Friday, September 12, 2008

Thoughts on Music

The Faint: Fasciination; Machine in the Ghost

I would have to comment on this song, wouldn’t I?

The first lines: “There’s no ghost in this machine, I make my own mistakes”

I find this intriguingly ironic. It’s a self-assertion, denying the influence of immaterial forces and claiming autonomy as an individual. It also takes responsibility as a conscious agent for one’s actions and ignores the arguments around “inclinations” beyond one’s “control.”
Yet at the same time, what else could “ghost” refer to than that ephemeral pattern that is “I?” When we discuss ghosts, spirits, souls, and minds from a materialist (eg: non-mystical) perspective, we aught to recognize that what we’re referring to is the special pattern of stimulus and response that’s unique to each individual’s history, biology, and present position. This pattern is enabled by the material substrate, the nervous system, but it is also dependant upon it’s own continuous activation. This is the real core of who a person is, and I think that its fair to allow those mystical words to refer to it, especially when one idenfies with it and calls it "I."

I like how the line is delivered in with a distorted effect on the voice, making it sound distinctly mechanical and thus in contrast to what the line actually says. Then again, he does refer to himself as "this machine," so maybe the machine-voice is consistent after all.

The rest of the song is frought with that sort of near-paradox, like: "what came before the bang, how did nothing come to end..." followed by the lists of groups who would like to be able to offer answers, but cant.

The next song is also neat; the "Fulcrum and lever." On the surface its about a kid inadvisably launching himself into the air with a plank, but I read another layer into it. He says when he wakes up in the hospital he "started seeing strange phenomenon..." he asks: "is this planet the same one I've been living on? Everybody's derranged and I wonder what/ happened the day that I fell from the sky, if nobody changed then it must have been I"

This brings to mind a comment I heard once on childhood development (paraphrazed): "youthfull rebellion is a product of recognizing how wrong things in the adult world really are. Kids start saying "this doesn't make sense," and they're right. Its only when accept the hopelessly irrational situation that were born into, settle in, and stop asking questions that we become adults."

I hope, by this definition, that I'm not an adult.

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