Rebecca's Age Of Darkness Is Upon UsTuesday, October 26, 2010
In spite of my most liberally inspired education under the wings of Brothers of Holy Cross at St.Ed's (above) there were some inflexible “so called facts” that still filtered through. It was Brother Hubert Koeppen who was in charge of teaching us ancient and world history. Since this was 1957 he told us the world went to hell as soon as barbarians stormed the walls of Rome and the Roman Empire. The world (the Western World as it was seen then) went on to become a long extended period of darkness where the only light was the light of a candle, burning bright by the hand of the monk copying a work by Aristotle in some remote attic of a monastery in Switzerland or a proto-Italy.
|What old white people used to think hip-hop was. They hated it,|
A big wind and a flash of light, the Renaissance changed it all and man (still a Western man) went on a prolonged burst of exploration into art, geography, alchemy, physics and mathematics. Then in the end of the 18th century, another age of light brought the hope that poverty would disappear and that steam would right all wrongs. It was in the 20th century that electricity and chemistry promised the same hope.
Now apps will save our world particularly if they tell us were to go to get our closest pepperoni pizza in a snap.
|What old white people think hip-hop is now. They hate it.|
If there was a Renaissance man it was Sir Yehudi Menuhin that virtuoso violinist who neatly and most appropriately died in 1999 before the age of darkness that is upon us became a fact. I remember watching the series (Menuhin was the host) The Music of Man in 1979. These episodes had Menuhin explain the origins and the progression of music through the ages. Menuhin was always (and looked it) comfortable as he did in the 80s and 90s playing with the likes of jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli and Ravi Shankar. But his cool and liberal views on music had a limit. This was most evident when Menuhin tried to explain the music of the Dead Kennedys. No matter how hard he tried I could see the wince of pain on his face as he explained the philosophy of punk. I was almost sure that as soon as that program installment was over he picked up his violin to play one of Bach’s suites for unaccompanied violin. It would have seemed like the shutting of heavy doors to ward off the barbarians and prevent them from rape and pillaging civilization.
Fortunately for Menuhin he never had to explain rap and its sort of mainstream evolution (devolution?) into the innocuousness of the term hip-hop. As far as I can discern rap is rap.
|The reason why they hate it|
As I went up the stairs, mid afternoon Monday I heard a loudish sound from the confines of our bedroom. The stairs creaked so I gave my Rebecca ample (but unintended warning). By the time I did enter the room I found her on our bed with her homework and Rosemary’s laptop playing hip-hop. I said nothing but an explanation was still forthcoming from Rebecca, “I am listening to music so I can concentrate and do my homework.”
I should have left to fight another day. I made the mistake to linger and argue that she was not supposed to use the computer when she visits us on Mondays (this is a suggestion, almost order from her mother). I suspected that she had not been doing her homework and that she had been watching a hip-hop video. Since I did not have evidence of this I remained quiet and made no accusations. The scene, once I had closed and removed the laptop from the bed ended in shouts and tears (I felt terrible). Luckily Rebecca’s anger never lingers. When I told her that I could bring some CDs of Bach for her to listen while doing her music she said, most categorically, “Bach sucks!”
I will not buy what all my friends say. They say at age 13 Rebecca is an age of darkness similar to that of the Middle Ages when knowledge ceased (and which we know is strictly not true). They tell me that Rebecca wants to be no different from her peers. She must therefore like what her peers like.
Since Rebecca was four I have taken her to ballet, modern dance, baroque music concerts, new music concerts, theatre and art shows in good galleries like the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In fact Rebecca last year demanded I take her to a Philip Glass concert when told her he was coming to town. By age 6 Rebecca could discern the sound difference between a viola da gamba and a cello. She played the piano for three years until lack of family involvement made her lose interest.
One day as we were crossing the intersection of 41st and Cambie she was startled by a loud crash in the car. It was a most “fidelic” crash of cymbals by Oscar Peterson’s drummer, Ed Thigpen in Nat Adderley’s The Work Song. Rebecca has been a fan of The Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson –Very Tall since.
I cannot understand or accept that anybody would suddenly shut doors on all of that and argue that hip-hop is poetry.
In the car on Monday night (I was taking the girls home) I attempted to explain by asking her, “In what key was that hip-hop song?” Since Rebecca knows music she told me it was in no key and that it was poetry. I told her that I had Ronald Colman reading Shakespeare’s sonnets at home. “I don’t want to listen to all those wherefores!” I argued back that the lore of hip-hop was life in the inner black ghettos of American cities and that she could not possibly have any connection or empathy with it. But it was to no avail more so when I made fun of Rebecca’s like for Jason Beaver. It was little Lauren who said, slowly and with a very good diction, “That’s Justin Bieber with a b!”
Since then I have been thinking of a book which I read often and it seems that the time is ripe for me to read it again. This is Walter M. Miller Jr’s A Canticle for Leibovitz which for me is the ultimate study in a dark ages that seems even more horrific in a far off and dark future of Earth than the real one of the Middle Ages.
There was a dead hog beyond the Valley of the Misborn. The buzzards observed it gaily and glided down for a feast. Later, in a far mountain pass, a cougar licked her chops and left her kill. The buzzards seemed thankful for the chance to finish her meal.
The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young: a dead snake, and bits of feral dog.
The younger generation waxed strong, soared high and far on black wings, waiting for the truthful Earth to yield up her bountiful carrion. Sometimes dinner was only a toad. Once it was a messenger from New Rome.
The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young. Earth had nourished them bountifully for centuries. She would nourish them for centuries more…
Pickings were good for a while in the region of the Red River; but then out of the carnage, a city state arose. For rising city-states, the buzzards had no fondness, although they approved of their eventual fall. They shied away from Texarkana and ranged over the plain to the west. After a manner of all living things, they replenished the Earth many times with their kind.
Eventually it was the Year of Our Lord 3174.
There were rumors of war.
Chapter 11, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr.
Hip-hop photographs courtesy of Cracked.com
A Canticle for Leibowitz