Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Kraftwerk - Das Model: After thirty years, Kraftwerk's "Das Model" is still a popular song, and not just in electronic music circles. In fact, metal groups like Rammstein have covered the song, as well as alternative groups like The Cardigans. Even so, the song is considered by many to be a harbinger in the genre of electronic music. Much like The Beatles' song "Hello Goodbye," this song speaks to how human beings perceive one another. And for that reason, "Das Model" is highly existential in its overall tone. The lyrics talk of how a model has to quickly change her entire disposition whenever there is a camera present. She has to contain a split personality in order to survive the brutally critical world of modeling. She is deeply self-conscious about her appearance and overly self-confident in her talents; a contradiction in outlooks to say the least. Yet the ability of the model to straddle both her personal world and the modeling world is precisely what attracts the singer to her. What's ironic here is that whenever Kraftwerk performs the song, they are in the spotlight just as models are. As a result, the band itself has to adjust to being viewed by hundreds, if not thousands, of pairs of eyes all at once. Certainly, that kind of pressure makes one question the true extent of his or her capabilities.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Conscience of an Atheist: Is the human conscience fundamentally opposed to atheism? It's difficult to see how a rational person could devote full attention to both his conscience and atheistic outlook. The human conscience is, at bottom, wholly oriented toward God. To be clear, every person is naturally endowed by God with a conscience. Like ideas and words, the human conscience has evolved. The question then becomes whether each individual chooses to utilize his conscience. In choosing not to utilize his conscience, man embarks on a basic separation from God. And it's precisely this separation which pushes man to develop ardent beliefs in the material world. Yet atheists believe in more than just matter. They believe in time, energy, mortality, and rationality. To suggest that theists do not hold these beliefs as well is simply ludicrous. Even so, Article 20 of the Catholic Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) states, "Favoring this doctrine [atheism] can be the sense of power which modern technical progress generates in man." This statement effectively captures the origins of atheism; the Industrial Revolution. In short, without God, there would be no atheists, because (a.) He would not have been there to create them in the first place, and ( b.) there would be no One for the atheists to oppose.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Heinrich von Kleist and German Romanticism: As one of the most prodigious authors in the literary genre of German Romanticism, Kleist often lived in the shadows of bigger names like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. He constantly felt pressure to write short stories and perform plays at his very best, especially since most of his critics seemed to express a perpetual disregard for his works. Probably his two most reputable works include Penthesilea (1808) and The Marquise of O (1808). One of Kleist's favorite literary techniques involved the insertion of an anachronistic idea into a historical situation, which could leave the reader both bemused and intrigued. In fact, Mark Twain adopted this technique to write A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). Above all, Kleist's work epitomized not only class consciousness and misogyny in the Napoleonic Era, but also a distinct penchant for Counter-Enlightenment thinking. In a series of philosophical pamphlets such as On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking, Kleist advocated the idea of acting before thinking, which certainly qualified as both anti-intellectual and hyper-romantic at the same time.