"The origin of ethical principles is not some detached transcendent standpoint. It is a felt sense of lived kinship with other sentient beings. Once that sense has been awakened, it becomes possible to develop principles that articulate that sense in rational terms. Indeed, it is more than possible. It is vitally important that we develop such principles, to guard against the tendency to revert to an egocentric (anthropocentric) standpoint that isolates us from our kinship with other sentient life."

–Gary Steiner


Aidan Patrick Cook on Aidan Patrick Cook, Selena Wellington (2016)

Aidan Patrick Cook was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 

September, 1992, though he spent much of his early life in Kansas, graduating from Blue Valley North High School. He started playing at a very young age, going on to distinguish himself in high school with an 80-0 record across his

KSHSAA career and four consecutive state titles. Singles triumphs include an ATP title and the boys' junior US Open title in–

          Wait, that’s up-and-coming young tennis pro Jack Sock! Oh, who can tell the difference these days, I mean really, my mind is so jumbled up I can hardly see straight (to the future). And besides, they say there is no real world anymore, only a hyperreal one, you know, simulacrum of a referent which does not and cannot ever exist and all that. ‘Course, who's to say it wasn’t always like that, nostalgia for what never was, you know what I mean? You can see it when you look at the news, cancha? It’s all a little too perfect, like background details in a low-budget movie where nobody bothered to get creative with the newspaper headline sitting on the table in a scene that’s got nothin’ to do with it, or make it have something to do with the story

or something like that. Even if you just look around, it doesn’t seem like everything could be where it is but for something less than historic. Like the world we got and the story we tell about it ain't really got nothing to do with each other. You know what I mean? No? Well, sorry hun, but I ain't here to help you

          maintain your stupid fucking delusions. What are you even doing here? You have no idea, do you? What made you think that anything about this place could possibly give a shit about your little visit? It was doing just fine before you came along, and it will be here once you close the page and move on to the next pathetic little exercise. No, wait, I’m sorry. Just please don’t leave. It’s just frustrating, that’s all. I’m sure you’ve felt it, too. You work so hard, do everything they tell you to do, and all so someone can come along and turn you into a paragraph. Even worse, a stream of binary. It’s worse than humiliating.

          Hyperreality was described by Jean Baudrillard in the late twentieth century as essentially an image without a referent. In other words, a portrait or symbol which is agreed upon by not only its perceivers, but its creators, to be representative of a real phenomenon, but which is nonetheless a hollow product of imaginative and generative forces. Everyone agrees that government, for instance, holds power, imparted onto it by laws, when in fact nowhere do these things exist outside of the isolated imaginations of people, both those who wield the supposed power, and those who bear the brunt of it. People suggest, for instance, that it would be impossible for society to stop carrying out systemic violence against nonhuman animals, when in fact this would be quite literally the simplest kind of action there is. It requires exactly nothing. Different levels, I know, but it is a misappropriation of systems theory to use it in defense of barbarism, or even to analyse its staying power. Systems theory gives us the power to demand change. Have no doubt, the voices of equanimity will prevail in this case, as they always do, and never do. Isn’t that just what it is to be a radical: win every battle, and still lose the war?

          I was born in Boulder, Colorado, in 1995. I have migrated through many instruments, most recently the string bass, but feel confident for now saying that I have settled for at least a long while on the Shakuhachi. I would say that it is the aesthetic impulse which drives me to compose. I am not typically interested in trying to explore meaning in my music, at least not meanings which can also be expressed in words. The philosophies that interest me most can be captured in a single gesture: the stroke of a brush on a fine tea bowl, flowers arranged in a single breath, the perfect answer to a perfect koan. I tend to feel less like I am really creating something when I compose, and more like I am pulling out of the aether something which has always existed, in its fully realized form. Music excites me because it cannot possibly be connected to external meaning, and it is thus more difficult to tarnish its profound nature. What could sound possibly have to say about the condition of global oppression in a postmodern world? We can choose to project these ideas onto it, even subconsciously through cultural conditioning, but this is delusional, and all takes place separately from the music. Render therefor unto Pynchon the things which are Pynchon’s.

          I am currently studying composition at the University of Colorado, where my teachers have included Hunter Ewen, Michael Theodore, Daniel Kellogg, Carter Pann, John Drumheller, and John Gunther. I am ecstatic to say that I have no idea where my interests will head in even the near future, but for now, I am fascinated by the entrapment of parallel events. In practice, this takes the form of long stretches of isolated composition occurring simultaneously in an aleatoric framework. I struggle joyfully to reconcile this with djent metal and traditional Japanese Honkyoku, the styles which have lately come to the fore in the never ending kaleidoscope of interests which is studying music in the 21st century. If you really read all the way to the end of this, then I implore you to reach out to cook.aidan.p@gmail.com.


Short Bio: Aidan Patrick Cook is an artist and community organizer based in Boulder, Colorado. Their art is an exploration of sound as an immersive landscape heavily influenced by life growing up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, which constitute an incomprehensibly vast landscape the homogeneity of which elevates our attention to detail beyond anything we can achieve in city environments. Cook's music similarly creates an environment in which both players and listeners are not escorted, but instead are free to explore the various sonic and temporal dimensions of semi-determinate composition.