August 29, 2002

Eve Tushnet has an intriguing vast post:
You can't ignore, suppress, or dissolve the passions. You can only guide them. Even catharsis doesn't really do the trick--first, because catharsis can sometimes be simple exhaustion, but second and more importantly, because catharsis must somehow appeal to the passions while drawing them toward reason. Thus the end-result of reason must be continually supported, either by an ebb-and-flow cycle of catharsis, or by a more constant attraction toward reason and self-government. In other words, we have to keep wanting self-government; if we reason our way there without any emotional forward thrust, the reasons alone simply won't motivate us enough.

This is one of the many ways rock music can operate: It can oppose one passion with another. The example that springs to mind is using pity to oppose lust.

How so?

Reason (ratiocination) isn't the only means of attaining wisdom. Ecstatic experience is one terrific way of gaining insight, even if one needs to return from the ecstasy in order to articulate the insight. Rock, like other art, is able to "take you places."

Interesting. (So those who took LSD were right after all - their vehemently telling us they learned something).

I don't view the emotions as opposed to reason such that stimulating one necessarily reduces the other. So perhaps much of my disagreement with Bloom should be traced to that disagreement.

And that is the key statement. I get a different feeling from Aquinas, who, although sees pleasure as a 'good', he doesn't like pleasures that fetter the rational mind, such as an excessive use of alcohol (or I guess an excessive use of rock music?)... “bodily pleasures are often more intense than intellectual pleasures, but they are not so great or so lasting.". - Aquinas

As I said before, there's also a lot of rock that's just fun. Some of that fun comes with an admixture of raunchy or critical or regretful or resentful elements; I don't ultimately think that matters too much. Rocking out is about pure physical joy. It's like running or eating chocolate...bawdiness without grossness is always fun. No pleasure is really "pure" in the sense of "unmixed."

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