Trends, Styles, and the Self

It seems that every time period is plagued by trends and styles.  I am old enough to have seen many come and go.  In my teens, it was “Do your own thing; be an individual; peace, love.”  I watched some of the music, now rock classics, yield to the sensitive, bland, forgotten music of the late ’70’s.  I remember fading out of pop culture in the late ’70’s and listening to classical music (symphony, not rock).  Then came the ’80’s with money, power, cocaine, preps and Yuppies.  I rebelled against these values angrily, though I was, myself, a prep at Harvard.  I can’t find a trend that dominated the ’90’s.  But today, it seems that LGBT is the centre of gravity, along with eco-justice, women’s issues, and pop culture.

I’d like to think that in universities there is free intellectual inquiry.  But this is not the case.  There are styles and trends there too.  Back in the late ’50’s, symbolic logic was the rage.  Philosophers and even anthropologists wrote their ideas in those strange (laughable) symbols trying to look all mathematical and scientific.  That eventually got debunked.  Then I remember existentialism coming around.  When I was in grad school and when I graduated from grad school, it was all gender issues, power dynamics, wealth and poverty issues, and Nietzsche was the prevailing world-view, along with Richard Rorty.  I watched Derrida and deconstruction come and go in about a decade.

The thing about trends is that there is power behind them.  If a person wants to talk to others in society, he or she needs to buy into the current trends.  The alternative appears to be isolation.  And if a person wants to publish, one needs to write and think in the terms that are current.  But I believe that everyone has an intuitive sense of the true.  I believe that Emerson called it the Oversoul.  We know when a given trend is ridiculous, or doesn’t fit with human experience we know.  We sense the vacuity of certain ideologies.  I believe that’s why I turned to classical music in the late ’70’s, for instance.

Some people dedicate their lives to following trends.  It is their quest to recognize the prevailing trends immediately so that they can be in the vanguard.  In the ’90’s it was goatees, in the mid-2000’s it was mountain-man beards.  Maybe in Hollywood or fashion this is a necessity to survive or to make a fortune.  But I suppose there is enough of the old hippie in me not to worry too much about trends and to follow my Oversoul.

Advertisements

Obscenities and Social Norms

Had an interesting experience watching a rerun on one of my cable TV channels.  This channel found certain swear words objectionable so they edited them out of the soundtrack.  So you would hear these abrupt short silences when the characters would say a certain expletive.  But not every swear word was censored.  There seemed to be only one obscenity that the network don’t like: f**ck.  OK, that is an objectionable obscenity.  But what interested me was the swear words that they did allow.  In particular, the network allowed G*d d*mn.  To me, that obscenity is worse.  It breaks the second commandment (of the 10 Commandments).  Put in the strongest terms, uttering that obscenity is a sin.  Now the other word is bad, but doesn’t violate any religious commandment that I can think of (I could be wrong).

Is this a statement about our world?  The network allows us to hear an obscenity that is a clear violation of one of the 10 Commandments, while it won’t allow us to hear a word that demeans sexuality.  I think that the station has its priorities misplaced.  Or is society so secular now that religious issues no longer matter, while sex does.  A further point about society and bad language.  Everybody says that things they don’t like suck.  But the origin of that word is a sex act.  But nobody thinks about that, or cares.  But every time I hear it, I do.

To Play Like Darryl

“It’s fun,” Darryl said.

He was playing pentatonic scales in every key.

Up and down the keyboard.

That’s what it takes to be able to play like Darryl.

Playing pentatonic scales in every key.

And it’s fun.

New Music!

Hey!  Check out my new songs on iTunes:

“We Came Together”

“Space Blues”

Lyrics and music by me: Dr Dave Fekete

Jazzy, bluesy ballades.  Authentic sound–all recorded on Logic Pro X, but with a nearly studio sound.  Only .99 each.  Enjoy!

Criticism: Only Sophisticated Opinion

Of course the things that I like are better than the things that other people like.  I can bring intelligence and learning to support my likes and show why they are better than what other people like.  That is the way of the critic.  But for all the presumption of criticism, the reasons critics adduce for the arts they approve of are dressed up opinion.

Lately nihilism is en vogue.  “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” are examples.  This is because intelligent people today fancy themselves quasi existentialists and emulate Kierkegaard but without God.  Everything is meaningless and human effort is doomed to failure.  So they will come up with sophisticated reasons why art that favours this world view (their world view) is good.  I’ve been to Manchester, Mass.  I went there because Singing Beach is there and it is a beautiful beach and a solace from the frenetic pace of Boston.  Manchester is a place of peace, not a symbol for quasi existentialism.  My Manchester by the Sea and everything it means to me is as sophisticated as the Academy Award winning movie and everything it stands for.

We all have our likes and dislikes.  In school, they taught me “appreciation” for things I didn’t understand.  And to a large extent, they succeeded.  I now can appreciate things I didn’t like that much, before.  This has made my world expand and I am richer for it.  And the habit I acquired of appreciation continues.  There are certain arts I don’t like and I don’t bother with trying to appreciate.  And I think that this is a character defect in me.  But I can appreciate the fact that others appreciate those arts.  When I was younger, I would try to convince others that the arts they like, but I don’t, are inferior arts.  Now I affirm the likes of others.  That I may not like those arts is to my detriment.  But to assault the likes of others is mean spirited.

This isn’t relativism.  I remain true to my personal likes and dislikes.  Affirming that others have personal likes isn’t me liking those arts.  I still have reasons why I like the things I like, and reasons for the things I don’t like.  I will express my reasons, if asked.  But it all really comes down to, “I like this or that,–you like this or that.”  Live and let live.  I think that’s what an honest, and humble (remember that word?) critic would admit.

The Computer

The computer tracks the pizzas I order

The computer knows where I live

The computer follows all the places I visit

The computer installs updates I don’t want

The computer forces new OS’s on me

Who turned computer programmers loose on us?

Home Is a Mental Construct

The band cost me a tear

They were from home

Brought up a memory of home

I have no home

Only a memory

A memory of friends

Former friends

Home is a memory

A mental construct

 

I went back

Encountered a memory

But was only a visitor

An emotional tourist

The faces I used to know

Who knew me

Knew me no more

My memory encountered strangers

Startling, sad strangers

Home is a memory

A mental construct

 

And yet

 

I wasn’t happy at home

Day after day stretched out my misery

Stagnation and stupefaction and boredom

And friends,–the faces

Faces I encountered again and again and again

And that counts for something

That counts

 

This all I forget

When I miss my home

Home is a filtered memory

A mental construct

 

Previous Older Entries