Monday, July 09, 2007

Music Solves Everything!

Dear Rock Stars:

Just because your music is wicked cool, doesn't mean that playing it will air condition poor beleaguered Gaia.

I can understand Woodstock. Music can move us emotionally, bypass our logic, and take us to great and terrible places - so promoting peace, love, and understanding through a three-day festival of music is at least defensible. (I still think it's more harm than good, as shall be seen.) An all-day, multi-city, resource-binging concert about climate change, however... It's so self-contradictory that mere metaphor can neither express nor contain it.

How much fuel was burnt assembling the talent, gear, and audiences? How much forest did you clear-cut to print up promo material? And how, exactly, did any of it make any difference to anyone, beyond the self-abuse of the enormous egos involved? Governor Corzine of New Jersey took to signing legislation on the stage there at Giants Stadium - a new law that will be both useless and expensive, but will no doubt make all the Legislature feel like superheroes. (Conducting the business of the state at a rock concert is about the easiest possible way to prove worthless the whole exercise.)

Later, on that same stage, Melissa Etheridge sang her alleged song, "We Need to Wake Up," and scolded her faithful paying customers by asking, "America, what happened to us?"

What's happened to us is that we are taking policy direction from utter morons who are incable of accomplishing anything beyond feeling bad about stuff. Too many people have long abandoned the practice of thought - and like anything else, if you don't practice at it, you soon are unable to do it. Everything nowadays is a ridiculous mishmosh of emotion and scraps of isolated observation, leading humanity about by their guts and moods, making snap decisions about economics, culture, faith, education, and good stewardship without any sort of deliberation. The new law Corzine signed got a big boost from some old-fashioned scare mongering, with nobody stopping to consider that it will have ZERO effect on what people do in China, Russia, or even Iowa.

Etherdige, Corzine, and a host of others whose lives burn vast resources, however? They can actually get a little something done by trimming their own lives, rather than scolding their fans (who are far more green) for not doing something. Since they were at these concerts they might have a little point in the current instance, but in general? Excuse me, ma'am, but one of us has carbon footprint with it's own zip code, and it isn't me.

It took Roger Daltry of the Who to speak some sense: "Bollocks to that! The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert. I can't believe it. Let's burn even more fuel! We have problems with global warming, but the questions and the answers are so huge I don't know what a rock concert's ever going to do to help."

Poor Roger. The rock star life hasn't quite killed enough brain cells for him to get with the Feelings Uber Alles program. On the same page as the Corzine news from Reuters there's a link to this unpleasantness - Cindy Sheehan, who on May 29th "retired" from the public because America has dared to be less awesome than she is, has issued a schoolyard dare to representative Nancy Pelosi: if she doesn't attempt to impeach the president, Sheehan will run against her for her seat in Congress.

This is no different that daring a kid to eat a worm or stick his tongue to a cold flagpole, and it's what passes for "news" right now, unless it's Skank Heiress Saturday, in which case all the foot-stamping gets shoved off to page 5. Worse still - it stands a reasonable chance of working. Not that I think Bush or Cheney can be impeached, much less removed; but "high crimes and misdemeanors" are a matter of fact and deliberation, not "I think he's mean, so he must be a criminal and evil."

And again - notice how long her "resignation" held? The second something annoyed her she came roaring back. Note that she decided to make this announcement in advance of a planned march on Washington: this is something that's been in the works a while. For all we know, she posted her sham "good-bye, you people aren't worty of my effort" letter on Kos and the next day agreed to front this protest.

That's how it is with a mood: it changes quickly and utterly from moment to moment and day to day, and thus is an untrustworthy basis for decisions that may affect millions for years to come. That's why I think the net effect of something like Woodstock is negative. They weren't just promoting peace, love, and understanding - they were also pushing a seriously flawed way to live, by saying that one's thoughts and choices ought to be based on emotions alone. I agree that it's wonderful and all, that people are finally gettin' together; but we have to do more than sing about it and feel like the man next to us is our brother. What happens tomorrow, when the man next to us nearly kills half a dozen people by making a left from the right lane? Is he still our brother when we stop feeling like it? Or when he acts like a jerk? Is that love for our neighbor?

I hasten to point out the meta-textual irony of my shrieking foot-stamp post about emotion over thinking; but I still think I have a point.

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