MP3 Joe Lapsley - Songs Without Metaphors
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12 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, ROCK: Acoustic
âSongs Without Metaphorsâ summarizes much of what I have learned from living, participating in social justice movements and teaching history at the university level for many years. Many of the songs were written in Berlin, Germany in 2003-4, and the rest in 2005 in Chicago. The main themes are critiques of capitalism, gender essentialism and more broadly authoritarianism regardless of the system. Another major theme is the importance of historical as opposed to teleological thinking, in support of egalitarian visions grounded in humility. Teleological thinking says, âthis is the purpose of (whatever: nature, humanity, the universe); history may seem directionless but really X (God, nature, human nature, again whatever, but these are the usual suspects) determines a final outcome. Nobody actually knows any of this, and there is no (zero) evidence for any of it. It is authoritarian and absurd at its core. Its also, unfortunately, very popular. Teleological thinking is rooted in religion but has many secular forms as well. At its simplest it is a narrative that claims that the beginning determines, or ought to determine (if not disrupted by some âmisguidedâ human action), the direction and/or final outcome of history, time, etc.
1. Sheridan Rd.
True story of how Sheridan Road in Chicago was built in order to allow the U.S. Army to more easily attack workers in South Chicago in the late 19th C. from Fort Sheridan. Fort Sheridan was built solely for this purpose with land bought by the large capitalists in Chicago.
James Green, Death in the Haymarket
2. Ancien Regime
The term used to refer to France prior to the French Revolution. A patchwork of traditions, injustices, privileges, indifferences, hierarchies and deference to power. . .
3. Hey Ronald
For the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), (tomato pickers) fight to keep their penny a pound they won from Taco Bell after 4 years. McDonalds is working to undermine this agreement to prevent it from being an industry wide standard. Checkâem out, helpâem out.
4. Nobodyâs Here to Stay
The âSwedish Knightâ is from the film The Seventh Seal, in which he embodies the grimness of unadulterated Sartrean existentialism. The âslaughterbench below, ideals on highâ is from Hegelâs Philosophy of History. For Hegel ideas were the real thing in history and flesh and blood of less significance. So, for example, Napoleon was an agent of the pure idea moving through history. All the people killed in his wars were of less importance.
This song also has a juxtaposition that appears elsewhere (I Like My Darwin Straight, for example), of religious dogma and biological reductionism. Despite being apparently at odds with one another (and in many ways, indeed, they are) they share many traits as well. Often, as one might have guessed, a teleological structure. The chorus is straightforward enough.
5. Who We Are and Time Itself
Given the fact that there is no evidence supporting the idea that anything is in charge of humanityâs fate other than ourselves, deep history (including all of physics) is one of our main sources of knowledge of the universe and ourselves.
David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
6. Woman in a Bathrobe
7. For the Apologists
âtrialâ might seem harsh, even reminiscent of Stalinist show-trials. This is not what I have in mind, but âTruth and Reconciliation Commissionâ alaâ South Africa neither fits easily or has much umph. This song is really for those around the academy who use their educations and intellect to make excuses for privilege and social injustice (and there is no shortage of them).
8. The Aquarium Song
The depth and breadth to which capitalism has shaped the humans it has touched is not, Iâm afraid, easily appreciated.
Books: (amongst innumerable possibilities)
E.P Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class
Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra
9. I Like My Darwin Straight
I donât spend much time with Intelligent Design in this one because it is not intellectually worth the trouble. Bio-reductionism is a more serious matter. This song reflects my love/hate relationship with Richard Dawkins. It is also an attack on gender essentialism, which is a kind of sub-branch of teleological thinking.
Roger Lancaster, The Trouble with Nature
Marshall Sahlins, The Uses and Abuses of Biology
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker
Ernst Mayr, What is Evolution?
10. Bourgeois Definitions
Those that rule get to define how terms get used. Those that get to define terms usually rule.
Raymond Williams, Keywords, a vocabulary of culture and society
11. Iâm Not With the Project
This song is rooted in participatory economics, a radical vision of economic justice, liberty and efficiency.
Michael Albert, Participatory Economics,
Robin Hahnel, Economic Justice and Democracy
Albert and Hahnel, Looking Forward
12. At the End of the Oil Age
The end of a major civilization paradigm. The song focuses particularly, however on the relationship between U.S. monetary policy, OPEC and the U.S.âs increasing reliance on military power as its other strengths recede. This analysis makes for a far more accurate assessment of the role of the U.S. in the last several decades.
William R. Clark, Petrodollar Warfare
Thatâs it! Enjoy.
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