Archive for the ‘extremism’ Category

The Underground

March 19, 2020

Half a century before the Russians mustered enough rebellion to  depose the Czar, a deep current of discontent had begun oozing up from somewhere deep down in those thawing Russian steppes.

Since that era, we have come to call what that discontent represents: The Underground.

Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevksy caught and early wind of it. In his 1864 novel, Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky identified and fictionalized an uncomfortable alienation that (he noticed) was mounting up among certain attentive and sensitive citizens of that restive country.

This alienation has, since then, become a characteristic of modern life.

In our day and time, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson points out that Dostoevsky and other writers (most notably Friedrich Nietzsche) detected this early alienation and wrote extensively about it.

There was, you see,  a deep, dark void in the European soul.

It was there. . . deep down in there, somewhere in the metamorphizing life of the 1800’s . . .  a sense that something was missing . . . something important, something—it must be something— essential.

Where some spiritual or soulful entity had, through many ages, carried European civilization along a certain path of cultural development, now there was nothing.

“Nihilism” is a word that was brought in to identify that void.

In our day and time, Jordan Peterson explains the development of nihilism—how it is related to the lapse  the Church, which had formerly evolved as a religious matrix around which the framework of European civilization and culture had manifested across almost two millennia of time.

Dr. Peterson attributes the identifying of this nihilism primarily to those two 19th-century writers, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. In his lectures, Dr. Peterson often mentions that these two prescient thinkers predicted—or one could almost say “prophecied”—the horrible carnage of our 20th-century wars.  Our two modernized hyper-mechanized destructive wars broke out as modern men desperately strove—through futile attempts at communist and fascist totalitarianism—to establish a meaningful State, or Society.

Instead of—let’s just say— the Church. Comprenez-vous?

Denizens of “the Underground” are those misplaced souls who have searched elsewhere—apart from the Society or Culture at large—for their own meaning or identity.  Even further than that, they will likely work collectively with other fellow travelers, striving for some collective opus that enables us—if not now, in the future— to live and thrive together.

When I was a young man, I composed a song about some of these deep urges toward meaning and liberty.

Underground Railroad Rides Again

I have empathy for the Undergrounders of this world, although some of them have, from time to time, carried their discontents too far, beyond the rightful constraints of decently civilized life. The Weather Underground of the 1960’s, for instance,  crossed that line of acceptable protest when they began making home-bombs,  one of which enabled one Undergrounder to blow up himself and his whole dam NYC apartment building, in spring of 1970.

But hey! Life goes on, in spite of all the abuse and injustices people pile on one another. In spite of all our myriad societal dysfunctions. The world persists in its predictable revolutions, whether you approve the changes or not.  Nations change. Seasons come and go. Our winters of discontent always as mellow out as . . .

a new wind, a fair breeze, and this year’s equinox a day early!

Now in 2020 A.D., about midday on this first spring day, 19  March, I was strolling along our local greenway, here in our little town of the Blue Ridge, observing obligatory social distancing protocols mandated by the COVID-19. When my walk began, the weather was dreary, misty and chilly. But as I neared the turnaround point of my 3-mile path, the sun was peeping out from behind the clouds, the air turned amazingly warm and dry, and suddenly! spring has sprung!

‘T’was then I encountered an Underground of different sort:

Molehills

This springtime sprung-up version of the Underground has been popping up with alarming regularity for a very long time. . . far longer than we homo sapiens have been struggling to find meaningful identity in our civilizations.

As I beheld these silly-pilly little dirt mounds, I disclosed the discovery to myself . . .  (as they say on the video spy dramas) what we have here is mole!

King of Soul

Bikinis and Starbuck

March 8, 2020

Herman Melville wrote his epic novel, Moby Dick, in 1851; it was the great American novel of the 19th-century, and is still revered as a classic.

In the story, a mysterious Captain Ahab commands the whaling ship, Pequod, which sails from New England across the Atlantic, around Africa, through the Indian Ocean and beyond, ultimately far into the Pacific Ocean, in pursuit of whales.

During the voyage, the first mate, Starbuck, experiences doubts about ole Ahab’s sanity. After noticing a few weird indicators in Cap’n Ahab’s behavior, Starbuck confronts him with a few probing questions.

In Warner Brothers’ 1956 film version of the story, Starbuck (Richard Basehart) carefully raises some questions to ole Ahab (Gregory Peck) about his motives in commanding the ship. Starbuck’s inquiry reveals that Ahab is driven by an obsessive vengeance against a great white whale, Moby Dick; the whale had injured him in a previous encounter.  Ahab’s speech about the beast indicates that his stubborn, soon-to-be global pursuit of the beast is more about revenge than hunting whales for oil and profit.

Consequently, Starbuck realizes, the good ship and crew were maybe sailing into the very jaws of death, for no good reason than one man’s vengeance toward a dumb beast.

Seeing this in the movie, I was reminded of Cain, the son of biblical Adam and Eve. Cain slew his brother Abel, which turned out to be a bad precedent in our human history. I recently viewed a few of Jordan Peterson’s lectures in which he points out Cain’s tendency to blame his problems on someone else–or perhaps the world in general–instead of resolving to identify areas of his own character that might need correction.

Ahab’s obsession against a brute beast is something like Cain’s grudge against the world, instead of resolving to fix himself.

As events onboard Herman Melville’s Pequod unfold, it becomes obvious to Starbuck that Cap’n Ahab’s manic pursuit of the “dumb brute that acted out of blind instinct” is irresponsibly irrational, insofar as it eclipses the legitimate purpose of the their mission to produce whale oil for the ship’s owners and crew.

Furthermore, the mad captain’s tyranny in this obsession ultimately endangers the lives of all the crew and the very safety of the the ship itself.

The Pequod sailors are, by Ahab’s command, sailing past whales in the Indian Ocean,  neglecting to fulfill their commission as they blow farther and farther, far into the largest ocean on our planet.

During Ahab and Starbuck’s man-to-man talk, Ahab had pointed to a map location, Bikini Atoll, located near the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

PacificBiStrbk

He explained to Starbuck that he had studied the behavior of those “great solitary” whales; Ahab was sure that Moby Dick would be passing through those Bikini islands at a certain time—at the “New Moon of April.”

So it becomes obvious to Starbuck that he and Ahab and the good ship and crew were proceeding, at great peril, in a mad chase across the planet . . .

for the sake of—not oil or profit, nor any such legitimate enterprise—but rather to impose a crazy captain’s manic vengeance upon a very dangerous, dumb animal.

Ahab’s pathological character ultimately turns out to be fatal for himself and for those crewman who were with him. His disastrous OCD propels Pequod into the very jaws of death.

AhabDead

Cap’n Ahab’s deathly voyage ends in the vicinity of the Bikini islands, exactly where he had thought  he would slay the monster, Moby Dick.

Now, as to why I write about such things as this on a spring-forward Sunday afternoon, I confess . . .

I have no real reason, except to note a couple of curious, 20th-century namesake associations that popped up in Moby’s fateful wake.

Almost a century later, the US military conducted its first explosions of atom bombs at those Bikinis.

So we see that those itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie Bikinis signaled, on one hand, the demise of a mythically mad sea captain and his crew back in the day. . .

but they also hosted the end of our world’s pre-atomic age (and the beginning of God only knows what fate lies ahead . . .)

Four days after the atomic blast, we also acquired a tiny two-piece obsession, unleashed upon the world by a Paris swimsuit designer.

The other significant namesake association from Melville’s Moby Dick was Mr. Starbuck, first mate of the Pequod. In the great story, his unheeded warning to Ahab turned out to be prophetic. His was the voice of reason, although unable to sway the pathological Ahab from his diehard suicidal course.

As for the Starbuck  namesake itself, that farsighted first mate managed to froth up, later,  a quite impressive legacy in Moby’s massive wake.

Starbuck

Glass half-Full 

As the twig is (violently) bent . . .

February 27, 2020

As a twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.

In 1917, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik revolutionaries  launched an armed insurrection to overthrow the fledgeling post-Czarist government of Russia; the Bolsheviks imposed a Communist dictatorship.

Lenin’s very forceful leadership extinguished what would have been a more democratic form of government. Up until the moment when the Bolsheviks grabbed control, there was a deliberative congress, composed of several political parties.

Lenin’s strong-man tactics nipped-in-the-bud that nascent Russian representative  congress. From the moment of Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ commandeering of the revolution, the emerging Soviet regime was fatefully routed into a tyrannical authoritarian path—in spite of the supposed “masses,” who would have–or so it was assumed according to Marxist doctrine– established a “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

The dictatorship that became entrenched following Lenin’s bully tactics became an actual “dictatorship” controlled one man–Vladimir Lenin.

The subsequent development of the Soviet State never escaped dictatorial  control by (first) Lenin, then (second) Stalin, until Stalin died in 1953.

I recently watched an excellent documentary series on Amazon:

Red Chapters: Turning Points in the History of Communism.

This 6-part work of historical video includes, in its first two episodes,  a very informative and concise explanation of the fatefully oppressive forces that were set in motion in St. Petersburg (Petrograd), beginning on the night of October 24, 1917.

At that nocturnal turning point, the Bolsheviks were absconding control of an emerging popular revolution. They wrested power from a multi-partied congress and dumped it into the hands of the dictator, Vladimir Lenin.

According to Red Chapters narrator Daniel Evans, on the fateful night of October 24, 1917 . . .

“Lenin’s left-wing delegates doubted the delegates’ resolve to oust (provisional government head Alexander) Kerensky.” . . .

“Paradoxically, Lenin did not want the Congress to vote for Soviet power. A ‘yes’ vote by the ballot box would translate into a coalition government, in which the Bolsheviks would be only one of many parties represented” (in that congress.) Lenin would not be the central figure. He might not even get into the cabinet . . . But if he seized power before the congress met, he could dictate the terms of government and open the way to a Bolshevik dictatorship.”

“Lenin harangued the party members to seize power.”

Red Chapters scholar-contributor Orlando Figes clarifies:

“Everything suggests that what he (Lenin) wanted was a Bolshevik dictatorship from the start, and that’s precisely why it was so important for him to seize power before the congress opened, to provoke the other socialist parties to walking out in protest.”

Red Chapters narrator Daniel Evans continues their account of what happened on that fateful night:

“ (Julius) Martov, the leader of the Menshevik party, proposed the formation of a coalition Soviet government. His proposal was greeted with a great cheer, and passed without a vote.

But this was not the Soviet power Lenin had intended.”

RussiaLenin

Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s #2 revolutionary intimidator, shouted down  Menshevik party leader Julius Martov. As Martov was taking leave of the assembly room, Trotsky commanded:

“Go where you belong, into the dustbin of history.”

Julius Martov headed for the back door. Here’s the video overlay as Martov’s face appears in the Red Chaptersdocumentary:

RussiaMartov

Red Chapters Narrator Daniel Evans explains,

“Walking toward the door, Martov warned the remaining delegates, ‘One day, you will understand the crime in which you are taking part.’

And it was indeed a crime, which would be cruelly perpetrated for several generations upon the entirety of the Russian people.

Ultimately, Lenin’s strong-arm tactics dictated the oppression by which  Kerensky, and later many others, were ousted. By the same means, Trotsky would also later be ostracized.  By 1938 fellow-dissident-leaders Liev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev would likewise be purged out by Stalin’s post-Lenin manipulations.

The Lenin-Stalin hegemony became the dark heart and soul of Soviet oppression in the USSR for many decades to come.

Lenin imposed his dictatorial will by violent rejection of what would have been a nascent representative government. After Lenin’s death, Stalin continued and extended the pattern of tyranny; he wrested control of their dictatorial  party machine and established hundreds of gulag prisons where millions perished.

In the Russian revolution, Bolshevik violence begat a very long legacy of USSR violence and oppression.

Government reaps what government sows.

As the twig is violently bent, so shall the tree distortedly grow.

As societal control is established through tyrannical cruelty and violence, government tyranny expands accordingly–by the extension of force and violence.

The American revolution, on the other hand, brought forth a bi-cameral representative democracy with judicial oversight.

Rule of Law

Liberty begat liberty. Lawful rule begat Rule of Law (not dictatorial tyranny.)

A nation reaps what it sows.

As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.

In Russia’s case, Lenin’s dictatorial tyranny brought forth an abusive system of imprisonment.

We Americans should help the Russians to overcome their past mistakes of Lenin and Stalin.

Glass half-Full

And that’s the way it is

February 23, 2020

The editor said if it bleeds,

it leads . . .

talkin’ bout them newsworthy stories

when journalists  were in their glory,

back in the day

before this present cranked-up fray.

Oh, but

that newsworthy rule was back in the former times,

when readers paid in nickels and dimes;

reporters had a pencil tucked o’er their ear,

and readers held our heritage dear.

Nowadays, if it provokes,

it’ll stoke

the facebook fire

and whip up tweeter ire,

as our frantically repulsing extremities

drum up crank polarities.

I hate to break it to ya

but here’s our newsworthy brouhaha:

The user who insults

gets results.

Read ‘em and weep

I said;

watch a talking video creep

instead.

Now fake news and hyped-up spin

constitute our gravest social media sin.

Meanwhile . . .

and I do mean mean,

Journalism gets lowered to the grave,

final resting place of the brave.

In this land of the free,

internet froth is mainly

what we see . . .

in this republic, if we can keep it,

‘though as we sow

we’ll surely reap it.

And that’s the way it is

in  21st-century democracy shobiz. . .

Cronkite2

(as Cronkite might have said

if Uncle Walter were not dead.)

Glass half-Full

The Senator from Minnesota

February 12, 2020

Just a few days ago,  we were walking around in Haifa, Israel. That port city is really thriving with energy and productivity.

As we strolled near the Mediterranean shore, we came upon a cable-lift, which we rode upwards to a point about halfway up Mt. Carmel, passing in the air over a cave that is traditionally called “Elijah’s cave.”

Whether in that cave, or some other, the prophet Elijah heard a “still, small voice” of divine encouragement, while he happened to be at that moment in an hour of great need of some help from above. . . or whether Elijah’s word from the Lord happened in some other cave, I don’t really know. But I do believe, like Elijah of old, in God who is watching over us daily, and encouraging us if we listen in the Spirit for that still, small voice.

Moving right along . . .

Before we hopped on that cable-lift, I noticed this sign:

HHsignHaifa

Of course I was reminded of the Senator from Minnesota. He was Vice President under Lyndon Johnson, back in the day.

You know, Humphrey got a bad deal. He might have been President. While the Democrats were trying to have a convention in 1968, their public persona was severely damaged because the heavy-handed Mayor Daley of Chicago was sending his police out in great numbers to whack the protesting kids who were trying to end the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes in the other political party in ’68, the Republican nominee Nixon was tampering inappropriately with the peace talks that our diplomats were trying to conduct with the North Vietnamese in Paris.

In Chicago, Hubert was trying to establish his own peace-cultivating identity at the donkey convention. He was laboring under the duress of heavy-handed Lyndon’s invisible hand manipulating the convention to his own ends.

Long story short, Hubert got a bad deal and Nixon ended up getting the Presidency, only to be run off during his second term for sending some crooks to break into Democratic offices.

Humphrey, had he won, might have been a better President than Nixon. But some things we’ll never know, like who was behind the murder of JFK and so forth  and so on . . .

Well now we have another Senator from Minnesota who rises into the national limelight after New Hampshire, and I’m taking a close look at her candidacy. Maybe Amy will pull a Jimmy Carter on us and somehow take the White House.

Anyway, when Pat and I arrived back in USA a few days ago, having spent two weeks in the amazing country of Israel, lo and behold if we didn’t return to a situation where all hell was breaking loose and some folks are even talking about civil war between the elephants and the donkeys.

This is not good.

Now I am proud to be a political moderate, altough I have for a long time been registered as a Republican.

There are some things I like about Mr. Trump’s take-charge attitude, but generally I don’t think his Presidency is good for our country. He is too divisive, and destructive, like a bull in a china shop. And I don’t give a hoot about his damn wall. I say let ‘em in.

“Send me your tired and weary, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

So this morning I wake up and Bernie has won the New Hampshire primary.

Well good for him and all those young people—like we were in ’68—who propelled him into this victory. But New Hampshire is his home state and this victory is a flash-in-the-pan because he is too far left, and propagating socialistic programs, to win the electorate across these here entire confederation of states that we call USA.

Therefore, in the interests of our already-great nation, I think I’ll vote for a moderate Democrat rather than take a chance on another divisitory four years with the Donald.

I’ll have to switch my party affiliation to Democrat, of course, to vote for Amy Klobuchar, but it seems to me to be the best thing we can do to keep this still-great nation from falling apart at the seams.

I’ll go with the Senator from Minnesota.

Amy Klobucher

 Think about it, although we still have a long way to go before November, and a lot of bad and good things could happen along the way. Amy’s moderate history indicates, it seems to me, that hers is a better direction than what is now tearing us apart at the seams.

Glass half-Full 

DemmieAss v. RepubliBrawn

February 9, 2020

While Republicans skate perilously closely to an imperial presidency with a chief executive whose escape from impeachment cultivates inappropriately excessive inflated hot-air hubris. . . Democrats must ask themselves if the United States of America is  really ready for a Chief Executive who is: 

a) a silver-tongued socialist?, or

b) a smooth-talkin’ gay mayor who would bring a first-man to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?, or

c) a fem-firebrand whose hot-air pop-culture propulsion allows  no admission of real budget-balancing?, or

d) a white-privileged-Establishment guy who thinks he can waltz into the nomination without any early primary kudos because the other prospective candidates are operating on the loosey leftist fringe of lala land?

Ass v brawn

. . . and they slog cluelessly through the detritus of what used to be conscientious, responsible American guvment.

Meanwhile, hunkered-down in the flyover outback, their hulking Gross Ole Party  nemesis inflates itself with visceral followers whose clueless devotion to their intrepid bull in the china shop commander drives up the ante on an impending viral-video-driven quasi-final episode of russian-assisted rulette!

Glass Chimera

The Second Thummin

January 30, 2020

. . . with acknowledgements to WB Yeats and Biblical canon . . .

Yearning and burning in a maddening ire

the westbank will not heed the politic;

Deals fall apart; the treaties cannot hold.

Teargas mask is worn into the streets,

the rage-dimmed riot is loosed, here and there

the ceremony of negotiation is torched;

the dealers have no persuasion, while the rebels

are full of fired-up intensity.

Some new negotiation is perpetually at hand;

surely the second drumming is at hand

as dissenters thrust their ire upon the streets

while our imagined urim of mideast peace

crumbles every now and then, again, again,

And signed intent once again is bent

to pathetic riot in westbank streets,

‘cuz discontent, predictable as levantic sun

moves its riotous claws to dismantle what’s been done,

as skirmishes between these ancient tribes

cast shadows o’er our peacenik vibes.

Oh! That forty-one centuries of tribal strife

could be laid to rest in a rocking cradle!

Bethlehem

When prince of peace, his Bethlehem phase  done at last

descends to Olivet, with peace that  lasts!

Oh, You may say that I’m a dreamer,

but I’m not the only one!

Glass half-Full

A Republic If We Can Keep It

December 6, 2019

Since the 2016 election, Republicans have gradually made their peace with a President who plays fast and loose with public resources. He’s a fast-talking wheeler dealer. Principled politicians from the old schools took a long while in making their unsteady peace with his real-world, Wild West shoot-from-the-hip way of doing things.

Now we find that, as we might have expected, our infamous Executive has been playing fast and loose with public resources, for personal advantage, behind the scenes. And not only Stateside, but also overseas.

His international behind-the-scenes shenanigans have now been dragged  out into full view by the Democrats.

This was to be expected. Their post-election shock was eventually summoned up and directed by the zealots into a midterm rage. Now a nearly-full-cycle organized election strategy has emerged. They will  drive him out of office any way they can.

For them, it is a matter of principle! Not so much just . . . you know, politics. Okay,  I’ll give them that; there are important principles of statehood involved here.

But politics is still politics. Gotta get it while you can. By hook or by crook, they’ll take a shot at running him out of there.

Now we shall see just how well our two-party system still works. Although these days, it works with considerably more animosity than in former times. This is due largely to the internet revolution, through which public opinion has been commandeered and widely destabilized by the unorganized masses.  An unprecedented GooFBooTwit takeover of public opinion channels has demolished what was formerly domination by the old, TV/Press media networks. The net effect nowadays is intense polarization at both ends of the idealogical spectrum, and a bizarre display of ridiculous political behavior—in the halls of power as well as out on the street.

Now our ever-faithful opposition party dutifully drags out its nitpicking legalistic revelations about the Trumpster’s self-serving  misdeeds in foreign capitals.  The Prez and his legal hit-man have been exposed in opportunizing–for personal advantage– Ukrainian vulnerability–an instability that emerged from their messy, destabilizing Soviexit.

Here on our home front, the old school Republicans, most especially those in the US Senate,  will soon have to make some hard decisions.

Will they avert their eyes from the exposed Emperor of Impropriety? If they do, their Senate tolerance will be at the expense of our Foundational principles.

That’s one way of evaluating the situation.

Here’s another: if Senate Republicans concede to the hyper-legalistic fact-finding of their opponents across the aisle, then Trump will be impeached all the way to the point of being driven out of office.

There’s a lot that could speculated about that scenario. But I’ll just cut to the post-chase.

When the dust settles, the reality would be that our next President is Mike Pence, at least for a few months if not four+ years.

Quite possibly, Mike will be a more honorable President than Trump. And he may actually give the Dems a better run for their money than the Donald would have.

On the other hand,  the oldschool Senate Republicans may loosen their classic statesmanlike standards for the sake of  standing behind our embattled President. Their compromising support would be ostensibly for the sake of continuity in public governance, if not  the very stability of our Republic.

Either way, it seems to me that the likelihood of all hell breaking out in this country is high. We will have a bunch of very mad citizens from one or the other side, or both sides, roaming the streets of our cities. And trolling the currents of our Web.  This scenario would unleash widespread destabilizing, maybe anarchic, forces. Our Constitutional framework and cultural heritage will certainly be put to the test.

When January of 2021 rolls around, we will still have a President, one way or the other. Even more important than that however, is this: We will still have a Democratic Republic, the United States of America, if—as Ben Franklin had wisely said—“you can keep it.

And that mean you!

UncleSam

Look at the face in the poster. Notice it is not Donald’s face, nor Mike’s, nor is it the face of Joe, Elizabeth, Bernie, nor Pete.

Ok, I’ll admit that’s an old white guy, just like me. Imagine, if you prefer, that it is not Uncle Sam’s visage but an image of Susan B. Anthony, or Dr. Martin Luther King. You get the idea. We gotta hang together.

Either way, It’s ours: a Republic if we can keep it.

Glass half-Full  

From the Brave New World

November 23, 2019

I’m glad I got to hear that before I die.

That’s what I told Pat, my wife, immediately as we stood up to join a standing ovation for the Charlotte Symphony last night.

Pat makes all the arrangements, you see, for our concerts and outings and travels and every other adventure we’ve had in the last forty years.

So I thanked her for making it possible for me to hear Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, in live performance, before I pass into eternity.

And I must say that the Charlotte Symphony’s treatment of it, under the guest conducting hand of Ilyich Rivas,  was masterful—very tender and very strong.

     http://www.charlottesymphony.org/

The oboe adagio in the slow second movement fully met my expectations, after having listened intently to the piece probably thirty or forty times as offered by the New York Philharmonic on youtube.

And those trombones in the final cadence did not fail to summon a tear from my eyes, as their vibrantly forthright sounding forth renewed my confidence in human excellence.

During the intermission I read in the program notes about Dvořák’s composition of that symphony—his No. 9—and its premiere performance in New York, in 1893.

DvNewWorld

The Czech composer had been recruited to our (American) National Conservatory of Music in 1892. His mission was to import a little of that Old World excellence to our New World.

And goshdarn! did he do it!

His New World Symphony ranks right up there as some of the greatest symphonic music ever to be composed on this side of the Atlantic. It’s right up there with Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

If you ever have an opportunity to stand in Prague’s Old Town Square and behold Ladislav Šaloun’s statue of Jan Hus, you may catch a  glimpse of the passion that must have driven Dvořák’s resolve to compose such an orchestral masterpiece.

I’m glad I lived to see it.

Since the music was composed in New York City, I will provide here this link to the New York Philharmonic performance of it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HClX2s8A9IE   

In other news of my yesterday. . .

Earlier in the day I had finished reading Andrew Marantz’s excellent book analysis of contemporary alt-right online misadventures:

    https://www.amazon.com/Antisocial-Extremists-Techno-Utopians-Hijacking-Conversation-ebook/dp/B07NTXSP69

And I will offer as a closing thought, a quote from Andrew’s account of what he uncovered in the world of ultra right-wing fanaticism. Toward the end of his research project, Marantz arrived at an eye-opening discovery about the so-called media “gatekeepers” in our mad world of media, formerly on the airwaves ~~~ now online.

Because we do indeed live in a “New World”. . . a world that is continuously renewing itself, sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad ways.

In the quote below, Andrew Marantz is referring to the “gatekeepers” of our former (20th-century) times. They are primarily the major broadcast networks and news publications that came to dominate our public culture in the postwar 20th-century; but they have in this 21st-century been overtaken by the new superpowers of online media.

You know what I’m talkin’ about.  Their initials are FaceGooAmazTwittetc. One particular CEO of that cartel, the honorable Mr. Z, was recently put on the Congressional hotplate for public inspection.

As Andrew Marantz, the New Yorker writer, neared the end of his alt-right research opus, Antisocial,

  https://www.amazon.com/Antisocial-Extremists-Techno-Utopians-Hijacking-Conversation-ebook/dp/B07NTXSP69

He exposes a raw nerve in this,  our brave new cyberworld, a world in which the outmoded moguls of 20th-century media have been eclipsed by the new titans of 21st-century webdom.

Like it or not, these denizens of the updated corporate Deep must rise to the public surface to accept some responsibility for oversight in the polarizing electronic net that we’ve cornered ourselves into.

Here’s part of what Mr. Marantz has to say about it:

And yet this is the world we live in. For too long, the gatekeepers who ran the most powerful information-spreading systems in human history were able to pretend that they weren’t gatekeepers at all. Information wants to be free; besides, people who take offense should blame the author, not the messenger; anyway, the ultimate responsibility lies with each consumer. Now, instead of imagining that we occupy a postgatekeeper utopia, it might make more sense—in the short term, at least—to demand better, more thoughtful gatekeepers.

It’s a brave new world out there, boobie. Somebody’s gotta be brave, if not them, then who?

Us? But, but, as Pogo once said, long ago in the old media world: we have seen the enemy . . . and he is us!

King of Soul

Felix’s Fortress Forté

August 4, 2019

While tuned into radio WDAV a day or two ago . . .

listening to Felix Mendelssohn’s 5th Symphony,

we suddenly discerned a developing  melodic surprise:

gentle strains of a classic religious tune, A Mighty Fortress is Our God . . .  drifting into the 3rd movement of the music.

Twenty-three minutes into this performance,

Orchestra

those first melodic snippets of Luther’s famous hymn—I heard, venturing in discreetly, during the slow Andante phase of Mendelssohn’s 1832 orchestral composition.  By the end of the piece, however, the understated entrance of that well-known melody had morphed into being the very core of the symphony’s dynamic, forceful conclusion.

This gentle arrival of a familiar melody that incrementally develops into a forcefully conclusive forté—this is a composer’s technique found in several classical music masterpieces. . . most notably Beethoven’s (last) 9th Symphony, and a favorite American piece of mine, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

In the case of Ludwig van Beethoven’s use of  a developing melodic theme that overpowers all other musical elements, Ludwig used his own emphatic original tune to fortify a potent message of popular 18th-century zeitgeistuniversal brotherhood. The words that Beethoven chose to accompany his theme had been composed by Friedrich Schiller, a primary 18th-century poet of the Romantic period in our western history.

In the similar case of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the composer employs a traditional religious melody—the “Shaker” theme, Simple Gifts, as a musical fulcrum for propelling the idea of mere simplicity into a commendable lifestyle.

The emphasis on simplicity is a powerful motivating factor in American history. The Puritans. for instance, who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, were fleeing an oppressive European religious straightjacket culture; they wanted to simplify their worship of God and to enable the practice of glorifying our Creator in community life.

Like Felix Mendelssohn, a great composer whose family heritage was Jewish,  20th-century composer Aaron Copland chose to utilize a well-established Christian melody as the basis for  fortifying a powerful musical masterpiece.

In other trends of this earthly life . . . in the realm of, let’s say, political compositions—as compared to musical ones—recently I read a book that represents a similar dynamic of compositional accomplishment. David Horowitz’s timely book, Dark Agenda brings to light a contemporary American Christian culture that is under attack from secularizing—yeah, even aggressively anti-religious—zealots.

Perhaps we simple-minded Christians of this era–as well as those more complex Reformed believers whose reforms originated with Martin Luther five centuries ago–will find fortifying encouragement and strong inspiration in these classically-inclined masterpieces:

~~ Felix Mendelsson’s 5th Symphony

~~ Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring,

     oh, and btw. . . honorable mention . . .

~~ Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

King of Soul