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Steely Dan contra Roger Scruton

I've got the complete philosophical investigation over at my own blog. Because no one demanded it. Because you can never get too much pretentious pop culture analysis. And because we’ve heard enough already about Bob-freaking-Dylan here at W4!

Comments (6)

This is a fascinating analysis! Thanks for linking it.

I've had the sense for a long time that modern pop music, especially live concerts, are a sort of substitute for liturgy and worship in the experience of many people, but I think that much of this is a result of the intention and persona of the artist and not necessarily a function of the medium.

Also, re: the idea that the fusion of song and singer "re-presents" the singer himself in a quasi-sacramental sort of way: For the Christian artist in a secular context, this is not a bad thing. Through his art, the Christian artist can make his own experience available to his audience in a way that brings Christ to them (Christ being inherent in his experience, and hopefully conveyed to them with some skill in the medium chosen).

It occurs to me that this is precisely _not_ what is to happen with music in liturgy; the music and musicians are there to serve the liturgy, and they rightly are to "hide behind it", delivering the words of the prayers in a plain, direct, impersonal way. On the other hand, becoming a "sacramental", bringing the presence of Christ in a particular way to a specific situation, is precisely what Christian artists are called to do in the world.

[comment cross-posted on Prof. Feser's blog]

And because we’ve heard enough already about Bob-freaking-Dylan here at W4!

It's been nice having you blog here, Dr. Feser. :)

Because no one demanded it, here is a pretentious song about philosophy.


That's a fine post, Ed. I really must read more Scruton.

Some of you folks never imagined what mischief would be unleashed with both Frank and me promoting Dylan, did you?

From your blog:

A fan’s sense of identity can become so associated with the group or pop star to which he is devoted that interest in other groups or singers is excluded, attacks on the group or pop star are taken as attacks on the fan himself...

I can confirm that as I was once almost in a fist fight not for saying that the Greatful Dead was a bad band, but for suggesting there were better blues groups out there. And one of my guitarist friends had a letter printed in a rockzine disputing their choice to award Motley Crue's Mick Mars as best guitarist, and he got a death-threat in the mail for his trouble.

Ed, when you get a chance read Josef Pieper's essay on music in his little book 'Only the Lover Sings.' Quite pertinent to the discussion at hand.

(btw, Scruton knows Pieper's work -- he wrote the intro for an edition of 'Leisure, the Basis of Culture).

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