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Thread: Wendy Carlos Turns 80

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    Wendy Carlos Turns 80

    In the Echoes Podcast, Wendy Carlos Switches On 80. We celebrate this pioneering artist with archival interviews. Hear it right here or in the Echoes App! https://wp.me/p4ZE0X-gR0

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    What's new with Wendy? She hasn't updated her website since March 7, 2009 -- over ten years ago.

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    I thought you started over once you changed genders, especially if you become a woman.
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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Ah, I'll bet she wishes that were true. The truth is she's eighty.

    And she's gone silent, after a decade of being very vocal on her website.

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    Member Mr.Krautman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    What's new with Wendy? She hasn't updated her website since March 7, 2009 -- over ten years ago.
    A tentative explanation can be found here. Very sad indeed... one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music, almost forgotten.

    https://www.culturedmag.com/wendy-carlos/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Krautman View Post
    A tentative explanation can be found here. Very sad indeed... one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music, almost forgotten.

    https://www.culturedmag.com/wendy-carlos/
    Thanks for posting.
    I find the bit about her pursuits as an ‘eclipse photographer’ to be an interesting parallel with her current inaccessibility...
    There is something recursive in Carlos’s fascination with the eclipse event and the desire that keeps us asking where Wendy Carlos is today. Both are attempts to capture the unknowable and illustrate the unseen, that which exceeds our perceptive abilities. We are left with a totality visible only in pieces, and perhaps this is how she always wanted it to be.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks for posting. I am sure, absolutely positive, that one element of her desire for privacy, is the hurtful comments that some people continue to hurl at her, even today. For instance, Wikipedia, where one particular senior editor there absolutely refuses to allow the article on her to focus on her music and only mention her gender dysphoria lower down, in the body of the article. Such narrow-minded insensitivity to a LIVING PERSON is pretty shameful.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Yes, thanks for posting. I am sure, absolutely positive, that one element of her desire for privacy, is the hurtful comments that some people continue to hurl at her, even today. For instance, Wikipedia, where one particular senior editor there absolutely refuses to allow the article on her to focus on her music and only mention her gender dysphoria lower down, in the body of the article. Such narrow-minded insensitivity to a LIVING PERSON is pretty shameful.
    I can imagine that. It's a weird world we live in. When Wendy Carlos went through her changes gender dysphoria was very hush hush and when one had gone through it, one was supposed to keep it silent. Nowadays it seems to be more accepted and sometimes I get the feeling I can't turn on the television without seeing something about someone with gender dysphoria. Now it seems to be in fashion not to keep it silent, but coming out, just like lesbian and gay people. And I still wonder why should one? Being gay might be something to be open about, because it is a part of your identity, but should one be open about something that happened in the past? I can imagine not everyone who went through this want it to be kept in the open.
    To me Wendy Carlos is someone I very much admire and she is one of the people that shaped my love for synthesizers. I hope someday her music will be made available again.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Sadly, her groundbreaking importance will probably not be re-evaluated and placed above her personal history until after her death.

    And if I can be forgiven just one further thought: coming out as gay is accepted, these days, because people understand it's part of who you are, and you can't change it. People like Ellen Degeneris and George Michael say it was a huge mistake to "hide in the closet" because it turns out nobody cares about your sexual orientation.

    But gender dysphoria is a whole different story. Being raised as one gender, when you feel yourself to be a different gender, is not about "who you are." It's about who you are not. As such it must be much, much harder to accept and come to grips with.

    Especially if insensitive people think it's a valid subject for making stupid jokes.
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 11-15-2019 at 12:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Sadly, her groundbreaking importance will probably not be re-evaluated and placed above her personal history until after her death.
    I think in the music world, especially electronic world, no one cares about Carlos' personal life. It's all about the music and her innovations and creativity. I do think there is a generation or two who are unaware of her music and how she changed everything. And as a side note, I think her post SOB work, especially her albums, Beauty in the Beast and Sonic Seasonings and her score to A Clockwork Orange, are grossly underrated.

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    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    I agree and think in general Carlos' importance is underrated. Her Clockwork Orange score is seminal (to me).
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Sadly, her groundbreaking importance will probably not be re-evaluated and placed above her personal history until after her death.

    And if I can be forgiven just one further thought: coming out as gay is accepted, these days, because people understand it's part of who you are, and you can't change it. People like Ellen Degeneris and George Michael say it was a huge mistake to "hide in the closet" because it turns out nobody cares about your sexual orientation.

    But gender dysphoria is a whole different story. Being raised as one gender, when you feel yourself to be a different gender, is not about "who you are." It's about who you are not. As such it must be much, much harder to accept and come to grips with.

    Especially if insensitive people think it's a valid subject for making stupid jokes.
    You are right, but on the other hand, there are transgenders (I think most don't like the word 'transsexual') who seem to feel it is who they are. But why should one still identify with something that happened probably 50 years ago?

    And we could do with all the stupid jokes, which are mostly not even funny.

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    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Fascinating article; thank you Mr.Krautman.

    As an old-time synth fan and player, few people have such a special place in my heart as Wendy Carlos. I could never properly describe how valuable and import she is in the world of music. It is a shame how she has been treated over the years.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    I agree and think in general Carlos' importance is underrated. Her Clockwork Orange score is seminal (to me).
    Yeah, a lot of people seem to only know about Switched-On Bach. The work she did for A Clockwork Orange (most of which didn't even get used in the movie or the soundtrack album) and Sonic Seasonings (which presaged the whole "ambient" music thing) seem to get overlooked, which I think is unfortunate.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    You are right, but on the other hand, there are transgenders (I think most don't like the word 'transsexual')
    Wendy isn't "transgender."

    As soon as she could afford it, she was surgically altered to become a woman. In all but her DNA, she is female.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Wendy isn't "transgender."

    As soon as she could afford it, she was surgically altered to become a woman. In all but her DNA, she is female.
    Pretty much the definition of transgender.

    of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth

    especially : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Wendy isn't "transgender."

    As soon as she could afford it, she was surgically altered to become a woman. In all but her DNA, she is female.
    That is exactly what I'm arguing. Though there are transgenders who still consider themselves transgenders after surgery and there are women and men who never consider transgenders as being female. And I've known a lot of transgenders and ex-transgenders. On the other hand even after surgery former transgenders are still taking hormones.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Our language isn't designed to handle non-binary issues of gender. There are so many variations out there and almost nobody agrees on terminology.

    The point is -- and I think it's the only point that matters -- Wendy considers herself female and wants to be referred to as a woman. Any discussion otherwise is hurtful to her.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Our language isn't designed to handle non-binary issues of gender. There are so many variations out there and almost nobody agrees on terminology.

    The point is -- and I think it's the only point that matters -- Wendy considers herself female and wants to be referred to as a woman. Any discussion otherwise is hurtful to her.
    You're right on that one.
    Don't forget there was a time transgenders where considered by some as a kind of plot against women. A friend of mine suffered by this at the beginning of the 80s.

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    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Our language isn't designed to handle non-binary issues of gender. There are so many variations out there and almost nobody agrees on terminology.

    The point is -- and I think it's the only point that matters -- Wendy considers herself female and wants to be referred to as a woman. Any discussion otherwise is hurtful to her.
    Exactly. There are a lot of people, maybe mostly in this country, that seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about other people's personal business. It has no effect on you. Get over it. Call people as they wish to be called. Shun them if you lack even a modicum of maturity. But don't harass your fellow humans.

    And happy birthday to Wendy Carlos, one of my favorite musicians.
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  21. #21
    So glad I got Sonic Seasonings and her version of Clockwork Orange when ESD released them. Wish I'd gotten Beauty in the Beast, but it'll turn up used someday...

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundsweird View Post
    So glad I got Sonic Seasonings and her version of Clockwork Orange when ESD released them.
    Sonic Seasonings is easily my favorite of her work. Gorgeous atmospherics, one of the all-time best ambient projects. Also glad I snagged those two releases when I had the chance, along with the Switched-On box set (with that demo of a software synthesizer, such a novelty in the days before you could walk around with a couple of hundred synthesizer apps in your shirt pocket).

  23. #23
    The original LP of Sonic Seasonings had a giant poster of the cover art. Think I still have that folded up somewhere...

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    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundsweird View Post
    So glad I got Sonic Seasonings and her version of Clockwork Orange when ESD released them. Wish I'd gotten Beauty in the Beast, but it'll turn up used someday...
    Ditto, I love CO.

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    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundsweird View Post
    The original LP of Sonic Seasonings had a giant poster of the cover art. Think I still have that folded up somewhere...
    Me too!
    I got the LP when it first was released. I was so pleased to get a CD of it a few years back.

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