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Sunday, October 20, 2002

If you see K
4:38:09 PM    

Conservative Pop Music? The Top 40 of the Top 40

One thing you will find in your life is that demagogues will constantly attempt to frame arguments in such a way that anyone who disagrees with them will be shut out of the argument because of the way that the terms of the argument are dictated.

For instance a man named Bruce Bartlett gave a speech a few days ago in which he attempted to lay out a list of songs by various pop music performers which fit into Mr. Bartlett's definitions of Conservative. To be sure his list of songs is a nice grouping of modern pop music. Among them probably my favorite is the song "Revolution 1" by the Beatles. I have always loved that song. Mr. Bartlett even goes so far to quote the following lines (which I have corrected from the mistakes in Mr. Bartlett's transcription):

    We all want to change the world
    When you talk about destruction
    Don't you know that you can count me out
Now Mr. Bartlett claims that the song is "anti-revolution" and in paring this with conservatism he attempts to establish that his bogeyman liberalism is pro-revolution.

Of course Mr. Bartlett doesn't come right out and say this in his speech. He says, as part of the set up for his disingenuous monologue, "I looked particularly for those embodying religious or patriotic themes, as these are unambiguously conservative values." By doing this he has set up a series of opposites in which values he espouses as conservative (patriotism, religion, pro-life, etc) stand in opposition to values he apparently does not espouse: liberalism (anti-patriotism, anti-religiosity, pro-choice, etc).

(It should be noted actually that this opposition Mr. Bartlett sets up may not be accurate as the duality of conservatism / liberalism is simply an empty signifier used by demagogues in political arguments. But for the sake of brevity I'm going to just swallow Mr. Bartlett's schema hook, line, & sinker.)

I know that you have studied a bit of American history so far. When you read this someday I have no doubt you will have extensively studied this topic and will have already realized the ludicrous position Mr. Bartlett has put himself in by declaring these lines from the Beatles to be conservative.

The United States was created as an act of revolution against a colonial power: England. If Mr. Bartlett's logic is to be trusted then surely it is true that the American revolution was an act of liberalism and if Mr. Bartlett's interpretation of the song in question is to be trusted the Beatles would surely be against the founding of the United States. (Of course the lads are English so who knows?)

Of course all of this is nonsense. The lyrics to the song "Revolution 1" are representative of neither conservatism or liberalism. They quite clearly stand in opposition to the tone and actions of destruction which permeated so much of political discourse in the 60's. When Mr. Bartlett expresses his surprise that Messers Lennon & McCartney would express themselves in such a fashion he shows himself to be completely devoid of any understanding of the Beatles oeuvre.

In reality patriotism is not the purvue of conservatism. Neither is opposition to abortion. Neither is having a religious life. All of this, Mr. Bartlett's best effort I am sure, amounts to a wholesale de-contextualizing of lyrics from a wide variety of musicians in order to further the ends of conservatism. This is dishonest and should be offensive to you.

Don't let a demagogue define the world for you into binary oppositions. Don't let a demagogue further their aims by defining the terms of an argument. If you can follow these simple rules your life will be richer. In fact, you will be able to see the rich nuances of lines in songs as works of artisanship and not partisanship and the world, and this great country of ours, can only be improved by that.


4:28:39 PM    

A Visit to the Hispanic Heritage Museum

Today we went to visit the Hispanic Heritage Museum. Of interest to this log is the inclusion of some photos we found of the Baca family of Los Lunas. K, you won't remember them now. You asked as we stood there looking at them what your grandmother and grandfather look like. I couldn't tell you. I can sometimes see them in my mind's eye. But it makes me angry when I do.

So this family, the Bacas, are some of your forebears. Today they are something like your second or third cousins. Apparently they are the family behind the Bueno brand of chile here in New Mexico. Your grandmother was a Baca. It is my belief that your grandfather brought the incest into the family. It would be nice to know that the Baca's are not like that. I hope someday you have the opportunity to learn more about this branch of your family history.

One story I can share is that your grandmother V went to school in a one room school house. I have seen pictures of her school from so long ago. V and her classmates were not allowed to speak Spanish. The teachers would beat them if they spoke Spanish instead of English. When you tell me how bored you are by all of this history and how much you disliked taking Spanish in school it makes me sad. I so wish that they had not abandoned us so long ago. It would be nice to know that you were a part of such a deep culture with such stories of tragedy and triumph.

But as your grandfather W says, "Hispanics are like crabs - as soon as one begins to crawl out of the bucket - the rest will pull it back in." So I fear it will be up to us to discover these aspects of your heritage on our own because your forebears have chosen not to be involved in our lives.

Tonight we will stop by your aunt C's house to visit your cousins. You asked for us to stop by and so we will.


4:14:53 PM    

Talking About the Directory, Glow, & the Things We Can Destroy.

The other day we were talking about the school directory. It was a tough discussion to have. You wondered why your name wasn't in the school directory. You thought it unfair that your classmates could be found in the directory but not you. I agree. It is unfair.

When you entered Kindergarden we agreed that you would be allowed to have your name and address info included in your class directory but that you would never show up in the school directory. You have forgotten the why to this.

It was very difficult to open up this subject again. When your mom realized she was going to lose you. Right before she tried to kill me and right before she abducted you she swore that if she ever lost you she would kill herself and take you with her. This was many years, five years now, that feel as though it was a whole lifetime ago.

But she swore and when the DCFS made me tell her where you were going to school I knew that you would forever be vulnerable while going to that school. She has never come by. As far as I know she forgot the school in her drift of illness and mad delusions. But I haven't forgotten her oath nor that somewhere in her befuddled mind is the location of where you go to school.

So we agreed to keep your name only in the class directy so that if she did show up at the school she wouldn't be able to slyly work her way into getting the address. And so the other night we revisited this again. And it broke my heart to tell you what she swore.

It breaks my heart to know that as much as I'd like to believe it was just a passing rage I still to this day know she is capable of doing just that. I read stories of messed up families and messed up lives. Often it doesn't really hit me that I am living through such a thing. But watching your eyes as I tell you that she as sworn to kill you I know that somehow we are living just such a messed up life. No parent should have to say such a thing.

Tonight we listened to Glow by the Innocence Mission for the first time since L destroyed it. I was overjoyed to hear the voice of Karen Peris again singing Speak Our Minds once again. You asked why I was so happy to hear this CD. I told you that I hadn't heard the album since L was in our lives. You said "Let me guess she destroyed it." Everything of value must be destroyed I said. You said "Well she didn't destroy you or me!"


3:46:21 PM    

coming up above us now is a cloud, a creeping thing. on the trapeze the catcher has a resin locked hold, solid. at the yards, the cirque, a tantamount of luxury, has dispersed its athletes into the night. the rain later will clean the sky.


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