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June 21, 2010

The Post-Modern Blues

Pedersen sez: I stick by every word.
But sir, you said one thing then totally reversed yourself, ‘against’ and ‘in favor’?
I know, and I stick by every word.
Is this some kind of semantic joke?
No, it’s the post-modern blues. Either/or, you’re out the door.

Not the truth, but no longer the post-Obama black and white only truth. Not Orwellian doublethink (or maybe it is):

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. [Nineteen Eighty-Four. p 32.]

Not the two sides to every coin. Flip it fast and see them merging. Heads, tails, both, neither. A pretty vase or a woman’s face? No, this is a case of such a broad topic that both opposing opinions fit comfortably inside it. A shoebox full of leftover pros and cons. Yes, at the same time.

In sum, the music of the 80’s was, objectively measured, of inferior quality, AND the music of the 80’s was, subjectively measured, some of the best of the century. It moved people, myself included, got the feet moving and the head nodding. But ethno-musical history is only an example. (Oh sorry, can’t use obj./sub. dichotomies any more. Oh sorry, dividing the past in decade blocks is an artefice.)

Syncretism is the technical term. I don’t want to go too far into philosophy with its illusive jargon and autoerotic complexities. But just think of the one you love most on earth. Ahhh. Most of the time. Is that love always white, never black, never gray??? Checkered? Striped? Cappuccino? When you love and hate the same person, usually first one then the other, perhaps no outer cause can be found, your feelings just inverted, or you feel both clashing feelings at the same time. Pinch.

I know, it was easier to experience reality when every question (or daisy) had an A answer and a B answer (check one only), but then we saw that that was a childish distorting viewpoint. We saw that, right? When that poor tree in the lone forest came crashing down, it made a tremendous noise AND it made no sound at all. Then again, how would I know?

Does Santa exist? Come on, fess up. On so many levels. Like being on trial and the judge says: Just answer yes or no! And all you can think of is how badly you need to explain your answer because it’s not as simple as yes or no. ‘Please can I …’ ‘NO!’

Does God exist? Angels, ghosts, aliens?
Does Mr. Death exist? Mother nature?
Do you exist? At home or Lost on an island?
Does any truth exist? Justice? Right, wrong?
Does this universe exist? In a glass snowball?
Prove it.
And disprove it.

Debate used to be considered a noble sport and a fine practice of the intellect. Can I believe in mine, and allow you to believe in yours? Think Islam-Christianity. Often tolerance is a mask for ‘I will allow you to be wrong, because I can’t convert you’. Whatever happened to ‘I will defend to the death your right to your opinion even if I disagree’? Bull, you say. Bull, I say. At least we agree on that.

Nowadays everyone, including me, is spouting off all the time in public, but who’s listening? Who is quiet? Is there arrogance or shame in continually expressing oneself, ignoring the counterpart of silence?

Pete Seeger said, “An open mind is a wonderful thing. Just don’t let it become a tunnel of winds.” In the end you need to say what you believe, this is my yes and my no, line in the sand, which side are you on, this is what I will fight for, however hard it is nowadays not to see both sides at the same time with our immobilizing po-mo cross-eyed perception. Thanks a lot, Martin Heidegger!

Here’s a song from my Myspace collection:

The Postmodern Blues

Talkin’ out both sides
Hi ho the derry-o
You get it all and its contrary
In frequency modulation stereo.

chorus: Oh, Foucault
Daddy’s got them post-modern blues
Don’t Derrida me
Just hand me down my deconstruction shoes.

Reductionism’s my top ten
Ding dong the derry-o
But to ride a pony into the wind
At the Alamo theme park near San Antonio.

I fear the noosphere
Hiddy hiddy hiddy ho
Professor Eco get me out of here
As I spinning down the vortex go.

With “and/or” tattooed over my ear
A-bee bop a lula
Hello, goodbye, life, death – aloha
She’s my baby, dancin’ the hula.

Wars of the worlds of uncertainty
Sing ring around the rosey
All absolutes fall down (crash bang)
That’s the way the monkey goes-y.

Embrace me ambiguity
Pop! Goes the weasel
Put your tongue into my mouth
And paint your nude on top of my easel.

Epistemology – I thunk, I thunk
Hey diddle diddle me, please
Your implosion of my meaning
Could collapse my theoretical hierarchies.

Placeless, nameless, postness, sameness
Rain rain go away
A paradigm won’t buy you coffee
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, you’re so passé.

© E. Martin Pedersen, 2009

And lastly, I got 200+ hits on my blog during the 80’s music debate, so you’re stuck with me for a while. I did not, however, get thousands of hate mails; that was a lie. One leap ahead of the truth.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks.
Jeff: Let me guess. They charged one and let the other one off?
Mutt: A chicken and an egg, lying in bed side-by-side, each smoking a cigarette.
Jeff: I know, I know: "Which came first?"
Mutt: There were two ships: one had red paint, one had blue paint. They collided.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, the survivors were marooned. Jeez!
Mutt: A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France …
Jeff: Oh, really?
Mutt: Linoleum Blownapart.
Jeff: That’s just wrong.
Mutt: Two peanuts were walking in Central Park, one was assaulted.
Jeff: Man, that one was old when Adam was pinning leaves and picking fleas. Don’t you know any new jokes?
Mutt: All jokes are new in Amnesia.
Jeff: Are we scraping the bottom of the barrel yet?
Mutt: Not even close, pal, not even close.