Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cultural Snobbery

There is something I don't understand, something that troubles, even annoys me. Why is it that people have to condemn as worthless the things they don't like. By all means, voice your opinion, and justify your view with criticism by why write it off altogether especially when you know full well that somebody else actually likes it.What am I on about? Read on.

I'm reading a book called "A World Without Heroes" written by George Roche. It's a book of philosophy, if you like that sort of thing, from a Christian point of view. I happen to agree with the author's world view for the most part until he comes up with stuff like this;

Talking about modern music, "...the jungle throb and infected themes of rock (music)..." So we know he doesn't like rock music and then this, "The simplest, most accurate statement of our arts is that we no longer have any. Virtually all of our best theatrical repertoire, our art, our music, our ballet, our architecture, our sculpture, our literature, is a century old and often far older...we make no art. We make daubs and junk and boxy buildings and screeches." I don't have time or space to quote more extensively, but how about this to finish, "the ghastly sounds which bombard us in this music starved age."

Let's focus on music. Many people think that the only good music is the music they like. A radio announcer I regularly listen to, always talks about how they don't make music like they used to in the 1960s and 70s. Nobody writes great songs anymore apparently. Some people enjoy listening to opera which is often sung in a foreign language and then bag heavy metal music because they say you can't understand what they are singing about. Other people criticize heavy metal because they say its monotonous but they get off on dance music. Can you tell I'm a heavy metal fan?

Bruce Dickinson is lead singer of the hugely successful heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. Bruce has arguably one of the finest voices in his genre. A classically trained opera singer who according to some cultural snobs probably crossed over to the dark side when he joined Iron Maiden. Some of the world's finest musicians, singers and songwriters have entertained us through heavy metal music.

Anyway, this was not intended to be a defense of heavy metal.

The high culture/low culture divide is an artificial distinction. Why should ballet be considered high culture and breakdancing low. Why should classical music be above rock music? Why should so called literary writing be deemed superior to so called pulp fiction? I do not accept Roche's assertion that good art, in all its forms is no longer being produced. That modern art, music and literature is rubbish. The question of what makes good art, is and always has been entirely subjective, and its not determined by popularity contests either.

Only God knows how much time we have left but I reckon Metallica's song Enter Sandman is a classic and perhaps in the future it will be recognized more widely as such. On par with Beethoven's 5th.

I guess the point of this rambling, disorganized babble is that I believe you don't have to like something to recognize that it is good, (in other words that someone else likes it.)

What is the best music genre?
hip hop/R & B
Heavy Metal
None of the above. It's a matter of opnion.
Free polls from

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Devolution. A novel by D.A.Cairns (sample).

Here's a very small sample from my novel, Devolution. The e-book costs US$10 and is available from me, if you're interested.

Turning around quickly she said, ‘Hush, where’s your father?’
‘Swimming in the living room. You don’t mind if we talk, do you?’
‘No,’ she said, smiling, ‘I kind of like it. It must be such fun for you to be able to voice with your friends at school.’
He scratched his nose and played with the buttons of his shirt. ‘That’s what I wanted to ask you about actually.’
Sensing the serious tone in her son’s voice, 2 rotated her hoverchair to face him.
‘Has dad said anything about our school being closed down?’
‘He,’ she hesitated, and 3 noticed her uncertainty, ‘He says it’s almost a done deal. He’s been pushing hard for years now and has finally gathered enough support among the other councilors to go ahead. Of course he is the education minister.’
Keeping his eyes fixed on the liquid floor, 3 felt a surge of anger in his veins and his head began to ache again. ‘It’s not fair, mum. It’s just not fair.’
Wisely, his mother tried a change of subject to attempt to calm him, ‘What about your dream? Did you want to tell me about it?’ she said. But he turned abruptly and left the room talking to himself. She tried to project a warning to him to stop voicing, but he was so angry she could not penetrate his thoughts.
In the bathroom, 3 looked at his image in the mirror and cursed. His head, a little large for his body, its shape oval yet triangular, narrowing at the forehead. Eyes wide-spaced, under no eyebrows and long lashes, nose flattened, mouth too wide. As far as Newtonians could be attractive he probably looked all right, but how would any girl ever find him attractive? How would a particular Adonite girl desire this ugliness? If he was to be forced into single tribe education then it probably wouldn’t matter anymore. Obviously looks would play no part in the partnering of Newtonians, but he desperately wanted to stay in mixed schooling. Of course there was no hope of him ever partnering with a girl from another tribe but so much of a teenage boy’s world was fantasy, and 3 was no different. He burned with passion for his friend, the goddess, Veena.

2012: Not just another disaster movie

Yes, the new end of the world apocalypse movie, 2012, follows the disaster movie formula. Yes it's full of literally incredible escapes, and the special effects obliterate the actors who, to be fair do a pretty good job with a limited and admittedly cliched script. Look a little deeper however and you will find a philosophical and moral heart beating inside.

If the rulers of our world: the governments and leaders of business and science knew that the world was going to end, what would they do? Even with gazillions of dollars, pounds, yen or whatever, could they save everyone? Would they try to save everyone? If they chose to only save a limited number of people, how would they decide who lived and died? Would they have the right to make such decisions? Think about. Suppose it was your decision.

2012 is very entertaining and despite the restricted script, the characters are likeable and show enough of themselves to engender genuine concern for their welfare. The unpredictability of their fate is breathtaking. The special effects are truly overwhelming to the extent that in some scenes there is no way to humanly process the bombardment of audio visual input. There is just too much going on.

Finally there are the acts of heroism. Selfless and self sacrificing acts. Motivated by some instinct to risk one's own life to try to save another person. Acts of love. Deeds which prove the existence of a loving God who created us to care for and about each another.

2012. Don't wait too long to see it or you may run out of time.