If I Were More Sanctified, Would Wife Like My Music?

How far does sanctity go? How extensive is w-w? All of me belongs to Jesus and I am a new man in Christ, but what does this mean for taste? Can holiness account for taste?

Last night I was listening to a sequence of Klangkarussell mixes on Youtube. Who the Hades are Klangkarussell, you ask? I’m not sure but ever since I started listening to Rob da Bank I’ve become aware of contemporary dub step, dance and electronic performers that take me back to the days of Mike Oldfield and Klaus Schulze (and yes, Brian Eno). Since Rob has not yet started is weekly show on BBC Radio 6 (moving from Radio 1), I have had to look for alternatives. Pandora and Spotify have their moments. But at some points their musical memes become repetitive (even though so much better than Taylor Swift).

But that is exactly what the missus thought last night as I became energized by one of the mixes by Klangkarussell. “Turn that racket down,” was the kind charge I heard coming from the kitchen.

And here I thought we were on the same cultural plane. We grew up with the same television shows, cut our teeth cinematically on Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman, and identified as Preppy’s in early adulthood. We just finished Happy Valley, a terrific BBC/Netflix production that puts the drama in dramatic, and we both had similar assessments — four thumbs up (so much better than Season Three of The Killing). (Cordelia missed most of the series while snoozing upstairs.) We also recently traveled to Ann Arbor to see The Trip to Italy, the Steve Coogan, Rob Bryden sequel to The Trip. The wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie as much as the first, and thought that maybe even the second was better.

So if we can be so close on the same page of television series and cinema, why can’t we be closer on music. Her tastes run to Motown and sentimental (in my estimate) crooners. Mine run to minimalism whether coming from Philip Glass or Moderat.

If everything deep down is religious or spiritual, then what accounts for the difference? Or if lots of life is merely creaturely and natural, maybe even the Obedience Boys and the cultural transformationalists can’t explain our cultural (and other spheres) lives.

With Constantine No Walter White

I wonder if those who long for a stronger Christian presence in determining cultural standards and governing society are willing to give up some of their sideline interests. If, for example, you happened to hear a person who advocated family values and traditional marriage also write about the brilliance of The Wire in its depiction of urban life and politics, would you not think the message a tad mixed.

I have before wondered about those who like Doug Wilson or the BBs who advocate a return to Geneva of the 1550s or Boston of the 1650s if they are willing to give up some of the liberties that Americans now enjoy this side of 1776 (like blogging). But I am even more curious about the larger and less vocal set of critics of our current scene for its indifference to a higher range of human aspirations and who follow with great enjoyment the latest hit cable TV show — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective. Do these folks who hope for higher standards in government and culture make any calculation about whether their favorite shows will still be on the air if they get their wishes (the Gypsy Curse?)?

Take for instance this passage from Theodore Dreiser’s novel, Genius (1915) — hide the women and children:

She leaned back against his shoulder stroking his hair, but finally ceased even that, for her own feeling was too intense to make movement possible. She thought of him as a young god, strong, virile, beautiful – a brilliant future before him. All these years she had waited for someone truly to love her and now this splendid youth had apparently cast himself at her feet. He stroked her hands, her neck, cheeks, then slowly gathered her close and buried his head against her bosom.

Angela was strong in convention, in the precepts of her parents, in the sense of her family and its attitude, but this situation was more than she could resist. She accepted first the pressures of his arm, then the slow subtlety with which he caressed her. Resistance seemed almost impossible now for he held her close – tight within the range of his magnetism. When finally she felt the pressure of his hand upon her quivering limbs, she threw herself back in a transport of agony and delight.

By the standards and laws of the day (remember Comstock was still on the books), this passage was pornographic. It kept Dreiser and his attorney tied up in courts and prevented the book from being widely distributed for eight years. By those same standards, The Wire would never have aired.

Could I live without HBO or Netflix? I’d like to think so but aside from the ordinary routines of family life or the genuine enjoyment of clever plots and transfixing characters, I’d also like to think that I would not have to choose. I do know enough history to think that if the Christian political and moral types get their way and rectify the errors of a secular society that lives by the antithesis of a Christian w-w, my private amusements are going to resemble what transpires among my fellow church members when we gather for worship or merriment than what I now enjoy in the other kingdom of a 2k universe.

It's Like A Film Festival On Your Laptop and Everyone's Invited

Netflix move over. Say hello to Mubi. That is a movie website that makes available one movie each day (and remains accessible for a month) for streaming through a computer. (So far Mubi is not available through Roku or similar devices. The work around I have discovered is the HDMI cable which turns our television screen into a laptop monitor.)

The way I discovered Mubi was by conducting a search for the best Turkish movies. (I’m sure that will send lots of readers over to Mubi.com.) And true to form, Mubi just finished a series of recent Turkish movies. The missus and I watched recently “My Marlon and Brando” (very good) and “My Only Sunshine” (grim but worth seeing, especially if you have any interest in or affection for the Bosporus). We also watched a charming, small Italian movie, “Mid-August Lunch” (highly recommended).

For $4.95 a month, Mubi is prompting us (okay, me) to rethink Amazon Prime streaming as well as Netflix (for dvds). The reason is that Mubi brings to the screen a variety of international movies, both old and new, that you would never go out of your way to find. It has the dynamic that makes a film festival worth attending — the serendipity of movies from around the world and not financed by the big distributors only available for a short time. And that short shelf life (a month instead of two nights) is another aspect of Mubi that (all about) I like. Instead of having a 40 film queue with Amazon or Netflix that you never use because you know those titles will still be there next week, next month, or next year, with Mubi you have a bit of a gun to your head (oh, the thrill); if you don’t see what they now are featuring you may not see it again. It almost brings back to streaming the small bit of anxiety that still attends real live movie theaters — where you can’t count on a title being around next week when you get back from vacation.

Old Life rating: outstanding.