Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Manipulation

I don't actually listen to popular music. I prefer to manufacture my own manipulations. One cannot help however but hear it. The problem is that I always think below its surface. Of course it's some manipulation, an attempt to make us feel some certain something. But that's what communication is. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is who it is, who is making the music. Some pervert drug addict.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this pop star has an exemplary character, a truly admirable man. It's possible. Like politicians. Maybe one of them has integrity, and wisdom. And the fact that he has pushed himself forward, saying, "Here I am, vote for me, I'm a real leader, a hero of public virtue. I will save us." If it's true, then he's right. Sadly, mostly it's just poseurs with big egos demanding some privilege that only ambition qualifies them for. They have a skill only for being, somehow, popular.

Music used to be about melody and its permutations. Rhythms and harmonies. You know, skill. Yes, that's still around. But it's words, mostly, now, it seems. What is a love song without words? Nothing in tonality itself that's innately sexual. It's the words, baby baby baby. Then we associate the music with the feeling, like a bump and grind riff. Isn't it strange, though, how we do that? -- let almost all of our music be about love. Not love at all. Sex. A bit of I will love you forever. But mostly it's because I can have sex with you. There sure aren't many love songs to our kids. But even they are the product of our need for sex.

I've said it before, in my wisdom. Emotions are just how our instincts influence our actions. It's all biology. Our urge to procreate makes us love. Our urge to survive makes us feel fear, or anger, or whatever motivating emotion our childhood wiring and innate temperament predispose us to. No, it's not determinism. We have choices. But we have to think about them, to act on them.

The soulful 20 year old crooning about his girl friend who left him ... it makes me impatient. If he loved her, why did he not take the effort to make a real commitment? Marriage is not a piece of paper, certified by our politicians and judges. The love he claims in his chanted rhyme? It's just a feeling, the way we love ice cream. Real love commits. And the anguish he skillfully injects into his vocalizings? The dramatic rasping breaths? Very artful, it is. Highly manipulative. Simulates experience very well indeed. Sounds like it's sincere. But losing a girl friend is no tragedy. Sing a song about the sons you've lost, and I'll believe your anguish. Oh, wait ... there are no songs on the radio like that. I guess they don't have enough to do with love. Not enough anguish and drama in a song like that. Maybe it's too much of a downer. Not commercial enough.

I've been pretty busy. Energies directed elsewhere. You will be grateful for every blessing you get, however, including my now-rare blog posts. According to my whim, I will write more, or less. And you will appreciate it, humbly, as is appropriate in those who receive undeserved benefit.



bob k. mando said...

Sing a song about the sons you've lost, and I'll believe your anguish. Oh, wait ... there are no songs on the radio like that.

few indeed.

but not quite "none".

here's hoping that the new direction of your energies provides more satisfaction.

Linda said...

I do appreciate it.

chuck e. boy said...

Today's music is simply another illustration, as if we need it, that Western culture, after rejecting its Biblical foundation, that tree in whose branches the birds of the air made their nests, is now dying and can no longer support the life in its branches.