Sunday, January 21, 2007

Our Gutter Culture

Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen”:

Way back when in 67
I was the dandy
Of Gamma Chi
Sweet things from Boston
So young and willing
Moved down to Scarsdale
And where the hell am I

Hey Nineteen
No we can't dance together
No we can't talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

Hey Nineteen
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember the Queen of Soul
It's hard times befallen
The sole survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old

Hey Nineteen
No we got nothing in common
No we can't talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

The Cuervo Gold
The fine Colombian
Make tonight a wonderful thing

We can't dance together
No we can't talk at all

This song is saying, “Hey, nineteen-year old girl, we have nothing in common – you don’t even know who Aretha Franklin is – but with the help of tequila and cocaine we can have sex.” (I’m assuming “fine Colombian” means cocaine, but it might be marijuana.)

Steely Dan is the name of a vibrator that Becker and Fagan got from a William Burroughs novel. This group is an excellent example of how the New Leftist subversion of traditional values has now become the status quo. If anything, Steely Dan seems like a staid, tightly produced Classic Rock band now, but they were daring back in the ‘70s.

What did Steely Dan and the rest of the cultural revolution pave the way for? Here are two lines from a current Hip-Hop song as I found them on the internet:


it'z like romeo and juliet
hot sex on a plattah juss to get you wet
I don’t want to come off as a prude, but rhyming Juliet with get you wet disgusts me. (Becker and Fagan, I should note, never disgust me because they do what they do with intelligence and style. Their integration of jazz harmonies with pop is as sophisticated as anything you'll hear in the rock era. I find their lyrical content often regrettably questionable.)

Augustinian Christianity hates everything in this world, most especially sex, and that’s wrong. But contemporary pop culture errs in the opposite way by reducing sex to physical processes. Notice that both religion and moral relativism separate sex and spiritual value. One celebrates spiritual value without sex, whereas the other celebrates sex without spiritual value.

We now have a culture that is mindless, brutish and crass. Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal, Howard Stern and Hollywood (lots of H’s) give us a vision of the lowest aspects of our nature without ideals. The vision of man they project is of a flawed, stupid creature who lives in the gutter and mocks those who aspire to anything greater.

I'm not saying that all traditional values were good. Some of them needed to go. But the New Leftist cultural revolution was a wide assault on standards as such in the name of egalitarianism, and this has left us much worse off.

The most depressing thing about our mindless culture is that young people grow up spiritually crippled without a vision of heroic, intelligent man. It's life without soul-inspiring ideals. The right's notion of ideals, religion, is a metaphysical fantasy; the left's notion of ideals, altruistic service to the collective, substitutes duty to others for rational self-interest. In neither case is man given values to pursue on this earth.

This value-deprivation, I fear, will contribute greatly to changing the American character so that people become more passive, obedient, unthinking and collectivist. I don’t want to get into any John Birch-like conspiracy theories, but maybe the New Leftist assault on traditional values was not entirely coincidental. It is amazing how the cultural change reinforces the political change as the New Left works to replace capitalism with statism. Such is the power of philosophy.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

6 comments:

Blair said...

Myrhaf, this is spot-on target. Don't forget another "H" in Homer Simpson. Steely Dan is one of my top favorites, in spite of their sometimes questionable lyrics, simply because musically, they are so intelligent.

Inspector said...

I'm just waiting for Dismuke to chime in...

Inspector said...

Eek, that should be these links:

http://forum.objectivismonline.net/index.php?showtopic=7201&st=60#

http://forum.objectivismonline.net/index.php?s=&showtopic=7201&view=findpost&p=121334

http://forum.objectivismonline.net/index.php?s=&showtopic=7201&view=findpost&p=121495

Inspector said...

Dang!

Here

Here

and Here

EdMcGon said...

Myrhaf,
One thing you need to consider is the failings of our pre-1960's conservative society. Racism and sexism were just two symptoms. However, when the "baby boomers" created the new Left ideology, they threw out the baby with the bath water.

As for Steely Dan, "Bodisatva" is probably my favorite tune of theirs (although my wife hates it). But it's kind of hard to go wrong with any Steely Dan song.

Myrhaf said...

Another thing to consider is that traditional American culture was very, very stale. Songwriting in the '40s was boring. '40s movies, with some exceptions, were sentimental and soporific. Things needed to be shaken up and when rock and the beatniks came along, at least they were fresh and "authentic," a favorite adjective from back then. But we lost a lot in the '60s. A whole book could be written on the cultural change. Maybe the New Criterion people have written it.