So I had this crazy dream about a week ago. I was DJ'ing in a club in Milwaukee way back in the day. It was your stereotypical late 80's rave, with lots of Hindu and Tibetan inspired themes. And while I was mixing, I looked out at the crowd and everybody who'd been dancing and thrashing about joyously were stopped in their tracks on the dance-floor, and were staring towards me. Towards me, not at me, as I soon understood. They were staring past me, transfixed. When I turned and looked at the white spandex projection screen behind me, projected upon it was an enso--a zen brush-stroke circle--and nothing else. Suddenly, as we all stared at this enso, a pair of hands faded into view, palm-to-palm, together in gassho, inside the enso. Everyone was transfixed by this image. A single shakuhachi note sounded, long and sparse, and everyone in the dream suddenly burst into a rain of cherry blossom petals. Then I woke.

It was the most vivid dream I've had in years and years.

I tend to listen to dreams like that. They mean something. I don't tend to subscribe to the idea that it's something outside of me being communicated; quite the contrary. When I dream like that, typically it's something trying to get out. Something in me is crying out to be made manifest.

I lay there, thinking about the good times I had in that environment, playing music in clubs, DJ'ing at both trendy spots in the city and in dive suburban bars in college. I remember what an incredible rush it was to make people move; what a deep spiritual connection I felt by not only moving their bodies, but their minds and hearts by playing just the right thing at just the right time and in just the right way.

I still mix, but for myself. If you put me behind the 1's & 2's right now, I'd sounds like a DJ falling down a flight of stairs, I'm sure. But my production skills are still there (mostly) and my musical mind is still 100%--probably better now than then because my musical vocabulary has expanded so much in the last 20 years--so I still have a few chops left.

And so I lay there, and thought "You know, I bet you I could still pull it off. I bet you if given the right people and the right resources, I could still produce a big-assed event. It would be easier now than then, because I wouldn't be trying to do it in a disused warehouse or leaky basement somewhere."

Then I did the crazy-assed thing.

I started to believe myself.

Then I did the unthinkable.

I decided to try.

So I got up, went to the laptop, got on Craigslist and posted this:

A newborn collective is seeking volunteers and collaborators for a two-night event whose proceeds will benefit a local Buddhist temple. Night one will be an all-ages event, and night two will be 21+. There will be no money made by artists this time around, but using this event as a test-run for a quarterly show may mean money down the road on a straight profit-sharing basis.

We are looking for the following types of artists:


PA owners/audio engineers
Light System owners (particularly tilts, lasers and other special effect illuminations)
Video projector owners
Video engineers
Security Staff
Support staff / Event runners

Psychedelic fluorescent artists
Sacred Buddhist imagery and iconography (particularly Chan/Zen-inspired imagery from China and Japan)
Creators of sacred space, particularly Asian / Japanese / Buddhist-inspired.

Conscientious Hip-Hop

We are looking to hold an organizational meeting the 2nd week of May, with a target date of a show in late fall (Oct/Nov).


The Pathos Collective is a group of like-minded and commonly inspired non-mainstream artists and musicians that are working towards making the community they live in a better place through art, performance and sacred spaces for adults and young adults alike. The Pathos Collective is the inspiration of DJ Pathos, a 40-something former live DJ who sees a need for positively-inspired and spiritually informed trance and dance music that appeals to a number of different demographics. DJ Pathos--a formal practicing Soto Zen Buddhist--is looking to get back in a live dance environment, and is using this opportunity to raise money for a local growing zen sangha. This is an opportunity for those artists, technicians, performers and owner-operators who may feel limited or shut out by the local trance production market to get in on the ground floor of a family of ethical, positive and spiritual people to make of themselves an offering to the community of positive music that affects and touches the spirit, expands the mind, and moves the body.



Please consider helping this cause by bringing us your skills, your talent and your energy.


-DJ Pathos 

I decided to resurrect my very first DJ moniker: DJ Pathos (<- very "goth" back then). It actually feels better and more appropo now than then, too.
Pathos is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination. An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the writer's point of view - to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer' - to feel pain imaginatively. Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer's message moves the audience to decision or action.1

And moreover:

In the many works of Friedrich Schiller, "Sublime Pathos" (German, das Pathetisch-Erhabene) appears as a privileged aesthetic concept. According to Schiller, sublime pathos in the context of art demonstrates human freedom and triumph in the struggle against suffering. As such, pathos no longer refers to suffering itself, but rather an effect produced by overcoming suffering. Generally, Schiller links the experience of suffering to "grand ideas" - such as the idea of freedom; in this sense, pathos reminds one of Milton's Satan, when he cries out: "Hail, horrors, I greet thee!". Schiller's description of pathos continues to influence the use of the word today, in which such triumphant overcoming of suffering and other negative situations is seen as representing pathos.1


One of the things that interested me most about the dream was that if you've ever been to a rave/psytrance event, while Buddhism is very often represented, it is typically Theravadin or Tibetan. Zen is almost never represented, mostly because it lacks the visual "sex appeal" of other dharma lines. But the reaction of the crowd to the symbols of Zen; it was intriguing. I lay there and wonder "What would it take to bring Zen into that context?"

Well, I'm going to find out.

I have over two dozen responses to my Craigslist post, including two artists from a sister sangha. People are very interested in this idea, apparently.

The mix:

This is the beginning 30-or-so min of a 2-hour mix. I'll talk more about the nuts & bolts of it in another post. Hope you enjoy it. Every track it beat-matched and synchronized to the first track, the new Faithless single "You're The Sun To Me" from their up-coming release The Dance.  The shakuhachi piece is one of my favorites.  "Haunting" doesn't cover it.  I wanted to start out with something "very zen" to put a real stamp on the mix.  All the synthesizers layered over it are mine.  The voice-overs are of Alan Watts.  I will be putting a few more in from various places and people.   The VO drop-in of "DJ Pathos: Zen Mix" is an anti-pirating technique.

Track list:
  1. "Tsuru no Sugomori (Nesting Cranes)": Alcvin Takegawa Ramos
  2. "You're The Sun To Me":  Faithless
  3. "Prayer to Rudra": Krishna Das
  4. "Kese Kese (Bally Sagoo: Beast From Asia Mix)": DJ Cheb i Sabbah
  5. "Body Machine": Trans-Global Underground
  6. "Kara Kum": Banco de Gaia
Hope you all enjoy the mix so far.  Feel free to leave comments.  Just imagine yourself in a grand old ballroom with lots of darkness, glowy lights, video projectors, the occasional laser tunnel, sweaty bodies dancing in ecstatic fashion, and this playing so loudly and with so much bass that your spleen vibrates and dances along involuntarily.

And this is the logo for this crazy idea.  Welcome to the story of The Pathos Collective..


Jomon said...