Saturday, December 11, 2010

According To Plato, You Might Be A Sissy

Not comforting news, is it? That’s a powerful accusation, considering this man’s reputation. One of the several enlightening events of my first semester in college has been reading The Republic. I haven’t read anything else from Plato, so everything I will say here I say based on what he says in that one book. So perhaps I should fix the title, and switch The Republic for Plato. But when it comes to catchy titles, poetic license is indispensable, so let’s leave that alone and get to the point.

Plato talks some in The Republic about music and poetry. In the midst of describing the perfect city, Plato describes how to educate the residents. Note that this education, for Plato, was for the select residents he meant to defend his ideal city and keep it ideal. Also note that what he called music, we call media. Music for Plato, if he was alive today, would be not only our music, but also our movies, Internet games, and anything else that reaches people. Gymnastics is all athletic pursuits. While he’s talking about these, he mentions a danger.

“But if he keeps at it (listening to music) unrelentingly and is beguiled by the music, after a time his spirit is melted and dissolved until it vanishes, and the very sinews of his soul are cut out and he becomes a “feeble warrior””.

Too much music makes us weaklings.

The first thing I did after reading that was to look at my tummy. I have a rather round tummy, I’m afraid to say. I haven’t played serious sports in more than a year, and I’ve been living soft ever since. Naturally, then, Plato raises some pertinent questions for me. I’ve been listening to music way too much; I’m on YouTube right now listening to a catchy rap.

Not anymore. I just clicked out of it, and now I’m thinking. I’m hardly the only one who likes to do this. We Americans love music. We’ve wound it so deep in our culture and ourselves… well, I suppose all cultures do. Nevertheless, I observe…

Our most famous musicians are more famous than our soldiers in war. I can’t think of any man who ever earned a Medal Honor, and of Purple Heart winners I can only name John Kerry. And that only because of, interestingly enough, a political satire song.

What I can name in abundance are the most popular musicians and singers and bands right now: Black Eyed Peas, Zac Brown Band, Ke$ha, My Chemical Romance, Lady GaGa, Avenged Sevenfold and enough more to fill an orchestra. Pun intended.

I know more words to “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey than to my country’s national anthem. There are many, many people here who don’t know their national anthem at all.

Pop stars have to be protected in case the masses try to mob them, out of some mindless, crazed attraction to the pop stars’ fame, and their persona, and the songs that walk with them. Like a moth to a flame. A thousand moths to a flame.

I see danger here. Do you?

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