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Posts Tagged ‘music’

Known Formerly Known As Known

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Popular culture offers two distinct techniques for artists seeking to exist as “alternative identities”. Musicians often do this- creating new characters from which a new style of music can be offered. Perhaps just sneaky marketing, these moves are often less about the music and more about the figure “behind the song.” Whether contemporary music is actually about music remains ripe for debate, but the methods used to advertise music and its makers remain. Ultimately music in popular culture is created and sold by distinct entities whose work to stay relevant involves complicated maneuvers to both maintain and evolve an image. We do not consume music without an awareness of its makers. Songs are linked to artists and albums are collected expressions of these makers.

Madonna and Lady Gaga utilize the first technique of alternative identity. New “personalities” are created and loaded with new types of clothing, makeup and stylings that act to contrast a previous form. Here an image is adjusted. New albums and new songs come packaged with a new type of talent. These artists often disavow a relationship with the previous characters and strive to cast this new creation as something different from the previous form. This is not an evolution on display: a disavowal of older forms suggests a desire to re-appear as relevant and smacks of less artistic notions and more a desperate attempt to re-seize the excitement of debut.

Bob Dylan best evokes the second technique of alternative identity: effusiveness. One never actually exists if the personality conveyed lacks distinct features. Dylan mumbles as he speaks, refuses to answer questions and avoids direct inquiry as much as possible. His albums do vary, but at their core still work towards the classic inspirations of his youth. Though Dylan often changes his appearance, his personality remains constant.

Towards A Larger Something

July 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Do all humans need something larger to believe in? Where religion falls victim to doubt and atheism takes hold the individual simply replaces one faith with another. It is often suggested that where the religious take confidence in figures like Christ, Moses and Mohammed the atheist community forms similar connects to Darwin, Marx and Shakespeare. In each “great man” the follower invests hope and the search for purpose. If every human needs guidance in “how to live” where might one find a greater sense of purpose beyond these larger figures? Is it possible to live beyond this need for something more? Is a greater power the only real source of sense in a life of seeming futility?

Some might question the importance of these important figures. Surely Shakespeare can be respected, but to serve as a God-like smacks of exaggeration. How might Darwin play a religious like role for the non-religious? When one’s ideas become foundational to existence than these powerful roles take hold. As Jesus framed a model for existence, Darwin has come to represent a way of thinking and seeing the world. The movement from basic theories to broad, life-guiding theories transcends the individual to a religious figure. The prophet is one who provides profound insight in a world of endless confusion.

What of the events that celebrate common bonds and aim to establish greater sense of community? Is the church service replaced by conventions or concerts? Does not one find common bonds with fellow human beings at the rock concert? The similarities are striking if one considers forms of dress, directions of focus and use of music. One might find it difficult to delineate where the differences stand and where the music concert inspired the church service and vice versa. Both have common goals and common means to a success. Certainly both events serve the purpose of bringing seemingly diverse people together for a common goal. No matter the ends of these events, the means to group cohesion are very similar. All humans seem determined to find a greater sense of purpose and seek it out in varied forms and places.

Off Into The Crawl Space

January 11, 2011 2 comments

Many human beings hide inside an interest as a means for comfort and security. For some this protection comes in the form of media, perhaps a favorite television show with a cast of characters that seem almost real and who provide a personal connection. For others the work of a musical artist provides insight into personal feelings. Somewhere in the collected body of work a band provides the food for personal consideration and creates a foundation for personal revelation. Art’s enduring power and importance stems largely from its ability to assist us in understanding who we are. Our favorite works of art are much more than aesthetically pleasing creations, they are devices to revelation, gateways into the depths of our soul that we both hide from the rest of the world and enter into only with the assistance of these creative works.

For others pleasure and security comes in the form of food. The possession of a moment wherein one’s favorite food is paused for consumption is as nearly divine as any earthly experience. Eating is the ultimate act of intimacy: a moment of complete control where a human being nourishes and gratifies itself. We have endless choices of food but possess a minute list of favorite foods that we personally define as special and sources of higher levels of gratification.

At the core of these provisions is a collection of positive emotions. We tend to cluster multiple positive experiences into these events in order to heighten the experience. In a way, we maximize pleasure by sweetening the experience in as many ways as possible: reading in a favorite chair on an afternoon of complete silence, dedicate an afternoon to pursue the perfect preparation of gourmet delicacies. Life, it seems, is a maze of personal applications, it provides us little in the form of pleasure; instead relying on the individual to know and create the moments that provide happiness. In short, its only us that can make us happy and in order to achieve a state of bliss we need to work for it.

We can recognize the signs of mental illness when these pursuits of pleasure either extend too often, too long or never end. Note the delusion of the Tucson shooter whose obsession with conspiracy theories and his victim are seen by many as major signs of mental illness. At some point an interest began to deepen and obsession took hold. Our pursuit of that which pleases us is a normal human process but when the human mind is out of balance these pursuits become distorted. The ailing human mind struggles to return from these ventures into happiness or, in the most tragic cases, becomes lost inside the zone of pleasure and becomes ensnared inside the moment forever.

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