Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ignorance Makes for Happy Reading

"Speedboat had nothing but contempt for the doombeams and the way they pretended they were so goddamn subversive. All they did was play around at being self-destructive; at no stretch of the imagination was that going to bring down Faithful and his gang..."
Mick Farren, Armegeddon Crazy

Reading Mick Farren's Armageddon Crazy (yes, I am still re-reading this random 200+ page book from my teenage years for Easter break), I realized that what really makes me uncomfortable is reading authors who are intellectually inferior to me.

It is not that Mick Farren is completely wrong about politics, it is only that I am more knowledgeable about the subject than he is, thus I cannot help but read his book as a professor might read a student term paper: I feel a patronizing appreciation for Farren's few glimpses into the human condition, but more than anything I feel an urge to grab a red pen, underline lots of things, and write helpful notes in the margin.

This is probably why I am so very grateful for being a musical ignoramus. Music is a subject that, to say the least, Mick Farren knows more about than I do. And this is probably what fascinates me about Armegeddon Crazy - because it is ultimately a book that pits two worlds against one another: the world of the modern rock'n'roller vs. everyone else. Farren had a very specific optic on the rock world - and you can hear it in his music (which I can't stand...although find intriguing at the same time). I am a poor judge of musical talent; this is probably why I enjoy the very kind of music that Mr. Farren seemed to bemoan in The Titanic Sails at Dawn

I hate protest, disorder and the kind of anarchy that expresses itself through foot-stomping whining and marching through the streets with signs. I have myself been called an anarchist - mainly because I have been confused for an anarchist when in fact I am simply a Slav, and the Slavic mind seems anarchic insofar as it is wide enough to contain the entirety of Western thought in it (the Westerner takes this to be anarchy or self-contradiction only because the Western mind is closed to all other perspectives). But that is not the point here. The point here is that I know nothing about music; I have poor musical taste, I am forbidden from singing during Mass - it might drive the faithful away from God.

Mick Farren is something of a musical icon - and not a pop-icon, but an elite icon; he is acknowledged to be a great rock musician. I have been listening to his music over Easter - perhaps he has decided that since he was disappointed following his death to discover that God had created him out of a deep love, he would in turn disappoint Christians like me by nagging at us, forcing us to read him, compelling me to step out of my otherwise gravitas as a writer and be straight and choppy and unruly (you write what you read and I have been reading Farren). 

I have gone and listened to Billy the Monster, Broken Biscuits, First Line, Rambling Black Transit Blues, Nothing Man and a host of other songs. Then I thought about the recent Pepsi commercial and how much Mick Farren would have hated it - would have said that that is exactly what he was talking about in his Titanic Sails at Dawn piece - that was the corruption or something that his art stood against.

The problem with Farren is that he is an idealist. I am a cynic. I believe that Jesus saved us and that we killed Him. We're no good, we're filth. We're beyond rehabilitation - well in that part I agree with Farren (that's a line from Broken Biscuits). But in terms of music - I really can't imagine his music saving society, the world or the legions of idiots who made rock'n'roll as bad as it is.

After all - Mick - if I may - as someone completely out of his league...but don't you think that people like me, pleasure seekers with no musical taste, no artistic training, no aesthetic sense - that we made music as bad and as harmless as you seem to lament it for being? Honestly - I listen to your music, and I don't feel like going out and burning cars chanting "free the zoo animals." And no, I would not have wanted to even as a 13 year old. That is probably why - when I first read Armegeddon Crazy, it made me think of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles role-playing game. I was playing lots of role-playing games back then (Palladium books, Robotech - but not Dungeons and Dragons - I don't like fantasy). I like the cyberpunk stylizing, the cyber-punk, noir element. But only as an artistic attraction - nothing more. And not even a desirable artistic attraction. I can't really take it seriously - I enjoy retrowave music. The key is the word enjoy. Why do I have to save the world? Can't I just enjoy the music? 

Perhaps this is why I don't write books. I can never think of a truly plausible reason why anyone would ever want to disturb a peaceful life in favor of anything but the most remote and abstract adventures which are available to us within a peaceful life. If I wrote a book, it would be more domestic than Tintin and the Castafiore Emerald. Armegeddon is crazy. But no - no - no - I do not advocate l'art pour l'art. That should be clear from all that I write.

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