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10/11/2005

Role Playing/C&W Treatise 3

I’m adjusting my posture and hence my strike zone because of some comments that shouldn’t been curveballs but somehow were. Feelings, people, are like belches: ugly, but you feel better when you let them out.

Back to the question at hand, Dear Friend Andy writes:

“the problem with the judicial analogy is that judges are given a law -- of God, or of Government, or of the People -- on which to base their judgments. it is a matter of reasoning, not of taste or fashion, and not of emotional sympathy or antipathy. there is no law to art (even though the worst and most influential critics try to instill one periodicially), so there can be no judges.”

A few things, I guess. The law is the law, milky poof; cast it in one light & we kill, cast it in another we save, you know? Laws are not like math equations & frankly, much more like art in that respect. The point was to express the struggle in being judicious, meaning balancing a duty to being even-handed in interpretation of laws with some innate sense of right; not a code of ethics or aesthetics that transcend the issues at hand, but ones that can reasonably & logically guide you to conclusions on err, issues, in this case art.

Now, morality is obviously incredibly tricky. Re: Gretchen Wilson; she’s not a terrible challenge morally, and while I’m not like, really into drunk driving, I can appreciate the chummy tone of “All Jacked Up” while I chafe at the balladry of “Politically Uncorrect.” Seriously, half of her album is like AC/DC to me.

I’d like to pivot away from Oldham—for who my final word is simply that I’m troubled by my propensity for reason above all, i.e. I can explain why I think Gretchen Wilson is “appealing” or, shit, “relevant,” but Oldham seems more of a beloved mystery. Call me “not-me,” a perpetual betrayer of self, but I always have a difficult time liking things that I can’t reason my appreciation for. It’s a bit contradictory, but I think in time I’ll get these issues sorted out.

From one side of the unknown to the other; from where I leave the blue collar behind for the popped, I had an interesting conversation with Nick S. that seems to have stroked budding formulations on the morality of coke-rap (though this could obviously spread to encompass a lot of issues within the genre). Obviously, it’s a tough balance. We Got it 4 Cheap, Vol. 2 makes me uneasy because Clipse does sound truly fucking villainous, not to mention often dazzling; of course, I can bask in those huddled, nasty feelings and drop jaws at the Nietzschean ethics of the Black Card Era, a strangling anti-humanism and still feel like it’s otherworldy, some dark dream.

My friend James, who lives in a largely Trinidadian area of Brooklyn, was told by one of his neighbors that crime absolutely skyrocketed after the release of Scarface. Of course, books could be written about the movie/hip-hop/the drug dealer’s experience in America; books have been written on mimetic response (and if nothing else, the gross-sounding but seemingly still true aphorism about imitation & flattery). What’s getting me right now is the moral defense of hip-hop that says “it’s all just an act” balanced with the idea of authenticity. If we think that Clipse play coke-dealers through their verse, would they really move us? I’m not sure; I haven’t yet parsed out whether these are wild imaginations or vivid autobiographical snippets. I’m tending to think it’s the latter, and if it’s not, I can’t understand why we’d talk about their words as such. If we’re getting on to some horrible kind of moral relativism, I’m drawn to the fact that we can explain questionable morals in rap as role-playing, but in country, we don’t. Do we? I mean, I don’t see “Politically Uncorrect” or “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” (for that matter) as some sort of character exercise, do you?