Monday, May 21, 2007

Music Is Subversive!

I own a copy of Alanis Morissette's "Feast on Scraps" concert DVD, and in watching it again the other night I was reminded why it is that the powers-that-be don't like music.

Have you ever noticed that? What was the first thing the Taliban did when they took over Afghanistan? They banned music on the radio. Ditto Khomeini in Iran back in '79. The Puritans forbade music in the old Massachussetts Bay Colony. Whenever conservative, and often strictly religious, regimes come into power the first thing they do is ban or severely limit music in public. Now why do you think that is?

Watching any musical performance is a clue. The musicians become swept up in and moved by the music. In the "Feast on Scraps" DVD this is most evident in the two guitarists, Jason Orm and David Levita, and in Alanis herself - they get caught up in the music and seem to go into a trance, the music taking over their bodies and doing with them whatever it will. Watch a classical orchestra, especially the string players. Watch African drummers, and watch what their druming does not only to them but to their audience as well. Music has such great power!

Music calls down the awen, the Holy Spirit, the loah, whatever you want to call it - a spiritual power outside ourselves that music invites into us and which takes over. Our inhibitions disappear under this assault and we do things we probably wouldn't do under other circumstances. Ever heard a Blues shout? That's the Spirit moving, brothers and sisters! Ever watched a Vodun ceremony? Or the Balinese ketjak ceremony? Or even a fer Pete's sake high school dance? Inhibitions go bye-bye and we move and act in ways that the Spirit moves us.

And that's exactly what the prudes, the fundamentalists, the control freaks don't like about music. As "spiritual" as they present themselves to the world, real spirituality scares the willies out of them. It's beyond their control, and control is what they're all about. I can guarantee you that if Pat Robertson and/or his allies ever came into a position of control in the US, among the first decrees would be the banning of all music except approved hymns. It's what happened in colonial Massachussetts (and after all, the modern Fundies are the direct descendants of the Puritans), it's what happened in Iran and Afghanistan, and it's what has happened in countless imposed theocracies throughout the world.

So I have a proposal. Do you want to foil the plans of the mean-spirited controllers? Put on some music, get carried away, dance, shout, collapse, speak in tongues. It'll scare the living daylights out of them. Even better, do what V did in the movie "V for Vendetta" - play 'em the 1812 Overture from every speaker in the land, and give 'em a fireworks show to go with it.

As we used to say back in the '60s - Fight the power!

Picture of the Day:

This mushroom is one of a whole cluster growing on the floor of the old quarry in Ballard Park. There were several clusters of these around the park, and they were growing only on the wood chip mulch that the Public Works people had put down on the low-lying parts of trails that tend to get particularly muddy. And of those, the mushrooms only seem to grow in the ones in a sunny area. Makes for an intersting hike, you know?

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