The Greatest Drummers-Part II

Alex Van Halen- Van Halen (cont’d) 

Van Halen’s self-titled debut album was released in early 1978. Van Halen II was released a year later.

78-79 were transition years for music. But other albums that were released in those years were Boston’s Don’t Look Back, REO Speedwagon’s You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish, and Styx’s Pieces of Eight. While many musicians were moving on from the self-important sound of the 70’s, there were still others that were trapped within it.

If you listen Van Halen (the album) today, it’s hard to believe it was released in the 70s. While other artists were developing the sound that would become characteristic of the 80s during that time, Van Halen were packed up and ready to go. Which is why it’s unfortunate that their first two albums aren’t universally recognized for being critical turning points in music.

While Eddie Van Halen gets credit for creating that distinctive Van Halen sound, and David Lee Roth is (usually) recognized for laying down most of the groundwork for what would become “hair-metal”, Alex Van Halen gets overlooked.

But listen to Dance the Night Away. Hell, even shit off the 1984 album is undervalued. The synths steal the show for Jump and I’ll Wait, but pay attention to the drumming. If John Bonham is king of the bass drum, then Alex Van Halen is king of hitting the snare.

But there’s something about his style that I can’t put my finger on. I don’t know if it’s the production value or what, but I can sum up Van Halen’s drumming with one word: raw. Unlike the other drummers of the time (to include Bonham) that sounded polished and well-rehearsed…it sounds like Alex recorded his drumming in one take. This is especially apparent on I’ll Wait, where it appears he mistimed hitting the crash at one point. A lesser band would have edited that portion out, but not Van Halen.

This provides a sound of unpredictability. Which, even when the 80s started turning towards a polished and synthetic sound, Van Halen managed to maintain a degree of rawness with their music. This, in turn, allowed them to distinguish themselves in the 80s while everyone else became more concerned with sex, drugs, and alcohol.

In fact, few bands in the 80s can even be considered MUSICIANSHIP-oriented. The decade wasn’t as talent-rich as the one before it. Yet Van Halen remained above that in an era when it was no longer about the music. Which is why I believe they’re right there with Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and others.

Matt Frenette- Loverboy

Like Billy Squier, no one’s going to argue that Loverboy is the greatest band of all time. That’s okay. They don’t have to be. They may not be as talented as some of the other bands before or after them, but that’s still saying a lot. The sum was greater than their parts, and they went farther than most bands ever will.

That being said, Mike Reno (not to be confused with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles) was (is) a fucking incredible lead singer. Don’t believe me? Go an listen to Whenever There’s a Night. If that song doesn’t pump you up then you need to go see a doctor.

But Loverboy possesses something that they don’t teach the kids these days…showmanship.

“The hell!?” you say.

Watch the music video to When It’s Over, and tell me that it’s not one of the greatest gems in music video history:

That’s 1982 mother fuckers! At least the fifth best year for music!

But I want you to pay close attention to drummer Matt Frenette. Most people have never even heard of this guy. But when he’s drumming, he seems to stand out from his fellow band members. Clearly he’s “in the zone” behind the kit. Drumming does to him what most things don’t do to other people.

In short, it looks like he’s having an orgasm. Which is exactly how I feel when I play the drums.

Carl Palmer- Asia and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

When we think of the ridiculousness of the 1970s…Emerson, Lake, and Palmer usually comes to mind. When the 80’s rolled around, people had enough of that shit and bands disintegrated and reformed. One such band was Asia, but nobody was fooled. This supergroup still seemed like a relic from a by-gone era…a time of overindulgence.

Carl Palmer had the misfortune of being in both bands. Because of his luck of being at the wrong places at the wrong time, he’s usually not credited for being one of the greatest drummers ever

I’m usually not a fan of drum solos, but this one gets me pretty hard:

Asia would ultimately become a standard 80’s band. But make no mistake: Carl Palmer CARRIED that group on his back.

Evidence for this is none other than their most famous song, Heat of the Moment. While that’s a pretty standard (yet classic) opening guitar riff, Palmer utterly kicks you in the balls when the drums start going. And he keeps the song afloat with through the otherwise mediocre Steve Howe guitar solo, with him playing a seemingly needless triplet-filled banger throughout the rest of the song.

If Asia had any lesser drummer, there’s no way that Heat of the Moment would be the classic song it is today. And indeed, Asia would have likely been an otherwise forgettable band.

Topper Headon/Terry Chimes- The Clash

The three frontmen for The Clash (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon) usually get all the attention. But as of recently, Topper Headon has been getting some love for contributing to that classic sound. London Calling is definitely one of the greatest albums of all time, and Headon’s work should absolutely be respected.

But in my opinion, their self-titled first album might be the greatest ever. It certainly inspired me to become a drummer (Terry Chimes contributed to the album, which is why he gets credit here). It’s a textbook example of classic punk drumming.

Just listen:

The Greatest Drummers-Part I

A band is only as good as its drummer.

I believe that.

Not that I’m an expert, but I know my way around a drum kit. At least it’s the one instrument that I’m proficient at. Mind you, if I were to play with a band or asked to perform with other musicians, I’d probably choke. But I know how to bang it out (if you know what I mean).

I am a student of the craft. And as a student, I have many opinions about my fellow percussionists. Remember Frasier and Niles Crane? Remember their snobbishness about wine (among other things)? That’s the way I am about drummers.

I don’t try to be that way. I know that every drummer that I hear is very much better than I am, or ever will be. Yet a drummer can make or break a band for me. That’s all that I’m saying.

And when I’m practicing myself, there are a number of artists that I attempt to emulate. Some of them are widely appreciated. Some of them aren’t.

John Bonham is, of course, the gold standard. I don’t believe that non-drummers truly understand his contributions to music. In philosophical terms, he did to drumming what Rene Descartes or Plato did to philosophy. You may not be a fan of his, but one way or another….you have to reckon with him.

Of course, to drummers, this goes without saying.

Now, in my personal view, I don’t believe that Bonham’s style was as aggressive or sophisticated…even among his contemporaries. But it was polished. It was bold. And it greatly contributed to that Led Zeppelin sound that we all know and love. And every drummer since has strived to mimic that sound.

When you hear a Bonham groove, you instantly know that it’s HIS sound.

And to me, that’s what makes a GREAT drummer. Drum solos or technical ability is fine. I find those things cool to watch. But it’s not like I think to myself: “Man, I really want to listen to that 18 minute drum solo!”. Few people think that. So it’s not about how WELL you play…it’s about contributing to the music.

Does your sound add TO the music? That is the question.

And even though I fail to match up to the greatness of these musicians, the following drummers have inspired me the most. Some of them you’ll recognize, some of them you won’t.

Bobby Chouinard- Billy Squier 

When we think about the great successor to John Bonham, for some reason, most people think Dave Grohl. I don’t know why. Probably because that’s the only drummer that people can name. No doubt that Grohl derived inspiration from Bonham. But I just don’t hear it.

And the truth is, there isn’t a successor. Few have ever come close to emulating that sound.

But ONE came close.

Most don’t put Billy Squier in the same league as Led Zeppelin, The Who, and other great MUSICIANSHIP bands. But who cares? When I think of John Bonham, one thing comes to mind: the bass drum. The man could make it sound like rolling thunder. I get chills just thinking about it. Mix that in with the Bonham-groove, you have a difficult time trying to re-create the sound. But Bobby Chouinard nearly did it.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Lonely is the Night. Again!

But Chouinard did more than just re-create Bonham. If you ask me, he was more instrumental in creating that Billy Squier sound than Billy Squier. His drumming wasn’t anything INSANE, but it was bold. It was clean. It was loud. And it fucking rocked.

Mitch Mitchell- The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I don’t think that Mitchell gets disrespected in any way.

But because Jimi Hendrix is such an icon, it’s easy to overlook the incredible technique of his drummer.

When I think of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, I think of three musicians that were pretty much doing three different things for each song…yet, somehow, it all came out beautifully in the end.

It’s incredible to listen to.

But Mitchell’s frantic jazz style was what really drove the Experience. You get worn out just listening to it. And truth be told, I can’t emulate it at all.

Alex Van Halen- Van Halen

Okay, so this is another drummer that I don’t think is disrespected necessarily. But between the shenanigans of the various lead singers and Eddie Van Halen, Alex sort of gets lost in the shuffle.

When some think of Van Halen, they think of Eddie’s stupid grin. But he has good reason to smile: he’s a fucking incredible guitarist. I often bitch about musicians and their lame or unnecessary solos. And you might want to punch Eddie in the face, but the man knows how to shred. Which is why between Alex and Eddie Van Halen, the band is one of the more underrated MUSICIANSHIP bands…along with Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience, etc. (Even though Van Halen is FAR from being underrated).

Rush is considered a MUSICIANSHIP band. I’m not gonna lie, the three members are probably the best musicians at their respective positions. But they suck, or they have an uneven catalog at best.

How is that possible?

In short, they fell victim to the self-indulgence that became characteristic of the 1970s (more about this in Part II). During that time, those three talented guys had no business being in the same room together. Music sometimes suffers from an over-indulgence of ability. And as a result, we get Rush. 

So what does this have to do with Alex Van Halen?

Great question. And hopefully I’ll be able to answer it in Part II.

I promise you that I’m going somewhere with this, by the way.

Dirty 30: A Chance to Do Things Different

If you’ve been missing my daily posts (which you haven’t), then my apologies. I needed a break.

I’ve been writing a breakneck pace for a little over a year. Once when the dog days of summer hit, I had nothing left in the tank.

It’s been refreshing actually. For awhile, not a day went by where I had to worry about what I was going to write. I had to see philosophy in everything. Do you know what a pain in the ass that is?

So I’ve been letting my mind just…wonder. About anything, really. Philosophy has no longer become a burden; or a chore that required me to stretch the limits of my intellect.

Honestly, I don’t even know how I became interested in it to begin with. A year and a half ago, I couldn’t tell you shit about Kant’s Transcendental Idealism or Marxist Dialectical Materialism, or Hobbes’ state of nature….nothing. Mind you, I still know nothing, but somehow I know a lot more than I did. And no one told me to learn any of it. It just sort of happened.

And now I’m burned out.

But I spent a ridiculous amount of time just thinking about how to live rather than just LIVING. So much energy was dedicated to learning about being a human that I completely forgot that I was a human! And I’ve said more than once: “forget about the pursuit of happiness, and just be happy!”

Seems simple enough, yet I never followed that advice. I was searching for happiness within my writing…within the words of philosophers of old. I learned a lot. Yet I still came up empty.

What could have caused such a void to begin with? And why was there such an urgency with my writing?

I have avoided answering those questions. But the truth is a familiar one: I was dreading turning 30.

Now I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about my upcoming 30th birthday. It’s all horseshit and no one cares anyway. It happens to everyone that lives for thirty years or more. Yet here I am.

And it’s horseshit because it’s meaningless. In theory, at least. We give so much weight to youth that we forget that it’s all a lie. Just admit it to yourself….being 20 sucked. You were poor, you couldn’t get laid, and you were probably an asshole (at least I was). Not that this experience is universal, but for the vast majority of us, being in our teens and twenties was not a pleasant experience…that is if you’re honest with yourself.

Were there some perks? Of course. I can’t think of any because I’m much more athletic, better looking, wealthier, smarter, and I get laid regularly (because I’m married). But for one reason or another, many people feel that those were the best years of their lives.

And it’s killing them.

Even if it were true, why continue to believe that your best days are behind you? Seems like that would be a pretty shitty way to live your life. I believe that it was the great Charles Bukowski (who didn’t find success in life in his late forties) that said “I’m only getting better.” Where he said that, I don’t know. And he might not have even said that, but it doesn’t matter….it was true of him and that’s the right attitude we should adopt.

Yet, the older we get, there becomes a greater sense of loss. But loss of what? Of youth?

So what?

But our youth becomes the measuring stick for how we live the rest our lives. We live within the shadow of our former selves. Obviously this is a (mostly nonsensical) problem.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, then you’ve probably come across the term static identity. Or where we conceive ourselves as being the same person until our deaths. We don’t think of ourselves as changing beings. Therefore, the older we get, we feel ourselves moving farther away from our “prime”…where we physically deteriorate, become set in our ways, and our personalities and general outlook become unmovable. Rather than seeing the self as water within a stream, it becomes more like stale bread that grows harder with each passing year.

This is why there’s a sense of loss the older we get. We don’t feel fresh. We’re less malleable. We’re no longer easily impressed upon. We are no longer in our “prime”.

I find it a mistake to keep living our lives the same way we’ve always lived it. People live in the same towns. Have the same friends. Read the same books. Watch the same shows. And give absolutely no thought to living in any other way.

Perhaps it’s out of fear. Fear of how others might think if we suddenly changed. Or perhaps it’s just laziness. The way that we have lived works for us, and can’t envision any other way.

I don’t know.

One of my biggest fears is doing the same shit I was doing when I was 20. Or attempting to recapture the “glory days”. I remember being 20. There were no glory days. There’s nothing to “recapture”.

I don’t know how many days I have in front of me, but I know how many are behind me. And I don’t want those days to be my best. I’d rather keep searching for better.

I took a break from writing because I needed a new voice. For the time being, I feel that I have taken the typical “academic” approach to philosophy as far as I can take it. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said by better philosophers.

In other words, I can’t keep writing about the same things I have always written about. It’s time to move on.

Don’t get me wrong though….I still plan on discussing philosophy. I mean, shit, this is a philosophy blog after all.

But I can’t be confined to what OTHER philosophers and thinkers said. This isn’t fucking college. I can write about whatever I want. But I need to view the world in a different light. No one gives a shit if certain views don’t conform to my “neo-Kantian” perspective. That’s old news.

I don’t fear turning 30. I no longer see it as a “loss of being in my 20s”. Fuck that. But it’s a chance to turn into something different. 

Watching WAY too much “Fast and the Furious”

Everywhere I work, everywhere I go…the same bizarrely specific person appears.

I can’t escape them.

As I mentioned before, I live in a red state. But I imagine that this type of GUY can be found anywhere. But the shape he takes down south is this: A huge TOOL fan (along with a number of other aggressively mediocre metal bands that appeared in the late 90s and the 2000s), thinks of himself as a mechanic but has to reluctantly accept his current job (and despite being a “mechanic”, he has a shitty car), grew up unknowingly white trash, believes himself to be a “genius”, and hates life and blames everyone but himself for his shitty predicament.

Oh, and he has facial jewelry of sorts. AND, perhaps worst of all….he has an overbearing sense of cynicism.

I first became aware of this type of guy when I was in the Army. That pretty much describes every other white guy in the military. Of course, I was young then. The Army is full of faux-alpha male types, so I didn’t realize that these people were just self-loathing buffoons.

Then I briefly dated a “goth” girl. I was 19 and she was 25. She had all kinds of male friends (that she was probably fucking). Now I wouldn’t classify the guys I’m discussing as “goth”, but they certainly run in the same crowd. And this provided me with a brief peek behind the curtain.

All of these guys were in their late 20s or 30s, so I didn’t realize how pathetic their lives were. But they had the strangest conversations. I don’t even know if we could call them conversations as they were really just talking at each other. There was no sense of emotional reciprocation. Not that they didn’t have emotions. They just didn’t KNOW that they had emotions. But the topics of conversations were all the same: cars, buying parts for cars, motorcycles.

And they smoked. A LOT.

However, on occasion something strange would happen. They’d break from their usual topics and mention an absolutely horrible story. Usually something traumatic that happened to them. And these stories are nearly impossible to believe. Yet they always ended the same way: they felt nothing.

What the hell? Why would someone tell a horrible (and unbelievable) story only to say that they didn’t feel anything afterwords? Is it a cry for help? Is it an attempt to create an emotional connection? What’s the point?

And that’s where I discovered another trait: an obsession with the “dark” aspects of life that supposedly have no effect on them. It’s self-loathing masquerading as cool, that THEY believe makes them look tough on the exterior.

I hate Nirvana. The band, not the religious philosophy. It’s sad that Kurt Cobain killed himself. I wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone. But he was this symbol of a movement towards making sad and horrible things cool, yet being in complete denial of one’s own feelings of the sad and horrible things. Nirvana, for me, symbolizes this wallowing in self-pity. It’s not cool. It’s just shitty music.

Thankfully the relationship with the “goth” girl didn’t last long. There’s only so much of that shit one can take. But it left me with an awareness of this brand of unaware and deceptively smug jackass.

And they were everywhere. It’s understandable that teenagers would be that way. But grown ass men?

You’re probably wondering “what’s your point?” Or “who gives a shit?”

But it is becoming bothersome. Why do I keep running into these assholes? Do they actually EXIST? Or am I projecting that image onto them?

If it’s the last question, then I have a major problem. Obviously. Why would I project that onto them, and why the hell do I despise the shit out of them?

I wonder what people think when they see me. I wonder what it’s like to have a conversation with me. Do I come across as being cynical? Do my stories sound like absolute bullshit? ARE my stories bullshit?!

Unfortunately I cannot know what it’s like to have a conversation with me. I’d like to think that I’m an engaging, charming, and handsome character that people trip over themselves to meet. But what if that wasn’t true? And what if I KNOW that that’s not true, and somehow I’m trying to bury the fact that I AM a cynical piece of shit that people hate?

So perhaps those guys aren’t the problem….I’M the problem and I just see too much of myself in those douchebags. And that’s why I keep running into these mother fuckers everywhere I go.

So it’s ME that’s engaging in self-pity!

Son of a bitch!

But the ultimate question I want to ask is: what are these guys called? Is there a name for them but I’m too much of a homebody nerd to know what the cool kids are saying? If there isn’t, can I give them one?

They’re not alt-right. In fact, I don’t think they have an understanding of politics at all. Plus, these guys do get laid, so that definitely wouldn’t fit the alt-right definition.

But I’ve got nothing. Someone help me out.

Anyways, I get the feeling that these guys watch WAY too much Fast and the Furious. So that’s why I posted a Fast and the Furious video. Peace!

What Did the Poor Ever Do to You?

I had a cushy seat job. Then I got laid off.

Now I’m back to doing what I was meant to do: warehouse labor.

I’ve held managerial positions. And one thing you learn quickly about the job is that it’s all bullshit. You only do things to make the company look good. It doesn’t actually contribute to any sort of “material bottom-line” if you will.

In fact, the higher up the ladder you climb…the more useless you become. Hell, I’d venture to say that the most useless person in the company is the CEO. Yet that person is probably the most expensive item in the ENTIRE COMPANY.

The far more important people are at the bottom. But don’t tell anyone in America that because that sounds WAY too much like “socialism”.

Sure, developers, engineers, planners, etc. all design a “product”. But it’s really just an idea. Technically, you can “own” an idea, but who actually has to execute the plan? Usually, it’s the mechanics and hard laborers that have to execute YOUR idea. And for some strange reason (because America hates poor people), the laborers who actually physically execute the purpose of the company are the low men (and women) on the totem pole.

And it’s because they aren’t “skilled”, even though that’s an idea that doesn’t mean shit. That’s a term that people use to help themselves sleep at night because they’re essentially ripping off poor people.

“So you want to pay people $15 an hour to flip burgers?” Some asshole is asking me.

Yes.

What purpose does McDonald’s serve? Come on, we all know why they exist. It’s to fucking serve burgers to their customers who demand their product! And who is serving those burgers? Is it the CEO? Is it the accountants and legal staff? Is it the developers?

No. It’s the mother fucking laborer that’s flipping the burger and serving the customer. That person IS McDonald’s.

And as a side note, every time I go into a McDonald’s…it doesn’t matter where….yes, there are usually fuck-ups, but guess what? Those assholes are actually WORKING their asses off to deliver YOU a product that you can shove into your fat fucking pie hole. And for some reason, people like to give these employees shit for fucking up an order that will probably only end up killing you later.

But think it through!

What if you were getting paid $7.25 an hour to serve the VERY REASON THE COMPANY EXISTS?

Honestly, I’m surprised people aren’t absolutely PISSED about this. Well, to be fair, there are people who are pissed. But how is this not an international outrage? The people who actually execute the purpose of the company, or the “unskilled” labor force…are the most expendable people in the entire organization.

That’s insane. But when you grow up under insanity, then insanity appears SANE. Which is why minimum wage has failed to keep up with the times and labor unions have dwindled. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the strongman at the top is the true genius…the REAL shaker and mover of the universe.

And we’ve taken the power out of our own hands.

The CEO might conceive an idea. But does he execute it?

No.

It’s you and me that have to do his bidding. And we accept whatever compensation that he offers.

So again, we’ve convinced ourselves that we aren’t in control…even though an “unskilled” labor force greatly exceeds any “skilled” one. We’ve allowed those at the top of the ladder to peddle their fairy tales of “genius” and “hard work”….that they are the true saviors of modern society because they “sacrifice” capital to employ the labor force that is the majority population.

Capitalism is a religion. And we are being duped.

ANYWAYS….

Even though my cushy desk job was nice, it felt like I “sold out”. It was devastating when I got laid off, of course, but what was that job leading towards anyway? A career?!

In what?! Pretending to work?!

And I got paid WELL above minimum wage to do it. So because I was a college graduate, with a certain “skill set”, I looked the part. And on that criteria, the company felt justified to pay me what they did. Because there is no way they would pay a non-college graduate without a “skill set” to do that job. Even though a perfectly unskilled laborer could have EASILY done that job.

Why?

Because  that job existed only to make the company look good. It served no vital function whatsoever. (Which would likely explain why I was laid off)

And I had co-workers…that did the EXACT same job: nothing. Not only did I have co-workers, I had MANAGERS! What did they manage? I suppose all of our collective productivity of nothing. But someone had to do it. And they got paid A LOT of money to do it. So we had a lot of people getting paid A LOT of money to basically make the company look good which is pretty much a non-essential function of the organization.

Meanwhile, the entry-level employees that carry out the purpose of the company are getting shafted.

Look, maybe the company realized that they were basically flushing money down the toilet and laid us all off. But this just goes to show that just because someone has a fancy title and a fat paycheck…that doesn’t mean that they actually serve a purpose. And in all likelihood they probably don’t.

When I lost that job, I thought that my career was over. But those ambitions were only a mirage. Best case scenario, I would have continued being promoted….higher and higher to the point farthest away from any purpose.

The labor I do now is demanding. It isn’t “skilled”, and some dickhead would probably think that this work is beneath me. And if you think that, then go fuck yourself. But this is REAL work. I’m contributing to the “material bottom line” or to the purpose of the company’s existence.

We may be the “low men on the totem pole”, but without us….there wouldn’t be a company.

The End of Philosophy

I haven’t written anything in a week. And truthfully, there hasn’t been much to say.

I know that there are studies out there that discuss pornography’s ill-effect on the human mind (not that I have anything against pornography, by the way). But I wonder if there’s a study that discusses frequent reading/watching of cheap political punditry. Wouldn’t that have some damaging effect on reasoning and creativity? To me, that shit is just as toxic as pornography.

And I went on a bender, where I was listening to politically-charged podcasts ranging from Chapo Trap House to the Glenn Beck Program. And it ended up zapping away any sort of creative or critical thinking. In my opinion, cheap punditry is worse than pornography, and even DRUGS. It causes us to view the world in a narrow light, and instead of getting a better insight into the issues, we become LESS informed. So the next time a friend asks if you read or watch Breitbart, Huffington Post, Salon, Fox News, etc. JUST SAY NO.

It makes me sad really….that the way most of us become informed about events in the world is through cheap outlets. I know that it’s difficult to construct a thorough and unbiased piece about an event. After all, the media has to keep the people’s attention somehow. But you know what? I don’t give a shit. That’s just a lazy excuse. We should be more concerned with the TRUTH rather than reading any sort of agenda-conforming puff piece. Have higher standards for yourself!

But anyways, as I’ve discussed before, this shit literally makes me ill. Mentally and physically. So after that bender, I needed to clear my mind.

And honestly, as stupid as this sounds, at one point I though that I said everything that needed to be said about philosophy. Between My Life With Kant and this blog, I believed, shit you not, that I laid out my philosophical framework and that there was nothing more that I could deliver. So we might as well pack up our bags and close up shop because there is nothing left for philosophy to do….like I was Ludwig fucking Wittgenstein.

Clearly I ran into a wall. I believed that philosophy would reveal something to me….unlock a hidden side of myself and this universe…help me come to peace with the order of nature….SOMETHING….ANYTHING.

Instead it revealed the nothing that lies behind everything. Even myself. Behind the exterior, past my personality, all the way down into the darkest corners of my psyche….there lies nothing. All the things you see are facades, because the reality of nothing is far too terrifying to face.

Which brings us to a tragic question….is this the end of philosophy?

If not here, then where? When?

Now clearly this is just me being dramatic. Yet if we accept nothing, like it’s the gold at the end of the rainbow, what then are we chasing?

Perhaps this is a better description of what I’m going through: burn-out. I stated before that I’ve been attempting to write a post about Edmund Husserl for weeks now, but what’s the fucking point? There’s an academic sterility to many philosophers, particularly those in the 20th Century, I find. And this dryness nearly kills my interest.

Personally, I think philosophy should be struggled with. It’s best when it’s an art. Which is why it’s unfortunately true…the best artists and thinkers are CRAZY. And we just don’t have that sort of thing in modern times. There’s a few standouts, Slavoj Zizek being one, but has society progressed to the point where it’s too…..SAFE!

Now you might think that I’m a terrible person, but I include myself as one the people that I’m bitching about….so it’s okay….because I’m medicated for severe chronic depression. And many people that suffer this problem are medicated as well, particularly in our safe first-world society. We have access to therapy, doctors, support groups, and all kinds of shit that help us deal with these problems. And that’s great! Life has certainly gotten a lot better for those suffering mental ailments…..

…but it wasn’t always that way.

Nietzsche, Hemingway, and my personal favorite Charles Bukowski, all had demons that they wrestled with. If they have lived today, with all the advancements in medicine, would they have produced the same great works? Would they have traded in those demons for a shot at the ‘normal life’? I don’t know. But we have their works today, and it all came at a great price.

And our safe society too is coming at a price….at the cost of individual and artistic genius. Few, and even fewer in academia, are willing to rock the boat. No one wants to be labeled a ‘contrarian’. So we take to social media, because we want to conform to our friends, and become accepted into the mainstream…because it’s OTHER PEOPLE that determine our worth. So we don’t explore our own ideas, we just regurgitate what great thinkers before us said, never engaging with our own genius.

There are few independent thinkers left.

Philosophy has been a casualty in this new group-think. The social sciences are no longer discovering. The act of engaging philosophy has been relegated to arguing about how Kant, Plato, and others might argue about certain topics. Philosophy now only plays second-fiddle to other areas of study, no longer the behemoth it once was.

So we have seemingly ventured into a new era. An era where we must ask ourselves: “what more can philosophy present to us?”

Clearly I have a flair for the dramatics, as I really didn’t intend on discussing “the end of philosophy”. But as of recently, I have found it unsatisfying or incapable of engaging my imagination.

Perhaps I just don’t care about logic, or phenomenology, or epistemology, or “things-in-themselves” anymore. Yet I still ponder the…unponderable? Is that a word? Am I making sense?

Of course, if it were “ponderable” it wouldn’t be “unponderable”, but my intention is to stretch the limits of the mind. And I’m increasingly finding it difficult to explore that within typical philosophical literature.

I guess that would explain the “new theology” that I was writing about. In order to find this so-called “unponderable”, I have to reach into theology and religion. Not that I would call myself a “religious” person, I still consider myself a hardcore agnostic. BUT the only place I can find inspiration LATELY is through Gnosticism, Judaism, and early Christianity in general.

Why?

I haven’t figured that out yet.

But this nothing that I feel predicatbly leaves a void. I didn’t know where else to go with it. Perhaps this spiritual path will lead nowhere, but that’s where I’ll be going anyway.

Debating Capitalism

 

Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Sure.

James Temple: What’s that?

Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …

Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!

James Temple: Will you ever get enough?

Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t. You, do you know what you want?

Frank McCloud: Yes, I had hopes once, but I gave them up.

Johnny Rocco: Hopes for what?

Frank McCloud: A world in which there’s no place for Johnny Rocco.

-From the film Key Largo (1948)

We’ve debated health care.

We’ve debated same sex marriage.

We’ve debated education.

Americans have a knack for debating anything and everything under the sun. That’s what we’re good at. And that’s what we should continue to do. And that’s why this is a great country.

Yet, there is one taboo. Neither left, and definitely not the right, will ever question it. It  dominated our lives. And it dominates our politics.

That is the religion of capitalism.

When it fails, we don’t blame the rich who are actually in control of the capital. We don’t blame the politicians, who have the power to hold the rich responsible.

We blame the poor.

We blame them for not having the right education…for not living in the right parts of the country….for not paying the bills because they’re wasting their money on nonessential things.

THEY are to blame for why capitalism failed.

But what about those who have the capital? The millionaires and billionaires that actually CONTROL the money? They’re not to blame because they’re acting in “rational self-interest.” They’re doing as the “invisible hand” dictates.

The rich MADE their money.

The wealthy made, with their own bare hands, EVERY SINGLE LAST PRODUCT THAT THEIR COMPANY EVER PRODUCED. It was them that HIRED the workforce. A workforce that had the GALL to ask for a livable wage. It’s the rich that are the true heroes of the story. Not the workforce that built their company.

We can’t blame the billionaires

They’re the innocent. The ones that were only supplying the demand. Just doing as the “invisible hand” dictates.

Workers don’t matter, but they hold all the blame.

The poor had a choice. If they want to be rich, all they have to do is choose. And they’re right. We can choose.

We can choose the endless and empty quest for MORE. Or we can choose to stop hating each other. Band together. And rise against those that DO control the capital.

If you want America to be GREAT, then MAKE IT GREAT. Come together to make this a better country. Where we don’t NEED MORE. We just need to hold the right people RESPONSIBLE.

Happy 4th of July!