Early history of me, part 2

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Philosophia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:29

Continued from part 1

While I lacked the knowledge to grasp the teachings or follow the affairs of "the organization" at a deep level, I loved the community and intellectually lively culture it provided, and engaged as best I could. We were at the "national center", which in the 1980s had fled the New York City rents to the then-small town of Leesburg, Virginia,(i) and provided a "critical mass" with other kids to befriend and helpful grown-ups who could teach on a variety of topics.

Like any good religion, music played a major part of daily life, regarded as a focused activity to train the mind and also providing pleasure and bonding. The focus was heavily on Classical music, with its emphasis on beauty and sophisticated harmonies (counterpoint) rather than the repetitive chord progressions of popular music. In fact, music was regarded to have healing powers, at least in a spiritual sense; there was no soul so lost that a sufficient application of Bach couldn't lift it back up, or so the theory went. There was a weekly chorus for the children, though the coaching didn't get much past the elementary; I had a good sense of pitch but never quite got the hang of projection and vibrato, and was fairly self-conscious about singing solo. I was also subjected to enriched by violin lessons, a more difficult and correspondingly rewarding pursuit.

Outside these mandatory activities, my interests got me into a geometry class with the adults; they used it as practice of what I gather to be their Platonic views, such as the process of creative discovery conceived as the mind becoming aware of something it already contained, and superiority of the "mind's eye" to direct sensory perception. "Accept nothing that you have not constructively proven for yourself" was one teaching. I also received private tutoring from a fellow who liked building things, reading classical physics texts and reproducing experiments. Among other projects we managed to build a working demonstration of magnetic levitation. As with music solving inner problems, it was believed that advanced technology could solve all economic problems, if only it were given proper respect and state financing of course.

To be continued

  1. Not so small anymore after the huge growth of the Washington, DC area, fueled as I understand by growth of the Federal bureaucracy and decay of industry elsewhere. [^]


  1. [...] Continued from part 2 [...]

    Pingback by Early history of me, part 3 « Fixpoint — 2019-11-24 @ 17:16

  2. For singing, I found the book The New Voice helpful. You can find it on You may not care so much about vibrato anymore, but the book has exercises that help strengthen the muscles in the vocal track so you can speak with a booming voice with ease.

    Comment by whaack — 2019-12-23 @ 17:09

  3. Thanks, looks promising! specifically.

    Comment by Jacob Welsh — 2020-01-07 @ 19:06

  4. Small world. I'm guessing it was either Zeke or Chuck who was your private tutor? I know these fellas well.

    Comment by Jeff — 2022-04-13 @ 07:27

  5. @Jeff: I saw those two on occasion, and I think it was Chuck from whom I got the Mathematica bug for a time, but it was mostly Pierre in geometry and Larry in physics.

    How long were you active in those circles? I was in the late 80s - early 90s baby crop, "boomers' last chance" sorta thing.

    You got a blog or anything?

    Comment by Jacob Welsh — 2022-04-13 @ 15:28

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