Wednesday, October 17, 2007
“Some find life and its marks to be feared
But the more life rimed upon the beard
The better the prose rhymed upon the tongue
Shaming the poet, once foolish and young.”
"For who can say they, be loose their mortal coil
And think that their flesh, will be saved from the soil?
Be you scoundrel or fool, prince or a poet
You walk over the bones of your past, 'ere you know it."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Syncretism, through strict definition, does not necessarily imply a negative. However, the root of the meaning we derive from the word is unquestionably negative. In a nut-shell, a syncretism is an effort to reconcile, merge, or balance disparate thoughts, philosophies, opinions, beliefs, and/or actions. Thus, the concept takes on significant gravity in philosophical, theological, and socio-political discourse.
In psychological terms, one might define Syncretism as “cognitive dissonance.” Rather, how one’s actions or thoughts are not in alignment with one’s beliefs, principles, or professions.
The term has often been used when describing various unifications of formerly conflicting factions or warring clans; however, I am not fond of this usage since a political or otherwise expedient negotiation of peace to fight a common foe or accomplish a common objective misses the point--in my opinion.
Bringing this nearly forgotten word quickly into modern times, we might suppose the following examples:
- One who believes that it is definitely wrong to steal; but that taking office supplies home for personal use is not really stealing.
- One who might vociferously profess that individual freedom is a higher calling; but may then actively support Socialization and the regulation of certain property rights.
- Another who might profess that telling lies and cheating are reprehensible; but fudging deductions on your tax return is acceptable.
- Consider the person who might believe that the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes is cruel and unusual punishment because human life is sacred; yet, actively supports abortion rights.
- And lest the reader think that I gore my neighbor’s oxen with an uneven hand—Let us also consider the faithful who cherish the freedom of religion guaranteed by our American Constitution; yet want only one theological position be taught in public schools. Hmmmmm….
There is much to consider in this....
[New Text Added October 11, 2007]
I am struck by the notion that much of our personal and societal anxiety is rooted in our in ability to reconcile our syncretisms.
- Marriages dissolve when love is tainted with by selfishness, narcissism, and solipsism.
- Obvious self-interest is trumped by rebellion.
- Future is disregarded at the alter of Now. One could argue that even the most preciousness of this Moment is forgotten by the sense of something even more immediately in mind and in another place.
As we are pulled and cajoled by other place, self, and now we end up floating in waters more uneven than mere relative-ness and subjectivity. That let's us off far too easy. Instead we drift through a life without firmament at all. Denying that laws and principles exist lest they be at any time or place inconvenient in the "then."Blessed is the one who speaks, acts, and lives at one with himself and with God.
And still there is much more to consider in this....
Monday, October 08, 2007
I get it. My regular readers may note that—in addition to my contributions to this blog and other writings—I am a musician. No one tells me what to write, say, or sing. And the songs I write articulate my philosophies and beliefs. Sometimes people disagree with those philosophies and beliefs. Fair enough.
Bruce Springsteen has come out with a new album. He spent much of the last few years campaigning for Democrat candidates and at the behest of MoveOn.org (the left-iest of the leftist left). So far so good.
His new album professes his anti-war sentiment. Well, that’s not really fair. I know of no one who is “pro-war,” per se. But it is pretty clear that Bruce does not think that we should be in this war…or the one just before this one…or the one before that, come to think of it. Anyway—Bruce wants us out of Iraq. Again, we can agree and/or disagree—no problem. His art, his message.
It is one thing for the expression or performance of art to inspire outrage, discussion, or thought; and it is quite another to beat the drum of controversy first, in a craven attempt to generate sales. This is especially true when you are using our national divisions and the blood of soldiers to do so.
The new Springsteen album, titled “Magic” and released last week, has been getting a lot of press. Some of that press has been complimentary of the music itself, but most has been “controversy spin.” The Guardian’s recent article “Springsteen ready for criticism over ‘Magic’ words” is one such example. Note that there is, at this point, no criticism—but darn it, as the article title suggests, Bruce is ready for it. And the article takes a swipe at talk radio as well, quoting Joe Levy of Rolling Stone, ”Springsteen will likely be grist for the mill among conservative radio and talk show hosts who will likely rail against the record and its message.” “Likely,” eh? One cannot help but detect a bit of hope in Mr. Levy’s comments and Bruce’s “readiness” that a few talk show hosts and other folks will actually talk about the album.
All of this seemingly coordinated messaging smacks of a focused PR effort to not only “get in front” of the issue, but to literally drive the message and generate the hype. Real controversies generate themselves without artificial prodding. True art inspires its own discussions. Good music sells in spite of controversy, not because of it.
Remember—no one has yet criticized Bruce Springsteen or his message that I am aware of. And if there is any criticism, those authors have a right to their say as well. Freedom works. PR and advertising people do their job, and band’s and record companies sell music for profit.
Some record labels use Night-club frolics, love affairs, faux grudges, and rehab clinics to gin-up the publicity that their stars need when albums are released. We all cringe at such ploys and shrug our shoulders in dejected acceptance that this comes with the territory. The Springsteen team appears to be using their political media connections to do so. Hey—freedom of speech, I really get that, too. But as the fans are cheering “The Boss” and holding up signs at concerts saying things like “No Blood for Oil” they would do well to remember that this is a “profit” deal. Each attendee will have paid upwards of $79.00 per seat for the concert tickets, the album sells for $9.97 at Amazon.com, and you can download individual tracks off the album for $.99 each from Itunes.
Today’s Springsteen fans may not like the reasoning or execution of the Iraq conflict, but they must find a way to philosophically justify squeezing a few drops of that precious blood into a seemingly contrived controversy that revitalizes a music career and generates literally hundreds of million of dollars in revenue for…um…let’s just call them ”Big Music.”
I want all musicians to get paid for their performances and their product. I do not begrudge them that. And it is certainly not necessary that they agree with me on any counts at all. If any individual or group should attempt to silence a musician, I stand at the ready to defend them. But it is this writer’s (and musician’s) opinion that the intentional conjuring of pseudo-controversy on an issue that indeed is tinted by the blood of soldiers and patriots crosses a line. The Springsteen publicity machine should not be silenced, but perhaps they should be a bit ashamed.