What’s Wrong with the World

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Declinist Thoughts

It took a thousand years (give or take) for Western civilization to ascend from this:

to this:

And it took about another hundred years for it descend to this:


Sorry, you'll have to follow the link, on that one. Can't embed it. The Universal Music Group forbids it.

Kanye West is, after all, a valuable commercial property - unlike Gregorian Chant, or even Gustav Mahler.

It's all so sad.

Comments (8)

I guess it should not surprise me that Kayne West "song" opens up with Nietzsche: "Now that don't kill me, can only make me stronger." Later, he says, "Act like you can't tell who made this new gospel." Well, no we don't act like that. We just rarely see the need to mimic the Church Lady in Saturday Night Live.

I was actually expecting after the chant and the Mahler something like typical Haugen/Hass/Schutte doggerel. That is, in the chant we get straight, orthodox worship of God and supplication. Mahler continues that (however I have not thought much about what is going on the second part with Dr. Marianus), and then the next example would be the current unpleasantness in which hymns have reduced God to mere abstraction and the sentimental massage-parlor music is right out of secular therapeutic culture and the whole thing is an excercise in self-affirmation rather than God affirmation.

Exactly what makes Kayne West an inheritor to Mahler, anyway?

Rap music has no ancestors in classical music. It originates (like most popular music) from folk music, as in "the music common people made, without much concern for artistic quality." Saying that Western music "declined" into rap in the 20th century is like saying it "declined" into Stephen Foster's songs in the 19th century.


Rap 'music' originated in the confluence of American popular culture and African-American traditions of rhythm, call-and-response, and spoken-word performance; it owes virtually nothing to the antecedent Western tradition of classical music, choral or instrumental. Nevertheless, the declension posited here is not one of the musical tradition itself, but of the culture itself, of which art is the efflorescence and ornament; our civilization has reached such a low ebb that not only does it produce few 'classical' works of any importance, but its demotic works are mostly rubbish.

Maximos - thanks. I could not have put that better.

Rap/hip-hop/etc have become culturally central in a way that their popular antecedents never were. And the cultural centrality once claimed by the great tradition of Western music, from plainchant to Stravinsky, is gone with the wind.

I should add that I think the damage that has been done to said "great tradition" is largely self-inflicted.

Scott W. -

This post of mine was more emotional than thoughtful, brought on by internet acquaintances talking up Kanye West. So don't expect a whole lot of coherence!

Anyway, I guess I should add that I think the plainchant version of "Veni creator spiritus" is as marvelous and amazing, from the proper perspective, as Mahler's version.

But there was a lot of purely *musical* (if not spiritual) development in between.

P.S.: you're not the only one here who can't make head nor tail of the text of Part II of Mahler's Eighth. What, indeed, is going on with Dr. Marianus? I've made a lot of headway, in my time, with a lot of classic texts - but Goethe's Faust remains pretty much a closed book to me.

The more I think about the pairing of the Christian liturgical texts and the selections from Faust in Mahler's Eighth, the less I can make any sense of it. At least I am not alone in my incomprehension.

Rap 'music' originated in the confluence of American popular culture and African-American traditions of rhythm, call-and-response, and spoken-word performance

I am somewhat dubious of the conection between rap and the slave call and response, etc connection and it sounds more like the "Myth of origins" encountered in common misunderstandings about the blues. See: . Like famous bluesmen, rappers did not learn their trade from former slaves or their descendents. As far as going back to Africa for origins--it seems more a case of the resemblence equals dependence fallacy (and those resemblences are sketchy indeed.) Rather, it seems more a case of plain ol' modern thinking still languishing under the Dead White European Male romantic ideology. We get Marx (with race replacing class), Freud (latent subconcious racism replacing latent sexual desire "repressed" by reason) and we get that overall romatic myth of the primitive--that nothing is "authentic" or "creative" unless it can trace its origins to primitive societies.

Bah bad link. Where I said "See:" there is supposed to be a link to this http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/isam/evans.html

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