The Romantic Manifesto - Chapter 2: Philosophy and Sense of Life

JulianP's picture
Submitted by JulianP on Thu, 2006-05-11 20:19

There are some brilliant insights in the discussion of the first chapter. Thank you guys! Smiling Especially to Marcus - very inspirational - even though you cheated and skipped to chapter 2. Eye

Right, let's all move on to chapter 2 then.

Would anybody like to lead the discussion?

I have a question to start it off. Ayn Rand wrote that you can improve your Sense of Life (SOL). How would you kick-start this process? Once you have this bad SOL, any exposure to great and uplifting art would not have the same wholesome effect, or would it? You would prefer the unclear, the murky, the dark, surely?

I remember now... As a child and teenager, I used to have a great disdain for all classical music. It was boring, and I hated it. That was until one day, my mum suggested that I listen to Luciano Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma. I did. I put my head between the speakers, and closed my eyes. By the end of it, I was crying. I didn't know what he was singing, but I felt transported and lifted to a different sphere - definitely a wow moment.

I didn't suddently become a huge opera fan, but I think that might have been when I started to appreciate "something better than rage, pain, anger and hurt".

Hmm.... Possibly I answered my own question? Smiling

Cheers
Julian


Yikes.

Prima Donna's picture

I'm very late in coming to this conversation, and I apologize, as I suggested the discussion to begin with. The last few weeks have been hellishly busy, with no break in sight for the next month. I'll read through this and get up to speed as soon as I have a moment to devote the proper mental effort to it.


-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

"I'm just glad I picked up

JoeM's picture

"I'm just glad I picked up this book and started to understand what it is I'm responding to and that there is more then just ink splatters out there to listen to."

Nice. Smiling

Linz: Except I know damn

Linz: Except I know damn well that if this headbanging had been around when I was young, every fibre of my being would have been repulsed by it just as it is now regardless of what philosophies I had or had not been subconsciously corrupted by.

I think the reason I was so drawn to certain punk/ska music was the energetic projection of freedom and the playful sillyness of poking fun at certain cultural norms. I often would think things like 'this song would be great if the lyrics were changed to X'. In those cases, much like when a person is shown ink dots my mind filled in the gaps with something semi-consistant to my own sense of life. One example of reading in what isn't there is Weezer's latest hit "Beverly Hills". The first time I listened to it I felt so cheated that he held up the spotlight to these hedonistic pop culture stars only to cop out at the end and present it as an unatainable ideal. Why not point out that it is pointless and miserable to live life that way? Or that the projection of their life and their actual life are wholy diametrically oposite? I'm just glad I picked up this book and started to understand what it is I'm responding to and that there is more then just ink splatters out there to listen to.

I thought the Chapter 3 discussion was supposed to start?

Landon Erp's picture

Someday, Linz,

JoeM's picture

Someday, Linz, someday...chin up!

RRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAmorrrrrrrr!!!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz, I didn't know we were discussing the Aria. I thought we were discussing RM.

So we are. As I said, the aria bit was just me obsessing. I live in hope that someone will hear a performance like that & exclaim, "Yes!!" in uncontrollable excitement. Smiling

And guess what?! Ultimately, that's what RM is all about! Smiling

Linz, I didn't know we were

JoeM's picture

Linz, I didn't know we were discussing the Aria. I thought we were discussing RM. Sticking out tongue
But you don't have to analyze the thing in order to get Derek's point: I can't understand the lyrics in Italian, but I can hear where he is angry and where he isn't, and after reading the backstory, Derek's point is made. You can musically express anger without destroying yourself.

amorRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAmor

Fraser Stephen-Smith's picture

..not one of the all-time great spellers though, I guess.

(and yes, I know that such a flippant response to something so moving is probably inappropriate - but I haven't heard it yet.)

Ha!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Boys, I hate to break it to you, but that's quite a complex aria: key changes, mood changes, tempo changes, you name it. It's a supreme challenge to a singer's interpretive abilties & clarity of enunciation, his power to make love & declaim alternately ... & it's an ask on the listener too, especially one not familiar with or even sympathetic to the idiom. You don't just get it in one go. Though in one go you might get the optimal B-flats, especially the second one where he uses the rolled 'r' to ping it out, here:

Non conoscete amorRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAmor, divino dono, no lo schernir

One of the all-time great orgasms in a vocal performance. It would reward multiple listenings. I first heard it 30 years ago. It still gives me goosebumps. Smiling

But I obsess. Onward to Chapter 3!

Smiling

Linz

Likewise. I loved the

JulianP's picture

Likewise. I loved the track.

Linz, yup, let's move on to chapter 3. I'm half-way through, and it's great so far. Smiling

I gave it a listen,thanks

JoeM's picture

I gave it a listen,thanks Derek, and got the message. Just nothing insightful to say on it. It is what you said, a good example of anger in music that doesn't turn on the singer.

Is that it, then?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I hope you weren't holding your breath for exultant responses, Derek. Smiling

I'll say it, anyway. Thanks for putting the text up. Though I've heard it a zillion times, I dropped everything & replayed it there & then. Electrifying & stratospheric as always.

No further questions, m'lords? Are we ready for the next chapter?

Linz

Lanza's Improvviso

Derek McGovern's picture

There's not much I can add here that I haven't already covered in my essay Headbanging Caterwaulers, but I do want to endorse Linz's comments about Lanza's recording of the Improvviso from Andrea Chenier. Listen to it here, guys - following it closely with the text and translation below - and marvel not only at the magnificent words & music, but at the poetry, passion, and sheer bloody exultation of Lanza's singing. Oh yes, this aria has anger, all right, but unlike the mindless rage of much of today's music, there's a point to it (its hero, the real-life poet Andrea Chenier, is denouncing the French aristocracy to their faces on the eve of the French revolution!), and it never sacrifices beauty for ugliness.

I'd urge you to pay special attention to what Lanza does with the words from "Ecco la bellezza della vita" (Here is the beauty of life) to the aria's conclusion. If anyone knows of a more ecstatic - and simultaneously beautiful - piece of singing, then I'd like to know what that is. 

 

  

Colpito qui m'avete
ov'io geloso
celo il più puro palpitar dell'anima.
Or vedrete, fanciulla, qual poema
è la parola "Amor,"
qui causa di scherno!
Un di all'azzurro spazio
guardai profondo,
e ai prati col mi di viole, 
piove va l'oro il sole,
e folgorava d'oro il mondo;
parea la Terra un immane tesor
e a lei serviva di scrigno, il firmamento.
Su dalla terra a la mia fronte
veniva una carezza viva, un bacio.
Gridai, vinto d'amor:
T'amo, tù che mi baci,
divinamente bella,
o patria mia!
E volli pien d'amore pregar!
Varcai d'una chiesa la soglia;
là un prete nelle nicchie dei santi
e de la Vergine, accumulava doni...
e al sordo orecchio
un tremulo vegliardo invano
chiedeva pane,
e invan stenddea la mano!
Varcai degli abituri l'uscio;
un uom vi calunniava bestemmiando
il suolo
che l'erario a pena sazia
e contro a Dio scagliava,
e contro a li uomini
le lagrime dei figli.
In cotanta miseria la patrizia prole,
che fa?
Sol l'occhio vostro
esprime umanamente qui,
un guardo di pietà,
ond' io guardato ho a voi sì
come a un angelo.
E dissi:
Ecco la bellezza della vita!
Ma, poi, alle vostre parole,
un novello dolor,
m'ha còlto in pieno petto...
O giovinetta bella,
d'un poeta non disprezzate il detto:
Udite!
Non conoscete amor,
amor, divino dono, no lo schernir,
del mondo anima e vita è l'Amor!
You have struck me here
where I, jealous,
conceal the most pure beating of my soul
Now you will see, young lady, what a poem
is the word "Love,"
here a reason for ridicule!
One day to the blue spaces
I looked profoundly,
and to the fields filled with violets,
rained the gold of the sun,
and illuminated of gold the earth,
it seemed the Earth an immense treasure,
and to her the skies served as a coffin.
Up from the earth to my face
came a lively carress, a kiss.
I shouted, overcome by love.
I love you who kiss me
divinely beautiful,
my homeland!
And I wanted, with great love, to pray!
I passed through a door at a church;
There a priest, in the alcove of the saints
and of the Virgin, he was gathering gifts...
and to the deaf ear,
an old man, trembling, in vain
was asking for bread,
and in vain extended his hand
I went into a workman's hut;
a man there was offending, swearing at
the earth
that the treasury barely fills
and against God he was swearing,
and against men
the tears of his children.
In so much misery the patrician line,
what do they do?
Only your eye
expresses humanely here,
a look of pity,
where I looked at you,
you like an angel.
And I said;
Here is the beauty of life!
But, then, to your words
a new sadness
has gripped my heart...
Oh beautiful young lady,
don't discredit the words of a poet
Listen!
You don't know love.
love, a divine gift, don't scoff at it,
the life and soul of the world is love!

 

  

Finally able to respond

Landon Erp's picture

In response to the original "what could draw someone to that?"

A lot of things. I'd never really even noticed music until I turned about 14 or 15, around that time I was going through typical teenage frustrations (main one being "can't get a date/girlfriend"). Another factor being one that I bring up a lot.

I don't blame others for this it was my call and for the most part it was a bad one. Comics had been my passion for years at that point. I was really begining to become enamored with the "rock star artists" of the 90's, and the mature writers of those wonderful wonderful comics I wasn't supposed to be old enough to read (James O'Barr's the Crow, David Quinn and Tim Vigil's Faust and everything under the DC vertigo adult imprint) and I spent most of my time developing characters and stories up until that point. I got a lot of teasing for such an "immature" habit... a lot. After a while to kind of fit in and "mature up" I got more interested in music, listening and playing.

I never got very good, I can usually follow orders but that's about it when it comes to playing and writing music. But the key thing was in many ways it stunted what maturity I did have.

At 13 I had a life goal I was working towards. I had skills I wanted to develop and a career I wanted to have. By the time I became a musician, I and all my friends mocked the whole "Rock Star" mentality. To put it plainly we were devoting huge hunks of our time an energy to something which we knew was leading nowhere. We had no plans of any kind of real success and I think most of us saw ourselves drifting from one dead end job to the next between tours. That coupled with this being the earliest years I started any sort of independant philosophical development, and at this point with all the rest of what I said in mind I'll remind you I was drifting towards nihilism.

I was turing nihilist. I had no idea what my future held other than it wouldn't involve either of my major loves which I had developed up to this point and I still had a hard time getting dates. Happy music would just not fit me at this point in my life.

The turnaround happend around the time I started re-evaluating what I'd done with my life up to that point. I took a new approach to romantic relationships which netted Amy for me. Once I had her she was an amazingly positive influence. A lot of the time her illness made her imagine things so horrible most people couldn't even fathom them... so when she had control, she surrounded herself with only positive things, things like stuffed animals which reminded her of everything positive in the world,... a stuffed animal would never hurt anyone, it had better happier things to do. And that's the best way I can describe her sense of life, she got thrown some of the worst stuff I've ever heard described by anyone and all she's usually focused on are the absoulte happiest parts of life and the world...

How sad can you stay about your relatively minor problems can you stay with someone like that around?

And how can you just sleepwalk through your life in silent frustration, never thinking about what really is important to you and working towards you with someone like that around?

I owe a lot to her but the key thing when it comes to sense of life is it has to come from within. She inspired me to try, and the more I tried the better the results. I don't bother with playing in bands anymore, I get annoyed when people who used to know me try recomending music, and I'm back doing comics... life is good.

But a more direct answer to the question is that I think I have a borderline "Byronic" sense of life. I don't actually think the universe is out to get me and anything good, but sometimes the struggle for good things seems a little too dificult to bear, but it is worth it.

I hope that wasn't too much of a tangent.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

Be wary ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... of commercial "Best of Lanza" compilations—they're usually the worst of! If Derek did you a best-of compilation, I'm sure he would have put the Chenier on it. Check when you get home.

Dunc, you say "sociological breakdown" is the key, but don't explain how your own sociological status, whatever it was, contributed toward the attitudes/tastes you describe.

> But I simply don't get

Duncan Bayne's picture

> But I simply don't get anger for its own sake, anger that doesn't
> seek resolution or understanding, anger that seeks the ugliest form
> of expression possible for the sheer literal hell of it. I'm not
> much interested in a sociological breakdown of it, either, since I
> think that's a side-bar. I'm struggling to find an answer to my
> silent question to others at the gym taking in the revolting
> cacophony: what the fuck is wrong with you?! It's aimed not just at
> those who enjoy the assault but those who indifferently allow their
> hearing to be damaged by it as well.

My take on the matter? The sociological breakdown is the answer to "what the fuck is wrong with you?" - they're one and the same question.

People are angry alright - but most of them simply don't know why. They see things that are wrong with the world, their very nature rebels against them - but either they can't explicitly, consciously identify those things, or worse, they've been told all their lives that those things are right and just.

That was how I lived, for many years.

I think a love of (and even a tolerance for) mindlessly angry music is a symptom of a world-view that is, well, mindlessly angry - feeling that something is wrong, but not being able to identify it, or propose an alternative.

I don't think it's any coincidence that people stuck in that worldview gravitate towards Rand's "jungle music" - angry music without thought or purpose.

> And yes, there's plenty of anger in serious music. Duncan, if your
> Lanza includes the Improvviso from Andrea Chenier, get the lyrics,
> the translation, & lend it your ears!

It isn't currently - but I just bought a two-disc "best of Lanza" compilation from a local CD store, but haven't yet sat down to listen to it. I suspect it'll be in there.

Talking of Lanza ... for most of my youth I disliked music that I identified as sad or romantic. Sad music because, well, it invoked sadness, and romantic music because I frankly didn't understand what all the fuss was about Smiling

So ... needless to say the latter changed as I grew older Smiling, but the former attitude has persisted until quite recently ... when I realised that sad music doesn't necessarily have to imply whinging, which it so often does in contemporary music. Sad music can be elevating, after the fact, in a strange way that I don't yet understand (but am determined to).

The piece that convinced me of this was in fact Lanza singing E Lucevan Le Stelle, which remains one of my favourites of his from the compilation Derek sent me.

Peer pressure. ::

JoeM's picture

Peer pressure. ::

Actually, why do we acquire a taste for vinegar, or asparagus, or spinach and liver? I certainly haven't. Except for pickles. I do like a good pickle.

Funny enough, though, I always wondered the same about cigarrettes. Tried em once, couldn't understand it. Never wanted to try again.

See ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

That just makes it more mystifying to me. Why would one bother acquiring a taste for a turn-off?

acquired taste

JoeM's picture

"Except I know damn well that if this headbanging had been around when I was young, every fibre of my being would have been repulsed by it..."

It definately is an "aquired taste", much like spinach and asparagus, which still makes me wretch to this day. I remember being turned off to metal when I first heard it...

Anger in Music

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Understand me—I'm not against anger. I have plenty of detractors who think I exhibit too much of it. Smiling But I simply don't get anger for its own sake, anger that doesn't seek resolution or understanding, anger that seeks the ugliest form of expression possible for the sheer literal hell of it. I'm not much interested in a sociological breakdown of it, either, since I think that's a side-bar. I'm struggling to find an answer to my silent question to others at the gym taking in the revolting cacophony: what the fuck is wrong with you?! It's aimed not just at those who enjoy the assault but those who indifferently allow their hearing to be damaged by it as well.

In the chapter under discussion, Rand reminds us that art is the voice of one's sense of life, that the unintentional, osmotic absorption when very young of premises derived from irrational philosophy can skew one's sense of life before one has a chance to be aware of it as an issue. In that regard, the contemporary popularity of nihilistic headbanging makes perfect sense. Except I know damn well that if this headbanging had been around when I was young, every fibre of my being would have been repulsed by it just as it is now regardless of what philosophies I had or had not been subconsciously corrupted by.

Linz

And yes, there's plenty of anger in serious music. Duncan, if your Lanza includes the Improvviso from Andrea Chenier, get the lyrics, the translation, & lend it your ears!

Lindsay,

Duncan Bayne's picture

Lindsay,

> My question is, why on earth does this appeal in the first place?
> What is it about your assessment of life that made you gravitate to
> dark anger expressed in the most ugly manner possible?

That about sums it up actually - anger. It used to be, many moons ago, that I liked angry music, period. If I was angry with something in particular (which happened regularly) I'd listen to even angrier music.

I found it cathartic, and to an extent distracting - it's hard to dwell upon a problem when your very thoughts are being drowned out by angry jungle music. Perhaps the distraction was the primary motivation?

I think I also drew solace from the fact that there was obviously someone in the same place as I was, mentally speaking. I think music of this sort features as a 'support group' for listeners; it certainly did for me as a teenager.

That said, I think it's possible to express anger musically, in a way that is not anti-life; e.g. CCR's I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Iron Maiden's Age of Innocence, or The Last Supper by Andrew Lloyd Webber. All of those tracks still reside on my MP3 player - alongside Wagner, Lanza, Michael Jackson and Meat Loaf.

Joe,

> The harshness, the volume is meant to provoke the exact response as
> yours: "This is MY turf. STAY AWAY!". Like a snake rattle.

In fact, I know police officers in America who are trained that people playing angry music in that fashion should be treated as though they have already begun "woofing" (i.e. physical and verbal posturing intended to escalate the use of force in an encounter).

At the Art Museum?

JoeM's picture

At the Art Museum?

Fleeing ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Now we need to have Linz run up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps with the Rocky theme blaring....

I did run down them, once, fleeing some form of headbanging. You'll have to ask Ash what it was. Smiling

Fraser: "Argh! Now I've just

JoeM's picture

Fraser: "Argh! Now I've just had a different thought. Working out is painful, and I have found that anger can make it easier to put the extra physical effort in sometimes. This post is so badly written I'm stopping now, and getting back to my spreadsheet."

It's not a bad thought, though. It's why Coppola chose Wagner over Julie Andrews for "Apocalypse Now."

Question is one of context. Music can be provoke physical aggression without being angry. If we're talking workout music, look at the archetypal workout song, "Let's Get Physical' by Olivia Newton John. More likely a sexual connotation, but the video used gymbunny imagery, and there's definately a correlation. Steady insistent beat, but the sense of life is not angry, it's "let's get in shape, let's celebrate our bodies, let's have sex."
But that's 's a girly song, some might say. Fine. Guys need something a little more manly than that song to work out to. Think "Rocky." Thing of "Flying High Now." (Or even "Eye of the Tiger.") Both have the insistent beat, stong power chords, lyrics about overcoming struggle. Some anger there. But the sense of life is different, it's a sense of achievement, of overcoming obstacles. Some anger may be involved, but I'm thinking of athletes who train hard and overcome personal blocks, such as when they "hit the wall" in their workout.
And some people can use the anger from their personal situation and use that in their workout, but the goal is still to overcome.

But when you use 50 Cent, or Slayer, something else is at play. It's not about achieveing, but destroying. And you can translate that to sex as well. Imagine the difference of climaxing to "Flying High Now" to doing the same to "Reign In Blood."

Still, on a superficial level, it's possible that some people use such music out of convenience without considering the larger implications. But again, the purpose of music like rap and metal is often to repel, not attract.

Now we need to have Linz run up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps with the Rocky theme blaring....

Rambling Nonsense

Fraser Stephen-Smith's picture

Linz,

I haven't been following this thread, but your post made me think, and to examine what the attraction of such music ever was. I have never been a big fan of "this dark angry music", but I have found it attractive on occasion.

The attraction was based on the way that more painful or irritating emotions (especially fear) can be overtaken by anger. Rage seems to feel better than fear.

This is such trite analysis on my part, but it's bringing to mind Hamlet's stuggle between equivocation and action, and a relation to mob mentality and human evil.

At this moment I have other priorities than digging more deeply into this and producing a post that actually means something, but I really understand how this music can only be the choice of someone who fears reality.

So - what is the matter with them? They're probably scared.

Argh! Now I've just had a different thought. Working out is painful, and I have found that anger can make it easier to put the extra physical effort in sometimes. This post is so badly written I'm stopping now, and getting back to my spreadsheet.

Timbre is King

JoeM's picture

"My question is, why on earth does this appeal in the first place? What is it about your assessment of life that made you gravitate to dark anger expressed in the most ugly manner possible? Why would millions assess life similarly & so also be fans of this filth? "

I'll let Landon answer for himself, but my theory is their enjoyment is not as important as your reaction. The harshness, the volume is meant to provoke the exact response as yours:
"This is MY turf. STAY AWAY!". Like a snake rattle. Rock is based on an idea of rebellion, so a kid cranks up the stereo to keep the parents away from his locked door. The gangbanger turns up the bass until his car rattles apart.

Of course, the problem is that the kids know what they're rebelling against, but not what they stand for. It's forgivable in the teenage years when one is trying to define himself, but a little silly past that. And of course, most kids not having an explicit philosophy, gravitate to whatever trickles down from the ivory towers into the popular media, which has been for the most part in recent years very nihilistic and cynical in the white pop culture, giving birth to metal, (or for the more sensitive and less cartoony, the whiny "emo" music listened to by "the sensitive" cynic whose stock in trade is ironic takes on their childhood favorites) and in the black community a message that the kids have "a right to be hostile." (And you can tell the difference by the lifestyle: The white metal kids are given guilt, cynicism and modern philosophy, and aim for pseudo-poverty and a lifestyle of live fast die young. And they're often middle-upper class righ white kids. The rap community is angry and hostile, but because many come from the ghettos, they forego the communism for the "bling" lifestyle, big mansions, tricked out cars, and of course, sex and drugs, in a hedonist pursuit more similar to the mafia than a real business. But neither have a RATIONAL philosophy of how to "live on earth."

What they have in common, a philosophy that transcends race and background: That music (and art) is meant to be shocking, rebellious, and offend mom and dad. If you're parents like it, it's not true art. Art is meant "to provoke" and that's the only definition they have.

Linz, you actually inadvertantly bring up a bigger question that I've been meaning to start discussing here, one of timber versus melody. George Michael once asked Axel Rose of Guns and Roses why they covered up their melodies with so much distortion, and Axel Rose asked why George Michael DIDN'T. Some classical fans can stand the sound of Mozart played by Wendy Carlos on synthesizor, even if it's note for note. Frank Zappa once said that TIMBRE is king. It's controversial, because it would seem that the melody is the most important part. (And usually the dichotomy is presented as melody versus rhythm, but this is another important dichotomy to look at.) "It's not what you say,but how you say it." And in the case of hostile music, the tone of distortion and anger is more important than the notes themselves. (Which is why you would probably wretch even if a metal band played Beethoven note for note.)

Landon ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I found your musical autobio fascinating, & I thank you for your candour. It leaves me dissatisfied in one respect though. You write:

At the peak of my involvement with music my favorite type of music was called "Black Metal"... it's mainly unappologetic noise, incomprehensible logos and band names, angry and non-reality-centric lyrics. But the biggest thing that attracted me to it was the fact that it was this dark angry music ....

This sounds exactly like the "music" videos that rend the air at my gym (the reason I wear ear-plugs). My question is, why on earth does this appeal in the first place? What is it about your assessment of life that made you gravitate to dark anger expressed in the most ugly manner possible? Why would millions assess life similarly & so also be fans of this filth? I count myself lucky that the basic direction of my musical preferences was set before I was ten. There was stuff that made me cry with joy & I went after it. The notion of seeking dark anger or an outlet for same from my music would have struck me as preposterous & perverted. (Well, it still does.) The notion that some folk can tolerate no more beauty than a beautiful voice competing with a chainsaw-like electric guitar is just unfathomable. Why, recognising the beauty in the voice, would they not want to shut the guitar up & smash the bloody thing?! What horrors could engender so sick a sense of life? That's what I want to shout at the folk at the gym, assuming they're enjoying the racket: "What the fuck is the matter with you?!" Smiling

Linz

A Sense of Life: emotional evaluation

Banned User's picture

A Sense of Life is an emotional evaluation of the world.

It is subconsciously formed through a process of emotional integration. Since it is an automatic process, it begins with one's first emotional judgments about the world long before the capacity to rationally judge the world has been achieved. It is because of this that one's Sense of Life can differ radically from one's explicit metaphysical view. Although the two relate, and affect one another, there is no causal connection.

A Sense of Life differs from "simple emotions". It is not an emotional evaluation of one's metaphysical views, whether implicit or explicit. A Sense of Life is not programmed by a single evaluation. It is an integration of countless evaluations. It can be very complex. What else could explain one's love of Romantic Realist art AND, say, selected Death Metal music? I hate to say this: it's not black n' white--that is, one does not make moral judgments of one's sense of life (that of our own or others; or what one figures to be someone else's "sense of life).

Over the course of one's life, a sense of life integrates emotions and value-judgments related to all aspects of living. A Sense of Life is the sum of these emotions and value-judgments. This is the method by which it acts as an emotional evaluation of the world. Not directly through a concept of the world and an appropriate judgment, but a complex summation of judgments about every aspect of the world one has made.

Can definitely relate to

JoeM's picture

Can definitely relate to that, Landon. I was watching a VH1 countdown of the top 40 metal songs, and I was thinking back to my own involvement. I think what's attractive about metal is the technical mastery of some of the musicians, but moreso the idea of power via brute force (your Nietzschean equation.) In a world where the choice is heaven or hell, the image of hell in metal is one of strength, power, and conquest. It's over the top, larger than life, bold, loud, and (seemingly) full of energy and life. In a twisted way, it's a sense of life that could have been.

Remember Rand's depiction of Kira's viking? That's what heavy metal is to me. Then compare that to Rand's depiction of true evil from WE THE LIVING: not a fierce dragon, but a louse. A small, petty, louse.

Ironically, Anton Levay of the SATANIC BIBLE fame made an nice observation. He laughed at the metal bands with the Satanic imagery for being masochistic, likening it to "whipping music." He believed a true Satanist would listen to music for pleasure, not pain.

I used to think that to have a bold style, it had to be Wagnerian sturm and drang, the kind celebrated by comics and metal (and prog) with fantasy art and dramatic music. Heroes of Christianity were always meek and heaven was all clouds. After reading ATLAS, I found the mirror opposite of what metal was aiming for.

improving your sense of life

Landon Erp's picture

I've been going through something similar for quite a while. From my experiences it is a long process and the biggest thing it takes is a clear conscious step in the right dirrection.

At the peak of my involvement with music my favorite type of music was called "Black Metal"... it's mainly unappologetic noise, incomprehensible logos and band names, angry and non-reality-centric lyrics. But the biggest thing that attracted me to it was the fact that it was this dark angry music which on the basic level was (as I said before) unappologetic noise and yet to a large degree the musicians involved had some respect for quality musicianship and using the skillsets which apply to the medium to control the listener. They were pushing you in the dirrection of saddness, unrelenting fear (with a corresponding Nietzchean sacrificial premise) anger and perpetual victimization and injustice. But they were pushing you.

How I wound up breaking out of that was my initial annoyance with people who wanted to keep the music "true," IE eliminate all progressive/musical elements such as keyboards, guitar melodies and female SINGING to accompany the mens' screams and drag it all the way down to an unlistenable mess.

It is this reasoning right here that I'm not that quick to judge a person's sense of life based on my assessment of their aesthetic tastes, some people can be so developmentally arrested that all they can handle of the uplifting is a beautiful woman's voice over a noisy guitar... they can't handle it in higher doses than that, but they're aware they need it. Conversely there are malevolent elements in even the greatest of works. It's a matter that belongs within each man's soul and is theirs to develop or let rot.

Sorry about the tangent, back on point.

For some people in order to do this it's a matter of spoonfeeding themselves at a slow pace. I personally progressed from Black Metal, to more musical forms of heavy metal (stronger emphasis on melody actual singing), to lighter forms of rock music, and the level I'm at right now is that I've been playing the score to "Conan the Barbarian" non stop in my car for about a week, and I haven't been able to bring myself to put in another rock cd. And in doing so I've noticed changes in my approach to it. I always used to love the angry percussive sections and get a little irked whenever a happy section or maybe even a hopeful section played... and this time through they've become my favorite parts.

The key factor is understanding what you're drawn to for what reasons at all times. I drew some flack for my defense of "Sin City" but I think a lot of that comes from the fact that people in general might just be in a good enough frame of mind they didn't see the beauty I saw in the love stories and the heroism of the flawed characters.

AS I've progressed through each phase of my sense of life there have been a few works from each phase which have stayed with me out of the debt I owe them for helping raise me past where I had been and no matter how much further I go in the future they'll always have a place in my heart for that reason.

I think I might have gone on a couple tangents there but I hope I helped shed some light on your inquiry.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

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