“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind
Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
- Leonardo da Vinci -
When you get into the kind of head space where you truly begin to break down, understand, and assimilate the ideas that da Vinci references here, you can easily be perceived as beyond the common sphere of what most consider to be reality. Which, oftentimes, can be quite a shame because the type of mindset that lends itself to this broader conceptualization is typically the type that can also break through paradigms that have often overstayed their welcome among our shared human experience and prevent us from moving forward as humanity. Abstract thought and application are part of the ways by which we evolve as a culture, and it's this same 'just outside of accepted reality' perspective that can get us there.
Jeremy Nix, or perhaps more recognizably, The Balance King, maintains the sort of globalist outlook that, when you slow down, really listen, and consider the words and thoughts he conveys, demonstrates the outcomes of this same mindset. He's an artist that reasons as a scientist, and a scientist that understands how the application of scientific methodology can inform his art.
He also has a pretty delicious sounding recipe for what he calls 'Vegan Chili Crunch' that he shares with us today, along with his very interesting takes on art, existence, and his purpose on this journey.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Please introduce yourself to our readers...
I tend to shy away from attempting to coalesce the nebulous matrix of interstitial realities into a series of static, singular data points, as it is an exercise in calcification of being, under hegemonic societal expectations. What strikes closer to the essential truth, is the fluidic nature of identity, relationships and interpersonal growth, in the context of what we perceive as time. To some, I am a student, to some a teacher. To some, a friend, to some, a foe. To some, a parent, to some a child/sibling/cousin/comrade/lover/healer/builder/destroyer. For now, call me by my born-name, Jeremy. I was born here in Jacksonville.
A qualitative sampling of the current matrix of my professional activities includes:
These endeavors orbit a polarizing nucleus - the relentless pursuit of truth, in application to self-improvement, collaborative elevation, and universal liberation from oppressive systems. Like all of us, I am a guest on this planet for only a short time, and while I’m here I will go wherever this quest takes me. I consider myself a citizen of the planet and its countless interwoven ecosystems, with all the contingent responsibilities that incurs.
What projects are you working on or involved with currently?
Composing original music and reworks with Nicholas Taylor and Michael Holman of Gray (band they co-founded with art-world savant Jean-Michel Basquiat in NYC in 1979), and with burgundy prince and King Britt of ShamShir. King Britt and burgundy prince are also in collaboration with Gray; Dimensional community development, humanitarian infrastructure-building, empowerment initiatives, and black reparative economic and social justice work, through Yellow House with Founder/Director Hope McMath and Creative Catalyst Zaiche Johnson, and through independent efforts. Developing curriculum and implementing programming to teach elementary students introductory concepts in music composition, sound design, and sound science, at Montessori Tides; Scoring with phenomenal photographer and videographer Franklin Thompson; Conceptualizing and designing sound installations with Guggenheim fellow sculptor Hiroyuki Hamada; Curating sound tapestries for art gallery exhibitions (Erin Kendrick - her own things; re(set) the table); Developing a Vegan Popcorn Line with co-founder Zaiche Johnson, Popped Quiz; In between these activities, my habit exists at the nexus of scholarly research, self-defense training, yoga, fitness, culinary exploration, familial ritual, and the perpetual exploration of abolitionary paradigms.
How does your background as a scientist interact with your application in other disciplines?
Scientific exploration in my life originates from an intense existential curiosity to know more about myself, my environment, all the entities and objects that I share this environment with, and how all the pieces can interconnect harmoniously. In its nascent form, it is exploration through play, and improvisation through experimentation. I am currently reading through the book The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe, by theoretical physicist-cosmologist-jazz musician polymath, Stephon Alexander, having been introduced to the book by way of my colleague (and science-art polymath in her own right), Princess Rashid Simpson. One of the pillars of Stephon’s cognizance, is that we can use analogical reasoning from seemingly-disparate fields, to illuminate hypotheses at the limitations of our current models of understanding. This coincides perfectly to my own comprehension, derived from the cauldron of my personal lived experience, spiritual growth, and scholarly enterprise.
A cosmic-scale example of this principle in action, and one that Stephon has directly worked on during his career, is the application of principles of physics, music, and harmonics, to study the formation of the early universe. The observed structure of galaxies in the universe today, can be understood from the “chord” that the universe played shortly after the Big Bang, and as it was expanding, which corresponds to how matter clumped together as the universe cooled. The universe is literally playing and dancing to the sound of its own music! This thought alone, should give everyone pause to consider the part we all play in the celestial symphony. Music is an intuitively understood, universal language.
Science in its broadest conceptualization, is simply a method of asking a question in a defined way. Science doesn’t say “ this is definitively the way things are under all conditions,” so much as it says “when you meet conditions x, y, and z, this is the way things appear under those conditions.” This is a critical distinction which reveals both the strengths and limitations of scientific enterprise, in the context of cultural and intellectual hegemony. In it strengths, it overcomes the difficulty of subjectiveness, implicit bias, and blind spots in our individual perspectives, to construct a shared, overlapping framework of mutual understanding. In its limitations, it reveals that at times, significant bodies of scientific investigation are beholden to grossly simplified linear simulations and binary approximations, which are often enormously divergent from the complex multi-dimensional system we call life.
Is the current model in the entertainment industry sustainable or relevant to the entire audience spectrum?
Under the current global economic reality, there is no model that is either sustainable or relevant. The most resonant connections with artistry I have ever encountered, are with art that divines intimate truths from the tapestry of lived experience. Systems that remunerate predatory behavior through economic incentives, that erase humanity and diminish cultural interchange to tokenisms, that displace communities in favor of commerce; these systems will never be sustainable, due to their progressive amplification of destructive individuals and ideologies. They will never be relevant to the spectrum of humanity, due to persistent stratification and subsequent consumption of people, cultures, and communities.
In order to navigate the current predicament, feed our families, keep roofs over our heads, and have access to the essential necessities of life, we must actively pursue outlier stratagems. That can take many forms, but chiefly focuses on economic cooperation, resource consolidation and redistribution, and nonconventional exchange mechanisms.
Is the art scene in Jacksonville congruent with other international metropolitan markets?
The art scene in Jacksonville faces a great deal work through infrastructural, cultural, and growth challenges before it can enter consideration for congruence with international metropolitan markets. While Jacksonville does have an exceptionally diverse international population and some pockets of innovation, the combination of feeble leadership, paltry city funding, and an apparent anathema toward civil works and social utility projects, have left Jacksonville severely crippled in key aspects. Oxymoronically, there are hundreds of commercial development projects currently underway in hotspots across the city, more than a few Teslas and imported luxury vehicles on the road, and substantial real estate cabals, yet municipal and private funding for metropolitan-level arts, educational, and public infrastructure initiatives remains punitive. This is a byproduct of the intentional systematic starvation by way of resource depletion, directed against the African-American, indigenous/immigrant, and proletariat communities by the power brokers and gatekeepers of the region. For the art scene in Jacksonville to develop in this environment, requires the collaboration of networked communities and infrastructures, based on relationships of symmetrical cultural, intellectual, spiritual, and economic interchange, between diverse populations on the periphery of the existing topology. On the whole, the cultural attitude towards these poles of development among the art community (and general populace) - with a few notable exceptions - are lackadaisical, somnolent, and at times even indignant. Shattering these regional idioms is a necessary precursor to empirical growth.
What are the greatest challenges you face as an arts professional living and working in Northeast Florida?
Without a doubt, the aforementioned languid atmosphere, and its reciprocal “hang out” culture, by which I mean the propensity of the resource-holding/well-to-do cohort, to approach artistic and cultural endeavors with the nonchalance of an idle hobbyist.
As the resident sound curator of Yellow House, what has been your experience with the critical, cultural and humanitarian work transpiring there?
Yellow House is the intersectional praxis of art, action, community organization, critical dialogue, educational outreach, humanitarian efforts, and Black reparative economic action, founded and directed by Hope McMath. I work with Hope and the amazing staff at Yellow House - Phyllis Bell-Davis, Zaiche Johnson, Arlette Hernandez, and Frances Grant - on numerous fronts. Yellow House and members of the community were First Responders to the damage wrought in the Ken Knight Drive neighborhood by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and along with other community activist organizations, has continued to vanguard black reparative economic justice and infrastructure-building initiatives in the Ken Knight Drive neighborhood. Through Yellow House’s relationship with resident community leader Alton Gordon, they’ve organized financial relief, mildew removal/house remodeling crews, neighborhood cleanups, and regular food and grocery drives. Yellow House also elevates the artistry and voices of individuals and communities who have been historically marginalized in the gallery exhibition arena, creating avenues for holistic economic reciprocity, and introspective, radical community-building, through open dialogue and resource-sharing. I am grateful to be involved with Yellow House’s mission.
What do you see as the existential calling in your life?
Striving to pioneer abolitionist undercurrents, that disrupt and dissolve the petrified trigonometry of oppressive systems. Concurrently, disseminating open-source systems of knowledge, and developing collectivist, holistic models of social interaction and community. We must disabuse ourselves of broadly-held, propagandized notions of the static nature of sociopolitical systems in the world, and recognize that we have the authority, and responsibility, to transform and/or replace, systems that are predatory, oppressive, and unsustainable. I hope to actualize these supra-judicial directives for humanitarian development, by any means necessary.
I've heard that you're a culinary explorer, please give us the recipe to one of your favorite dishes.
Coordinate with science, music, and reparative justice, food is one of my greatest passions. In my mental schema, all of these endeavors are inextricably linked to each other in the overall quest for breakaway liberative momentum. Food is deeply connected to our emotional body, self-identity, and the structure of our social systems. Food production, supply, and availability, are directly linked to our national infrastructure, resource utilization, dependence on imports/exports, social equity, physical and mental health, economic and social mobility, and environmental stewardship. Thomas Sankara said, “Some people ask me: But where is imperialism? Just look into your plates; you see imported corn, rice or millet. This is imperialism. No need to look any further.” For these reasons, and because the global economic system forces us to interact with organizations and practices that harm the planet and industrial/agricultural workers, I personally opt to follow a vegan/clean lifestyle, to mitigate harm to myself and others, as much as possible within the sphere of our present systemic circumstances.
Due to the pervasive inundation of cultural conditioning, we don’t receive quantitative accurate information about how meat and dairy consumption congests our physiology and psyche, functions on the brain similar to narcotics, and contributes to chronic inflammation. Consider the impacts on food derived from animals used for meat and dairy production, in the context of: what we know currently about the biology of stress and anxiety, how emotional energies are stored in the body, the conditions in large-scale animal agriculture operations, and how epigenetic mechanisms transfer emotional and physical traumas across generational boundaries. There’s also tremendous ecological devastation caused by current agricultural models, even with small-scale operations. We are already seeing shifts around eating habits and embracing plant-based lifestyles, and I believe some version of this is the blueprint for the future. Being conscious and compassionate toward our environment, engenders an environment that is conscious and compassionate toward us.
I recognize that due to the violent wealth disparity wrought by colonialism and other forms of entho-terrorism, it is tragically a privilege to have access to fresh, organic produce, and vegan products. Our blueprint for the future should provide solution-oriented approaches to providing food justice to those who live without access to clean, healthy, culturally appropriate food. A concept that can help provide some of those solutions, is permaculture. I first became familiar with this concept by way of a permaculture Meetup group led by Alex Ojeda, which does extensive work teaching and building self-sustainable systems across North-East Florida. For those not familiar, permaculture is the general design principles of building systems that are harmonically balanced throughout the whole. This doesn’t just mean “better gardening,” but it does encompass integrated consideration of where our food comes from, the resources we use to produce that food, and what we do with the waste from those two processes. I would love to see more urban gardening initiatives and food forests, built on permaculture design principles, as a mechanism to combat urban pollution, blight, food deserts, social injustice, and class/racial inequity. Implemented correctly, these initiatives have the potential to radically transform communities through reparative restoration and generating food, health, and economic independence.
I love to cook, and while I don’t usually follow cookbooks, I want to share one I recently encountered which completely transcends the conventional trope - Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine, by award-winning chef and food justice advocate, Bryant Terry. I usually improvise in the kitchen, based on what ingredients are at hand, eye-balling measures and taste-testing as I go until I find the right balance, so here’s a personal recipe of mine from my recent explorations. Bless!
Vegan Chili Crunch (Raw Vegan Taco Meat Substitute)
2 cups cauliflower florets (uncooked)
2 cups raw walnuts (soaked 4hr - overnight, rinsed, and dried in the oven at low temp)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp coconut aminos
1 Tbsp liquid aminos
1 tsp molasses
Juice of small lime
Dash toasted sesame oil (optional)
Splash apple cider vinegar (optional)
1Tbsp Herbs de Provence
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/4 tsp allspice (optional)
1/8 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp chipotle chile pepper powder
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and pulse into a chunky paste. Transfer to a container with a lid, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (longer is even better). Stir well, then use in tacos with your favorite taco fillings and condiments. It can also be used as a spread on toast or sandwiches, a topper for salads and baked potatoes, and in many other dishes. Get creative, experiment with different ingredient combinations, or swapping out dried spices for fresh ones when available, and make it your own!
What have you learned about yourself through your work and your art? How do you define success in what you do?
Science and music comprise the blade that pares away the silos of obsolescent notions. The result of this paring is the aeonian process of becoming. All of us are reflections of one interconnected conscious being - your pain is mine, my joy is yours - and we have infinitely diverse and beautiful ways of expressing this revelation, across the spectrum of humanity. Rigorous, holistic, symmetrical diversity is the most robust and healthful state of being, whether you’re examining human microflora and biological immunity, food ecosystems, or transnational socioeconomic systems. Be with your breath, and use your energy to create space for those around you to breathe more freely. Success for me, is promulgation of these missives along emancipatory wavelengths, while enriching and empowering my community and environment.
From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, for this magnificent opportunity!
We'd like to thank Jeremy/The Balance King for his participation in this interview. We'd also like to thank you for reading.
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Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email ellen@CulturalCouncil.org