Monday, June 06, 2005

Um.. (Rambles)

I was at this panel at Wiscon for like ten minutes, "The Racial Politics Something-or-Something," and there was some discussion about the effects of political action and science fiction writing. And it got me thinking about all these grand ideas I use to have about my own work, like, "Influence some minds and opinions, one person at a time," or other such wild and ridicilous ideas.

And then, today, driving to work, I thought about the power of music to influence people. About Woodstock and how subtle political lyrics in otherwise straightforward music can deliver messages of progress without being overt to a young mind at a crucial stage of development. I don't know about you, but I spent a lot of time growing up in my parents' house alone in my room listening to music. And that music - as angry as it sometimes was - had an impact on the way I see the world now, a decade later. Tool's macabre poetry is permanently infused in my writing, the cynical tourist protagonist of Radiohead's songs is as close to my worldview now as it was in my more "radical" days, and the dark reality of Nirvana manifests itself in my work.

But then I think, well, what about all those Democrat concerts that swept through the country last year, what about all those rallies on college campuses with leftie celebrities trying to get kids to vote for Kerry? How effective was that? (Granted: I still think Bush stole another election, albeit with more subtlety and less news coverage.) So, can creativity - music and literature and poetry - really influence people and, in turn, politics? Or can creative people only influence other creative people?

If so, are we going to be stuck in the same place as we are now in fifty years time, bitterly divided about such base things as how people should live, love, and die? Or can decades of musicians influencing writers influencing musicians finally come to a head by changing an opinion of, say, a future President sitting in his room right now listening to Bloc Party?

The first line of the Bloc Party record, Silent Alarm, is "It's so cold in this house." That song, "Like Eating Glass," is about a relationship gone sour, but with the pseudo-political tone of the rest of the album, I can't help but cast that line in the context of a political statement. That we, the World, are trapped in a limbo of broken heating and broken promises and misbegotten dreams. But there is hope! What do the therapists say? Identifying the problem is the first step on the road to recovery.

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