Friday, May 26, 2006

LOOK AWAY, LOOK AWAY. Because of my record as a culture war correspondent, some readers have goaded me to take on John Miller's "Top 50 Conservative Songs" nonsense at National Review. But my heart isn't much in it.

Not that Miller's list isn't a comedy goldmine. I would pay good money to see John Lydon onstage at a YAF Rally, leading a rousing chorus of "Bodies" (#7). And previously my readers and I have enjoyed our own alternate con-song suggestions (e.g., "Pray I Don't Kill You Faggot" by Run Westy Run) and alternate lyrics (here're some new ones: "While ol' Neil Young talks down the southland/As he goes in and out of key/Me and my roadies will get fucked up/And drive our plane into a tree -- aaah, fuck me").

Whence then my reticence? Partly from contempt. Miller's logic is so extraordinarily sheer that it is almost beneath my dignity to poke holes in it (and I'm wearing a cardboard belt!), and it is certainly beneath yours to watch me do it. Take his statement to the New York Times --
"Any claim that rock is fundamentally revolutionary is just kind of silly," he said. "It's so mainstream that it puts them" — liberals — "in the position of saying that at no time has there ever been a rock song that expressed a sentiment that conservatives can appreciate..."
I can't be bothered to touch this "argument," anymore than I can be bothered to explain to an annoying child why he can't live on the moon or shoot rockets from his fingers.

Part of it, though, is from pure fellow-feeling. I was a lonely little boy once, and spent many sad hours on my own. The world seemed cruel, savage, and stacked against me. Being small, I had no way to fight it head-on, so in my imagination I created an alternative universe, where all the Hobbesian brutalities I suffered or witnessed obtained an explanation favorable to myself.

I'm obviously not the only person who ever experienced something like that. Neither am I the only person to have outgrown it. It marked me, sure. My naive faith in the power of reason may be part of its legacy. But I did in time come to accept something very important for all adults to accept: that the explanation that was most comforting to my vanity was not necessarily the right one.

Most of our culture-warriors have a Joe Goebbels idea of art. Some don't even know what it is at all. And some special few of them aren't even aware that they are talking about art, because they see everything for which they have any feeling as an extension of themselves. Thus they spend pages explaining why their favorite dance tunes, or comic strips, or choc-o-mut ice creams are evidence of the superiority of their world view.

They excite our pity more than our contempt, because they have obviously missed a crucial step in their development. They are, as Harry Truman once said about Joe McCarthy, not mentally complete. Were it not for the largesse of Bill Buckley, Richard Scaife, and such like, they would probably be living in institutions.

So let's leave Miller be. alicublog is a straight-up joint; we don't beat up cripples here.


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