On the Defensive- Part 1

One from the ‘Drafts’ folder. As I ponder further whether or not I should have to defend my non-belief- when, logically, those who believe without evidence should be the ones attempting to make their ideological case- I’ve put together some defenses on topics a little less-controversial. Perhaps. People seem to be pretty het up about these things, too…

One night last week, I opted to consciously put a hold on the all the insanity involved in holiday prep and some of the other obligations/responsibilities to which I am currently beholden. My plan (after I foolishly braved the freakin’ Eaton Centre- THAT didn’t last. Holy cows, people. If you’re going to walk and text in the midst of a million people, then you are GOING to get mowed down as I move with purpose to hit the stores I absolutely HAVE to hit), was to chill on the couch and catch up on some reading.

And writing.

My output (both the fictional stuff and here in WordPressWorld), for quite some time now, hasn’t been anywhere near where I’d like it to be. I could blame it on the time of year, but it’s been going on far longer than can be legitimated by that particular excuse.

There is the reality that my laptop is on its last legs (not that it has legs- it’s a MacBook)- sometimes it works, sometimes not so much – and the danger that I’ll get into some serious compositioning and have it die and lose it all is very frightening. I don’t need the anxiety- or the anger and frustration that would result when that happens. Santa knows the sitch. Hoping the Big Guy comes through so I’ll have one less potential defense for lack of productivity. (Update: Totes dead now. RIP Abe. And his successor was not to be found, under the tree- so I’ll have to venture out into the MacWorld to purchase one myself- and that ain’t happening until the stores clear of ‘bargain’ shoppers.)

Honestly though, I think the true problem is that I’m dealing with a whack of sensory overload right now. There is so much going on, and most of it deserves some reflection and commentary. As of this moment there are 12 drafts in dashboard. Lucky 13, if you count this one here.

Comfortably settled on the couch, I tried to put something together that began to address the disgusting news of the past week(s)- downtown Australia under siege, more women and children taken by an putatively-religious organization of thugs in Africa, children and educators murdered in a school in Pakistan…

Couldn’t do it.

Just. Couldn’t.

There is no insight I can offer. I don’t get any of it. I can’t explain away the credulity and self-serving power mongers that drive these sorts of ideologies of cruelty and irrationality. I’m not going to try.

Since I was having issues with writing I opted to do a bit of reading instead. Like the draft folder, my To-Read list is mighty full at the moment. Once again, couldn’t do it.

For whatever reason (partly the season, I’d guess), the bulk of the articles I’ve marked to come back to seem to be about things like belief-based indefensible defenses of the the existence of an historical dude named Jesus and his definite and absolute divinity (and this article about why such defenses are indefensible), the whole end-of-the-year looking back retrospective on things like how no one was reporting let alone paying attention to the really important stuff going on, or the fact that while this guy is attempting to bring change to a millennia-old outdated and obsolete institution, those who benefit most from the money and power continue to fight to hold onto that money and power and deny culpability in cover-ups and injustices…

All that stuff is just sameoldsameoldsameold… I have no new ideas about how I might more effectively tilt at those windmills at the mo’. Too much to do, and not enough determined energy to fight the idiocy.

But I AM feeling defensive… My reserves and resources are low, but there have been fighting words- on a number of topics- that have been thrown around of late. So, since these particular topics matter not-at-all in the overall scheme of important things, these things, I feel up to defending.

When I was talking about the newest iteration of the Band Aid thingamabop (okay, that was a defense too. I guess I’ve been on the defensive for a while now), I mentioned that I was working on a defense of the guy who has stuck around (and retained enough fame) to participate in all the various versions of the thing in the past 30 years.

Bono. We all love to hate him. I’m guilty of that, myself, truth be told. He welcomes it. But hey- the guy’s got some redeeming stuff going for him too…

Doesn’t he?

Yesterday, there was a story on my beloved CBC all about the biggest marketing fails of 2014. I’m not a fan of marketing- I resent being marketed to, and certainly don’t want to deal with people looking for information that will help the process run more smoothly- so I knew I’d get a chuckle at the offered instances in which things did NOT go according to plan.

The Number One biggie gave me a little pause for thought.

When U2 ‘gifted’ humanity with ‘free’ versions of their latest album, the interwebs were set afire with complaints and concerns and conspiracy theories. A certain portion of the younger generation, on social media platforms like Twitter et al, claimed that U2 MUST be Illuminati, since they woke up out of innocent U2-free sleep to the unauthorized addition on their own, personal, technological device(s).

Which none of them seem to really understand. They had been ‘hacked’. The lads from Ireland had violated their privacy by offering them their latest missive. For people who seem to use the social media at the expense of actual human interaction a whole bunch, they really don’t seem to grasp how it works.

Songs of Innocence, their (unlucky?) 13th studio album, WAS there- on devices or in the iTunes store available for download (if, as in my case, your phone ain’t so Smart). It was advertising- an ill-fated attempt at generating a new audience. It was not a conspiracy.

For about a week I couldn’t stop laughing at the suppositions- Bono and Crew were Illuminati. Illuminati. Perhaps the worst part of labeling them such? The accusers were obviously drawing their definition and conspiracy theories from another book by the the writer of TDB (interestingly, I wrote about Bono in that post about TDB, too. Maybe he IS Illuminatus. Just kidding. He couldn’t Illuminati his way out of a paper bag).

Sigh. They couldn’t even pull their fictional conspiracists from good fiction (the Illuminati also appear in Foucault’s Pendulum– but it is highly doubtful that the investigative minds positing the theory that U2 are part of their number- in less that 140 characters- have taken the time to read Eco).

Anyhoo.

Bono sort of apologized for the ‘megalomaniacal’ stunt, blaming it on their enthusiasm for the new tunes and a desire to share them with everyone.

They offered a whole lot of people the opportunity to have a listen to an album. They didn’t kill anyone or kidnap young girls in the name of misogynistic ideology.

Yet it got people reallyreally PISSED. THAT did. A gift of music. Which you could easily delete if it wasn’t your cup o’ joe.

Seriously.

In the realm of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, this sitch takes a whole big chunk of the cake.

The argument can, perhaps, be made, that what they should have apologized for is the album itself. I have to admit, I was sort of in that camp when I first downloaded and listened to the thing.

The fact that the lead-off single was already an iTunes/iPhone commercial has something to do with that. Irritating as Hell to have it pop up endlessly on the tv. Then there was the fact that it pays homage to Joey. I’m not sure that the song says ‘Ramones’ in any way, shape or form. I’m not sure that it even says ‘U2’ all that much. And did you ever hear the version of Beat on the Brat they did for the Ramones Tribute album? If you haven’t, please don’t google it. No really. Do not. It hurts my heart.

Is it a great album? I don’t think so. Although Rolling Stone begs to differ. Number 1. Of. The. Year.

I’ve listened to it in its entirety a few times since the Day of the Download. Parts of it have grown on me- not so much that I’d have been all that pleased if I’d paid money for it- but enough that I can appreciate what they were doing.

And enough that demonstrates that they can still rock’n’roll better than a whole lot of young’uns getting way-too-much air time on the YouTube and such these days.

The Lads have said that it is their ‘most personal’ album yet. Some of that comes through quite clearly. Bono’s song about his mother, Iris, is truly lovely. Raised By Wolves hearkens back to the violence of the environment in which they grew up- the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974- and reignites some of the same feelings that Sunday Bloody Sunday awakened, back in the day. Sleep Like a Baby Tonight is deceptively lullaby-esque- until you realize it references a pedophile priest…

Add to all that the fact that Bono, even if he is a self-righteous megalomaniac, has had an impact on the world and does have a tendency to do more than pay lip-service to his drive for change.

He gave this little TEDTalk less than two years ago.

Okay. So he’s a prat. He loves himself so veryvery much. The biblical/historical allusions made my teeth grind. And he’s got a mouth on him that makes me cringe at times. But he can also laugh at himself- and at his fame and the lack of real importance that accompanies the fame. And he is doing something. He is using his celebrity (and, evidently, his powers as an Illuminati) to aid in the eradication of worldwide poverty. Worldwide Poverty.

Modeling himself after those greaterthans who came before him, he is helping to make the world a better place.

Factivism. I like that. I can get behind that. (I could do without the image of his ‘collation arousal’, though. Ick).

‘The power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power.” That line alone speaks louder than most of the pop-tripe out there in the www.

A defense mechanism is a coping technique. It helps to reduce anxiety. We get defensive when our opinions or illusions or way of seeing the world are challenged to an unreasonable degree. It is an unconscious impulse used for self-protection when things get overwhelming.

It isn’t good to resort to these mechanisms pathologically or immaturely, but we can do so maturely. That latter option may include things like altruism, humour, respect and gratitude- those virtuous actions that we can use to positively optimize our relationships and interactions with society. This can also involve things like emotional self-sufficiency– not relying on the opinions of others to validate oneself.

As I continue to evaluate my own reactions to things- whether those found in our popular culture, or in the wider world- I’ll be keeping that one, in particular, in mind.

While I do so, here’s one from the vaults. I forgot how much I love this song, actually. The Edge’s monotone provides a nice counterbalance to Bono’s somewhat strident falsetto. It also goes to show that this band is more than its vocalist (and his big mouth)- and that they have things of value to say.

The Edge has said that this song- and the Zoo TV Tour– tapped into “the sense that we were being bombarded by so much information that you find yourself shutting down and unable to respond.” Twas true back in 1993. The sensory overload is exponentially worse, now.

“Don’t move, don’t talk out of time

Don’t think, don’t worry, everything’s just fine
Just fine

Don’t grab, don’t clutch, don’t hope for too much
Don’t breathe, don’t achieve or grieve without leave

Don’t check, just balance on the fence
Don’t answer, don’t ask, don’t try and make sense

Don’t whisper, don’t talk, don’t run if you can walk
Don’t cheat, compete, don’t miss the one beat

Don’t travel by train, don’t eat, don’t spill
Don’t piss in the drain, don’t make a will

Don’t fill out any forms, don’t compensate
Don’t cower, don’t crawl, don’t come around late
Don’t hover at the gate

Don’t take it on board, don’t fall on your sword
Just play another chord
If you feel you’re getting bored
(I feel numb)
(I feel numb)
(Too much is not enough)

Don’t change your brand, don’t listen to the band…”

Even if they want to give you their music for free.

Thanks for the tunes, Lads.