Monthly Archives: August 2013

Billy Corgan on Christian rock and more…

BCBilly Corgan, (or is is Willie now?), singer of the grunge band the smashing pumpkins, has done a pretty interesting interview with CNN in Hong Kong earlier this month. The whole transcript is here.

One part from it has been going round, and is about God as the future of rock, and his message to Christian rockers:

RAJPAL: So what are you exploring now?
CORGAN: God. I once did – a big American magazine was doing a thing called, “The Future of Rock”.
CORGAN: And, you know, they asked 50 artists, “What’s the future of rock?” And my answer was, “God”. And they said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Well, God’s the third rail of -” What is it? “Social security is the third rail of politics in America”. Well, God is the third rail in rock and roll. You’re not supposed to talk about God. Even though most of the world believes in God. It’s sort of like, “Don’t go there”. I think God’s the great, unexplored territory in rock and roll music. And I actually said that. I thought it was perfectly poised. And, of course, they didn’t put it in the interview.
RAJPAL: What would you say to Christian rockers, then?
CORGAN: Make better music. (LAUGHTER) CORGAN: Personally, my opinion – I think Jesus would like better bands, you know? (LAUGHTER) CORGAN: Now I’m going to get a bunch of Christian rock hate mail.
RAJPAL: But that’s interesting –
CORGAN: Just wait, here’s a better quote –
CORGAN: Hey, Christian rock, if you want to be good, stop copying U2. U2 already did it. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of U2-esque Christian rock.
CORGAN: Bono and company created the template for modern Christian rock. And I like to think Jesus would want us all to evolve.

I’m not in touch with the modern commercial Christian rock scene, nor do I live in a country where one can find a Christian rock radio station on a car radio,  but I do think what he’s speaking about, even though I have heard more third-generation Coldplay clones in Christian rock lately than U2-sounds, but whatever.

Maybe that’s indeed the overall idea of Christian rock you get from the radio, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of people, adherents to the Christian religion,, making rock music or something like that which is informed by their faith soemwhere, and who do not sound at all like the mentioned U2 (or coldplay) rip-offs. They might not get as much airplay and sell as much records, but they are musically much more interesting. And Billy Corgan must know that, having Jeff Schroeder in his current band  line-up (who has been part of the Christian indie scene, and played guitars on the violet burning’s selftitled album).

Mr. Corgan himself has been singing about God and other religious themes since the beginning of the Smashing Pumpkins, but does not seem to tie himself down to one religion, even though he appears to be more spiritual than ever.

What also struck me is how he describes his old band, the original line-up of the smashing pumpkins:

we were four strangers who agreed on a musical vision. And we did more harm than good.

And then he identifies one of the problems of that band as ‘false loyalty’:

I would say the key experience for me, from the original version Smashing Pumpkins was, “What is loyalty?” What is loyalty? Because I had a false concept of loyalty and I rode that ship all the way to the bottom. When most people wiser than I, would have jumped off the ship when it was to their benefit.

So people always say, “What’s your greatest career regret?” It’s when the band blew up in ’96, that I didn’t jump off and make a new ship. I rode that ship all the way to the bottom. Like, literally, until it was like the bubbles were coming up and I was sitting there like –

RAJPAL: Is it kind of like, you know, when you’re staying in a bad relationship, that you’re always hoping that something will change. That things will work out in some way, shape, or form.

CORGAN: Yes. I’m sure you’ve only had successful relationships, but I mean, if you’ve ever been there where you’re breaking up with somebody for the ninth time – [..] We did a lot of that. We didn’t really break up so much as we were like, “OK, now it’s going to be like this, or it’s going to be like this”. And then, of course, nothing would change.

Another idea that could be interesting to think about is his rejection of the very well-known dogma that suffering is good for art. I actually have never seen that one questioned before, and it’s even more interesting that he uses an Eastern religion -shintoism- to make that point. I don’t know why he uses shintoism and not Buddhism here, which is based on the elimination of suffering, and does not see a positive role for it.

Makes one wonder if the ‘suffering is good for art’ is born in Christian ideas about suffering. And if it’s indeed as valid as we all suppose…

CORGAN: There’s a long established concept that gets bandied about, which is “Misery makes for great art”. And I actually think this is – if we were asking a Shinto Monk, I think they would laugh at this idea
CORGAN: Because you’re basically saying, “Suffering’s good for business”. And I don’t think suffering’s good for business. Crazy’s good for business, suffering isn’t. I think suffering or the gestalt of, “Here I am, ripping my heart open” – I think that lasts for about two or three albums.
CORGAN: At some point, you have to mature into the deeper work. Most people are living lives of sort of survival. And constantly posing an existential crisis, either through fantasy or oblivion, really has been pretty much explored in rock and roll. At least in the western version of rock and roll. Maybe not over here in Asia, but we’ve sort of, kind of, been through all that.

I wonder if his ‘deeper work’ as he sees it himself will ever be able to reach as much people as ‘mellon collie and the infinite sadness’, which was one of my favorite rock-albums in the nineties, but I must say that his last CD ‘oceania’ is not bad at all and better than most things I’ve heard from him from the nineties!
But it seems like he is not concerned with getting that success back.

Well, if you make repressed, middle class, white, suburban, existential crisis music and a bunch of people just like you buy it, is that success? […]  I mean, yes, it’s success in the form of communication. But is it success in being true? No, it’s not true. It’s true to its corner, but it’s not true.

Maybe it’s just me, but the guy says a lot of things (some of which I’m not even talking about here) that are really worth contemplating.. Rockstars can be interesting sometimes, don’t they?



(PS: normal blogging schedule might resume somewhere in September)

Resurrecting the dead on twitter to preach generic Marxism???

I’m not a very good twitterer: I generally win followers when I don’t tweet anything to lose followers when I start tweeting again, but I find twitter interesting still.  Sometimes I follow people on Twitter I do know, sometimes I follow people I know because they are famous, sometimes I do follow people because they have been retweeted by someone and seem interesting, and so on… From time to time I come across a twitter feed from a dead or non-existent person, and mostly that means that they give quotes from that person (like C.S. Lewis), or a parody account (like Lord Voldemort)

I have no problems with that, I like the quotes from older people who didn’t live long enough to be able to start a twitter account, and I even do enjoy good parodies. No problems at all here. But from time to time something else seems to be going on. And I think there might even be a sinister plot at work here that aims to overtake the world, or something like that…

 At a certain moment I followed a ‘John Lennon’ feed, and after a while it became clear that whatever that feed was tweeting, it was NOT from our friend John Lennon. Not that I don’t expect John Lennon to be a bit preachy from time to time, and I do know that he was full of talk about revolution and stuff like that, but all this talk about revolution and workers and capitalism began to sound fishy. And then I realized that a Martin Luther King feed that I recently began following did tweet exactly the same kind of generic vague Marxist babble, as well as the Sigmund Freud feed. And funny enough there seemed to be other feeds, sometimes retweeted by those dead heroes reincarnated as rather boring leftist preachers, that did the same pattern, a lot of them even. I then cleaned up my list and unfollowed most of those weirdos, keeping some so I could have a laugh from time to time…

 Now, it seems John Lennon has gone from Twitter in his fake marxist reincarnation, but the Twitterverse is still full of fake twitter feeds of dead people all spouting the same weird anticapitalist calls for revolution. From Picasso to St. Francis, Luther and even John Paul II, and from Malcolm X to Che Guevara and Nietzsche and Camus. (And even Lenin seems to be hi-jacked and not very authentic…) If you look at the feed of the protest movement, wich seems to be a central retweeting service here, you find lots and lots of them. And if that’s not enough there are a lot of thematic twitter feeds too, from ‘how to get fired‘ to ‘dear porn-addicts‘ and even the sligprotesthtly troubling ‘How to spot traitors‘.

Yes, that last one does exist too… Makes one think the spider behind this web of leftist zombie-tweeps might not be very friendly at all, doesn’t it?Yes, it makes one wonder who or what is behind all of this playing for Dr. Frankenstein in reviving the dead to make preaching e-zombies out of them, and what excatly their motives and goals are, and so on.

 Yes, sometimes they can be funny, and that might be why I sometimes retweet them, but it’s actually quite troubling too, and most of all completely disrespectful of the dead. Let the dead be who they were, and don’t twist their message into your preachy political message. I do want a Sigmund Freud feed on Twitter to quote Freud, not spout generic marxist preaching that gets quite boring after a while. Whether or not I would agree with quotes from Nietzsche or Camus or John Paul II does not matter, one does not abuse dead people to preach a message they did not preach (and most surely did not approve of…)

 (Not to say that if anyone actually would believe any of these feeds to be genuine, he would be gravely deceived!!!!)

 Anyone else who knows more about this phenomenon, please inform me…

Long live the revolution that destroys the systems of evil and restores the humanity of everyone, both oppressed an oppressor!



 PS: Yes, as a Christian, I am quite critical of capitalism, and I hope to be able to resume my capitalism series soon. I also am opposed to violence, lies and deception.

Stop being influenced by America?

World-Map-1Like you all know and can see, I blog in English here, for different reasons. My mother tongue (Dutch) is only spoken in a small part of the Terran planet, and I do like to read a lot of things about the rest of the world too -which is miraculously technically possible now in this weird new era thanks to the internet-, so an international ‘lingua franca’ is very handy for both reading and writing when it comes about broadening the world. So that’s why I employ English here. (Because I don’t read nor write Russian, Japanese, Cantonese, or Arabic. Being able to do that would enable me to find even more viewpoints , but alas…)

Belgians can like all people (from tribal people to modern Westerners) be quite myopic sometimes, as any population, so I like to have a lot of perspectives from different places and different ages, which is the best way to be aware of the blind spots of my own individual and cultural perspective. Being able to read what happens not only here in Belgium but in exotic places as Asia or America can sometimes challenge a lot of ‘self-evident’ assumptions that I might have accumulated by participating in my culture.

But I should watch out with the internet if that is my goal. Sometimes it’s not true that I have many perspectives. There still is a danger though that I fall

into the trap of taking in too much of the presupposition of the most dominant empire within the English-speaking world. I don’t know why, but I keep on stumbling onto a majority of US content on the internet. Maybe I have too much US contacts and interests, or maybe they are omnipresent, I don’t know… And the problem here is that the US is not my country, and has a lot of things that are alien to me, that don’t even make sense to me (or sometimes even for any other outsider) but for Americans due to historical reasons they are completely normal and logical. This is true in politics and religion for example.

The 2-part-system makes no sense at all, for a non A-merican Obama is not ‘left’, let alone ‘socialist’ and actually not that different from GWB after all…

Same with religion, as an Evangelical Christian I am amazed at how strange the American version of my faith (which appears to be influencing a lot of evangelicalism around the world btw.,which might actually not be that healthy at all, since the US is in a process of dechristianisation) can be, and about some things they take fro granted as self-evident. Especially when those things make no sense and hurt people as some beliefs and practices in the -anthropologically very interesting- fundamentalist corner of American Christianity. Same for the liberal side, which is as weird as our ‘humanist’ anti-religious liberals here in Europe sometimes, and sometimes just built on a frustrated reaction of the other side without having much to say about things that are not covered by the other side.

So I think I need to actively search more perspectives of Christians (and other interesting thinking people) from all around the world of all colors cultures and sexes or whatever. I don’t see why American perspectives should dominate what I take in, I just began writing and reading in English to get away from my own myopic perspective and now another one wants to hypnotise me.. I need to see a kaleidoscope of perspectives where certain problems and polarising questions are not dominating and tainting everything. Like reading old church fathers from before Augustine and Eastern Orthodox writers can be very refreshing after countless unnecessary calvinism-‘arminianism’ debates I need to get away from the idiocy of both fundamentalism and the more extreme opposite on the liberal side… Both are distracting, adventures in missing the point, and if I take these kind of polarisations as normative it’s constantly taking too much energy to battle both sides.

The weird polarisations taken for granted in my own country (which are sometimes completely different from those in the US) are enough to lose a lot of energy which I could use to get to the point instead of having to defend myself. In the end there is no reason why the dominatnt culture US should influence me more than the fascinating culture of Tuva, or the old Sumerians or the Piraha… It’s good to know the thought of a dominant empire for a lot of reasons, but still I should not be brainwashed by the complications of another culture with as much problems as my own, and fight a lot of weird ideas that are not part of my story. I need to focus on my own battles. There are a lot of things in American fundamentalism (and liberalism), but they are not closer to my bed than the problems of the copts in Egypt or the Tibethan buddists…

So I need to refocus my scope and get more globally again, recognise what’s my area and what not and what is helpful to me and what not, and let others battle their own problems, for one man can not supervise the whole planet. And this means filtering and being conscious about what news is priority.

God is everywhere doing different things with different people and I’m not God, I’m not called to be omnipresent nor am I to be a part of the empire of the US…

May God bless and keep the US as much as the rest of Terra, but sometimes save the rest of the world from their influence… (and from ours, and other aggressive worldviews…)