"This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"

When all is said and done, nothing can solve the world's problems better than movies reenacted in thirty seconds by bunnies.

The Order of Music

I've learned a long time ago, and have been reminded recently:), that being rashly opinionated most often turns badly for me. However, since, as Saint Therese says, few things are more beneficial to the soul than public humiliation, I'll take another go at it. It is Lent after all.

I have never been able to understand how beat, rhythm, and melody could be objectively disordered. Yet when children become addicted to drugs, sex, alcohol, and satan worship, one of the primary culprits is disordered music. But what makes music so disordered? How can pure objective sound and beat in the physical world -- not taking into account lyrics -- affect the spiritual soul in such a violently negative way? To me, this attribution seems rather, in some cases at least, as if something external is being blamed to avoid admitting to the true internal cause, which is harder to face. Children who engage in addictive behavior are unhappy and without hope, and are usually dealing with some sort of repression, not the aftermath of listening to a beat; the loud music is more often than not a means to drown an already existing pain.

According to the argument, what makes music, specifically rock music, objectively disordered is a constant, rhythmic beat which is said to naturally invoke our animalistic tendencies in a way that classical music does not. It numbs our senses (allegedly), makes the ratio of the intellect lessen towards our appetites -- not unlike alcohol. However (not to compare apples and oranges), if alcohol in moderation is seen as a good thing, why not rock music, if the effects on the soul are the same? There is clearly nothing wrong with the effect if alcohol is deemed acceptable; what then makes the alternative cause of the effect so much more harmful? Especially considering that the effect of rock music in moderation is temporary, whereas each drop of alcohol permenantly damages brain cells.

Another objection is that the disorder of the musician intrinsically affects the music itself; because music touches our soul in a way that other things do not, we therefore absorb this disorder into ourselves. I personlly have a difficult time buying this, being as Mozart was a drug-addicted alcoholic Free Mason who died in his 30s because he had run his own body and soul into the ground.

Admitedly, it is imprudent to say that music is always good, and rock music itself can objectively be a problem for a variety of reasons. Played loudly, it causes hearing loss (obviously). Moreover, often, teenagers who are troubled will gravitate towards rock music, partly due to the undertone of rebellion (which is caused by the desire to regain lost control or stability), and partly because the constant noise can help them not think of the pain they are in; however, this latter point is not, in my experience at least, limited to rock music.

When it comes to hip-hop, rap, and techno, moreover, much of it is written in the context of getting it on like rabbits. It's my belief that if any music is causing problems today, it's these. However, even in these cases, it is the individual artists -- not the artform -- who are perverting the art to make it purely animalistic. The artform itself is not the problem.

The primary contest against music with a heavy beat -- in Christian circles, at least -- is that the beat itself objectively opens the individual up to opression (which, as I understand it, is like possession, except it is unintentional -- it is the kind of "possesion" that some of the saints experienced; an example of this is depicted, albeit with questionable accuracy, in the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose). If you were to listen to a rock song that was written and performed by satanists, this could possibly happen. But opression can only take place when an individual is taking part in some form of spiritualism, or has unintentionally (therefore without any adverse affect to the soul) come in contact with a person place or thing that has been involved in something spiritualistic or satanic. It cannot be caused by a purely physical phenomena; we live in a post-Incarnation world, and the devil simply does not have that kind of power unless God has a good reason to permit it. The only way the rock beat could objectively make us more spiritully vulnerable is if we were to listen to it constantly with the purpose of silencing our prayer life, and even then other factors would have to be present as well.

And these other factors are crucial, and can do plenty of damage without the presence of rock music. The reason rebellious teenagers began to gravitate towards rock music is not because there is something intrinsically inherent in the beat that attracts the sinful, but because they were rebelling directly against the Christian fundementalists of the south (who, coincidentally, were racists -- not that I'm saying that people who believe rock music is disordered are racists, because that would be silly). These fundementalists considered music with a heavy beat -- a beat which had been carried over by their African slaves -- the music of the devil.

This unfounded scrupelosity attracted rebellion, as almost all Puritanical scrupelosity does. The reason, for instance, Salem is full of witchcraft is because extreme scrupelosity eventually breeds rebelious behavior because it is fundementally based on pride and a desire to take control. It therefore implies a lack of trust in God. This leads to a loss of hope, which is diametrically opposed to Divine Mercy, which is the height of virtue that opens us up to the Grace of God. On the other hand, loss of hope, or despair, is the height of vice, and extreme loss of hope opens the soul up like nothing else in this world can. Like I said in the beginning, loss of hope is more difficult to face up to than the influence of something outside of ourselves -- such as rock music -- because hopelessness and pride are more linked than any two sins.

For this reason, I believe that it is more dangerous to teach that music -- or anything for that matter -- has the power to bypass our free will and corrupt our souls than it is to listen to rock music in moderation, especially when those who make this claim admit that the issue is not black and white. Making such a generalization about boundaries which are so subjective can lead to an unhealthy fear of evil in the physical world, for when scrupelosity is extreme it has the nasty habit of spreading to all of our senses to the point to where we fear that even God cannot protect us.

Special thanks to my brother, my sister-in-law, my little niece, and my friend Dominic who did stellar job tweaking the photo.

What in Middle Earth?

I'm not sure what I should think about this.

And yes, they sing. It is a musical.

The Art of Socialism? Hardly!!!!

There was once a time where I had an inkling of economics, and the overall benefits of the free market system. Now, as I start to engage in in-depth discussions on the matter, I can feel the blank look on my face, and the confussion setting in. I mourn the days when I almost minored in political science, and find myself purusing books on economics, however out of place they seem amidst my collection of O'Conner, Williams, Shakespeare, and Warton. Admitedly, one of the main challenges I faced in college -- as I found particularly when I attempted to take Metaphysical poetry along side classical economics -- was that I was required to use two sides of my brain, and my economic brain was sadly under-exercised in comparison to my literature brain, especially since my literature teachers and classmates either were distributist economists (if there is such a thing) or they neither knew nor gave a hoot about economics in any shape or form.

So I leave college, theoretically prepared for the world. I pursue literature and music; and what do I find? Socialists! Everywhere, socialists! Why is it that all artists today are socialists? They claim that it is because they refuse to compromise their art by putting price on it in the name of capitalism; maybe I could take them more seriously if, in not "selling out," most of what they produced wasn't sheer egotistical badness on wheels.

On rereading this, I realized that I should clarify that I don't think that all artists must market if they are not, at that time, equipped to distribute their art for one reason or another, or if they simply don't have the desire to share their art. I'm also not saying that all artists who avoid marketing are doing so out of insecurity (if they are good artists). What I am saying is that artists should not fear that marketing their work will inevetibly lead to comprimising the work of art itself, or "selling out."

Even in Catholic circles, good artists are never discovered because of their belief that marketing and true art are not compatible. They argue that marketing means "selling-out" -- period; putting a price on a work of art is like putting a price on a child. And I understand how this feels. There are few things worse than, after showing your work of art to someone, having it of art ripped to shreds, or modified, or tweaked so that it might be more "sell-able." And, admitedly, editors and producers have been known, on occasion, to suck the marrow out of a brillient work of art for the sake of profit. However, in my experience with having my artistic babies slashed to pieces, oftentimes they were slashed to pieces because, to be frank, they were ugly babies (sorry for the unpleasent imagery, but that's the best way to describe it). I have learned a great deal about how to produce good art from having my work edited and my favorite pieces cut out and thrown to the dogs (whether or not I always agree with those particular decisions . . .). If it wasn't for the editors, F. Scott Fitzgerald would be illegible to the point to where his brilliance would never see the light of day (and true art is meant to be shared).

Except in the case of real artists, the fear of marketing one's work in the capitalist world is, I think in some cases at least, more a fear of being objectively criticized than it is a fear of selling out. There are some fantastic independant artists, and I applaud them for being able to make a living with art the hard way; but for every talented artist, there are about a 1,000 more artists who really need to reevaluate how they spend their time. It makes sense, sadly, since we live in an age where people lack the ability to accept criticism because they are conditioned into the a delussional understanding of their own self worth.

This spring, I am returning to Italy, in part to see if music school is for me. I will have a book on economics in tow, and hopefully I will be able to avoid being sucked in to the vortex that is socialism.

St. Thomas More, prega per noi!

The Poetry of Truth

The difference between philosphy and poetry is that philosophy reveals and identifies, while poetry reveals the unidentifiable. This is why a good poet must be a philosopher, while a philosopher must not necessarily be a poet. Often, the more literalistic philosopher downplays the importance of poetry for the very reason that he cannot see the truth of poetry, because he cannot identify it. However, the purpose of all good art is to touch upon something that is far greater than human experience can acheive on this earth. Poetry acheives what philosophy aims for, which is truth. The only difference is that the truth acheived by poetry is so profound, it is inexpressible. This is a testament to the mysterious power of poetry, for the poet has the ironic talent of using words to express a truth for which there are no words.