Friday, January 30, 2015

Where's the War Room?

Fifty one years ago, Stanley Kubrick's  Dr Strangelove  had its premier in New York City and we all grew to know and love the War Room.

In January 1981, after moving into the White House, Ronald Reagan asked to see the War Room.  "Mr.  President, there is no war room."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Another Use for Milk Cartons

Like most guys who have a compulsion to fix and fiddle with things, i’ve put together my own handy-tool, gad about. 

Quite a few handymen i’ve encountered use the plastic tub and canvas pouch method.  Big tools are dumped in the heavy plastic container around the rim of which they drape some waist strap tool belt.  I preferred to use a caddy which had been part of a large tote-box.

The only problem with my caddy was that it was exposed and not stackable.  Another annoyance was that, if set on the ground, it was a little inconvenient to pull out and access the sliding tray.

I spied a milk carton.....  But damn, if it wasn't an 1/8 of an inch too narrow at the widths.  I built a wood box the size of the milk carton plus 1/8th.   But it turned out to be too heavy. hell with it.  I had other things to do.  Until yesterday when I looked at the gad about and thought to myself: Project Uncomplete. 

So, I went about shaving off 1/8th of an inch of plastic from the caddy, and cutting slats in the milk carton where appropriate.  Et voilá

The whole thing is on rollers and, of course, a second milk carton containing larger tools -- drills, skill saws and the like -- can be set on top of the first.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Place Rumoured to Exist

We chipsters recently had occasion to watch a movie we had seen almost 15 years ago; and, seeing it again, thought we would jot down some thoughts about it.

Hombres Armados (1997), by John Sayles, could be described as a pastoral, picaresque frame-tale set on a pilgrimage to a place rumored to exist. 

Since the movie doesn’t fit neatly into any genre, it might do just as well to ask what makes for a pilgrimage?

The word “pilgrim” derives from the Latin for “foreigner” or stranger.  It originally referred to “all of them who wasn’t Romans.”  As these out-landers came under Roman rule, they were governed by traveling circuit judges, from whence the word acquired its further connotation of wandering.  By the Middle Ages, the two senses of the word acquired their present day denotation of wandering strangers in foreign places.

In theory, the wandering was not aimless but was directed at a specific place — usually a shrine or sacred precinct of some sort — for a specific purpose — typically to acquire a cure or earn some sort of merit. 

But to say as much does not take into account the certain perils and uncertainties of travel up until the 19th century.  A medieval person might purpose to go to Jerusalem and might aim himself in that general direction (over there where the sun sets) but he had no true and reliable itinerary or predictable schedule.  In practice, Jerusalem was so far away, so virtually beyond reach, that it might as well have been a cloud or a dream.

Even where the geographical goal was closer, there were still the barest outlines of roads, few inns, and even less of that thing called “safety.”  To undertake a pilgrimage was itself to hand over one’s life to the Will of God, a chancy and dubious proposition if ever there was one and the doing of which required a great amount of that thing called “faith.”

Pilgrimage became an obvious metaphor for “life” itself and there were those devotees who upped the ante by making no preparations beyond a step and a prayer.  Saint Francis didn’t even bother with sandals.

Needless to say, medieval people, who were always makings lists of one sort or another, divided pilgrimages into three types:  as a penitence, as fulfillment of a promise or as either a penitence or a promise on behalf of someone else. 

Hombres Armados is, then, the pilgrim-tale of five people who meet on the road to a place called Cerca del Cielo which in Spanish has the dual meaning of “near to sky” and “heaven’s circle”.

The interlocking narratives are framed within the story of a city doctor who ventures into the jungle in search of students he had trained to bring medical care to impoverished indians in the southern hinterlands of an un-named but paradigmatic Ibero-Indian country.

Doctor Fuentes is a cultured, white haired, white-man — what used to be called a criollo or American-born person of pure Spanish descent.  He speaks in a refined almost Castilian accent.  He is well-off. As he departs in his Grand Cherokee, his son asks if he can “borrow the Mercedes” while he’s away.

Once beyond the confines of asphalt civilization, Dr. Fuentes quickly gets lost and has to rely on an orphaned indian boy, known only as conejo or rabbit, who offers to guide the doctor for “two reales” plus crackers. 

Conejo has no name because, we are told, his raped mother “pushed him out” so that he lives “like a dog.” But Conejo is a scamp and is the one who gives the story it’s picaresque character.  Unlike the others, he is unburdened by purpose or sentiment.  He is amoral the way Nature is amoral and tells things (“explain” is already too involved) with a lean, economy of fact that would be the envy of academic positivists.  He joins the doctor’s journey because he has nowhere else to go and the scraps are reliable.  Like a smaller Sancho Panza, he is the foil to the doctor’s errant aspirations and quandaries.

As they venture farther and farther into rude territories they encounter a series of mishaps one of which is an indian army deserter, Domingo, who forces Fuentes to perform roadside surgery on a bullet wound and to act as his driver. 

It is something of a consensual kidnapping.  “Where to?” asks Fuentes. “Adelante” comes the reply.  Domingo has no destination in mind except “away,” and it serves him just as well to join the doctor in his search for the medical missionaries he had sent into the jungles.

“You will never find them,” Domingo says and one by one, village by village, the medical missionaries are rumored dead, said to have been killed by armed men — sometimes “the army” sometimes “las guerillas.”  “So now you have no doctor?” Fuentes asks one villager. “It would seem to make things simpler” comes the acerbic reply.

On the road again, a man suddenly dashes into the highway and holds up his arms. Ignoring Domingo, Fuentes stops.  The wayfarer gets into the car and introduces himself as Padre Portillo.  “Where are you going?” Fuentes asks, “Further on,” comes the reply.

Domingo suspiciously asks the priest where he is from and Portillo replies that he is no longer from anywhere.  He is a ghost who lays his head wherever. “So you screwed some chick,” comes Domingo’s cynical retort.  “No,” Portillo replies wistfully, “it was far worse than that.”

“A priest without faith is as bad a soldier without a rifle,” Fuentes remarks.  “Are you a believer?” Portillo asks. No, Fuentes, replies, he’s a científico, a believer in progress. “Always adelante, eh?” Portillo says wryly.  Yes, Fuentes answers, at least until he finds the last of his students and what happened to his life’s legacy.

But Fuentes has doubts and doubts about his own good intentions.  He should have known better than to send them off trained but unprepared.  “Perhaps innocence is a sin.” 

Night falls, and the four travelers put up by the side of the road where they are joined by two itinerant laborers who earn their keep collecting and selling sap from rubber trees.  To pass time, “in the absence of television,” the chicleros suggest they tell stories. Portillo, who has been eager to confess from the start, tells his tale in the crackling glow of the camp fire.

Come morning, while the others are asleep, Domingo approaches Portillo and says he wants to confess.  Portillo replies he is no longer a priest and cannot hear confession, but Domingo forces it on him anyway.  The two stare at one another helplessly; one running away from a crime, the other wandering because he ran away.   Domingo angrily tells the priest he’s good for nothing.

The journey resumes through meandering tropical ravines.  and in a short while they are pulled over at a military check point adjacent to a “Model Settlement #4,” called “Hope.”  When asked for his identification, Portillo replies that he’s a ghost.  This gets him hauled away for questioning.  As he leaves he turns to Domingo and says “te absuelvo.”  Domingo calls him crazy.

While giving some rudimentary medical care to the settlement’s inhabitants, Fuentes learns that Domingo had been a medic in the army and also that he has a way of dealing with patients that goes beyond the scientific method. 

Conejo who has been scavenging information from other urchins returns and tells Fuentes that the last of his students is rumored to be at a place called Cerca del Cielo.  Domingo confirms that he too heard of that place when he was in the army but it was just a rumor and probably does not exist. Still Fuentes is determined to unravel his legacy. 

As the three drive off in the rain, a young woman from the settlement emerges from a field of sugar cane and stands before the Jeep.  Her figure is emblematic.  She wears a powder blue sweater over her shoulders. Her skin is a light brown morena and her person is immaculate.  The young woman, never speaks and might even be mute.  We know only that  she had been raped. Her face is locked into an expression which is at once innocent, victimized and as if trapped in some kind of moral coma or  soledad (solitary sorrow).

By morning, the Jeep is useless and the group sets off on foot up steep and muddy slopes without paths.  Domingo angrily denounces the scheme and says that that Cerca del Cielo doesn’t exist. He then scrambles on in a desperate fury.

Another nightfall,another sunrise, and the woman steals off with Domingo’s gun. She sits down by a stream in silent despair.  Fuentes notices and walks over. 

He tells the girl not to pay attention to Domingo who is disappointed, embittered and has lost all hope. 

“There’s a place where the air is like a caress,” Fuentes says, “where gentle waters flow, where your burdens are lifted from your shoulders on wings of peace... a place to grow, and where each day is a gift and each person is reborn...”
Fuentes does not believe his own exaggerated poetry, unscientifically cribbed from travel brochure.  What he knows is only what is evident: the last of his student doctors is nowhere to be found.  Exhausted he lies between the huge roots of a tree having verified that his life’s legacy was pointless. 

Domingo too is disgusted. Model Settlement #4, he spits out, was better than the nowhere they have arrived at, “the place where rumors come to die.”  At that moment a young indian child emerges from the bushes and tells Domingo that her mother needs a doctor.  At long last, a smile brightens the young woman’s face.

Sayles is not interested in realism; at least not of the physical kind.  Cinematographically, the movie has the artificial air of a stage-setting — mere scenes for framing moral stories built around three types of sin:  innocence and the sin of good intentions; anger and the sin of violence against others; fear and the sin of loving self.

But Sayles is also interested in ambiguity and irony — qualities which infuse Ibero-American history, particularly Mexico.   One U.S.  historian spoke of Mexico’s “long history of mocking anti-climaxes that range from the ludicrous to the ghastly.” 

Sayles is less punishing.  Without question, there are real devils abroad in the land through whose infernal works the three failures have to maneuver. But Sayles relieves the ghastliness with comic relief at the expense of American tourists who are cluelessly full of questionably accurate information.

Sayles uses the intersecting itineraries of failures, devils and fools to ask us to consider a broader political proposition.

At the start of the film, Fuentes eats out at a restaurant with his daughter and son in law, a niño bien or well-born boy.   The privileged twerp is derisive of Fuentes’ humanitarian project. “Have you ever met an Indian?” he asks.

“It was a good idea! a good idea, like the Alliance for Progress,” Fuentes adamantly asserts.

“Doctor...” comes the reply, “my family has lived with los indios for generations on our ranch.  Let me tell you ... the more  little morsels of modernity you give them — ideas, medicines, television — the more you destroy their souls.”

The answer Sayles provides is that truth and hope are where you don't expect to them.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Informationally Modified Awareness

The headline read: PURPLE TOMATOES HEADING FOR SHOPS.  According to the report, "Their dark pigment is intended to give tomatoes the same potential health benefits as fruit such as blueberries. … The pigment, known as anthocyanin, is an antioxidant which studies on animals show could help fight cancer."

The report is a good example of how mind control works in the Global Corporate State.  To see how, we must step back and do something that will soon be illegal: remember.

"The new tomatoes could improve the nutritional value of everyday foods"
[BBC Caption]

Thousands of minutes ago, back in December 2013, there appeared a report in the mudia-sphere on how "VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS DO NO GOOD, RESEARCH SHOWS."  We chipsters are given to popping supplements on a more or less regular basis and so we were curious what the research actually showed.

As it turns out (reading the actual report), the research showed the doses of supplements did "no good" at reversing the condition of a 69 year old diabetic.  This, under the inimitable stupidity of journalists, got truncated into "does no good" … the inference being, "at all."

The inaccurate story popped up in a variety of sources around the world, so that if someone wanted to malign supplements this was the way to go about it.  Well…  journalists, as we said, are stupid and this is particularly the case with mainstream "responsibilized" journalists.

However about two weeks later, the other side of the coin got turned up.  Headlines blared: SUPPLEMENTS RISK FATAL LIVER FAILURE.  Wow! Now that is scary.  There is a big difference between doing something that does no good and doing something that will kill you.  And, needless to say, the report reported very grim details about another grossly overweight diabetic, former alcoholic who took hyper-mega doses of some weird vitamin that killed him.

Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution we asked our doctor if the typical doses of multi-vita, beta-50, calcium, this and that could kill us.  "No," he said, "but they won't do any good."  "You sound like a doctor from the Fifties," we replied. He laughed, "Yes, odd that." The latest research, he repeated, found no evidence that supplements do any good.

We were not entirely convinced.  The two stories together certainly plotted the trajectory of an anti-supplement campaign, if there were one.  In fact, we do know that the U.S. FDA has been champing at the bit to "regulate" supplements; translation: to make them another "nexus" for medico-corporate profit and control.

So, we filed the Issue under "Pending Alerts" or "Inactively Remembered."

Now comes the BBC story about purple tomatoes.  Why are these especially good and desirable?  The report tell us because the contain "anti-oxidants." 

But wait!  But wait!  Aren't "anti-oxidants" the thing that vitamins and supplements are supposed to contain?  How can they "do no good" and at the same time "help fight cancer" ?

Marmosets Muddled.

The article continued: "The tomatoes are part of a new generation of GM plants designed to appeal to consumers.     ….   Canadian regulations are seen as more supportive of GM and that led to a deal with an Ontario company, …

According to a one Prof. Martin, the Canadians "look at the trait, not the technology, and that should be a way we start changing our thinking - asking if what you're doing is safe and beneficial, not: 'Is it GM and therefore we're going to reject it completely'.  … I hope this will serve as a vanguard product where people can have access to something that is GM but has benefits for them."

A "vanguard product" to "change our thinking"… you know, the way Wonder Bread changed the way we thought about worthless fluff.   Of course, Professor Martin has already changed his thinking, so what he really means is that the Purple Tomato is here to change your way of thinking.

And your way of thinking is not to wonder how the "new tomatoes"  could manage to improve the nutritional value of melons, pork, rice  milk and other "foods."

So listen up all you unmodified dolts:  Supplements are No Good-Killers and "antioxidant  enhanced" purple tomatoes are Helpful in Curing Cancer.  Do the Right Thing for your body!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


WIZMOGRAPHY is the science of cluttering simplicity with useless functionalities poorly explained.

Wizmography appears to have a lucri causa  inasmuch as it is based on the notion that: you can do more with more. Since we all want to do our most (so that we can acquire most) we go out and purchase a program which will allow us to do as much as possible in every conceivable way.   Of course, while most of us are fundamentally capable of the proverbial "anything," most of us also discover that we do best when we limit ourselves to working on one or a few things at most.  As they say, "less is more."

Alas, the New Year ran us straight into the toils of wizmography.

With Auld Lang Syne fondness for an Old Application forced forgot, we chipsters have reluctantly moved our chipping operation onto Intel's block.  Running an outdated program in emulation on an outdated PPC platform was less and less of an option as  progre$$ moved relentlessly on.

That left us looking for a word processing program to replace the venerable Word Perfect.  Alas, again,  there is none; not for writers at least.

Since we had had some not entirely awful experience with Appleworks we looked at Apple's latest office suite app, Pages.   There, on its home page,  -- in unmistakable applestyle -- was a very spiffy and bright picture of a letter-sized page with an over-sized and radiantly colorful picture of a butterfly, next to which there appeared a four line caption in barely visible Ariel grey.  Wow!  That's quite a dissertation there.

We clicked away.  Obviously Apple knows nothing about writing.  You know… that stuff whose boring, colorless graphics consists of the alphabet.  Yes, the alphabet,  Mother of All Graphics. 

So after more clicking we downloaded LIBRE OFFICE, a free, open source, copy-lefted, collaborated, cross-platform, cross-border effort.  We like the idea of Anarcho-Coding and fervently hope it succeeds in tumbling the walls of corporate monopoly, exploitation and oppression.  But a word processor Libre Office is not.

As with most of the Suite Gang, Libre Office confuses printing with writing and although it offers a cornucopia of neat and nifty stuff for  printing, presenting publishing, linking, hypertexting, spread-sheeting, and databasing, it provides nothing for the process of writing -- that is for the process of thinking with the aid of an alphabet.  Word Perfect was and remains the only application which understood what would better be called word scratching than word processing.

Here is a draft of Karl Marx's Capital

Here is a draft of Beethoven's Fidelio

Here is the "work console" for Microsoft Office.

We have little hesitation in pronouncing that nothing of profound or lasting value will ever be written on Microsoft Office.

The reason for this is that thought takes place in the brain and writing serves as an act of of instant remembering which both reflects and objectifies our thoughts. 

Sometimes thought unfolds laboriously with great eye-furrowing effort in which case the act of writing serves as a form of calculation which allows us to test our own thoughts by following implications and extracting inferences.  Other times, writing gushes forth in furious cascades of sentences or half sentences reflecting a rapid almost confused and seamless sequence of concepts called "insight".    Writers furiously scribble these insights out, and just as furiously scratch them away when the articulation is not right.  It may be that one word triggered the realization that what was being written did not quite correctly reflect what was then and there being understood, but that one word negated the whole sentence of words that flowed from and connected to it.  Scratch it all again…  replace with…

Word processing programs that tell you (oh miracle of science!) that  Shift-Opt-Right Arrow will "delete three words to the right of the cursor" confess in that one boast that they haven't the foggiest notion of what composing is about.

LIBRA OFFICE, we are sorry to say, espouses the Command Console approach to "word processing."  The approach is actually made worse by the fact that not only are commands invokable by key or by drop down lists but by point and clicking on various places on the page.  In other words, if your hand rests a little too heavily on the mouse while the cursor is nearish the top of the page, the Header Pop Op pops up.  If the cursor is elsewhere something else pops up.  The result is a bad psychedelic experience or something like training in urban warfare.

Pleasingly enough, however, all this clutter CAN be clicked way, leaving something similar to the Word Perfect "blank page to type on."  THAT achieved, all we needed was some very simple basic formatting mostly involving page numbers.

"Omnes relinquite spes, o vos intrantes

The instructions on Inserting Page Numbers began:

To Insert Page Numbers

Choose Insert - Fields - Page Number to insert a page number at the current cursor position.If you see the text "Page number" instead of the number, choose View - Field names.  However, these fields will change position when you add or remove text. So it is best to insert the page number field into a header or footer that has the same position and that is repeated on every page.

Choose Insert - Header - (name of page style) or Insert - Footer - (name of page style) to add a header or footer to all pages with the current page style

If you would like to define a different format or modify the page number, insert a field with Insert - Fields - Other and make the desired settings in the Fields dialog. It is also possible to edit a field inserted with the Page Numbers command with Edit - Fields. To change page numbers, read the Page Numbers guide.

To Start With a Defined Page Number

Now you want some more control on page numbers. You are writing a text document that should start with page number 12.
    1.        Click into the first paragraph of your document.
    2.        Choose Format - Paragraph - Text flow.
    3.        In the Breaks area, enable Insert. Enable With Page Style just to be able to set the new
               Pagenumber. Click OK.
    4.       The new page number is an attribute of the first paragraph of the page.

Who the hell formats this way?  We are fairly confident that perhaps .0001% of the population insert page numbers into the first (or even subsequent) paragraphs of text on a page, and that .0001% is locked away in lunatic asylums.

Most people place a page number at either the left, right or center of the top or bottom margins of the page.  When the designers of a program start talking about floating page numbers, that does not bode well for the future.

After several hours of wracking our brain over not very comprehensible instructions and following those instructions to the "T" but to no satisfactory result in real-click time, we finally managed to get a footer to work so as to  place 1, 2, 3 . . . at the bottom of the first, second and third pages. 

But that was only the first circle of hell.  We needed to format Table of Contents which could be any number of pages in length and which needed to be numbered with Roman lower case numerals as in    i, ii, iii . . .

A day (sic) later we had managed to build a document which contained whatever controls were needed to allow for x numbers of roman numeral pages followed by y number of Arabic numbered pages. 

Two days later, we are still trying to figure out how to add a no-number title page to the whole shebang.  One would think that creating a title page and then importing the roman/arabic number file (or "template") would do the trick so as to create another Grand Composite Template consisting of Title Page, Table of Contents pages and Text Content  pages.  But nooooooo….. It just doesn't work.  The numbers either go all roman or all arabic or disappear altogether.

During our experimenting we tried to delete a page.  We could not find an instructions on how to do this, and whenever we blocked a page, the "cut" symbol on the menu bar became inactive.  We finally figured out (by mere accident mind you) that the way to delete a page is to place the cursor at the lower right and scroll up and back and then hit "cut".

We fear that at this point it would be easier to install DOS in emulation and run Word Perfect on that basis.'

We have no objection to creating a "suite" which enables people to paste pretty pictures of butterflies, to build colorful graphs and pie charts,  to repeat a lexicon of prefabbed burbles, to create vast libraries of so-called templates and styles and automatically control such tasks as creating an outline in the mind taxing format of I, A, 1. a. (1) (a) . . .  But we wish that there would be an option to : dispense with all that other shit and allow simple basic line spacing, centering, indenting, footnoting  and page numbering.  The trick is, Oh ye Techies, it is not complicated and requires no wizmography.

©WCG 2014

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chiaroscuro In God's City

foto by roski :)
Most of this year, we have been listening to music by Juan Gutierrez Padilla an early 17th century Mexican composer who became maestro de capilla at the Puebla cathedral which was completed in 1649 and for which i have a familiar attachment going back generations.

As cantor and then chapel-master, Padilla wrote sacred music, although from the sound of his villancicos we might hardly know it.  Villancicos were popular liturgical songs composed for feast days, including Christmas, and often accompanied by dramatic processions. 

It is perhaps off the mark to refer to "popular liturgical music", because the word liturgeia originally meant the "work" of the "people" (laios).  But, in all events, villancicos do not have that somber, disciplined melodiousness which characterises chant and sacred polyphony. 

In fact villancicos are a musical riot. In Spain they are often built around the sesquiáltera, a dynamic rhythm employing strong syncopations derived from Arabic sarabands.  But indigenous Mexico had sarabands of its own, most prominently huapangos or "thumpings" which were percusive rhythms marked out by dancing feet on a stage of resonating wooden planks.  Arab and Aztec meet in Padilla's villancicos under the umbrella of Renaissance.

In 1596, Phillip II forbade the further use in his court of villancicos or anything not sung in Latin.  But no one, including Puebla's Archbishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza paid any heed.  One did not have to await Vatican II for popular liturgies, at least not in Puebla.  While Europe sank into Pietism and Counter-Pietism, Mexico was apparently enjoying itself.

It would be equally mistaken, however, to think that Padilla's other sacred music is lacking in syncopation, arrests, puns and other innovations, although my ignorant ear was deaf to them.  Beautiful and soothing as his sacred choral polyphonies were, the overall first impression was still that of multi-voiced chant.  You know, that Palestrina stuff. 

But it is not that Palestrina stuff.  It is that Padilla stuff, uniquely Spanish and Mexican.  I found the beauty irresistible and the more i repeatedly listened to the compositions the more the different voices began to emerge in distinct relief -- like blurred friezes coming into focus. 

The "syncopations" were easy to get.  Padilla put them into Glorias and Credos because "the Indians liked them." But he also employed fugues and counter-point, which is why his music is technically Baroque.  Like so much in Mexico his music looks backward and forward at the same time.  

Over time, with much listening, the pieces of his intricate sonic kaleidoscope come into distinct hearing filling me, at least, with a kind of serene awe.

Like all musicians (including the great Bach) Padilla falls back on "stock phrases". At times Padilla seems to exalt the music over the text which is a big no-no when one is dealing with sacred texts.  But at other times, his music gives a flattening force to words, which they simply do not have on their own. I say "flattening" because not only is one "bowled over" but everything else is squeezed out leaving only consciousness of the words which sink in and fill up.

A case in point is his very short piece Velum Templi Scissum Est -

"And the veil of the Temple was rent in the middle and all the earth trembled.  The thief cried out from the cross, saying: Lord remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom."  

The words are just a narrative rendered trite by familiarity and license. But when intoned the metaphor comes to life and it simply cuts you open. Did the Indian, i wondered, hearken back to the chacmol and if so did he see the new in the old way or the old in a new way?  The music dispels the question; for it pushes beyond formulation and into the realm of archetype. 

Another example is the Lamentations of Jeremiah often called Lamentations for Maundy Thursday.  Literally, the lamentation is for the desolation of Jerusalem but Padilla's score brings out the deeper psychological meaning as an existential lamentation for the city that each of our souls is.  It is the music of pure despair when all that was has withered and disappeared and turned.

Between these lamentations and the villancicos lies a chiaroscuro that is common in Latin countries and particularly characteristic of Mexico. 

But perhaps the thing that has impressed me most about Padilla's polyphony -- and polyphony in general -- is that it is sung without the artificiality of instruments.  The incredibly rich, layered and counterpuntal sound arises entirely from the natural voice of the human animal so that the voice of man becomes the quintessence of birds. 

Now, i like a good bellow from the pipes, blast from the horn, whistle from the flute and strain from strings as much as the next guy; but i am verging on the opinion that these things actually detract from perfection.

The voice that emerges from polyphony is that of human voices plying together in such social harmony as to produce a sonorous unity which must certainly be the sound of a City of Angels. 


P.S.  For anyone interested, i strongly recommend the performances by the Cappella Rutenberg  for his choral works.  Unfortunately i was not able to find any clips of this group's performances.  However, the mixing and mastering is superior to that of other CDs.  The group does not use any instrumentation to fill in gaps or smooth out edges.  Lastly, in my opinion, the pace is slower and, as a result, better.  The slower pace tends to "hide" Padilla's bouncy rhythms making them less obvious and more intriguing.   With villancicos which were instrumental "theatrical" performances are another matter and i've found quite a few good renditions with the usual interpretative variations.