“Earth” by Imogen Heap

I’ve been a fan of Imogen Heap for several years. Her latest album Ellipse has one of my all time favorite songs—Earth. It describes how a frustrated [Mother] Earth deals with her rambunctious offspring, homo sapiens.

These Legoland empires choking out mine/Now you’re everywhere, everywhere multiplying around me child/A strain on my heart/This rock can’t tolerate anymore// [Chorus] Stop this right away/Put that down and clean this mess up/End of conversation/Put your back in it and make it up to me now… [lyrics]

Earth is a polyrhythmic, polyphonic, a cappella masterpiece. [listen (2)] This is what she does best, building up complex aural worlds using little more than her own voice (and a little help from her computer!).

Her breakthrough hit may have been 2005’s Hide and Seek [listen], which features her processed voice with minimal accompaniment. It was covered beautifully [listen] by the UCLA Awaken A Capella group.

Descartes’ Bones by Russell Shorto

This entertaining little book sheds light on many subjects. First, it is a concise biography of the life and ideas of René Descartes. He outlines how Descartes’ Discourse on the Method led to the birth of the modern era. He also gives a clear overview of Cartesian Dualism and why we struggle with it to this day.

Second, this is a compelling detective story—tracing the mysterious path of Descartes’ remains from one European capital to another and how he became a “secular saint” whose bones were treated as holy relics.

The final chapters attempt to tie up loose ends. The author speculates on why Descartes’ skull has come down to us while the rest of his bones were lost. He introduces us to several modern Cartesians and explains why Descartes remains one of the most influential thinkers to this day. He concludes by addressing the perennial struggle between faith and reason, a conflict that Descartes helped create and ultimately transcend.