Today I listened to tracks off a compact disc that came with an issue of Paste magazine. I found it quite catchy, heady fare. I love rock music, and in particular melodic indie material.
If I were one for riding high horses rather than any horse that will bear me from stable to field, I'd observe my truly heart-felt if debatable observation that rock is calcified, a form of Dixieland jazz, a lengthy footnote. I might even expand to say that God proved remarkably within range of having a pulse, but they've been burying the rock stiff for decades now. I'd then launch, improperly judgmentally, into the tale of how music-as-it-was-known ceased to exit, plummeting as surely as Buddy Holly's plane into a place in which all the conventions must shift, or, like scriptural salt, lose their flavor. But I cannot deny the power of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, nor the exhiliration of a witty lyric sung over a jangly guitar. Never mind that "free bird" sounds more original than some alterna-pop these days. I always thought it was cool, by the way, that Neil Young said he liked "Sweet Home Alabama" better than "Southern Man".
Perhaps what I love best about rock--and perhasp its greatest lapse of faith, its singular crisis of
conscience, is its endless plumbing of what is really going on--within oneself, in all the things around one. Experience. Knowledge, Revelation. Shimmy-shake. Heady stuff.
"Every psychiatrist and confessor is familiar with the tremendous force of resistance in each personality against even trifling self-revelations. Nobody wants to be known, even when he realizes that his health and salvation depend upon such a knowledge. We do not even wish to be known by ourselves. We try to hide the depths of our souls from our own eyes. We refuse to be our own witness. ---Paul Tillich
DB Cooper. He's the fellow who robbed a plane in mid-air. He parachuted out over a field. Nobody knows what happened to him. He's a mystery. It's not a difficult metaphor to imagine that a lot of people have a DB Cooper within us--a mystery, who parachuted away--perhaps plunged into a lake, perhaps escaped to Bolivia.
Rock music, like religion, sometimes gives us that sense of purpose and mission. Sometimes it is like a grasping of a destiny, even if it is just 4/4 time FGC with a bumbling bass, plowing
through cheap speakers in reverbed regularity. Even as I age, I sense the ebb, but also the flow, of the tug of the music within--perhaps rock's legacy is that as one ages, one feels it fade a bit, but never quite depart.
It's all a bit mock-grandiose, like that passage from Tennyson:
"In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword–and how I row’d across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king:
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,
And fling him far into the middle mere:
Watch what thou seëst, and lightly bring me word"
After all, the news the young dudes carried in Bowie's Mott the Hoople song transported one a few leagues south of Avalon. Still, there's a religious longing in rock, a search for self and for the nourishment of one's sense of purpose. Its' a freedome not always found in other institutions.
"The sad truth is that too often churches and pulpits have been places of rigid indoctrination rather than places of open discovery"--Reverend C. Wayne Hilliker
I find an orthodoxy in the heterodox. Today on the radio, people called in to a program discussing whether one parent must forsake work to stay at home with his/her children. One current of callers held forth with a hearty "yes". Another current of callers held forth with a definite "no". But
throughout the threads of calls, no caller said "it depends". No caller said "that's not the right question". No caller said "what is the total context?". Hide-bound inflexibility confuses me, whether I am looking at a legal issue or discussing genres of music.
"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview."--Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama
After all, a faith in truth, whether it be truth in religion, truth in music, or truth in business dealings, involves a recognition that truth is not always simple or neat. Integrity, I begin to believe, may be--once one has perceived the truth, it's largely an engineering problem. But finding the truth--and finding one's way--pure Diogenes, without matches.
"You’re never cool to your family. They know the truths"--Kori Gardner, of a band "Mates of State"
I saw a youtube.com 13 second video of numerous euglena swimming, and I felt glad to be part of a perception of a kind of truth, the truth of this confluence of view and videotape about protozoa.
I drank in the vastness of galaxies and nebulae at the Hubbell Heritage Center, and felt, somehow, a purposeful part of something very large and entirely beyond me.
"NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has for the first time captured the light from two known planets orbiting stars other than our Sun". --from the NASA website
In an earlier time, recognizing the vastness of things, and the smallness of people observing such things, some people developed immense crises of faith. In an era in which violence was applied with a stylized absurdity, rather than the all-encompassing carnage of recent times, some expressed their dismay through repression of scientific truths. Even today, when educational jousts are in the main conducted in legislative halls, people assertively worry that while in one science classroom one is taught about basic geological science upon which all our earth-related technology is based (and which ensures our function as a technological society), another science classroom might have the temerity to teach the frail teachings of ancient bones.
But now I hear the jangle of ringing alternapop guitars, and see the flail of flagellate creatures, and I wonder if there is not truth all around us, including truths about ourselves, if we can but drink in mystery, and hear the light of known but unknowable planets all around. I do not believe that the universe is coated with compassionate caramel all around. My conception of God does not depend on a cotton-candy reality. But I like the truths of nebulae and Entwhistlish guitars. So many times it is indeed a matter of abandoning worry, all ye who enter here, and relaxing in the inecessant but comforting truths that surround everything and everyone.