on a usenet group called rec.music.phish. I have cultivated various characters and this process has led me to assemble a wealth of data about fan culture and the micro community of Internet Phish fan culture. Much of this has been done to collect information about the culture of Phish and how it relates to cultural relativism. This is essentially the desire and willingness to evaluate a culture or a subset of a culture in terms of its own set of values rather than those of another (dominant or otherwise) culture. Throughout The Sloping Companion, I will try my best to illustrate how this is significantly different from the counter ideal of ethnocentrism when dealing with the parking lot, the show and beyond the three hour production that many of us pine over each and every year.
Holism - Despite the long standing and poor fragmentation from other parties of my methods and practices on the Internet, my goal in 2012 remains with the intention of what can be considered a holistic practice. I credit this research and training in this field to One. When we are trained in the discipline of One, we still are affected by the things that happen outside of this pursuit. This is our gauge. It is my pursuit to acknowledge and revere the powerful reality of holism as it continues into 2012 and into my soul as this most coveted truth. It is also my intention to convey the idea that the myriad aspects of any fan based culture are more closely related than some people might believe, even as the different but interconnected parts of our body work both independently and as a unified force to keep propelling us forward as we live as third dimensional beings on this planet. I promote holism because the synchronicity has convinced me to do this thing and in this way. It is this accelerated practice of synchronicity within our community that helps develop a deeper meaning to this thing that we clutch at different intervals but with a common and developing passion. I will attempt to continue this practice in my marriage, as a father and as a storyteller for Phish nation.
Women & The Sloping Companion - A major theme of The Sloping Companion is that the way we live, the beliefs that encapsulate and protect, and the sometimes fragile/sometimes very strong institutions by which these convictions are brought into play at shows and in the larger culture that exists belong not to one gender but to all genders. The unrealistic and antiquated stance that Phish is something better understood by males is embarrassing on many levels. This is not one hundred percent true for every male into Phish but the numbers do not lie and if I have obtained anything after these years of research then it is a pile of numbers. It is the goal of The Sloping Companion to continue to replace the male dominated and predatory philosophy on the Phish Internet culture with one that emphasizes the mutually complimentary influences of both male, female and trans-gendered fans. It is up to us as a unified force to fashion such a foundation within the communal structures that we inhabit. This isn’t really an issue of feminism in the popular and aggressive sense of the word. It’s an issue of civility. Female Phish fans are important and they are needed more and more each and every year to balance this imbalance out for the better of our community.
Civility & The Theoretical Side – The Value – My characters lacked refinement and civility in the first half of my experience as a person observing and changing with a musical group in my own way. These characters would throw out racial slurs and push all the right buttons knowing almost exactly how the outcome would play itself out. The whole thing was a big ass test. It was all about the reaction. I was testing boundaries, myself, other people and anything that would get in the way of my drawn out posts. I was looking for One but did not really understand this truth at the time. The frequency of how much I applied my research to this overall observation was small at the time and has since grown into something that I continue to try to understand within my own balance. The importance of civility must ring true even though we all have failed in this respect.
There are times when a civil conversation can challenge the people invested in all of this stuff. However, both parties have to be civil in order for there to be a civil conversation. Challenges will be regarded as attacks by certain parties. However, when both parties are civil and open to each other then the attack all of a sudden changes the agreed upon definition of the word. In fact, it becomes a completely different word that was previously called something negative. This is my challenge as an individual with high functioning autism. Moreover, something may sound like an insult when it is questioned on this blog. I feel the need to tell my side in a network that rarely ever speaks on my behalf. Therefore, I have built this forum with my series of opinions and my philosophy on my own personal observations of what I have witnessed. My goal is to remain civil with anyone that would like to interact with me on this blog and larger project www.theslopingcompanion.com.
I will talk about structure, function, culture, materialism, economics, psychology, subsistence, and a host of other topics that I think tell the complete story of my general philosophy. I will also talk about music in how I understand it. I will try to remain civil but will challenge things and will emotionally speak on these concepts in an attempt to better understand why they exist and how they can be made to move forward as a unified force. This blog is not for everyone. I am writing this initial post because I would like to set the tone of what is about to be written in the coming months in my own way and without interference from a moderator that might have a personal issue within themselves that manifests itself in my being banned from any such forum. I have made many mistakes in my life and hope to tell the complete story from my own perspective as this blog continues. I have also learned many things from these mistakes.
I have learned to be civil with those who choose to return the courtesy. My intention is to offer a service that will collect a group of like minded thinkers that exist in an equally promoted environment. Also, I want to see the best band in America. I want to see Phish. These are the primary themes that I hope to cover on this blog. I envision that the list of themes will also grow with time. Thank you for your time. Listen. Read. Rage.