Words on Words - March 5 , 2020
I was in Sacramento one morning eating breakfast. I was watching some morning show on the television. The television personality was attending the filming of a Lady Gaga video. The singer was adorned in some ridiculous looking latex looking custom and the whole thing looked like an outtake from the Batman television show back when Adam West played the troubled hero.
The TV guy turned to someone in the crowd and said that it reminded him of Gaga's early period as if he were discussing Mozart, Strauss, or Stavinsky. I threw up a little in my mouth (the bacon was disgusting anyway) at this gag inducing display of wokeness.
I became seriously depressed after my wife left me, my father died, and I was afflicted with tinnitus. I could not listen to most music. A long time Dylan fan, I suddenly hated music with lyrics. The only thing I could listen to was the iconic Miles Davis album Kind of Blue. I'm back to listening to different types of music but still haven't fully recovered from the experience.
A big part of the problem I have with music nowadays can be encapsulated in one word: greed. It is the same problem I have with professional and college athletics, Hollywood, and modern culture in general.
Things always start out great and then the bloodsuckers get involved, and fuck it all up. The public then becomes addicted to novelty over substance. The industry wraps up the artists like a huge python and squeezes out all of their creativity and then tosses them aside like an empty watermelon rind.
Like Stravinsky, I believe that the creation of the universe was set to music, and that we could have a pretty decent argument as to which of our musical geniuses created the score that could range all the way from Mozart to Henry Mancini. I even think a valid case could be made for Whitney Houston singing "The Greatest Love of All".
One thing I know I know for sure is, it ain't going to be the likes of Lady Gaga, even in her early period. How do I know this with such certainty? Because, let's say that when the universe was first unfolding, Miley Cyrus appeared out of nowhere swinging in on a gigantic wrecking ball, wearing latex undies, dry humping the cable, and swinging her tongue from side to side. I'm pretty sure God would have shut the whole thing down.
I have been reading a lot about the role of Greek tragedy lately. I became fascinated by the subject after watching the very disturbing movie The Joker. I was driven in my curiosity by the fact that so many people I know actually told me that they thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
It was interesting to discover that a robust debate on the value of tragedy and other mimetic arts (mimetic arts are those which imitate life and the world) has existed for centuries. Socrates detested them and so did Plato, who banned poets from his republic. They felt that such arts could easily be manipulated by those seeking power.
Their thoughts on the subject represent the first volleys fired in the war between mythology and philosophy that has eventuated in the schism between science and faith as we know it today.
I thought this particular quote extremely relevant in light of Michael Bloomberg's recent foray into presidential politics. America was inundated to the point of drowning by a seemingly endless barrage of fabricated images of the man created by the best commercial artists that money could buy, and the carpet bombing campaign worked to the point that he was actually being discussed as a serious contender for the democratic nomination despite the fact that he was a complete anomaly in a party largely driven by a hatred of the billionaire class.
The five delegates he garnered are now considered something of joke considering how much he spent to get them, but on a different level they also serve as a frightening reminder of Socrates's warning how mimetic arts can be used by power hungry politicians to manipulate society to their own ends.
I haven't read but a slight bit of the book, but considering the fact Critchley writes for the New York Times, I am pretty sure that his explanations for the situation will be of a liberal bent. He's already said something to the effect that Platonism and Christian morality are at the root of the problems that the arts currently face in dealing in truth, and also detect some wording that he seems somewhat to be in favor of the "necessity, and indeed moral and political productivity of deception, of fiction, of fraud, of illusion."
That's great and all, if you feel that the purpose of art is to manipulate the ignorant and the unwashed masses in order to guide them to a place that you believe that they are too stupid to realize themselves. But it does make it hard sometimes for the rest of us to discern the truth.