Thursday, April 26, 2007

the problem with rock and roll...

So. I love loud heavy music. Its cathartic soul crunching cymbals, double kick rolls, punchy bass lines and screaming melodies speak to my heart in a way that not much does. It helps me know that others out there live in chaos, and need to express it in a way that words just aren't able to.
But, what about that affirmation, does it continue our comfort in the chaotic lifestyle we choose? I live so busily and as a relatively young unmarried man, I assume that whatever path the future takes, I will only become busier unless I, as Annie Dillard puts it, "Go at my life with a broad ax" and take back silence and peace.
We love to take time, go slow and ingore the constraints of time when we are in church. we have nowhere better to be because we are in the Kingdom of God. We pray slowly, we pray long, we do it over again. we take our time to be careful to do it all exactly right, to give honour where it is due, with no thought to our other endeavours. (hopefully, Lord have mercy)
Loud and fast music (which I am currently listening to-Rusty Cage-) brings a spirit of immediacy, a spirit of competition, and a spirit of temporality with it. Constant drum beats bring us back to the ticking of the clock, our beating heart and the fact that we are human. While this is good on some levels, we must always remember our mortality, we also must remain living with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth.
Music changes our presence. when we listen to music that is even formally calm, it reminds us of the eternal nature of heaven, the immortal nature of the soul, and the unending mercy of God. okay, I am getting a bit sermony here, and reading interpretations on to things, but not completely. I think that there is inherent codes formally embedded in music.
Things that cue memories or thoughts or thought patterns. I have been listening to a heavy metal band a bit lately, and it has ramped up the speed with which I live life, and I don't think it is the best thing for me to live in that place. when I am able to go to a quiet place with nothing on the walls and quiet people, the difference is obvious. It is truly peaceful, and there is no rush.
Existence for us is naturally entrenched in a chronological worldview. what time is it, how much time is left. and that often puts us into competition with the clock, ourselves, each other. and I think it is these competitions due to temporality that bring us into conflict. Think about what it would be like to have eternity to live the same life we are living now. we never die, nor do we grow old. we all stay 35-45. (sounds like a good middle ground to me) nobody would fight anyone because in time, everyone could do everything, have everything, see everything, etc etc that they wanted. now, I know I am basing that on fulfilling desires, which are also always corrupt, but you get the point right?
okay. so I started on rock and roll and got to existence and time.
and I originally thought I would talk about the lifestyle examples of rock stars who never have to grow up.


Orthodoc said...

(For a brief moment, I thought you were going to break out into song with the Beatles' Imagine.)

I certainly agree that we are lifted outside of time and ascend to heaven during Divine Liturgy. Even so, there are situations when a sense of time is welcome, such as the times I hear my kids sing the Cherubic Hymn (slightly out of tune) over and over and over again (at maximum volume) while stuck on a highway. Since the devil can only distort what has been created, perhaps my children's singing is ... no, no, no, I mustn't think like that. (I suppose I'll have to go to confession again soon.)

I guess this is one of the reasons the church fathers exhort us to acquire stillness.

Widgetokos said...

Okay so maybe I'm restating what you just said, but you mentioned that if we were immortal then we wouldn't fight because we'd have all the time in the world to do and acquire the things we want. But isn't it ironic that a lot of rock musicians DO seem to live their lives like they're immortal when they have everything they could want and can do anything they want because they're rich and famous and yet, like you said--they never seem to grow up and instead of portraying a sense of peace, they're music is violent and they're lives are full of misery. I don't think earthly mortality would be peaceful at all because those who seem to think they are immortal never seem to do nothing but fight and whine. Funny huh?

matushkadonna said...

Welcome to the Island, orthodoc!

recently The Handmaiden did an issue focusing on living a spiritual life in a fast-paced world. There was an article on 'time management', which gave lip service to the idea that we can't really manage time, then proceeded to enumerate several lists of tools and techniques used for time management in the business and self-help world.The idea that our goal should be to accomplish as much as possible in as little time as possible was there in the first paragraph, and never questioned. It struck me very much as "time management for Marthas, not for Marys".

Though I'm definitely a Mary and not a Martha, I do often find many of these tools myself. Nevertheless, I was struck that one of these lists only finally managed to mention prayer...down at about number four!

We don't need to manage time so much as we need to sanctify it. That's what the cycle of prayer and worship in Orthdoxy is about-- both the Church year, and the daily hours and other services. A monastery with a full cycle of services can do this sanctification thing in one way, but the kids singing the Cherubic while stuck in the car is another!

as for types of music-- the original Fantasia movie has a sequence contrasting Hellish and Heavenly music-- Night on Bald Mountain vs. Ave Maria. The Hell sequence is pretty accurate in its demonic energy; but though the Ave Maria is certainly calm, I think the animation lacked something-- it made holiness seem not merely still, but, I don't know...
bloodless. And we have an Incarnational Faith, so that can't be quite right. The processional figures in the film are faceless-- in marked contrast to the importance and power of the holy icons in our Church.

Gabe said...

Go listen to some sufjan.

matushkadonna said...

or you could try this.....

Simply Victoria said...

hmmmm. not sure exactly what you were saying about rock. bad? in a 'bill-gothardy' way bad?
I dunno. I think musical tastes sometimes correspond to seasons in your life. I cannot listen to what I did when I was younger.
You need energy to spare to be able to absorb some of that stuff.
Music is far deeper reaching than any of my rationalizing will ever explain, but I do know that the best music is the stuff that makes you think, and groove at the same time (cf: ben harper, dave matthews, johnny cash, bruce cockburn, etc.)

Widgetokos said...

I think too, on the subject of music in general, that it's a bit too simplistic to say that fast and fun music is bad for you spiritually. I certainly don't enjoy Rage Against the Machine the way I did when I was a teenager--Vic is right, you kind if need a certain energy to absorb that stuff. Or maybe you need to have feelings or attitudes that relate to the message of whatever music you listen too. But the effect of music on your pace of life isn't inherently BAD simply because it makes you speed up. We tend to see liturgical music as slow and peaceful in general--but listen to the WORDS of the Cherubic Hymn verses:Lift up your heads oh you gates and be lifted up you everlasting doors!Hello triumphal entry? And on Palm sunday the children were dancing and singing Hoseanna. We were made for joy and it's pretty hard to dance for joy to a slow peaceful tune. Rock and roll can make you pick up the pace, but so can Handel. I think the test of whether or not music is bad for you spiritually, is what sort of feelings it's bringing out of you--which means I think that music really just aggravates or intensifies whatever's already there.

peterS said...

johnny cash does a sweet rendition of soundgarden's 'rusty cage'