Sunday, February 20, 2022

Parallel universes, rock music and RAW

If you are old enough you may remember "Novocaine for the Soul" by Eels. Eels were not one of my bands, but I remembered the tune from MTV when I looked it up. "Novocaine for the Soul" dates to the band's first album, Beautiful Freak, released in 1996.

John Higgs' recent newsletter led me to Eels, although not on purpose perhaps, as John did not mention the band. It's one of those bands where the  guy who sings and plays guitar and writes the songs, Mark Oliver Everett (aka "E") is the only constant from beginning to end, the only indispensable member. 

As John mentioned in the newsletter, American physicist Hugh Everett III came up with the idea of multiple universes/alternate universes in 1954 or so. At first, the theory did not catch on, but now it permeates pop culture, including comics and science fiction novels. 

Although Mark Everett has enjoyed success as a pop musician, his life has included more than its share of tragedy. 

Hugh Everett died in 1982, age 51, from a heart attack; the Wikipedia bio says that obesity, chain smoking and alcohol contributed to his premature death. It was Mark Everett who found the body. 

Hugh Everett was an atheist and asked that his ashes be tossed into the trash when he died. Everett's daughter and Mark Everett's sister, Elizabeth, committed suicide in 1996, asking in her suicide note for her ashes to be thrown out  to "end up in the correct parallel universe to meet up w[ith] Daddy." Mark Everett's cousin was a flight attendant who died aboard one of the 9/11 terrorist attack jetliners, the one that was crashed into the Pentagon. 

I knew the name "Hugh Everett" from the work of Robert Anton Wilson. In The Universe Next Door, for example, there's a glossary where Wilson writes the Everett-Wheeler-Graham model in quantum mechanics is "the Brownian 'form' of The Universe Next Door." 

Watch a BBC documentary about the Everetts, father and son. In it, Mark Everett admits he did not know his father was a famous scientist until after he died.  Here is an interesting Los Angeles Times article. 

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