Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TRANCE

Trance denotes any state of awareness or consciousness other than normal waking consciousness. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden.

The term trance may be associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, and prayer. It may also be related to the earlier generic term, altered states of consciousness, which is no longer used in "consciousness studies" discourse.

Etymology
Trance in its modern meaning comes from an earlier meaning of "a dazed, half-conscious or insensible condition or state of fear", via the Old French transe "fear of evil", from the Latin transīre "to cross", "pass over". This definition is now obsolete.

Working models
Dennis R. Wier, in his 1995 book, Trance: from magic to technology, defines a simple trance as a state of mind being caused by cognitive loops where a cognitive object (thoughts, images, sounds, intentional actions) repeats long enough to result in various sets of disabled cognitive functions. Wier represents all trances (which include sleep and watching television) as taking place on a dissociated trance plane where at least some cognitive functions such as volition are disabled; as is seen in what is typically termed a 'hypnotic trance'. With this definition, meditation, hypnosis, addictions and charisma are seen as being trance states. In Wier's 2007 book, The Way of Trance, he elaborates on these forms, adds ecstasy as an additional form and discusses the ethical implications of his model, including magic and government use which he terms "trance abuse".

John Horgan in Rational Mysticism (2003) explores the neurological mechanisms and psychological implications of trances and other mystical manifestations. Horgan incorporates literature and case-studies from a number of disciplines in this work: chemistry, physics, psychology, radiology and theology.

Working definitions
The following are some examples of trance states:
  • Enchantment: a psychological state induced by (or as if induced by) a magical incantation
  • A state of mind in which consciousness is fragile and voluntary action is poor or missing
  • A state resembling deep sleep
  • Capture: attract; cause to be enamored; "She captured all the men's hearts"; in the sense of entranced
  • A condition of apparent sleep or unconsciousness, with marked physiological characteristics, in which the body of the subject is thought by certain people to be liable to possession
  • An out-of-body experience in which one feels they have passed out of the body into another state of being, a rapture, an ecstasy. In a general way, the entranced conditions thus defined are divided into varying degrees of a negative, unconscious state, and into progressive gradations of a positive, conscious, illumining condition.
  • A state of hyper or enhanced suggestibility.
  • An induced or spontaneous sleep-like condition of an altered state of consciousness, which is thought by certain people to permit the subject's physical body to be utilized by disembodied spirits or entities as a means of expression
  • An altered state of awareness induced via hypnotism in which unconscious or dissociated responses to suggestion are enhanced in quality and increased in degree
  • A state induced by the use of hypnosis; the person accepts the suggestions of the hypnotist
  • A state of consciousness characterized by extreme dissociation often to the point of appearing unconscious.

Trance conditions include all the different states of mind, emotions, moods and daydreams that human beings experience. All activities which engage a human involve the filtering of information coming into sense modalities, and this influences brain functioning and consciousness. Therefore, trance may be understood as a way for the mind to change the way it filters information in order to provide more efficient use of the mind's resources.

Trance states may also be accessed or induced by various modalities and is a way of accessing the unconscious mind for the purposes of relaxation, healing, intuition and inspiration. There is an extensive documented history of trance as evidenced by the case-studies of anthropologists and ethnologists and associated and derivative disciplines. Hence trance may be perceived as endemic to the human condition and a Human Universal. Principles of trance are being explored and documented as are methods of trance induction. Benefits of trance states are being explored by medical and scientific inquiry. Many traditions and rituals employ trance. Trance also has a function in religion and mystical experience.

Richard J. Castillo (1995) states that: "Trance phenomena result from the behavior of intense focusing of attention, which is the key psychological mechanism of trance induction. Adaptive responses, including institutionalized forms of trance, are 'tuned' into neural networks in the brain and depend to a large extent on the characteristics of culture. Culture-specific organizations exist in the structure of individual neurons and in the organizational formation of neural networks."

Kay Hoffman (1998) states that: "Trance is still conventionally defined as a state of reduced consciousness, or a somnolent state. However, the more recent anthropological definition, linking it to 'altered states of consciousness' (Charles Tart), is becoming increasingly accepted."

Kay Hoffman (1998) asserts that: "...the trance state should be discussed in the plural, because there is more than one altered state of consciousness significantly different from everyday consciousness."

States of consciousness
There are some brain states in which consciousness seems to be abolished, including dreamless sleep, coma, and death. There are also a variety of circumstances that can change the relationship between the mind and the world in less drastic ways, producing what are known as altered states of consciousness. Some altered states occur naturally; others can be produced by drugs or brain damage. Altered states can be accompanied by changes in thinking, disturbances in the sense of time, feelings of loss of control, changes in emotional expression, alternations in body image and changes in meaning or significance.

The two most widely accepted altered states are sleep and dreaming. Although dream sleep and non-dream sleep appear very similar to an outside observer, each is associated with a distinct pattern of brain activity, metabolic activity, and eye movement; each is also associated with a distinct pattern of experience and cognition. During ordinary non-dream sleep, people who are awakened report only vague and sketchy thoughts, and their experiences do not cohere into a continuous narrative. During dream sleep, in contrast, people who are awakened report rich and detailed experiences in which events form a continuous progression, which may however be interrupted by bizarre or fantastic intrusions. Thought processes during the dream state frequently show a high level of irrationality. Both dream and non-dream states are associated with severe disruption of memory: it usually disappears in seconds during the non-dream state, and in minutes after awakening from a dream unless actively refreshed.

A variety of psychoactive drugs and alcohol have notable effects on consciousness. These range from a simple dulling of awareness produced by sedatives, to increases in the intensity of sensory qualities produced by stimulants, cannabis, empathogens–entactogens such as MDMA ("Ecstasy"), or most notably by the class of drugs known as psychedelics. LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and others in this group can produce major distortions of perception, including hallucinations; some users even describe their drug-induced experiences as mystical or spiritual in quality. The brain mechanisms underlying these effects are not as well understood as those induced by use of alcohol, but there is substantial evidence that alterations in the brain system that uses the chemical neurotransmitter serotonin play an essential role.

There has been some research into physiological changes in yogis and people who practice various techniques of meditation. Some research with brain waves during meditation has reported differences between those corresponding to ordinary relaxation and those corresponding to meditation. It has been disputed, however, whether there is enough evidence to count these as physiologically distinct states of consciousness.

Monday, October 20, 2014

GREEK PARTY at T.R.A.C.S

DJ Cat is back and she made a great comeback, last Saturday at T.R.A.C.S. She had made a 2 hour set with, danceable, all original Greek songs. It was a great party and we all had a lot of fun dancing the syrtaki. 
Here are the snapshots I made during the event.
DJ CAT
ONE MORE TIME...............................

Friday, October 17, 2014

GREEK PARTY at T.R.A.C.S

T.R.A.C.S at Timothy Plaza on River Island

Plate Smashing

Plate smashing, a traditional Greek folk custom involving the smashing of plates or glasses during celebratory occasions. In popular culture, the practice is most typical of foreigners' stereotypical image of Greece, and while it occurs more rarely today, it continues to be seen on certain occasions, such as weddings, although plaster plates are more likely to be used.

History in Greece
Ancient and medieval
The custom probably derives from an ancient practice of ritually "killing" plates on mourning occasions, as a means of dealing with loss. Breaking plates may also be related to the ancient practice of conspicuous consumption, a display of one's wealth, as plates or glasses are thrown into a fireplace following a banquet instead of being washed and reused.

Modern times
In 1969, the military dictatorship of Georgios Papadopoulos that had suspended democracy and ruled Greece autocratically from 1967-1974, banned plate smashing to the great disappointment of Greeks and foreign tourists alike. While it is no longer officially allowed at Greek nightclubs, but still happens occasionally. For private celebrations such as weddings, modern Greeks may purchase specially-produced plaster plates, which are less expensive and dangerous, while being more easily broken. Another modern variation on the custom is for diners at small Greek restaurants or taverns to buy trays of flowers that they can throw at singers and each other.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Melina Mercouri

Melina Mercouri (Greek: Μελίνα Μερκούρη, born as Maria Amalia Mercouri, Μαρία Αμαλία; 18 October 1920 – 6 March 1994), was a Greek actress, singer and politician.

As an actress she made her film debut in Stella (1955) and met international success with her performances in Never on Sunday, Phaedra, Topkapi, and Promise at Dawn. She won the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, and she was also nominated for an Academy Award, a Tony Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and two BAFTA Awards.

A political activist during the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, she became a member of the Hellenic Parliament in 1977 and the first female Minister for Culture of Greece in 1981. Mercouri was the person who, in 1983, conceived and proposed the programme of the European Capital of Culture, which has been established by the European Union since 1985.

She was a strong advocate for the return to Athens of the Parthenon Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon, and are now displayed in the British Museum.

Never on Sunday film
Never on Sunday (Greek: Ποτέ Την Κυριακή, Pote Tin Kyriaki) is a 1960 Greek black-and-white film which tells the story of Ilya, a self-employed, free-spirited prostitute who lives in the port of Piraeus in Greece, and Homer, an American tourist from Middletown, Connecticut — a classical scholar enamored with all things Greek. Homer feels Ilya's life style typifies the degradation of Greek classical culture and attempts to steer her onto the path of morality. It constitutes a variation of the Pygmalion story.

The film stars Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin, and it gently submerges the viewer into Greek culture, including dance, music, and language (through the use of subtitles). The signature song and the bouzouki theme of the movie became hits of the 1960s and brought the composer, Manos Hadjidakis, an Academy Award.

It won the Academy Award for Best Song (Manos Hadjidakis for "Never on Sunday"). It was nominated for the Academy Awards for, respectively, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Melina Mercouri), Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director (Jules Dassin) and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay as Written Directly for the Screen (Dassin). Mercouri won the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.

Never on Sunday song
"Never on Sunday", also known as "Ta Paidiá tou Peiraiá" (Greek: "Τα Παιδιά του Πειραιά"; English: "The Children of Piraeus"), is a popular song by Manos Hadjidakis. A vocal version was also released and performed by Melina Mercouri in the film of same name directed by Jules Dassin and starring Mercouri. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1960, a first for a foreign-language picture. The film score to the movie was first released on October 1, 1960 by United Artists Records. The song has since been covered by numerous artists, and has gained various degrees of success throughout the world.

"Never on Sunday" was written by Manos Hadjidakis originally in Greek with the title "Ta Paidia tou Peiraia" (The children of Piraeus). The original Greek version featured lyrics also written by Hadjidakis, and was performed in the film by Melina Mercouri. The original Greek lyrics (along with the foreign translations in German, French and Italian) tell the story of the main female character of the film, Illya (Mercouri). Illya is a jolly woman who enjoys life, the town and the people of her native Piraeus. Although she earns her money as a prostitute, she longs to meet a man someday who is just as full of joie de vivre as she is herself.
In 1960, the song was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a first for a foreign-language picture since the Academy began to recognize achievements in this category in 1934.

Sirtaki

Sirtaki or syrtaki (Greek: συρτάκι) is a popular dance of Greek origin, choreographed by Giorgos Provias for the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. It is not a traditional Greek folkdance, but a mixture of the slow and fast versions of the hasapiko dance. The dance, and the accompanying music by Míkis Theodorakis, are also called Zorbá's dance, Zorbas, or "the dance of Zorba".

The name Sirtáki comes from the Greek word: syrtos (from σύρω (τον χορό) which means "drag (the dance)"), a common name for a group of traditional Cretan dances of so-called "dragging" style, as opposed to pidikhtos (πηδηχτός), a hopping or leaping style. Despite that, Sirtaki incorporates both syrtos (in its slower part) and pidikhtós (in its faster part) elements.

Choreography
Sirtáki is danced in a line or circle formation with hands held on neighbours' shoulders. Line formation is more traditional. A similar choreography will be featured in Just Dance 2015.

Meter is 4/4, tempo increasing, and often the signature is changed to 2/4 in the fastest part. Accordingly, the dance begins with slower, smoother actions, gradually transforming into faster, vivid ones, often including hops and leaps. The choreographer of the dance is Giorgos Provias.

Zorba the Greek (film)
Zorba the Greek (Greek title: Αλέξης Ζορμπάς, Alexis Zorba(s)) is a 1964 British-Greek drama film directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and starring Anthony Quinn as the title character. It is based on the novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. The supporting cast includes Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova, Irene Papas and Sotiris Moustakas.

Plot
Traveling to inspect an abandoned mine his father owns in Crete, English author Basil (Alan Bates) meets the exuberant peasant Zorba (Anthony Quinn) and invites him along when the older man claims he has mining experience. In Basil's father's old village, he finds himself attracted to a young widow (Irene Papas), and Zorba takes up with the woman who runs their hotel (Lila Kedrova). When things go wrong, Zorba teaches Basil how to enjoy life even under the most trying circumstances.

At the end of the movie Basil and Zorba sit by the shore to eat a rack of lamb for lunch. Zorba pretends to tell the future from the lamb shank, saying that he foresees a great journey to a big city. He then asks Basil directly when he plans to leave, and Basil replies that he will leave in a few days. Zorba declares his sadness about Basil's imminent departure to England and tells Basil that he is missing madness. Basil asks Zorba to teach him to dance. Zorba teaches him the sirtaki and Basil begins to laugh hysterically at the catastrophic outcome. The story ends with both men enthusiastically dancing the sirtaki on the beach.

Greece

Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía) and known since ancient times as Hellas (Greek: Ελλάς), is a country in Southern Europe. According to the 2011 census, Greece's population is around 11 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city.

Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. It also shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited). Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).

Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, which began with the Aegean Civilizations of the Bronze Age. Considered the cradle of all Western civilization, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles and Western drama including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great's campaigns, and to the West through its incorporation into the Roman Empire. This rich legacy is partly reflected by the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking it 6th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state, which comprises most of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Greece is a democratic developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life and a very high Human Development Index. Greece is a founding member of the United Nations, was the 10th member to join the EEC (European Economic Community) as EU was called in 1981 (and the eurozone since 2001) and is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the WTO. Greece's economy is also the largest in the Balkans, where Greece is an important regional investor.