Thursday, March 11, 2010

THE QUINTESSENCE OF DREHERISM. Rod Dreher repeats a story about "How rock killed the Soviet Union." He applauds when "Vitya pulled the new Zeppelin LP out of what at the time was a mind-blowing sleeve and put it on, and 'Whole Lotta Love' rose up with a beckoning howl. Corks formed of cloying Soviet music flew out of our ears..."

Then Dreher does the old needle-scratch:
But any force that powerful must be just as capable of being used for evil as for good. I recall reading Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"...
I'll spare you; he used to think Bloom was an old fuddy-duddy. (And he was, though his fans are much worse.) But:
Now, I see that I was wrong, but I don't say that in an ideological sense. It's not that I've turned on rock and roll -- most of my music collection is rock -- but that I see that Bloom was onto something, that rock is a far more ambiguous a phenomenon than I could possibly have grasped at 21. To the extent that rock music hastened the demise of the despicable Soviet regime, hooray. But the same energies called forth from the human spirit by rock music, and its descendants, have affected our own institutions, traditions and self-understanding.
This is sort of a classic Dreher argument. Rock is a powerful force -- like gelignite or opposable thumbs -- but it can be used for good or for ill. To determine which is which, see Rod Dreher's music collection.

The ass-shaking music Dreher likes is good. (Like Thriller. That's okay.) The "barbarism" of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex," on the other hand, is bad, as Dreher discovered in college after a Christian gave him a hard time about it: "He did make me reflect on how the lyrics of so many songs I dearly loved expressed sentiments I found at the time distasteful, and, as I matured, would come to find gross."

But what about "Whole Lotta Love," which blew the corks out of the Russians' ears? You gotta admit that's pretty raunchy. Maybe Dreher can work up a project at Templeton that will extract the song's tyranny-defying power while leaving out the sexually suggestive parts -- which would include the bass, drums, guitar, and vocals.

George Michael, by the way, appears to be very popular in the former Soviet Union.

It's a good thing that no one told Dreher when he was young that he looked ridiculous when he was dancing, or, when he was a child, that playing with a ball was infantile. Or maybe they did; maybe that explains him.

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