Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Alternative Rock Returns to Its Roots: Although it did not become popular until the 1990s, alternative rock (alt-rock) was an established musical genre by the 1980s. Alt-rock's roots, however, date back to both the psychedelic and hard rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s. For example, bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Who are considered precursors to alt-rock, especially given their edgy styles. Yet perhaps the most intriguing aspect of alternative rock is its overwhelming emphasis on simplicity. On the surface, that last statement may seem like a contradiction since "overwhelming" and "simplicity" are not terms that generally go together. But the fact remains, alt-rock bands often consist of only two (or three) members; a guitarist and a drummer. The vocals can be a shared duty while a bass line might be added during the recording process. Nevertheless, by the 2000s, many alt-rock bands had drifted toward pop rock or pop punk. As a result, there are very few alt-rock bands today that seek to rediscover the genre's true roots.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Foucault and Rehabilitation: When French critical theorist Michel Foucault published Discipline and Punish in 1975, he reinvigorated the philosophical debate concerning criminal justice systems. Prior to Foucault's work, it was generally assumed that criminals and criminality were the products of failing liberal democracies and that only through measures of austerity could crime be controlled. But after a critical examination of the history and theory surrounding Western penal codes, Foucault concludes that the primacy of individual choice still supersedes the shortcomings of any criminal justice system. That is, just as criminals choose to perform illegal acts, or acts that detract from the public good, so too can those criminals choose to be rehabilitated. Having been influenced by Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals (1887) and Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon (1785), Foucault argues that in most penal systems the prosecution possesses more rights than the defendant. In effect, the power of knowledge in criminal procedure is the supreme privilege of the prosecution. And like any process, there are always unintended consequences. Yet they can be mitigated by emphasizing the innate self-worth of the person behind the criminal. And through measures of rehabilitation, some criminals can ultimately rejoin society and avoid recidivism.