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Master Directory of Articles

OK, this is a major shakeup of all my web space. I’ve been breaking up, realizing that the clusters of articles on the main pages there is basically too cluttered, so I had begin by making separate pages for major essays, and now, I decided to drop a bunch of them here, and list everything to date, by category.

Entertainment and media


Personality, Typology and the Human Experience

Math, Science and Technicalities

Travel and Transit


Christian Doctrine

“Blackness” as a negative archetype

“Blackness” is an archetype (ruling pattern emblazoned on our “collective unconscious”) of general negativity. Why? As entities embedded in the material world, in order to find our way about, and protect ourselves from physical threats we need signals from the material world. The quickest is a form of energy that fills space and bounces off of objects, and is then triggers receptors in our eyes, producing an image of all the physical items around us. We call this “light”. It’s obviously a good thing, and its absence is called “darkness”, in which we are vulnerable to objects we can’t see.
It does also become a “cover” for other people doing things that either threaten us, or might be otherwise opposed by other people (such as in society in general).So across the board, darkness” (or “blackness”) took on a very negative connotation, and thus becoming such a universally negative archetype.(One notable exception is when it became opposed to redness, as in financial status. Red can go either way in being positive or negative, since it is the color of blood, and thus can represent either life itself, or danger, where blood may be shed. And the same with it being roughly the color of fire, which can heat enough for comfort and health, or to destroy. So in this instance, “in the black” meant being out of the state of financial danger represented by “in the red”, and from here, the upcoming “Black Friday”).

So this archetype eventually was unfortunately overgeneralized to skin color, and from there, as more justification (including “biblical”) needed to be made [particularly for the institution of slavery in the 1600’s], dark skin was assumed to be a “curse”. Seeking to find this curse in scripture, one was readily found, in Genesis 9, and on group of people descended from the man believed to be the father of the “negroid” race. Some went further than that, and said it was the “mark of Cain”. Cain was before the flood, and according to the global flood theory most conservative Christians believe in, his descendants should have all perished. But they’ll probably say that while Noah and his sons were of Seth, Ham’s wife carried the genes.
(But now we’re getting further and further into unbiblical speculation. As it is, the “curse” on Canaan was not on all of Ham’s descendants, even if it was in reaction to something he did, and most importantly, it was not uttered by God, but by Noah himself, in a hung over anger. God never claims to honor it).

Adding to this, since the lighter skinned people were quicker to both develop technologically, plus adopt the biblically based monotheistic religions that supposedly promoted more civility, the home of many of the dark skinned people, Africa, became known as “the dark continent”. Even though nearly all tribes of men outside the Abrahamic traditions naturally gravitated toward polytheism and ritual (and many within those traditions still fell back into it in different ways), “demonic religion” became specially tagged on these people.

And all of this would be used to justify the coralling of these people into inferior positions in “civilized” society. And the removal of this restraint blamed on the downfall of civilized societies (by misguided or even malicious “do-gooders” trying to make all “equal” just for the sake of equality without regard of “the facts”, or perhaps to purposefully bring down the civilization out of envy or whatever).

And then the resultant dysfunction of many of the people would be the ultimate validation of this. They would then react in anger, and through intimidating stances (such as “gangsta/“thug”/“copkiller”), actually owning very negative stereotypes of themselves (And the negative term taken from the racists), but then continue to suffer from the consequences of them.

This has all been like a runaway domino effect. So bad, that the negative connotation is even still evident in people attitudes toward skin tone even among “colored” people themselves (and especially younger females).

The Nation of Islam and others recognized this archetype, as one of the introductory things they taught (as you can see in the stories of Malcolm X and others), is how “black” is always “bad”, and white is “good”. This was blamed on “racism”, and as the Bible also recognizes the dichotomy, it was taken as proof that the Bible was just a “white control tool” (likely “corruped” by both Jews and Christians as other the rest of Islam teaches).

Of course, the “black is bad” stereotype had also spread to other things, such as cats; becoming a symbol of “bad luck”, and the ghoulish atmosphere of Halloween as the pets of its witches. (This has even led to some cruel treatment of them).
In this vein, these afrocentric forms of Islam influenced hip-hop, and one popular rap even linked all of this together:
Black cat is bad luck; bad guys wear black…
Must have been a white guy who started all that…
[Then eventulally counters with a black Muslim reverse racist theory of white features such as blue eyes being a “disease created by leprosy”].

But it is incorrect to blame the Bible or whites for this; it’s an archetype that has been taken out of its original context and misapplied to justify oppression.

The archetypal (unconsciously engrained in the human psyche) nature of this dynamic makes me wonder if we’ll ever be able to completely eradicate all negative connotations of “blackness”.
We should all recognize this archetype (as a product of the unconscious) and how it influences our views of blacks, they themselves, and everyone else, of course). Then, it would be easier to eliminate unfair discrimatory attitudes in ourselves.

What should we “just” do to make the world a better place?

Someone recently asked on a list, how we would fill in the question “If people just ___________, the world would be a much better place!” (This sparked from a discussion on type or temperament, where another person said “If people just listened to reason, the world would be a much better place!”)

As an INTP (whom this last person was also), I always tended to think that, but then the whole point of type is realizing that others don’t think as we do, and so there will be no way to make everyone else see the need for “reason” as we do; let along make them use reason in the way we think it should be.

Ilustrating this typological difference, the OP, an INFP, then filled in “loved one another.” Then, an INFJ then filled in
“showed more compassion”
“truly listened to each other”
“stopped judging each other”

Seeing this discusion, after initially not knowing what to say, I suddenly saw this as an outlet for some thoughts I was developing.

So I would say “owned their own propensity to offend others”. I’ve been recently thinking of creating a meme that says something like “The question isn’t ‘[why] can’t we all get along?‘, it’s ‘can we look at our own problems before blaming others?’” For that is the cause of people not being able to get along.

Just looking at politics (and especially the race issue, which is where that question is often asked), there is so much blaming going on. It brings to mind that question being asked by the guy at the center of the LA riots, and he sounded so innocent, as a victim of police brutality, but when I later heard that he was initially confronted to begin with for committing a crime, him asking “can’t we all get along” seemed ironic. Whatever crime he was committing, is not conducive to “getting along”! (And of course, neither is others using his crime as an excuse for [overboard] police brutality, or demonizing the whole community or [sub-]”culture”, which really is a new category for “race”.
I’ve elsewhere noted that the root of racism is not so much to put others down, but to exalt one’s own group. So then, the other group is seen as a “threat”, and then must be put down in some way.  This is the heart of the question here. Most of the “dog whistle” style of today is people feeling put upon, with their “society”, which they want to see as “exceptional”, being unjustly demonized, and this used to demand something of them in restitution).

The concepts Beebe discussed in Integrity in Depth provide a nice framework for discussing this stuff. We all gravitate towards “nature” (in contrast to “integrity”), and it becomes the excuse both sides of every conflict use. Economic inequality is justified because of “the market”, which is basically the “survival instinct” carried to an advanced level, and yet the crimes of the poor is also the surivival instinct gone to an unhealthy extreme. Both sides put forth their reasonings why their own behavior is justfied, while excoriating the other side for what’s essentially the same thing. But they never see it as the same thing; it’s “different” when WE do it. (fundamental attribution shift).
The same with the current Syrian crisis. Islamists are acting purely in nature; whether the “offensive” desire to gain more control and bring the world under Islam (control them before they control you), or perhaps a reasoning that it’s a “defensive” retaliation for the West trampling on their turf (control them back, from controlling you). Then, our reaction, to shut out refugees trying to escape them, because the terrorists themselves may slip in amongst them. That’s the natural drive for self-protection.

(For this reason, while leaning to the left, mainly because I’ve been so put off by the right’s racial “dog whistling” and misguided blame; I’m aware that the left’s solutions might not always work as idealized. So I end up not knowing which position to really take in issues such as the refugees. Or how really to solve our own financial and racial situations).

But anyway, the point was, that people need to bring “integrity” [an ethic of justice and care] into their dealings in nature, but we can’t when we’re in this loop of self-justification for acting purely on nature. We often don’t even see it as “nature” when we do it; we see it as integrity in fact, and only see it as unbridled “nature” in the other side. Like because we can appeal to a “fact” for why we believe or do as we do, people tend to think that by itself turns it into some sort of “integrity”; as if you’re credited for “good” just because some form of efficiency determines your course of nature (and thus you can’t be acused of malice or neglect towards others). But that’s still by definition, “nature”.

The prime example is conservative Christians who railed on about evolutionism (which they accused of leading society to just go with the basic desires, which is “nature”, or in biblical terminology, “the flesh”), and looked down on others, such as “jungle dwellers” when extolling the “civilization” of the western Christian nations, but then favors the unbridled “market”, not seeing how that too is apart of the same “nature” they identified in others, and has contributed to a lot of the moral decay of society. They just blamed the decay all on Darwin/Marx/Freud (and minorities), while insisting the financial power structure HAD to be the way it was, as if it were an act of God (whom many did claim “gave” them their power; i.e. “divine providence”).

Also, a lot of conflict between “the Church” and “the world” is from the Church reading scripture, and seeing God’s “standards” for human behavior (basically, “the Law”), and while the whole premise of the Gospel is that man could not do it, and so needed Grace (where Christ died for sin), Christians, developed a notion that once we “convert” to Christ and become “regenerated” (by the Spirit of God), NOW we can keep the Law better (or at least show we are “trying”), and what do many do from this point, but go right back to condemning the rest of the world, who are appparently, or even obviously in many cases, not even “trying”. They accuse them of being “in the flesh” (i.e. “nature”, which many had made evil in itself, of “fallen”), while the judgers presume themselves to be “in the Spirit”. So then, any sin someone points out in themselves must be fiercely denied as an attack of the enemy (whether the other people themselves, or the old standby of “the devil”).
This is the cause of much of the dispute in the world, at least as far as religion (which often does undergird the other politial issues, at some point).

They miss the point that justification is no longer about behavior. All have the same nature, and justification is God receiving Christ’s righteousness, and no longer holding man’s sin against him. (And you have the Parable of the Unjust Steward where Christ illustrates what would happen to people like this, if God really were to still judge by the Law).
Good behavior then is to be out of love (not fear, which religion has been using), which would be a product of integrity [i.e. justice, amiability, patience, etc.]

So I would say “if people just realized their own propensity to nature and let that keep them from looking down on others, the world would be [on the start to being] a much better place”.

Book Review: “Dog Whistle Politics:”

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class Ian Haney López New York, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Here’s another needed and far too rare political “prophet” sort of work to add to the “how did I miss this?” stack. First, Michael Horton’s scathing critique of the Christian political slant, Beyond Culture Wars (1994; seen mentioned in Christianity Today, but did not see in a bookstore until ’96), and then, columnist Carl Rowan’s The Coming Race War. (1996; found ’98, at Borders, 5 WTC). Both, two years after publication. Now,I’ve gotten a little better, as it’s one year (or maybe 1½) after publication. Still, too long, especially after writing stuff that could have cited it, including the “Ten Common Arguments in the Race Issue” and half a dozen other articles on politics here, including the last one “Slavery As the Ideal System”.

So this, like those two other two mentioned, nails all the issues in a way I just haven’t seen much. (And he even goes into why this is so).

The whole theme is that middle class Americans are being led to “vote against their own apparent interests”, in favor of affluent plutocrats, seen as on their side against “unproductive” minorities; which is the whole plot to begin with.
“Big money came to see dog whistling as a way to promote policies that favored society’s sultans. These policies are roughly the same advocated by malefactors of great wealth during the era of the robber baron: low taxes, a minimal or non-existent social safety net, and corporate control over the regulation of industry.
Their aim was not to wreck the middle class, but to convince average Americans to support policies that transferred wealth and power to the already extremely wealthy and powerful. Like the nonwhites injured by dog whistle racism, the middle class was not a target—just collateral damage” (p.74)

Here’s some of the best notes:

•Shows that the whole concept of “race” was just a convenient mechanism to justify slavery of Africans and expropriation of Native Americans. In the beginning of the 1600’s, before European settlement began in earnest, “white”, “red” and “black” did not exist as a concept of “races”.

For almost anyone, it is wrenching to encounter, let along participate in, the level of intense suffering associated with driving persons from their homes or forcing people into bondage. If, however, we can convince ourselves that our victims are not like us—do not feel pain the way we do, are not intelligent and sensitive, indeed are indolent, degenerate, violent and dangerous—then perhaps we’re not doing so much harm after all; indeed, more than protecting ourselves, maybe we are helping the benighted others. And how much better, in terms of excusing our own self-interest, if it turns out that forces beyond anyone’s control (and hence, beyond our moral responsibility) doomed these unfortunate others to subservience; if, say, God or nature fixed their insuperable character and determined their lot in life.

(From this point; I’m surprised he didn’t go into the current dog whistle I’ve mentioned elsewhere, of the “superhumanization bias” against blacks, which included the adultification of young black kids).

•”Three racisms”: “hate”, “structural”, and “implicit bias”. A lot of dog whistling deflection comes from assuming “racism” is “hate” only, and the main rival to that view today is “unconscious [i.e. implicit] bias”, which he also terms “commonsense racism” (which includes the whole “stereotype as ‘fact‘” concept).

•Discusses “Strategic” racism, where politicians who may otherwise not really have any hatred in their heart, nevertheless use it for their own goals.
Politicians like Wallace (the first “dog whistle” politician), Goldwater and Nixon started off moderate, but then adopted racial politics to win elections.
(That ironically sounds familiar, as what do the dog whistlers always say, but that blacks’ problem is that they want “free stuff”, and that it’s the liberals promising it to them to get votes. As I pointed out, it goes both ways!)
Includes whole history of this tactic, such as the “convict leasing” that immediately replaced slavery in the South.

“…because strategic racism is strategic; it is not fundamentally about race. The driving force behind strategic racism is not racial animus for its own sake or brutalizing nonwhites out of hate; it is the pursuit of power, money and/or status. Yes, provocateurs stimulate racial hatred intentionally, and yes, they do tremendous damage to nonwhite communities. But strategic racists act out of avarice rather than animus. Their aim is to pursue their own self-interest; racism is merely a route to mammon, not an end in itself” (p.47; bold added)

•In conjunction with this; mentions that racists are just regular and even “decent” folk (“who see racial injustice asa normal feature of sociey”), and not always hate-filled terrorists, or whatever. (p. xii, 5, 37, 41ff, 112). This touches upon what I was recently getting at here:

They’re basically average people who identify (psychologically, meaning to see it as an extension of their egos that they feel virtually nonexistent without) with a historic system whose errors they refuse to completely admit were wrong, so they have to defend, and try to validate it by upholding the legacy in one way or another (and then refuse to repent of their part in it).
Hence, the problem can’t be rich capitalists; they’re our heroes; an extension of us (even if I myself haven’t lived up to the ideal, and have to admit they’re “better” than me). So it must be the blacks, whom our forefathers then must have been right in trying to suppress (even if you can get some of them to lip the protocol, “it was bad thing”. The whole point of dog whistle ideology is implication, and often subconscious).

•Faithfully recounts the whole “Southern Strategy”, which is a process often ignored by modern dogwhistlers, trying to tag all “racism” on “The Democratic Party — then and now”. (I’m surprised he didn’t mention this part of the dog whistle rhetoric).

•Shows how think tanks arose in the 70’s to continue the dog whistling after conservativism suffered from a lack of credibility at the end of the 60’s. They then found an ally in Ronald Reagan.

•Goes into “backlash” as an assumed “natural” process, shaping people’s responses to the issue

•Suggests “liberal elites” had a sympathy for racist sentiment (such as that racial equality was disruptive, and this is what we saw in the recent minor controversy over a Bernie Sanders rally), which is why they were slow to “favor retreat” from conservative rhetoric. Among them as well, “the dog whistle harping on welfare, forced busing and law and order struck powerful chords, making it that much harder for Democratic leaders to see coded race-baiting for what it was—a strategy, not a natural reaction. (p.33-34)
(Also, later, because they didn’t want to be seen as stirring the racial pot, especially, knowing conservatives were throwing back the charge of “the race card”. This then connects to the whole “post-racial” sentiment).

•Talking about racial inequalities only confirms people’s beliefs: “Of course there are inequalities, and now you’ve shown me the natural differences are greater than I thought”.

•The whole conversion of “colorblindess” into a “cultural” assessment. (p. 92ff). The origins of “the problem is black families” (< Moynihan).
“Race” was replaced with “ethnicities” (and from here, is briefly mentioned the charge that “other groups pulled themselves up”), and then the real problem was made “culture”, even though this perfectly matched the old “race” category. So under the banner of “colorblindness”, they could actually continue the same old racial stereotypes, but then claim it is “culture” and not “race”, and that they are just going by “fact” (and from there, deflect charges of “racism” onto the other side, including claiming whites are the true “victims” of it. Even the Anglo-Saxons became the most vulnerable, victimized minority, from being the only group ineligible to claim affirmative action).

Ethnicity told a story of groups either defeated or elevated by their own cultures. Dog whistle politicians embraced the ethnic fiction, amplifying themes of deviant nonwhite behavior and white innocence. The narratives promoted alike by the ethnic turn and racial demagogues—a lack of work ethic, a preference for welfare, a propensity toward crime, or their opposites—reinvigorated racial stereotypes, giving them renewed life in explaining why minorities lagged behind whites. These stereotypes might have faded as society addressed racism. Instead, they became the staples of political discourse, repeaded ad nauseam by politicians, think tanks and media.

“Colorblindness” cast the ongoing of the problems to the people themselves, instead of ongoing structural components of racism. This then led to a return to the old “laissez faire” concept of “rugged individualism” (from the old “robber baron” age of the past, the nation voted away through the New Deal), which was one of the things the “deficient” black culture refused to adopt.
Scholars in the 1990’s remarked that “a new form of prejudice has come to prominence, one that is preoccupied with matters of moral character, informed by the virtues associated with the traditions of individualism. At its center are the contentions that blacks do not try hard enough to overcome the difficulties they face and that they take what they have not earned”. (p. 100, citing Kinder, Sanders Divided by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals).
So many have come to believe that they prosper because they possess “the values, orientations, and work ethic needed by the self-making individual in a capitalist society”, and thus, “It is now virtually commonsense, at least among the GOP faithful, that minorities fail, and they succeed, as rugged individuals”.

An extension of ethnicity across the color line might have been a felicitous development, for instance if society had come to see nonwhites in terms of cultural variety and a shared humanity. Instead, though, when ethnicity eventually was applied to nonwhites, it changed form and became another way of explaining unbridgeable difference. Where supremacist conceptions of race attributed minority failings to nature, ethnic conceptions would link virtually the same faults to their culture. Ethnicity ultimately replaced nature with culture, but otherwise left the stereotypes explaining minority inferiority largely untouched.

(This tactic also allows them to acknowledge “the good ones“; who do not fit the stereotype of the race, without this damaging the stereotype itself).
This method to “reconceptualize racial dynamics” is framed as a tactic to ultimately prevent amelioration of inequality by attacking the “traditional liberal solutions”; including that “they themselves create cultural pathologies in nonwhite communities”. (And here, on p.97 we get mention of conservative thinkers such as Charles Murray, Dinesh D’Souza, and another one I had never heard of, Myron Magnet).

“Clearly, something must explain white dominance, but what?”
“If racism does remain a problem, how can conservatives object to remedying it?”
“What makes these efforts [welfare, job training, housing, education] futile, or unfair to whites [who once benefitted from them]”?
Most importantly, “how can conservatives talk about why minorities pose a looming threat, if race is just a matter of skin color [as their position of “colorblindness” argued]”?

They deny racial groups can be defined by “culture” only when challenged; otherwise, they routinely employ ethnic terms as a coded way to talk about racial groups and their supposedly incompatible behaviors and beliefs.

“Whites believed in structural remedies when they saw the poor as people like themselves, folks sometimes trapped by larger forces or bad breaks. They shifted to a belief in personal failings when they began to see the poor as nonwhites fundamentally unlike themselves. Today, conservatives like Gingrich seek to both stoke and exploit the conviction that the poor chose their fate”.
Meanwhile, he cites Dr. King as acknowledging that the black family as part of the cause of its present crisis culturally and socially induced. Yet his solution was access to jobs, education and housing, coupled with freedom from further exploitation.

Ethnicity provides a basis for blaming minorities for their inferior positions, since it faults their supposedly defective cultures; simultaneously, it exhonerates whites, since racism is no longer to blame for inequality. This in turn answers the question of government help: such assistance is futile because only nonwhites can reform their inferior cultures and self-defeating behaviors. Finally, the ethnic turn promotes a new culture talk that surreptitiously resurrects old stereotypes, allowing conservatives to reinvigorate a pernicious aspect of racism; contentions about fundamental differences in behavior and culture between innocent whites and threatening nonwhites.
Racial demagogues could drop direct references to biology and racial groups, and still stir racial passions. Ethnicity helped establish a commonsense framework in which discussions of dysfunctional culture and menacing behavior were readily understood as describing the essential identity of nonwhites.

Yet racial demagogues did more than resurrect old stereotypes; they altered them in ways that combined assaults on nonwhites with attacks on liberalism. Shaped by the coded language of conservative dog whistle politics, racial stereotypes increasingly connected ideas of minority inferiority with rightwing political narratives. Today, the most powerful racial stereotypes—the ones most generally credited and in widest circulation—dovetail precisely with dog whistle naratives jointly attacking minorities and liberalism.


(Among conservative Christians who engage in dog whistle rhetoric or general belief in “exceptionalism”, the entire set of well-known scriptural teachings on the sinfulness of all men (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:9-20 Galatians 3:22, Luke 18:9-14, John 9:41) goes right out the window in favor of a pure cultural merit, and they don’t even realize it.
If an individual says “I am justified by my good works”, or a “cult group” or other religion says “we shall be saved by our works” then their “heresy” is obviously recognized, and these people regarded as hell-bound sinners rejecting Christ’s Gospel. But when “mainstream” Christians extend this same rationale to “culture”, it’s a different story. Individual “salvation” no longer matters; it’s the salvation of the nation from others’ [external forces] sins by our own goodness.
Hence the current rash of “harbinger”s or other “prophecies” of “judgment” on America for its cultural “sins” [everything but historic racism, of course] —that like all others are all passing by unfulfilled, about now.

Also, “culture” was long used as a racial dog whistle in the old Christian music debates within the church. Christian music using “secular” (contemporary) styles such as rock are condemned as “worldly”, supposedly for being produced by an “ungodly” post-Christian culture; but ultimately for the style coming from blacks. But then secular (such as classical, or strictly patriotic) music done in a traditional style is considered acceptable, because the “culture” they were produced in was “Christian”, and therefore “sacred”.

One expression of “colorblindness” was the saying “not skin, but sin” (which a common tract was even written on). While I thought that was a nice idea, overall the “sin” part was still not owned by the evangelical “culture” producing the meme; but was rather, generally, seen as external; like race was something “secular” society was having an issue with, but their problem is “sin”, and as one contemporary music critic addressing charges of racism in the teaching brushed it off with, “The Bible has the answers”. But the Bible is in this case simply thrown at others, while one assumes they’re already in line with it.

So this “cultural” focus just leads to distortions of the Gospel into an imagined “Christian culture” that is an extension of biblical Israel, in being “chosen” by God; but unlike Israel, infused with the Spirit, making them overall “superior” or “exceptional”, even if every single individual in the nation or culture was not regenerated).

On P.102 he puts the strategy all together:

  • Race is just a matter of blood, and has no connection to past or present social practices.
  • Racism means being treated differently on the basis of race. Since affirmative action treats whites differently because of race, it constitutes racism. On the other hand, there is little racism against minorities today: witness the absense of proven malice.
  • Ethnicity shows that whites do not exist as a dominant group, but only as ethnic minorities with just as much right as other minorities to protect their own group interests
  • Group cultures differ, and it’s not racist to acknowledge that white ethnics have succeded, and nonwhite groups have failed, on the basis of differences in group capacity and behavior. Moreover, since groups are the masters of their own fate, it is futile (in addition to being racist) for government to give some groups special handouts

“When laid out this way, it’s no surprise that Reagan and other political leaders since have embraced colorblindness. It sounds liberal, yet works like a racial cudgel, denying that there’s discrimination against minorities, elevating whites as racial victims, justifying white superiority, and facilitating dog whistle racial appeals that emphasize culture and comportment”.

•Highlights the Clintons’ use of racial politics (such as “getting tough on crime”, which was an instance of a liberal use of the “dog whistle”; which I clearly remembered him “needing” to do during his first campaign to compete with the Republicans, especially with the whole “Horton” campaign still fresh in mind); and that Bill used his Arsenio appearance make himself look like “the first black president” and a “friend” of blacks or “honorary brother”. (“[race-baiting] may have violated Clinton’s values; indeed, he was likely deeply troubled by the perceived need to racially pander. Whatever the case, though, Clinton bit down on that whistle and blew. At root, the ‘racism’ in dog whistle racism is the ‘strategy’…[lying] in provoking racial animosities in order to gain votes and power.” p.113)
In this point, it also mentions the black vote being “not so much disdained as taken for granted. The black community could be pushed away and even slapped down a bit, without seriously jeopardizing African American electoral support. After all, the reasoning went, where could they go?” (This is basically the “lesser of two evils” premise, which is also working on the right side, where Republicans have taken their electorate for granted, who essentially have no where else to go).

•As racial politics dies down after Clinton reforms, Heritage Foundation blames failures of tax cuts for rich on “social programs”. This is what set the focus back on “lazy minorities”, to the present (I definitely had noted how the rhetoric had died down, and then kicked back up around 2004).
And of course, 9-11 also drew more ire towards “Arab Muslims” and “illegal immigrants” from across the southern border.

•Mentions John Birch Society as being founded by candy manufacturer Robert Welch (“In a conxtext in which actual domestic support for communism was virtually nil”; so the term functioned as a hyperbolic catchall for the New Deal), and later mentions the Koch brothers (as billionaire backers for the Right, of course), so I’m surprised he never mentioned their father’s co-founding the JBS. (And that he dog whistled a connection between communists and civil rights as a serious threat to the country).

Here, it’s made clear that the whole platform of the Right against “government” really started with opposition to the government (who had initially benefitted whites through the New Deal) extending the benefits to blacks.

“Punch, parry, kick” (p.129) Here he really nails the rhetorical deflect-and-turnabout dynamic conservatives use:

The punch is the dog whistle’s initial coded race-talk (including caricatures, such as an image of Obama on a “food stamp” bill with stereotypcal black food, or the “Obama phone lady”).
The parry is where they then play dumb, refusing to see any connection between their comments and race. This, where they often say “it’s fact, not racism”, and may accuse the other side of “whining”.
The kick is the counterattack, where they accuse the accuser of being the one injecting race into the conversation. This is where they level the charges of, “playing the race card”, and “being the true racists”.

•191ff Obama not “liberal” enough. Was not really constrained by GOP in the beginning, when they were in disarray, and their ideas largely discredited. With Obama silent, then their standard story about race and betrayal became the sole coherent narrative.

Suggests he may have been compensating for the “double strike” (in the eyes of the Right) of being both black and Democratic

•He at this point makes the distinction between the “colorblindness” of the Right, and the “post-racialism” as the left’s counterpart. Unlike colorblindness, post-racialism could acknowledge the damaging effect of past racism, but now doesn’t want to discuss it beyond that.

Some other things I’m surprised weren’t mentioned (in addition to the denial of Southern Strategy as a rhetorical tactic, the Koch-JBS connection, and “superhumanization bias”):

•Asians often being cited by dog whistlers as doing “better than whites” in intelligence scores. He uses the terms “nonwhite” a lot, and points out that the definition of who counts as white may change, but Asians are not yet being included as “white”, though nevertheless used to prove that the dog whistlers are not exalting their own race, because “look; we’re admitting others [the Asians] are better than US!“.

•While giving that one reference to Murray, surprisingly didn’t mention the attempts through his “Bell Curve” theory to still maintain some sort of natural difference.

•That there are plenty of rightwing people who do want to “discuss race” (and even condemn leftwing “political correctness” for censoring it), though of course, this is to openly blame minorities. These are the ones regarding the “dog whistlers” as “cuckservatives“, and rather than dog whistlers themselves, they would amount to regular audible whistle blowers! But I guess he’s focusing on the dog whistlers themselves, not on these more radical fringes. But these fringes were allowed to make their voices heard more by the dog whistlers softening the audience up for them!

•Another thing that could have been covered, since it was pointed out the nation favored the New Deal in the past, even citing the IRS headquarters inscription “taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society”, is how they were able to do it back then with no income tax. This would build his argument (below) that a “return” to “liberal government” is the solution.

•How the illusion of “black culture” being bad, was fed to many of them for a profit, and then further broadcast by they themselves to the entire world, through entertainment venues such as “gangsta rap” (which of course also benifitted the huge media empires publishing it). I’ve always seen this as a ploy to justify racism, (in the very vein of those rappers claiming to be anti-white and pro-black). Now, everybody sees that stuff, and the kids emulating it from coast to coast, and it “proves” more than anything else, that all the stetreotypes of blacks are true. They themselves openly flaunt it, even!

The book ends on “What to Do”

Politicians: Obama is not in a position to take on race directly, but must 1) articulate and govern according to a positive liberal vision, and 2) “give a consistent and coherent account of who the culprits are”; “who’s holding us down, and even pushing us downward”, since “with so much hardship in their lives, people want to know who to blame” (“resentment abhors a vacuum”); pointing out that dog whistle politicians have made assigning blame their principle task.
However, we should not engage in scapegoating and clarify that it is not wealth itself or corporations that are the problem, but that we cannot ignore self-interested billionaires and corporations that attempt to distort the democratic process to serve their own interests. (And he cites Teddy Roosevelt, a “great capitalist”, who nevertheless lambasted “malefactors of great wealth”. 3) Liberal politicians must encourage their allies and appointees to discuss race.

Civil Rights Organizations: 1) promote liberalism 2) spark a new civil rights movement. He has us imagine three positions regarding racial justice: a left commitment to directly addressing inequalities, a rightwing agenda of reversing civil rights and preserving the status quo, and in the middle, universal liberal programs that only indirectly help minorities. “By staying silent on race, the left effectively disappeared: no one was arguing for direct responses to racial injustice.” What happened, is that that middle position came to be seen as “left” and even “radical”, and even Democrats fearing being identified with “left” programs. (“this is where we find ourselves today”).

Foundations and unions: Most have also retreated from directly engaging with racial justice. If the issues they do address touch on poverty, they will also inevitably intersect with race, and if they seek government help, will be contested in racial terms. Public unions find themselves the targets of aggressive attacks, particularly economic ones, such as the cost to taxpayers of fulfilling pension obligations, and also “a racial refrain that paints many unions, especially public ones, as havens of unproductive minorities” (I saw this first hand on the Christian board I debated on! As I’ve said in Makers-Takers, “even if you’re working, you’re still a ‘taker’, if you essentially ‘want too much’ ⦅including any sort of job security or benefits⦆'” All of this should make it clear, that “slavery” is basically the hypothetical ideal of this system).

So these organizations’ principal work should be “a long term project to restore luster to liberalism itself”, including a “consensus on how to help the middle class”. They had backed down from defending this, due to pressure from the Clinton and Obama administrations to tone down on demands for New Deal style solutions for economic challenge, shifting rightward with the rest of the country. Or, they hold a complacent sense that liberalism needs no defense, and will naturally win out in the end.
But looking at the way the conservative think tanks and media conglomerates (and the influence of people like the Kochs), “in today’s political climate, bad ideas thrive with sufficient resources behind them, and good ideas wither from neglect. Liberals must acknowledge the skewed nature of the marketplace of ideas and foundations and unions must step up their commitments to supporting advocacy organizations, think tanks, and grassroots groups motivated to re-engage the increasingly one-sided debates…”. This extends to supporting universities (including schools like law, business and medicine), starting with liberal arts programs to help foster the values and critical thinking that undergirds liberalism, as conservatives have been effective in pouring money into endeavors like this.

The rest of us:
Consciously consider race (“The racial subterfuge of coded appeals that has done so much to wreck the middle class is easy to pierce, but only if one consciously mulls over how race might be involved”).
Raise one’s voice (“Rightwing racial attacks on liberalism depend on cowing into silence those opposed to continuing racial demonization, thus allowing dog whistle calumnies to spread unchallenged”. In discussing how colorblindness makes those who point out racism seem to be the racists, he interjects a second time “as if pulling a fire alarm means one set the fire, or dialing 911 means one committed the crime“.) So to defeat dog whistle racism, we need to sound that alarm! (And for persons of color, this is especially risky, since there’s additional pressure to stay silent and “show that race no longer matters”).
And it doesn’t necessarily mean electing more Democrats, for they can use the whistle as well.

He praises the Occupy Wall St. movement as good, showing that “tremendous passion exists around issues of economic inequality” and how social media comes to good use; but erring in refusing to engage in party politics (like the Tea Party did) and accept major financial backing; and also ignoring race. (“It was a curious spectacle, to see many white youth in Oakland up in arms about economic injustice but resistant to talking about racism, in a city where wealth and poverty correlate so closely with color”).

It's not about color, it's about the Law
Typical “dog whistle” meme that attempts to accuse the other side of falsely making the issue about race. It totally ignores all the instances where the black victim WAS obeying or not resisting, and still got shot. It in one brush stroke makes all black victims automatically guilty of resisting arrest, just because they got shot. It implies the police are always right, and black kids are always wrong. This really needs to be challenged, nonstop

So he basically advocates for “liberal” use of “government”, and a focus on race. I admit that I have been greatly influenced by the “post-racial” mindset, in basically cowing to the Right’s tough talk against “government”, and “the race card”. I would say that Obama was using “tact” in deflecting from race, which is what I had been saying all along. How can we keep pushing both for “government”, and decrying “racial discrimination”, when the other side has been loudly trashing both issues as us just wanting to tyrannize them (à la “Communism”) in order to take “free stuff” from them, and we have not even been answering that charge.
I still think there is wisdom in recognizing a limit of government, as it, just like big business, or dog whistle organizations, is composed of humans who often act on their own self-interest, which corrupts the goals, and leaves those they are supposed to help still not helped that much.

But he does say, continuing with the comment electing Democrats not being the goal; “Rather, the goal is to restore a political consensus that sees government not as a handmaiden to mooching nonwhites, but as a powerful tool for promoting liberty and opportunity for all“.

The result of dog whistle politics is that while so much money has been going to the super-rich, people still continue to insist it’s all gone to the minorities (like claiming “22 Trillion” went to “welfare” programs since Johnson, as I’ve seen).
The goal is to restore the paradigm of the “robber baron”, who through “rugged individualism” can milk dry as much of the people as they can; and then not only that, but to have it all blamed on minorities, who then are the ones deemed needing restraints put on them. (Just as in the old ideal setup of the Old South, which many are still hoping will “rise again”!)

This, (aside from the arguments of the dangers of “big government”, and whether it “works”, or whether programs will really help the minorities for whom the ghetto lifestyle is so engrained) I would say is a good start.

Here’s an article with some of his points:
8 Sneaky Racial Code Words and Why Politicians Love Them

Why Mirrors Reverse Left and Right but Not Up and Down

Why Do Mirrors Reverse Left and Right but Not Up and Down?

Saw this the other day, and tried to think about it, but was too busy on the typological stuff. Saw it again today, and watched the video

To simplify it in my own terms, it’s true, as she says, that in the mirror image, left is still left and right is still right. When I thought of this, even before I mentioned, I started by imagining lines, from my right to the “right” side of the mirror image, and from the left to the left, and of course, top and bottom as well. I at the time just figured that is what reverses the image, but didn’t really think of why horizontally (width) and not vertically (height). But the key is the fact that it’s not a left-right switch, but back and forth (depth).

In any rotation, two dimensions are involved. We can “left/right face”, and with 180° (a full “about face”), then back and forth are reversed, but then so are right and left. We can also rotate head forward 180°, and then right and left will be the same, but back and forth and up and down will be opposite. And we can rotate sideways, and then left and right will be opposite again, along with up and down; and back/forth will be the same.

What we’re interested in is comparing the first two, where back/forth are reversed.

The reason there is a difference between width and height, and width seems to be the one that changes, is because height is the dimension in which we are anchored to the ground by gravity, and width then becomes an extra “free” dimension (while depth is the basic dimension you look “forward” in). So when we want to reverse “back and forth”, the dimension we turn in is always right or left. As the video mentions, we have a symmetry in this free dimension, but not in height, where our feet and legs are on the bottom to stand on, and our heads are on top. We could “turn around” the second way (like a half somersault), but that would mean standing on our heads (or hands).

With a mirror, the light from left, right up and down heads straight from you, to the mirror, and then bounces back to you, in the same position. This flips back/forth without flipping any of the other two dimensions. So we end up with a negative image, meaning an image with one dimension reversed. Like multiplying positive or negative humbers, an odd number of negatives is negative, but an even number is positive.
Notice, when you add another mirror (or look in a horizontally bent mirror, like in a funhouse), you get a reflection of the reflection, which is then a positive image (the words on your shirt will read as normal), but rotated 180°; facing you, so that width is now reversed (your head now nods in different directions), and depth is still reversed as well (And height still normal). The double negative is a positive. If the mirror is bent vertically, then right and left will be normal (your head nods the same way again), but up and down will now be reversed. The words on your shirt will be both backwards and upside down, which will be a positive image that when rotated 180°, will read as normal. A completely concave round mirror (bent in both dimensions); then all three dimensions are reversed, and you get a negative image rotated 180°. Every move you make will be reversed by the image. The word on your shirt will read forward, but upside down.

The way to think of it, again, is that in the mirror image, what’s to your left is still left, and right is still right, but that’s just your left and right. Most people looking at you (who will read you shirt normally) are going to be looking toward you, which is actually the other direction, and what’s left to you, is right to them, and vice versa.
If you want to read what is on your shirt normally (like another person would), you must take it off and rotate it horizontally (or we can imagine the shirt staying where it is, and you have to step forward and then rotate horizontally). So you are flipping both width and depth. The mirror flips you in depth only, which reverses the image you are looking at. You are now looking at yourself as an outside observer. However, what other observers of you see as left (where a word begins when we read left to right) is now right, and what they would see as right, where the word ends, is now left.

This again, is because the way we rotate is horizontally, while the vertical dimension is what we are anchored to, and is basically only for holding ourselves up, not for rotating, normally. Up and down are the same for everyone, where left and right (and back and forth) are not. And as the only other dimension we don’t look “through”, like depth, and can see things parallel to our line of sight, besides height, is width, we are totally geared around width, like in reading and writing.

As the video says if our bodies had vertical symmetry; let’s say, we were living “X’s”, with two other legs instead of arms, and our heads in the middle, AND also, if we lived in zero gravity, with no ground, the “vertical” dimension would not be the same for everyone, and we would be using it too, as another way to “about face”. When others saw us, facing us, but upside down, they would see the words on your shirt upside down and backwards. But is’ important to remember you wouldn’t really think of it as “upside down”; it’s the way you’re used to see the image when looking at someone else. But it is still a vertically flipped; you just don’t realize it.

If, instead of zero gravity, you lived on the side of a vertical surface, where everyone agreed on one of the horizontal directions. Let’s say the surface is to the east (facing west), and then everyone would be pressed to the east, and then the subjectively oriented “right/left” would not be used, and everyone would have the same fixation of one side of their body to the east. But if they had freedom in the vertical dimension; maybe there was still gravity (so that “down” would still be felt as “down”), but you had a way of clinging onto this surface and moving around it, like insects. So looking in a mirror, we would still see the same negative image, but expecting it to be both upside down and backwards, we would only see it as backwards, so that width seems normal, but height seems flipped, (that is, from the way we normally see it).

This is where mirror dynamics resemble the fourth dimension, as you would read in Rudy Rucker. In a 4D rotation, the two dimensions could be the forth dimension itself (called ana and kata) plus back and forth (or left-right or up-down). That rotation would involves only one of our familiar dimensions, so you would get a negative version of the object without using a mirror!

What is this thing called “type” anyway? (New Introduction to the theory)

What is this thing called type? People liken it (and it’s predecessor, classic temperament theory) to “astrology”; where people are grouped, according to behavioral traits, into categories, which in that case are marked by the time of year you are born.

But type is really based on the way we cognitively divide reality.
It’s just like the way we divide spacetime between back and forth, up and down, left and right, and past and future. So likewise, we also divide reality into what is “I” (“subject” or the individual) or “not I” (“objects” in the “environment”). This forms the basis of what we can call “orientation” (also commonly called “attitude”).

We also divide our cognition into taking in information that comes to us (which is basically involuntary), and then making rational (voluntary) decisions with it. These modes of processing are also split.

So we divide the information we take in (perceive), into what is clearly observable by our physical senses (“tangible”, “visible” or “practical”), and what is not based on the senses, but rather inferred from other data in some way. (And thus, intangible, invisible, hypothetical).

We also make a distinction between “subject” and “object”* in our decisions, which stems from a sense of right and wrong (and usually leading to courses of action to make what’s deemed “wrong” to “right”), as determined by our reactions. Emotions (leading to our reactions; whereby we are making rational decisions) can tell us that the affect on us is from something about the object (which is “impersonal”), leading to a focus on the “mechanics” of things, or it can tell us that it is about our “soul” (the “subject”, and hence, “personal”). This will generally split the neutral “right/wrong” into the more impersonal “true/false” or the more personal “good/bad”.

These are the bases of the three main variables in type; two preferred functions (one perception, and one judgment), and orientation. Orientation then becomes split into a third and fourth variable, based on which orientation is dominant, and then, which function is oriented environmentally or individually. The dominant function will take on the dominant orientation, so this also tells us which function is dominant.
The other preferred function will be “auxiliary” (needed simply because we also must have a preference in other mode of process; both perception and judgment).

A Sensing type is one whose primary outlook is tangible, material or practical “at hand” data and/or experience, which they generally “itemize”, and thus think in terms of what simply “is” or “isn’t”, or the substance of reality (which is what sets the idea, or “could/couldn’t”).

An iNtuitive type is one whose primary outlook is the “filling in” of experience with [mental] “constructs” such as concepts, hypotheses, or theories, which all involve “larger contexts” or meanings behind things and [non-physical] “patterns”. Even physical or visible things, like in comparing one thing to something separate, but has some sort of inferred similarity. Focusing on a property to compare, like its shape; they have turned into an “idea”. This is what “could” or “couldn’t” be (which explains or improves what “is/isnt”, or “substance” of reality).

A Thinking type is one whose primary rational outlook is looking at the world “impersonally” or “technically”, in terms of objects and how they work, which we can call the “mechanics” of things. (including people), often with a focus on goals such as efficiency. They tend to think in terms of “true” or “false” (which is what will automatically determine “like/dislike”).

A Feeling type is one whose primary rational outlook is looking at the world in terms of people or humanity, and the elements that makes them “subjects”, which is basically what could be called “anthropic” (or “humane”), and ultimately deals with the “soul”, with its emotions and values; usually with a focus on goals such as individual or group harmony. (They will often mirror the other person’s inner state and adjust their behavior accordingly). They approach life in terms of being human first, and seeing others as humans to interact with, and objects are to be looked at and used from the perspective of how we relate to them. This leads them to “think” in terms of “good” or “bad” (which will assume what is “correct/incorrect”).

An introvert is a person whose ego focuses on its own individual perspective through the dominant function. The perspective is described as approaching the environment and eliminating what is irrelevant according to his own internally held standard.

An extravert is a person whose ego focuses on the environment through the dominant function. Carl Jung described the ego or “subject” as essentially “merging with the object”. The environment itself, or its judgments (consensus of other people, efficent courses of action, etc) the are taken as his own.

A Judging type is one whose preferred judgment (decision making) function is oriented environmentally. They will tend to take on the “judgments” of a group (consensus, harmony, etc), or courses of action determined by the environment (e.g. what’s most efficient, etc) as their own values. Then person then seem to desire more “closure”, since he expects decisions to be “set” according to external factors. (His preferred perception is then what will be oriented individually, according to a storehouse of impressions).

A Perceiving type is one whose preferred perception (information gathering) function is oriented environmentally. The person tends to remain “open” to new, emergent (often variable) information, before making a judgment (which is what will then be individually oriented, according to a strorehouse or rational principles).

So the four letter type code comes together as follows:

1 Dominant orientation: introvert (individual-focused) or extravert (environment focused): I/E

2 Preferred perception function: Sensation (tangible or material focus) or iNtuition (hypothetical focus): S/N

3 Preferred judgment function: Thinking (impersonal, mechanical focus) or Feeling (“soulish” focus): T/F

4 Function orientation and position:
a) function of indicated letter (J/P) is environmentally oriented (deemed important in personal interaction)
b1) If this matches with dominant orientation (#1=”E”), then this is the dominant function.
b2) If not, (#1=”I”) then this function is auxiliary, and the other function is dominant and introverted.

*(Right here we see where two of the variables can be associated with the common terms “subjective” and “objective”, which may cause some confusion when these terms are encountered. One is dealing with an individual or environmental orientation, where only the individual is conscious of his own “soul”, and thus everything in the environment {including other people} become “objects”. The other is dividing all of reality directly between impersonal “objects” and personal “souls” {individual or environmental}, and making rational assessments based on which of these two categories we are reacting based on).

Since the dominant orientation shapes the functions (coloring the dominant function, and the auxiliary is then presumed to be opposite), then we can speak of eight different function-attitudes (also sometimes called “processes”), denoted with the function dichotomy letter in capital, with the attitude in lowercase: Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, Fi.

Again, these divisions are already implicit in all the data we run across in life.
In everything we process, there is some sort of tangible object or energy (light, sound, etc.), that can be taken in immediately or stored in memory. It can be intangibly connected to other objects, contexts, ideas or impressions, either directly or through less conscious means. We will think something about it is true or false, and this based either on external means we’ve learned from the environment or are dictated by the local situation, or internal principles we’ve learned individually, often through nature; and we may like or dislike it or something about it, again,based either on an external values we’ve learned from the environment, or internal values we’ve learned individually through nature.

What I find are the best definitions of them:

Se: awareness of material reality in the environment
(turn outward for attention to immediate at hand objects, such as physical/practical items, as it occurs)
Si: awareness of material reality filtered by individual knowledge
(turn inward to compare at hand data such as physical/practical items with a storehouse of fact and experience)
Ne: awareness of hypothetical reality inferred from the environment
(turn outward to “fill in” experience of objects with mental/ideational constructs such as connections or patterns)
Ni: awareness of hypothetical reality inferred by individual impressions
(turn inward to subject’s unconscious to “fill in” mental/ideational constructs with connections like “hunches”)
Te: assessment of “correct/incorrect” (mechanical “truth”) by an environmental/cultural standard
(turn outward to objects to determine their proper relationship to each other)
Ti: assessment of “correct/incorrect” (mechanical “truth”) by an individual/natural standard
(turn inward to internal “blueprint” of proper relationship between objects)
Fe: assessment of “like/dislike” or [soulish] “good” by an environmental/cultural standard
(turn outward to evaluate proper relationship involving/between people)
Fi: assessment of “like/dislike” or [soulish] “good” by an individual/natural standard
(turn inward to internal “blueprint” of proper relationship involving people)

Another way to look at them is in terms of an individual’s “images” of reality, for perception, (in addition to his assessments of it, for judgment).

Se: individual’s images match current environment
Si: individual’s images ONCE matched the environment, but currently can only be held among individuals sharing the experience
Ne: individual’s images never matched environment, but are still based on the environment (and thus they can possibly be shown to others)
Ni: individual’s images have never matched the environment, and can only be directly perceived by the individual.
(and hence, why this one is so notably hard to explain).

Te: individual’s assessment of true/false (mechanics of the situation) are determined by the environment.
Ti: individual’s assessment of true/false (mechanics of the situation) are determined by individual reflection.
Fe: individual’s assessment of good/bad (soul-affect of the situation) are determined by the environment.
Fi: individual’s assessment of good/bad (soul-affect of the situation) are determined by individual reflection.

Another way of looking at it is that in deciphering the two different attitudes of each function, the question to ask is:
WHO is really doing the actual Thinking? (the subject, or an object; i.e. Other person, group, computer; e.g statistics, etc.)
WHO is really doing the actual Feeling? (subject, or an object; i.e. other person, group, culture).
WHERE are your sense impressions? (directly from the environment, as they occur, or filtered individually through memory)
WHERE do meanings (inferred from sense impressions) TAKE PLACE? (other patterns that are in the environment, though stored in memory; or individual impressions which are outside the pattern, from stuff likely repressed from memory).

From here, we are able to identify 16 “types”.

So the MBTI questions basically measure, first, introversion or extraversion. Then, the two preferred functions, one perception, and one judgment. Then, it measures general “judging” vs “perceiving” behaviors, and from there is able to put together the type code. If you score high on Judging, then it must be the judgment function you scored highest on that is “extraverted”. The perceiving function must therefore also be introverted. The reverse for scoring high on “Perception”. The one whose orientation matches the first letter (I/E) must then be your dominant, and the other, the auxiliary. Which ever one is extraverted will color the general “J” vs “P behavior. Hence, that can be treated as a standalone dichotomy.

So, to recap the entire process:
Our ego chooses the inner or outer world (environment or individual), and begins choosing a dominant function to use in its world. First, the class of function is chosen: either an information gathering or decision making function. Then the specific function is chosen (tangible/material awareness {substance of “what is”} or hypothetical awareness {idea of “what could be”} information gathering), or technical/mechanical {“true/false”} or “soul”-focused {“good/bad”} decision making). An auxiliary function will be the opposite class of function in the opposite orientation.
And there, the type is set, and the rest of the functions will eventually fall into place!

Slavery as the “ideal” system

The more I think of it, slavery (in one form or another) is the ultimate goal or at least, ideal, in this nation’s economics.

It started with slavery engrained in its economy. We tend to think every white family had slaves as family pets, but it was really big business, being held by rich families and their corporations, especially agriculture (and like today, they continuously pit the poor white families against the blacks through blame and fear of crime). It was almost free labor (and they were generally fed scraps or the least desired portions of the meat), which of course was good for profits.
When emancipation was “forced” on these businesses (and the states that supported their practice), then suddenly, millions more people now had to have “freedom” and resources (including jobs/money) shared with them. This of course hurt the economy.

So this is when all the anti-government rhetoric began, and the portrayal of blacks as money-draining (and crime-prone) leeches and menaces to free society were greatly stepped up.
Basically, the nation was divided into this matrix; on the “professional” level, of big bad government against honest, productive “private enterprise”, and on the “everyday people” level, “hard working, productive” white men, against the lazy criminal blacks (and any rogue whites who supported them).

This was repeated, as even segregation and discrimination were forced to end. The rhetoric would be turned up, and eventually forced to be encrypted, as the racial sensitivities of “political correctness” and “multiculturalism” forced more direct references to race from political discourse. (And they deeply resented these things ever since!)
Now, the rhetoric became mostly economic (which is what it really was about all along) as well as morality (when even many whites began en-masse rebelling against the old religious-based mores of society), but since economics was initially framed along race, then race still had to be tied to it, in the titanic teamup of the government and minorities against business, and “the good people”. Communism also entered the picture, giving a larger framework in a foreign enemy “big government” could now be tied to. Young whites also continued to rebel, and so “hippies” were condemned by the older guardians of society.

So when the quality of life began greatly decreasing in the 70’s and afterward, with every city bombed out at the core, prices going up, while quality goes down (everything made cheaper in quality; “planned obsolecence” becoming the standard), and most importantly, jobs disappearing (often shipped out to other countries for what else but cheap labor; and those that remain having more responsibilities placed on them), and money even taken out of the country by moving enterprises over there, as well as to avoid US taxes, the rhetorical mechanism was long in place to blame this all on the minorities, who force the taxes to go up, by gaining “free handouts” from that old enemy, the “big government”, and essentially “forcing” these businesses and landlords to cut back quality or jpbs and resources while raising prices; basically punishing everyone for the perceived offenses of these so-called “leeches”.

They really can’t help it. It’s “the market” that determines that they must do all this to maintain profits; and while the CEO’s are deemed being worth more and more, and this cannot be figured into the problem; they “deserve” it.
Banks and the large automobile manufacturers will gain such a hold on the economy that they become “too big to fail”, and so must be bailed out by the government (to prevent total economic collapse), and then executives use the money for five and six figure recreations, but that’s their right. (Don’t you dare “envy” or “covet”, we are sternly scolded!)
If you must blame someone, this is really all that “socialist” president’s fault! As well as the “takers”, which in this case are the unions (who often had their pensions used by the companies as well), in the case of the auto companies, and the “undeserving” loan recipients (many, minority), in the case of the banks! (And notice, in these latter cases, it’s not even the “nonworking” “welfare” recipient anymore! It’s people who “just” do “their 40 hours” a week, “turning a bolt” [which they already make way too much for], wanting even more, and yet not doing “more” like these poor, vilified CEO’s who push themselves with 80 or more hours. [even though it’s not healthy for them or their families, and thus not the model for what people “should” be working. Yet, it’s fixed that this is increasingly, practially the only way to stay afloat in this economy]).

We see right here the division of the entire populace into these two classes; one having unlimited rights and privileges, and the other being subservient; and somehow forfeiting the same “rights”. (We should be aware that this upper class basically sees itself as “the people”, as in “We the People”, not the rest of us. So while they speak of “freedom” and other things granted us by the Constitution, they believe only they have really “earned” it, to reference the old saying. Likewise, one could really argue the Africans and native Americans had already forfeited their lands and freedoms by their tribal life being “unproductive” in contrast to “Christian” Europe).
The “truth” always hurts the lower classes or races, matching the Calvinism-infused “manifest destiny” the colonialists (Puritans, etc.) appealed to, and the “presuppositionalism” modern “Reconstructionists” cite as one of their pillars. (So it should figure, what they are trying to “reconstruct” might ultimately include!)
Yet the government stepped in wrongly trying to make things “equal”, and this is what has caused all our economic problems.

This is just a repeat of the sentiments marking slavery, and its end.
(Only now, under the guise of “freedom”, they can claim these classes, unlike race, are formed solely by the person’s own efforts to achieve. But one group, marked by race is having problems achieving, and so this becomes the justification of bring race back into the equations more directly, under the guise of what they call “culture”, and continuing to appear to blame the government and one of its “parties” for giving them “free stuff”, and in fact being the true “racists” trying to “enslave them a new way”).
Ever since the loss of the Civil War, diehard Confederates vowed “The South Shall Rise Again”. That regime was seen as embodying the true values of the original nation, and so this “Lost Cause” refuses to be given up, as people try to restore those “values” one way or another, starting again with economics.

So even the hard working middle class will argue in the CEOs’ favor, that they “delayed gratification”, and so deserve it all, and if that middle class observer’s finances are too tight, it’s because of the common enemy of both him and the big businesses; the government and these “vast hordes of leeches”.
They didn’t “delay gratification”, which insinuates that they must “pay” now, through low paid subservience, but the government keeps trying to interfere, and that’s why everyone is getting punished, and the “angry middle class” blames the poor.
(These articles: #3: show this dynamic back in slavery days, and now, where people identify with the power structure screwing them over, even thinking these leaders as “better” than even themselves, so that their enemy and/or scapegoat becomes one’s own).

Then and now, this is why the rich always end up being defended as “earning” everything they have, and are thus the real “victims”, and would share the wealth if they weren’t so taxed and regulated by the “liberals” in order to give it all to the “undeserving”.

So three mechanisms of virtual slavery have arisen. One, the drug war, which was targeted at minorities, and then justifies trapping them in a cycle of lifelong legalized discrimination, for being imprisoned, then then having a conviction record.
Of course, this comes nowhere near restoring slavery, but it’s a way of getting as many as you can into the system (and also bolsters the case that “the people” are so “crime-prone”, filling prisons disproportionately. And once tarnished and hardened like that, they will become more likely to fall into cycles of crime and public assistance).

The next one is the “prison industrial complex” (see also where prisons are privatized, becoming “big business”, under the profit motive, and thus have a big motive to try to get more young people into prisons.
When I first heard of this, it was a story actually about mostly white kids in Pennysylvaia, which IIRC was one of the early instances of this system. But of course, it will greatly benefit from the drug war, funneling mostly black kids into the system.

The other is financial debt, egged on by increasingly high interest (which was directly condemned by the Bible, yet conservative Christians; often the most virulent defenders of “capitalism” during the Cold War, didn’t seem to think anything of this). Not just for home, car and other credit, but even student loans, with education increasingly being the main key to “pulling up your bootstraps”* (it wasn’t always like this), but now made financially astronomical; about as much as a nice home or more, and almost impossible for many to ever pay off completely; being trapped like this, with part of their every dollar essentially owned by these institutions, perhaps for life. (And anyone notice how much money colleges everywhere have been putting into expansion of campuses and other fancy new additions, often causing controversies in the neighborhood, at schools such as NYU and Columbia? This may provide nice amenities for students and faculty alike, but still, that’s a lot of money they are tossing around, while it’s “scarce” for everyone else, including students plagued with increasing debt).
Banking overdraft fees are high (and this is “market” rate; i.e. what they all do!), so that a few of them can add up to $100’s. As one meme says, it’s basically punishing people for not having money. This then adds up to a sort of “domino effect” and now makes them have less to pay all their bills, and more likely to overdraw again. They may reason this this is to deter people “irresponsibly” overdrawing all the time, but then it’s like punishing everyone for the abuses of some; sort of like some dysfunctional family, prison, or boot-camp type discipline. People should really think about things like this, when they insist only “government” control is too heavy handed and lacking in alternatives.

Banks collected over 30 Billion in overdraft fees last year...from people who had no money

This domino affect pushes many people to circumvent it through what else, but more credit. More debt! (Just pushing it back a bit, but it meanwhile increases with the interest!)

So it’s a catch-22, where conservatives say people struggle because they are being lazy and not striving to succeed enough; but then the reason you’re struggling is because you put yourself in debt, trying to pull yourself up by the bootstraps!
(In addition to this, “planned obsolescence” continued to reach new highs, eventually becoming technological, as we depend more and more on electronics, which are deliberately made obsolete so that you have to keep buying new ones. One large company reportedly sends out software “updates” that actually kill the device, forcing you to buy a new one, when it gets a certain age! Yet, these are good, honest, “productive” enterprises who “deserve” every penny they get!)

Now, this one also doesn’t trap just minorities, but then class division was really what’s more important than race division anwyway; it’s just that race was initially an easier, pre-made distinction, and it was easy to take them as slaves, and they could pull other strings like using certain scriptures to seemingly justify it. But now, race continues to be a good deflectionary tactic, as it was even in past centuries, to have everyone blaming the other race for the financial problems.
Nothing has changed; we’re seeing all the same tactics over and over.

*(In passing, you hear both sides saying “education” is what needs to be fixed in order to solve “the black problem”, but when blacks say this, they mean the quality of education, which was always inferior, with poor materials and infrastructure itself. When conservatives say this, they’re referring to the “lowering of standards” where kids are being [supposedly] wrongly passed through without meeting the actual qualifications, in order to make them “equal”, when they really are not. However much this may be done or not, when it is, it is likely to compensate for the poor quality. So to complain about making it too easy for them, without addressing the crumbling system, is just another ploy to keep the people down, and make it look like its just their own “inferiority”, and that inequality is thus quite “fair”).

So this system truly has everyone by the throat, and rather than the government “persecuting” it and giving everything to minorities; it itself is often bought out by these private interests. They have now created a virtual “ice age” of apparent scarcity (i.e. reaction as if that was the case, such as cutbacks, hoarding, etc.) and struggle in what was supposed to be the most properous nation in the world, and yet many will still blame it all on the minorities, and call into question the character of the whole “group” or groups (which now includes “illegal immigrants”, of course), and this will point to what, other than how good it would be if all these “problem people” were somehow corralled, like they were in the glory days of the nation’s early history.

People are faced with a choice, which is what political debate has been divided on:
Admit the system as founded was wong
Contend that it was right.
The former is what the liberals have done, and the latter is what conservatives have been doing, though [most] having to hide the real conclusion, and some may not even have thought enough to be aware of what it really leads to.

Under the premise of “exceptionality”, blame for the economic problems can never be placed on the early nation for founding its economy on slavery and oppression in the first place. No, it’s continuously excused with “the good outweighs the bad”. But all of these problems today, which they are the biggest complainers of, are never seen as part of that “bad”; only blamed on others. (And then. the “black problems” they also point out are not seen as part of that initial “bad” either; only blamed on blacks themselves and liberals, with the blacks accused of “excusing” themselves and blaming everyone else!)

“The Market” is just blind “nature“, which people think justifies all their actions. (Along with “survival of the fittest” and the rest of the philosophy you might read in the works of Rand and others). It is in contrast to “integrity”, where we bring an ethic of justice and care into our participation in nature. This is what people are missing, in all their rationalizations.
It is basically a denial of “responsibility” (another term they like to toss at others a lot). It’s the corporate analogue to the “everybody’s doing it” excuse children might use. “It’s not my fault I’m raising prices, lowering quality, or taking jobs and money out of the US economy. The Market made me do it”. (And of course, it’s really those dumb “takers”‘ fault the market is so messed up like that in the first place).

But then “nature” is what the “problem people” in crime and assistance are following as well, and we think this makes them “animals”, but the “civilized” so-called “productive” or “makers” are following the “animal” drive just as much.

The problem is, everyone wants to follow “nature”, and justify themselves in doing it, while condemning the way others follow the same instincts. This I call “inertia”. No one wants to “move” from the course (of behavior or beliefs) they are on.
The assumption is that integrity is basically defined as nature itself; like nature comprises integrity. That the more you can justify your actions with “it’s just nature”; the more your drives match up with nature, the more you can claim “integrity” (under the premise of “innocense” of any “wrongdoing”), which includes “justice” (the actions are justified, and so “justice” has in fact been done). But this leaves out the “care” half of it.
People want to act totally on nature, yet think they have “integrity”.

Man’s desire is to “BE” good, without DOing good, or to be judged as “good” without ACTUALLY being good.
Then, they assume the reward of this state of “good” is prosperity and rulership in the world.

So we say it’s an “exceptional” nation, and colonialism and slavery don’t matter, because of all the other “good” we did (typical using one’s own assortment of “works” to justify falling short in other areas; like people do with God); and look, these crime and poverty ridden people today are just using that as an excuse for their ongoing “problems” and demand for “free stuff” (we project this “excuse”-making onto the other, because “excuses” are only legitimate for us).
So the added insinuation of this (uttered only by the most radical white supremacists): “see, they were justified in enslaving these people, and it’s you ‘egalitarians’ who’ve ruined everything by forcing their freedom on us”.

The sole aim of pure, unmitigated “nature” is survival, at any cost, including the instinct of “control or kill them before they control or kill you”. So following nature alone will naturally hypothetically gravitate toward some form of total control (which is the reason radical “Right” ideology always ends up becoming just as “authoritarian” as the worst Leftist regimes when given the power. The “libertarian” and “populist” [“anti-government”, etc.] language they employ now is just their pleas for their own “freedom” [only] under those more powerful than they are. If their way of thinking were to gain control, then the so-called “persecuted” become the persecutors, and the first sign of this is how they already scoff at the supposed “victimhood” of others lower on the chain than they are, and the fact that they so detest any real authority above themselves in the first place).

So they may not actually, consciously be trying to restore chattel slavery, but the point is, that it is the hypothetical ideal, which some could even argue would solve our financial problems.  (But most won’t bring themselves to say it that way). So instead, they use these other means to try to get as low and subserviant a work force as possible, and have as many of them as they can, blaming each other, or those even lower than they are, so that they can see and do nothing, as the situation gets worse and worse.

The goal is that more people should wake up to this, and not depend solely on the government to fix it up (as again, it has been largely bought out by corporate interests, so they’ll only end up doing just enough for those lower down, to have everyone blaming them for benefitting from all the government “control” over everyone else, and the problems of the struggling likely won’t even be solved). There should be a mass outcry against the cost of education and loan interest if nothing else.

And also, against the 150+ year old blaming game itself! This should take precedence over complaining about “inequality”. For how can we expect to be taken seriously continuing to ask for “equality”, when political discourse is filled with loud rhetoric claiming we’ve already been given too much, that’s “free” and “undeserved” even, and is what’s destroying the economy (with some going as far as to say that whites are the “persecuted minority” now!) and we hardly even ever respond to it?

This should raise the consciousness of the problem, and lead to better solutions, without just running to the government, and thus keeping the rhetorical ball of deflection rolling.

Pretzel Emotions: A musical journey through the images of life

One of the more prominent, though not as recognized (as Stevie or Earth, Wind & Fire) musical backgrounds in my life was the jazz-rock band Steely Dan. I remember hearing their jazzy tunes attributed to them in my early 20’s, probably on the “KISS Jazz” show (that NY’s “Kiss-FM had on Sundays), and a few of them, before that, on other stations like WPIX. I remember buying both the album Aja, as well as fusion group Spyrogyra’s new release Alternating Currents, likely at Bondy’s on Park Row (the ornate old Potter Building), if not J&R on the next block. The title track “Aja” was a nice, flowing almost solid jazz tune on piano.

I didn’t even remember what exactly I bought Spyrogyra for; I guess whatever I was hearing on the radio was interesting, but Steely Dan would slowly become a significant group. The album includes “Peg”, whose chorus I always heard for years as “HEY; it will come back to you…”! It was like the perennial “New York state of mind” type of sound and, and all of the other jazzy/funky tracks (such as “Josie”, which like Peg has an Earth Wind & Fire-like funk feel, and Deacon Blues) remind me of lower Manhattan, though all their music was recorded in LA, and I’m seeing an interview where they’re saying it was a “California” sound that you could not picture being anywhere but from LA.

I until probably that time did not know that the lead singer of this group was the guy (Donald Fagen, with the funny album cover pose with the cigarette in his hand) who had done “International Geophysical Year (What a Beautiful World)”, which I liked so much, I had gotten the 45 for. (The B side “Walk Through the Raindrops” didn’t move me, however).  I liked “On that train of graphite and glitter…”, and something about “spandex jackets for everyone” (had never even heard of spandex before). With just a cursory listening to the words, it totally seemed to be a random bunch of images, that had no coherent meaning.
I originally actually thought this was Stevie Wonder (especially with the harmonica solo or reasonable facimile), as the voices are really not all that far apart, and after the smash hit “Do I Do” that summer, which I assumed would be part of an upcoming album in addition to the compilation it and three other new songs were apart of, I got totally “into” Stevie and began listening for new songs, and anything that sounded remotely similar I would take notice of.

Then, that winter, Thriller came out, and “Billie Jean” was playing heavily. I liked it, for it reminded me a bit of Curtis Mayfield’s “Little Child, Running Wild”, from Superfly, 10 years earlier (which I had been taken to see at a drive-in). At some point, Kiss began playing this mix of Billie Jean with an old song from the 70’s I remembered, which went something like “black jack, Do it Again“. ( My mother hated that mix). I had no idea this was from the same guy who did IGY, and the same group who did Peg. And also “Hey Nineteen”, a [at the time] not too long ago song that was also pretty common.

Even less would I have imagined that this is also the group who did the old grungy rock song whose chorus I had always heard as “Realing in the East” (which was followed by “stowing away the time…”, and a very signature fast moving Celtic styled jig on guitar backed by tamborine beats). This song (which was actually on the same album as “Do it Again”) always reminded me of some gritty old barber shop with a dirty looking sunlit bathroom with peeling light green paint and an old sink, on Rogers near Empire my father took me to once or twice, on the way to either Grandma’s, or Cub Scouts (in Grandma’s church, Bethany Baptist. The barber we usually went to was further up, where Rogers merged with Bedford [and almost literally a stone throw from where my future wife was growing up], but this other one stuck in my mind, and the song, which I think I heard on the radio there was like a gritty background for it).

Growing up on the Beatles’ Abbey Road, a song’s lyrics or title did not have to have any meaning, so I never questioned that as the title, though I would later wonder what the lyrics of both groups meant, especially after hearing that some Beatles lyrics (like “Lucy in the Sky”) were [cryptic] “veiled references” to drugs (and I imagine, sex).

Exploring the group’s progression in sound

When beginning to look at Steely Dan albums in stores, I would see all the weirdly themed album and track titles, and wonder what they were about. (“Razor Boy”? Fire in the HoleYour Gold Teeth —with a second part, two albums later?) As a young Christian, I was probably afraid to to try them out by buying more albums. I did see “Do it Again” and “Reeling in the Years” on their first album (titled “Can’t Buy a Thrill” and graced with hookers on a busy street). But didn’t realize that they were those very familiar songs. (The latter made me think of Simply Red’s recent hit “Holding Back the Years”, and so I imagined it as a sad kind of ballad).
The second album, “Countdown to Ecstasy” (whose artwork reminded me a bit of Stevie’s contemporaneous “Innervisions”) had a song “Bodhisattva”, which I recognized was an Eastern religion concept.

The title track to the next album, “Pretzel Logic”, I first heard in the 1991 live version (with Michael McDonald who was once apart of the band for awhile, doing the last verse, about stepping on the platform and explaining where he got his shoes) that used to play on the CD101 station (Former WPIX-FM). This began raising interest in the group, for its very jazzy “chordal changes”, which were the audible “hooks” in music that gained my attention the most. This is what Stevie had a great handle on, when he finally perfected his sound in the second contract, working with “TONTO” engineers Margouleff and Cecil, and including “Talking Book”, which I had grown up with.
They were also similar to that period of Stevie and others TONTO worked with at the time such as the Isleys, in generally having no orchestration. (The only ones that have a string orchestra are “Through With Buzz” (and I think “Charlie Freak” sounds like it has a violin/cello as well) on Pretzel logic, and “FM”, which was a special song made for a movie and not on a studio album. Some others; and few at that, such as Josie, have synth strings, and a few have light Moogs or Moog-like background sounds!)

So this song, starts out sounding a bit like a slower version of Reeling in the Years, with the grungy rock guitar sound, but when it gets to the chorus, you suddenly out of nowhere get this jazzy set of ascending chord pairs consisting of a higher one, then a lower one; which repeats three times; the third time accompanied by the words “those days are gone forever, over a long time ago”, and backed by horns later on, which were not in the previous albums (as far as I’ve noticed, so far). This was clearly the kind of sound I was familiar with on Aja, (and reminded me of Stevie’s early Contract 2 stuff I liked so much). So this began raising some interest in the group.
I eventually began hearing “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (the album opener; a similar song, sounding like a precursor to “Aja”, and also being another one of those mysterious titles I remembered, that you wonder what could possibly mean), and the also similar “Doctor Wu” from the next album (with it’s theme of a lying girl named “Katy”, represented on the cover by a katydid insect).

It wasn’t until very late in the game, perhaps in the latter days of the old “Downstairs Records” in Midtown, where you could play 45’s on a turntable, that I ventured to try out some Steely Dan singles, and began to learn what was what.
Then, it figured that all of this stuff from “Reeling” to “IGY” featured that same lead vocalist, and had some of the same musical techniques, even the earliest works, though, not as refined as later. (They are even credited for creating their own distinctive chord, the “mu chord”, which would be the common thread throghout theiur career).

I had marveled how vastly different, at first glance, the 1974 singles and later stuff sounded from those singles from 1972. I eventually hear this song with these soft vocals sounding something like one of the Beatles, and hard Fender Rhodes chords greatly evoking Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World”, and the country-like chorus reveals that this is “Dirty Work”. (Not sure whether I ever heard it as a child, but it sure fit in with those years. It has a totally different lead vocalist, and so doesn’t sound like them at all).

So then I’m interested in where exacly it changed. The “Bodhisattva” track (which may have been the only single from that album at Downstairs) was like neither here nor there. It overall sounded different from either the first album or the ones after. It opens with these very jazzy random piano chords, then a guitar solo that would evoke Reeling, but then becomes something like emulating a 50’s style rock or swing song, and its chorus (“show me the shine of your Japan, the sparkle of your China…”[??!!!]), has distinctive chordal changes that again, are different from either the works before or after, and in a way reminds me of parts of Stevie’s contemporaneous “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing”.

So it looked like they were trying to change their sound, and since I see that that album did poorly, they continued to try to refine it. (This one seems to fall more on the side of the first album. And even the other songs on Pretzel Logic still follow suit). Most of them are like perhaps very primitive, rudimentary versions of “Deacon Blues” from Aja (i.e. same basic rhythm, but the earlier instrumentation); or standard contemporary 70’s soft rock (Elton John, etc.) with more of a country-rock sound, still.
The closest thing to the later sound on the first album is the closing track “Turn That Heartbeat Over Again”; especially in the instrumental interlude, which has some chordal progressions that do greatly foreshadow “Aja”, but otherwise sounds clearly like something Stevie would have done under TONTO the same year. “Fire In the Hole”, while not really like the later sound, still does sort of foreshadow it with the different chords, as does the opening chords of “Midnite Cruiser”.

(Meanwhile, Elton’s John’s contemporaneous hit “Benny and the Jets” has the key feature I would associate with the later Steely Dan sound: the up and down chordal progression in the instrumental part of the chorus, which resembles something like the instrumental interlude on “Aja”; —in addition to the obscure song title reference!)

Funny, should mention in passing, that in the 90’s, when I was inquiring about Chicago, from remembering their “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is” and “Beginnings” from when I was really young, one friend, who was then my supervisor, blurted out that she “hated them”, and then out of nowhere threw in Steely Dan as well. “I HATE Chicago, and I HATE Steely Dan!!!” I was surprised, as I hadn’t mentioned the latter, but had already long liked them, and I found it funny that she would throw in this other group I was into, on top of the former, like that.
I did not think of the two groups as having anything to do with each other, but thinking about it, I could see where there are some similarities, epecially earlier on. Both groups changed their sound significantly, but in totally different directions; Chicago becoming a big vehicle for David Foster).

The transition from a kind of countryish flavor to a jazzy sound was very interesting and somewhat unique! There were always the distinctive chordal changes from the earliest albums, but they were more subdued, and not as jazzy or refined as in Pretzel Logic and after.
The closest thing in the second album I would say is the chorus of “Your Gold Teeth”, with the verses sounding like a cross between “Do It Again”, and the Stylistic’s following year semi-hit “Heavy Falling Out”, but then has this sudden, surprise chord change with “see how they roll” (which also sounds like an obvious knockoff of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna”; [“see how they run“], though in a totally different key). It then has a bridge (about growing tobacco in Peking) which experiments with a bunch of different chords, and each line ending in a pair of syllables he stretches out over two chords (“sad—thing”; “can’t—sing”; like “A—Ja” or “F—M” on those songs, and some half measures, to throw some extra interesting “flow” into the rhythm. This is a new technique that would become a signature sound. “Razor Boy” seems to be inching toward the later sound as well. Particularly the characteristic long flowing chorus, like we would hear on later songs. That was a signature style of theirs, squeezing a lot of words in a limited number of beats or measures. That’s been the catchiest song I’ve heard in all the older stuff I’m becoming familiar with:

Will you still have a song to sing— when the Razor Boy comes and takes your fancy things away?… Will you still keep singing it on that cold and windy day?
(five measures for each question!)

Both of these songs also remind me of Stevie’s “You Are the Sunshine” with the rhythm, and especially the Rhodes in the former, and particularly the bridge (with the chords) in that song.
The interlude and end of album closer “King of the World” definitely is definitely the Stevie/Syreeta/TONTO sound with both the Moog and the TONTO style up and down Fender chords. (Think “Take A Little Trip, performed by Minnie Riperton. Parts of the chorus, when it goes from “King of the world” to “far as I know” remind me of the later direction of the group as well, the way the words are squeezed in against the rhythm).

“My Old School” is the old style, but includes a few connecting piano chords that remind me of late 70’s/early 80’s harmonic techniques, as found in Brick’s “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody” or Kool and the Gang’s “Get Down On It”.

In addition to the very jazzy pair of alternating chords on the opening of “Bodhisattva”, the same two chords are part of a repeating four chords (per measure; one on each beat) that make up the music for “Show Biz Kids” (The way the singing goes to this, it’s almost like a rap!)
So when initially flipping through the album years ago, and hearing these songs, that’s what gave me the impression that it was inching toward the later sound. The piano chords in other songs in these first two albums are clearly a “rock” piano style, but now, the chords are starting to get more jazzy.

So Pretzel Logic is where they found the chord change style they wanted, and they continued to refine it, leading up to Aja. But initially still with a heavy guitar presence, so the verses still resemble the grungy sound of “Reeling in the Years” a bit.
“Charlie Freak” was like a direct followup to Reeling in the Years; same rhythm, a bit heavier on the piano (sounds like an old church chant, like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”), and with “jingle bells” replacing the tamborines of the previous song. (As there are prototypical early recordings of it on special collection albums, it was something written earlier).
“Night By Night” also has a bit of the new sound, with the horns.

East St. Louis Toodle-oo is a funny sounding instrumental with a voice-bag like sound (probably a synth) filling in for vocals. It’s actually a remake of an old Duke Ellington tune. I only knew this from seeing the songwriter credit. As with Stevie and EWF, they are so original, that there are very few remakes of others’ works.

“Parker’s Band” has an interesting succession of chords in its bridge. “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” is kind of neither the previous nor emerging sound, but rather resembles the contemporaneous Isleys under TONTO with the Fender chords. Album closer “Monkey In Your Soul” is similar with it’s funky Stevie-like fender chords, but then has these four descending chords leading to the chorus (afterwards overlaid with horn), which is like the prototypical “Deacon Blues” sound.

The following album is where the change really occurs and takes hold. “Black Friday”, has the same basic rhythm as Reelin’ and Charlie Freak, but has the newer styled multiple chordal changes in the chorus. “Bad Sneakers” (“….with a pina colada myfriends…”) strongly foreshadows Deacon Blues, and “Chain Lightning” has the same chords as “New Frontier”, from the 80’s solo album.

The “Your Gold Teeth” followup also sounds nothing like part 1; it actually sounds alot like Razor Boy, retooled to a 6/8 time. Same basic scale in the chorus, though with different, newer styled sound in the opening chords. This opening section uses a rhythm that would have fit in with the first “Gold Teeth”, and features the new styled jazzy (“Aja”-like) piano chord changes, but then suddenly (right in the middle of the instrumental “intro”, still) turns into the different rhythm with the older styled piano chords. It looks like this was obviously an older production, and they tacked this new intro on rather than change the chordal structure of the whole song. Perhaps they intended to do the whole song in that new piece, and then it would have been more like an upgrade of the first song. The two previosuly mentioned songs, as well, sound “upgraded”.
“Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More”, is neither here nor there.

“Rose Darling” is the square remnant of the older sound.
“Throw Back The Little Ones” has a jazzy new style horn opening in different key, which then turns into an older sounding verse and a sort of “hybrid” sounding chorus with newer sounding chords connecting them.

In “Any World That I’m Welcome To”, the chorus is definitely old style, but the piano playing in the opening chords, and the verses have been jazzed up. (An earlier “demo” of this, on a synthesizer, and missing the newer elements is on YouTube).
The verse style actually resembles “Razor Boy”, where it’s deeper chords centered on the first beat of the measure, and the more jazzy rhythm with heavier bass. (But the actual chords themselves are even a bit more jazzy than on Razor Boy).

When I first heard “Razor Boy” it echoed the new sound because the piano and vocal style I’m discussing reminded me of “Rikki”, which I considered the new style because of the  chorus. But in actuality, that song is closer to the old style, outside of the more melodic “Aja”-like first line of the chorus. The verses and even the rest of the chorus are more in the vein of “Reelin'” (as is the verses of “Pretzel Logic”).

I at first thought of this as totally the “new” sound, but it was actually a “transitional” style beginning with “Razor”, and basically ending with “Any World”. (Though I consider it “transitional”, from the album timeline, three “pre-band demo” songs that are presumably from before the first album, “A Little With Sugar”, “Stone Piano”, “Mina from China”* [which all resemble Carol King’s “It’s Too Late” a bit] and especially “Old Regime” are kind of similar to this). In the next album, “converted” old songs will be changed even further. The closest thing to this on the first album is “Brooklyn”, but the overall sound ends up as the most “country”-fied piece in their whole repertoire (with the steel pedal guitar, and the same vocalist who did “Dirty Work”. Ironic, that that’s how a song about Brooklyn would sound!)
*Most copies of “Mina With China” on YouTube are labeled “Yellow Peril”, and another one with that name is a song also known as “As Long As Yo Go Where I Go”.

Already, with Dr. Wu, you have a totally jazzy playing, with chords spread out more, and pretty much like the upcoming “Aja” track.

The box set “Citizen Steely Dan (which has all seven of the bands initial albums, plus the “FM” track and two others; played one album after the other on Rhapsody and had to scratch around to find “FM”; before realizing they were all on that set, in order) has both the ’75 album version of “Everyone’s Gone To the Movies”, plus an earlier demo version, and you can see right in one song, the transformation from the “Old Steely Dan” sound to the new one; updated from the old country-rock sound, to a sort of calypso style.

By the ’76 album, “Royal Scam”, the new sound was completely in place. The transition is still progressing, however, as you can still make out elements of the old style under the new style, particularly in the chorus vocals and the general piano playing (with chords played on the beat, which was where “Any World I’m Welcome To” had been upgraded):
The Caves of Altimira
Sign In Stranger
even the Fez; particularly the piano intro

(The Caves Of Altimira is actually one of those ’68-71 pre-SD songs, and the original is on YouTube, and it’s of course similar to the first album, but it’s still amazing to see the transition, of how it’s the same song and basic rhythm, but the chords have been modified into the late 70’s sound, with a bit of that early 70’s “TONTO” or “King of the World fadeout” style touch in the chorus. The added horns over these chords even produce a strong “Chicago” motif; so there’s a connection for me! And the chorus vocals are rather EWF-ish as an added bonus!)

“Everything You Did” is like the opposite, where the verses sound clearly like an old song, right off of the first two albums with the piano playing, and slight country feel, but with the sudden change to new style chords added to the chorus.

I never knewwwwwwww you; You were a rollllerskater; You gonna show me later…

This was actually a harmonic/vocal style that would basically be expanded in the chorus of “Peg”, and then become popular in the early 80’s, like DeBarge “Can’t Stop”, or D-Train’s stuff, or Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover”.

The box set sticks in a song between albums, “Here in The Western World”, said to be from the same year, but not on the album. It’s clearly the older style. (Another example of that “transitional” style of playing I was mentioning, but without any adaptation to the new style, like it other songs from this period). Probably really something older, (though I see one site saying it was from the Royal Scam sessions). The “Western” entry on this album (it was like a running theme in these earlier projects, like ’74’s “With A Gun”) was “Don’t Take Me Alive”, which is now clearly in the new style. (And is like an evolution of the “Do It Again/Your Gold Teeth” family. I’m not sure if I had ever heard it back then, though the chorus sounds a bit familiar, and it clearly would have fit on the radio, as “Do it Again” was still pretty much playing a lot in those days, so that I associated it more with the middle of the decade).

By Aja, the sound was totally refined, so that any connection to the old style is completely lost. If the original version of any of these songs had been demo’d in the older style, it would be very interesting to hear what they sounded like! But already, I see that Deacon Blues was said to be written in ’76, so that was likely its original sound. (The old “Caves of Altamira”, whose remake resembled “Home At Last” on Aja, would give a sense of what similar new songs would have sounded like. Again, this transformation is truly fascinating!)

It seems that in the previous two albums, having found the sound they wanted, they were cleaning out the old songs they wanted to release that needed to be adapted (and there were many more that were not released), and with Aja, started afresh with the new production. Several popular jazz musicians were even brought in, to further spruce it up.
This is why I found the earlier stuff so vastly different, and I still find myself in almost unbelief that “Peg” is by the same band that did “Reelin'”!

The earlier “rock” sound was of course highlighted by rock guitars (and also the group vocals). They from the beginning had acoustic piano, electric piano (likely the Fender Rhodes), and bass, but in adopting a more jazzy sound, the guitars began to fade to the background (especially with many of the original band members leaving after the first few albums) or just interlude solos, as done in other jazzy styles, and the bass and keyboards became more prominent, and horns eventually added.
In “Aja” and “Peg” and others, the earlier style guitar sound can be heard in solos during the instrumental section of the songs.

Entering the 80’s, in the final initial band album after Aja (Gaucho), the overall style remained similar, but inching toward the IGY sound with more prominent electric (or combination of electric and acoustic) piano “whole” note chords and reggae-inspired grooves and harmonica solos.
“Babylon Sister” I first heard in the first weeks of ’89, in boot camp. It was a quiet Sunday, we were toward the end of training enough that the instructor could take the weekends off, and the dorm chief was in charge. They had the instructor’s radio (in his little office) on, and this song with these far stretching deep Rhodes chords jumping all over the place was playing, and I at first said to myself eagerly, “What’s that?”, but then instantly figured it was something by Steely Dan or Donald Fagen, and when it got to the chorus, I immediately recognized it as another one of those strange titles I had seen on the albums. The chords are so up and down and sideways that I have had a hard time even being able to retain the verse part of the song. It is clearly the pinnacle of the sound they developed, and light years ahead of even anything even on Aja.

The title track actually is a step back, sounding more neutral (aside from the jazzy horns), like some of the transitional period songs, until the chorus, where the chord steps up.
Otherwise, with the final polish on the sound, Fagen had hit his plateau, (basically one of common “fusion jazz”, or what would eventually be called “cool jazz”) and as such, this album is basically what all remaining productions (solo or the band’s regroup in the new millennium) would pretty much sound like. (With less commercial sounding hits like “Hey Nineteen” or “IGY” as time went on).

“Glamour Profession” was their nod to the more commercialized “disco” rhythm concluding at that time, though done in the new deep Fender chord style of the album (and like Babylon Sister, is all over the place with new chords; many of which I associate with various tunes over the next decade, in the R&B-jazz fusion style emerging then. (Should be mentioned that 1976’s “Kid Charlemagne” represented the earlier disco groove of that period).
There’s also a bunch of unreleased stuff on Youtube from the same album session, and it too is remarkable!

This is pretty much what the name “Steely Dan” had always been associated with to me. They were initially in the same category as “Spyrogyra”, whom, recall, I first bought together. Yet, seeing their full history now, it did fit in as a “rock group” kind of name. The first album cover even had a sort of large script logo font the band name was printed in, like other rock groups pretty much (So it looked like a typical 70’s “rock” album), but that whole look was dropped, and in every album afterward, the band name appeared in small plan text; often the same or similar font as the album title, and often in smaller print.

Also, around this time in my life was Grover Washington’s remake of “Time Out of Mind”; the original also from that album. Not sure if I had heard the original before, but this remake, which I think even featured Fagen, still sounded just like them, the giveaway being the horns over “cherry wine”, which sounded so “Deacon Blues”, “Black Cow” or “Peg”-like.

I had also thought Michael Frank’s “Your Secret’s Safe With Me” was Steely Dan, and even had once expected to find it on Aja. I only remembered the jazzy chorus from that song, and thought I remembered the verses as sounding like Deacon Blues, so I listened for that song to turn into it on the chorus, and it wouldn’t have been too surprising, with the way chords change. (It may have better been led into by Bad Sneakers.
I then figured it might be somewhere on the other albums, but then began hearing it frequently on CD101).

Two raps that would sample Steely Dan songs are Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz “Deja Vu” (the opening to Black Cow), and De La Soul “Eye Know”, which takes the vocal “I know I love you better” and a clip of the horns from “Peg”, and while I thought the guitar was taken from that too, it and the other horns the follow as if they were from the same source were actually from the beginning of The Mad Lads’ “Make This Young Lady Mine”, and it also includes a whistle sample from Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay”.
Christian singer Gary Oliver was a bit influenced by the IGY sound, in the song “Walk in the Light (Follow the Son)”, even down to the horns.

The production of music is fascinating, and this makes me so wish I could master it, which is nearly impossible on the Autism spectrum, at least for me. Here he even shows you how he steps up the chords from something plainer! There’s even some “gospel” chords in there!

The charted hits were “Do It Again” and Reeling In the Years (both of which I had heard from mostly likely not ’72, but sometime heading back that way), then on the next album, “Show Biz Kids” and “My Old School”, which I never heard or don’t remember, followed by “Pretzel Logic” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (both of which I heard nearly two decades later), then “Black Friday”, “Bad Sneakers”, “Kid Charlemagne”, “The Fez”, and “Haitian Divorce”; none of which I remember. (Bad Sneakers does sound a bit like something I’ve heard before, but not too long ago; at a time when I wasn’t as interested in the group, but recognized the sound, or maybe I did catch the title, and remembered seeing it on the album, and just figured that I knew that by that time the sound had changed, and then forgot it).

So basically, for me, it went straight from Reelin’ and Do It Again, to Peg and likely Josie (and again; no idea that these were by the same group). But clearly, after their first two hits, they hit a slump, with one minor hit that was pretty much the old style, but music was changing, and that style was becoming outmoded. So the other hit had the more jazzy chords, and when they experimented with that more on subsequent albums, they began getting more hits.

So by Aja, they perfected the sound that made that album a pop hit, basically, whose single hits you couldn’t not hear. (Though “Deacon Blues” was also on the chart, and I’m not sure I remember it from before getting the album 10 years later. Could have, though, as it didn’t sound totally unfamiliar. It just didn’t register until then. “FM” was also on the chart in the midst of the Aja singles the following year).

Then, from Gaucho, “Hey Nineteen” was basically a “household item” type of “top 40” pop hit. (The other hit from that album was “Time Out of Mind”; but I’m not sure I ever heard that back then).

In the US, the highest scoring hit was “Rikki” (#4; their top hit? Don’t know why I missed it, or at least didn’t remember it), followed by “Do It Again” (#6), and then “Hey Nineteen” (#10). “Peg” and “Reelin'” both reached #11.

80’s (end of initial run) and afterward, and raising lyrical eyebrows

Still, the problem for me, was what these cryptic titles and lyrics really meant. Like I find a song from the album before Aja; “The Fez” is about a condom! (Seems to be about safe sex. Like a precursor to BDP’s rap “Jimmy hats”).
“Josie” I had heard somewhere was a slang for the female sex organ. So then, any time I would see or think of the popular comic book and cartoon character and I grew up with, it would now bring to mind this song, and I would have to wonder if the whole name of her band (which happens to include a feline term that also subs as a common vulgar slang for the female anatomy), was a sort of sexual pun. [Though it may actually have been a real girl he knew, as a “Josie” is mentioned in the old previously unreleased song “Mina from China” (aka “Yellow Peril”?), and a “Rosie” as well, who might have been the inspiration for “Rose Darling”.

There were some good messages mixed in there, such as the title track to “The Royal Scam”, about Puerto Rican [or whichever country has a red and green flag; PR is a US territory] immigration to New York where they had still faced poverty, in addition to hostility from others. (Very relevant in today’s political landscape, where fierce battles have been raging on about immigrants from other, non-territory Latin American countries). “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” is about the wish for a better existence.

So I had only the Aja LP, and eventually got the CD of that one and Fagen’s by then solo album, The Nightfly, like I did for the whole Stevie collection, and was completing for Earth Wind & Fire (who had obviously pagan themes, but at least most of the songs were pretty kosher; “Serpentine Fire” being the primary exception. Then, they even dropped the pagan imagery from the albums for a time, when they got back together, around the same time I became Christian).

So this album pretty much continues the same style and weird lyrical images. It also included “New Frontier”, which I had heard before, and the lively, Clavinet/Rhodes fused “Greenflower Street”, and the funky-chorused title track.

Afterwards, Fagen would drop out of music for awhile, but at the end of the 80’s do a single song for a film, “Century’s End”, which basically continues the “Nightfly” sound. Then, another solo album in ’93. I did not pay attention to this, and may not have been aware of it, or just wasn’t interested in his solo work enough at the time. However, two years later, a friend (a fellow fan of Stevie and others like Fagen) makes me a Christmas tape, that included a song from this album, “Snowbound” (and also several songs by Herb Alpert, and Smokey’s “I Can Tell that Christmas Is Near”, which was written by Stevie and Syreeta).
This to me is the perennial “Friday evening after work in a club during Christmas season” sound, and features those same kinds of seeming random scene lyrics.

The group got back together in 2000, and the album pretty much picked up from before. (I think I remember being in a store and hearing at least parts of the album, beginning with very funky “Gaslighting Abbie”, with it’s funny chorus chords with the vocals pitched up to the point of sounding like Take 6, and it was clear, “they’re back!”) I still did not push to get it, as I hadn’t fully explored their history yet (and it wasn’t until very recently, with Rhapsody, that I finally went through all their stuff).

One song that evokes the old TONTO-like early-to-mid 70’s sound in places on the first three albums is “Almost Gothic”! While “What A Shame About Me” is like a latter day nod to “Do It Again” in the verses, while the chorus is like “Greenflower Street” to the third power! (The subject matter is basically like a repeat of “Deacon Blues”).
“Negative Girl” has a smoothRhodes sound with a catchy rhythm which changes step from verse to chorus. 8 min. closer “West of Hollywood” has an interesting descending and shifting triplet chord refrain which it fades on. It otherwise sounds almost like the old sound with the rock guitar played throughout.

In 2003, I’m skimming through the main Sam Ash on 48th St. (would often check up on the latest synthesizers or digital pianos there), and I hear their newest album, but one of the tracks is something called “Godwhacker”, which had words that appeared to be aimed one-to-one at God Himself, and you’ll have to see them here:, as a few lines are so bad I cannot even bring myself to quote the most pertinently shocking words. (And I’m not usually squeamish about others’ blasphemies and such; they are the ones who will have to answer to God for it).
My friend I mentioned above, also a Christian, told me that it was really a metaphor aimed at corrupt religious leaders like Saddam Hussein. That made me feel a little bit better, though I still believed using terms aimed at “the almighty” or “Daddy” was still too over the top for comfort, even if referring to humans. You’re basically still essentially blaming Him for their actions they are only doing in His name, despite whether He actually sanctioned them or not.

In passing, I should mention I would shortly get rid of the CD’s of Aja, Nightfly, Abbey Road, those new Beatles singles released in the 90’s, my entire Earth Wind & Fire collection, and an 80’s new wave compilation, in a musical purge sparked on by being exposed to (and starting to debate where I thought it went overboard) old-line fundamentalists’ full “philosophy” on music; and even CCM singer Carman aknowledging that there’s “a spirit behind music”, and then feeling convicted, and then my wife objecting to the huge ankh that appeared on EWF’s latest CD at the time, as they now moved back to pagan imagery. Plus being basically spooked out by an obscure old song I was trying to record. (Below. And then, right after I did this, I found that they had just come out with another new album, that really maxed it with the religious imagery!)
My getting rid of the Fagen works; after I found that [in addition to the titles’ mysterious “veiled references”], the band itself’s name was said to be such a reference; taken from the name of a “dildo” (sex toy used as a penis. Just now looking this up further, I see it was not a brand or type that ever existed, but rather a fictional line, used in an old William Burroughs novel. There were actually three of them; each one succeeding the last when it was destroyed). And also, being still uncomfortable about “Godwhacker”, despite the mitigating intepretation of it.

Wrestling with God? 

However, in just looking the lyrics up again, and finding the above link, I see the old “Saddam” interpretation was a common myth, and someone cited Fagen in a book he wrote, Eminent Hipsters as saying he in fact did write the song about actually going to Heaven (with Satan, “slinky red foot”) and “taking God out”, after his mother died horribly of Alzheimer’s! “‘If the Deity actually existed, what sane person wouldn’t consider this to be justifiable homocide?’ So yeah. The lyrics are kind of straight forward. However it does give a whole new philosophical dimension to the song. The concept of if a God did exist, he surely deserves punished for his blatant lack of care etc.” Another commenter suggests it’s some sort of “Manichaean fantasy”, “doing riffs on Gnosticism”, about taking out “a god (lower case)”. Still, there is a clear allusion to Genesis and the pre-Fall unity man had with the Creator as recorded there.

I liked the two comments:

this is a sad, sad song. i love steely dan music, in spite of their frequently perverted subject matter. but as great a groove as this is, the playing, the solos etc, to see a human being who was given life and breath by God shaking his fist at heaven and wanting to kill the Father who loves him is just a perfect picture of man’s pathetic attitude toward God since creation. Exactly the same as when Jesus came to earth to rescue man — and the very ones he came to save mocked him, spit on him, and crucified him. This is how we treat God. Donald’s mom had Alzheimers? ok, my mom died of Parkinson’s, welcome to reality in a sin-stained world. Now grow up, don’t get angry at God, get angry at slinky red foot for ruining God’s perfect sinless creation and your fellow man for gladly jumping on the bandwagon. I was going to introduce this song to my steely dan tribute band until i examined the lyrics closer. This is donald and walter at their cleverest, profoundest worst. I fear for their souls.

If the backstory on this song is accurate then it helps me understand how in the absence of empathy and grief we resort to violence; in this case it’s violence against G-d. I can’t imagine the deep sense of sadness and anger that Fagen must feel, and that his need for connection has been lost now from his mothers passing. I wonder if he had a profound need to understand why G-d allowed his mother to suffer and eventually die. And I wonder if he was disgusted with himself for not being able to deliver her from the disease. But in “Godwhacker,” Killing off G-d is actually another compounding of tragedy upon tragedy. One of the reasons being that killing G-d doesn’t liberate you from the need to grieve: so it is a powerless and tragic act.
The way back to wholeness is to repent, trust Jesus, and discover the power of good grieving which transforms your spiritual life comprehensively.

(Philip Yancey IIRC somewhere; likely Disappointment With God, cites some old writing by someone, about man being like a boy who kills his parents and then cries that he wants his mommy and daddy!)

Although a problem, as I’ve been discussing a lot in my writings, is that these sentiments exacerbate the problem by raising the very sorts of expectations [which are basically the sources of nearly all pain, when they are unmet] that lead people to rebel like that in the first place. “Trusting Jesus” leading to some sort of “transformation” that compensates for the loss. But to be honest, it doesn’t really work like that.
Ultimately, the goal is supposed to be to put the suffering of life in perspective, realizing that it will be more than made up for in Heaven. But in the original scriptural context, “trusting God” is to eliminate the problem of guilt from the condemnation of the Law (which did cause a lot of anxiety in Biblical times). It is opposed to trusting in our own works. Also, to deal with persecution by the Temple system (at the hands of the Romans whom they turned Christians over to).

Faith in Christ was not offered as a promise to make us feel better in general life circumstances (which include physical pain and death). But a whole massive Christian teaching industry often puts it out as such, and basically sells it to the masses (which people on the outside also see and judge our validity by).
So when it doesn’t make some people feel better (and which time the people who teach this will then come right out and clarify it’s “not about feelings”, or “feeling good”), then this will likely lead to disillusionment, and possibly even rebellion like this. (And then, we see here the way people often coldly dismiss people’s suffering; like “grow up, it’s just sin”. Christians don’t think this way when they are feeling mistreated by “the [sinful] world”).

I still grapple with why the world is the way it is, under a “personal” God. Not so much directly about “why pain” any more (it seems to be a apart of nature, and the preterist-based views move away from a notion of “the Fall” being physical, and affecting the physical universe, which was created “good”; it was man’s “knowledge” which clearly, according to the text, became corrupted).
So with me, its more about why this world often seems to encourage people to follow “nature” (the survival instinct, where the powerful prosper at others’ expense; rather than “integrity”, which is about justice, care and the patience to not depend solely on nature). I tend to look more at why man causes man pain, where Alzheimer’s is not man’s fault, and I imagine man is doing as much as he can to find cures. (There’s rumors that the medical industry and “big pharma” may hold back cures to diseases, for the sake of profit, of course, but then that gets right back to my query, of man and abuse of power).

Basically, it all boils down to why difficulty is “tangible” (or physical, concrete, material; basically the “Sensory” perspective), while the “hope” that is supposed to compensate it, can only be intangible (mental, abstract, immaterial; or the iNtuitive perspective. And I’m an N, so you would think this would be right up my alley, but it only led me to the philosophical questions, and purported answers, but then I eventually demanded tangible evidence to support it. It’s ultimately the “coniunctio” we all desire, where all split polarities are harmonized, including the opposites of the polarities our egos choose to focus on).

Of course, to standard theology, even with all of this, people are still “held accountable”, to “know better”, and that’s why they will be “judged” so harshly. They use Romans 1, which seems to pitch a “general revelation” basis of “accountability”, yet general revelation seems to point to inhuman power mongering, a lot of times. (Then, they’ll try to run behind “the Fall” to say God’s creation is corrupted; to be fixed inthe future. But if that’s the case, then the “general revelation” argument falls as well. In actuality, that passage is talking about specific people back then given special revelation, which they still “held in unrighteousness”).

But still, why imagine yourself going to take out the Creator of the whole universe, who created that whole big ball of glowing steel wool scientists have mapped out, in which our whole galaxy supercluster (over 100 million light years across) is an infinitessimal speck?
It obviously stems from a belief that He is not real. (It’s one thing for someone to maybe have some thoughts like that, in the most extreme bout of anger or something; but to publish it in a song?) You may argue that the religious people don’t really know for sure that He exists (like my father always said “you don’t know; the Pope don’t know…” etc,) but then are you that sure he doesn’t exist? At least respect people (including fans, as we see) who do believe in Him!

To attack God like that, obviously stems from some sort of expectation of Him, not met. If one was really sure He was non-existent, then why would someone bother getting angry at Him for pain and suffering in the first place? (No one gets angry at the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” skeptics created to mock theism!)

Listening to his stuff, with chord change after chord change, I keep saying this man is so talented! Pretty much up there with Stevie, even though he hasn’t quite gotten the spotlight that Stevie has. So it’s like “why?”! It’s a shame that this is what he would say about God (which would definitely make it almost impossible to justify listening to him in the event I ever directly tangle with fundamentalist Christians questioning “our musical choices” again. This is especially worrisome, with inferior extraverted Feeling).

The “anima” dynamic; the sights and sounds of “life”

The whole point of all this, is how the sounds have become tied in with a sense of “life”, for me. It’s obviously some sort of “anima” dynamic, for me to sit down and pour out such a long memoir of this group I don’t even talk about that much (and pushing back other projects I was planning for this vacation). It was from when I was becoming familiar with their stuff, in my early 20’s, and had just become Christian, and longing for a partner (which now would be much harder to find, as it had to be only a Christian as mature in the faith as you were, and you couldn’t sleep with them or even do risky behaviors like heavy petting or too much time alone, until marriage).

During this time, being grown enough to explore the city on my own, I also began seeing a lot of lower Manhattan, a place I didn’t go to much, since everything I would be taken to as a child was usually further uptown. I was in the Village a lot, looking in old record stores (particlarly for non-midlined Motown albums. Midlining was where they changed all of the original sublabels like “Tamla” or “Gordy” to Motown, [5xxx series], and eliminated interior flaps with the artwork or lyrics and credits. Was at the time trying to get original versions of some of Stevie’s later contract 1 albums. Contract 2 and afterward were never midlined).
For some reason, Peg and especially Josie came to be associated with Chinatown and Little Italy. Probably from hearing them on the radio around the time I was starting to go to San Genarro (which originally extended around past the Mulberry Bend, and perhaps eating at a Chinese restaurant, and I also discovered Chinatown Fair, the only old arcade in Manhattan, to still be open today!)

Again, rather than a semitropical atmosphered lowrise “California” sound (like “surf and sun” type of stuff), these songs seem to fit in with the gritty tenement blocks of lower Manhattan. Especially the irregularly layed out West, with triangular blocks where 6th or 7th Avenues extend and cut through the below Houston (the start of the main numbered Street section) grid, with little 19th century smaller buildings with cafes, or whatever. (They also remind me of sections of uptown, on the West side).
The rich sounds are to audio what color is visually, and figuratively, and as at least my wife and I (having honeymooned in LA, and me exploring before that, in the Air Force) agree, New York is the more “colorful” place, at least as far as architecture and atmosphere.

Fagen and his band were originally from New York, and their songs basically were reflecting their college years adventures with wine, women and song, or whatever. (Probably drugs, too. Some of the women they were singing about, like the Babylon sisters, were prostitutes or other shady behaviors. Or some suggest some girls they had picked up in Babylon, NY[LI] and took to the west, and driving up and down that coast. In that instance, he was not advocating whatever sex was occurring, but having apparently indulged so much already, was realizing it was not good. So that was a “learning from life” experience).
So many of them really are “New York” experience songs, despite where they were recorded! (Babylon sisters does specifically mention California areas, however. But then this includes in part, San Francisco, which is culturally and visually closer to the atmosphere of NY than LA anyway).

Even vocal sounds like “…it’s over now, take your big Black Cow, and GET OUTTA HERE!” and “I take ya PICTCHA! I keep it with yo LETTA” sound so New York (particularly Brooklyn, where they were from. Reminds me of the New York baseball culture, as well).

Even though as a young Christian, and a black American (secular or religious), homosexuality was the worse thing a person could be into, and of course, that’s what you thought about when you thought about the Village. I did not mingle with people there (so never encountered anything in that lifestyle), just browsed through, maybe got something to eat (usually at Subway, which was new in NY at the time, and still pretty rare), and then headed home.
But I got this sense of “life”, in the sights and sounds there. It’s basically what I would now recognize as the “anima”; life-giving instinctual energy. My father was basically one of those 60’s bohemians (rebelling against the old societal order with all its racism, neurosis and hypocrisy) who had eventually put on a suit and joined the regular work force and the “nuclear family” life, and yet was well familiar with the Village scene, particular for the jazz, which he was into.

And at my entry to adulthood, he was contantly pressuring me to “grow up” and experience “life”, and of course feared my new adoption of Christianity (which he was bitterly harassing me over at times) would hinder that. (He gave me his copies of The World Bible and the novel The Razor’s Edge to try to “broaden my perspective”. I did gain some comparative religion from the former, yet still convincing me that Christianity was the only one that really addressed man’s problems in any coherent way, and the latter I just could not get far into; not being into novels, and it seemed very dense. Was never even able to get into Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I had been given years earlier, and that’s supposed to be a classic kind of INTP “nerd” book!)

Still, by 21, I just imagined myself finally fitting in this thing called “life” I felt so cast out of, and maybe finding the perfect woman out there, coming from her own difficult journey (which I take it Razor’s Edge was about), amongst all the people. (Ironically, the one I did eventually find, was probably never far away, as she and her best friend used to hang out in the Village a lot, and she too always liked something about the liberal atmosphere. We spent dating and early marriage, going to places like UNO’s and occasionaly other restaurants).

But even while believing this was the pit of “Sodom” (I joked to my wife, when passing through St Marks Pl. once; “if those walls [inside the buildings] could talk…”); (though not taking a quite as strict personally judgmental attitude against them like other Christians), there was still this sense of “life” and “freedom” in the [slightly] androgynous or artistic looking females walking around, and the scruffy male hipsters (or whatever they were called then), all often carrying around musical instruments, or [graphic] art stuff.

I’m not in the Village proper as much anymore (though I run the the train underground through it every day, and just had to visit a dermatologist there), but since it’s September, San Genarro is going on this week. Probably why that has had such an allure is just the bustle of people, on what is an “only in New York” mix of a largely residential street lined by tall (relatively speaking) old tenements (and I like the architecture of the “new law” ones), with businsses on the ground floor.
It’s a cross section of “life”.

Also significant; this stretch leading to what became the big “anima-infused” project of last year, the Five Points (—which the block bounded by Mulberry, Mosco[Park], Mott and Worth is technically apart of as it was the same numbered block that made up the original southeast corner of the intersection, even after being bisected by Mulberry, and later, Worth). This area had already been significant in that way, and so the Five Points interest just reinforced it.
My first visit to San Genarro, when it extended all the way down there, my father parked on his work parking lot spot (now occupied by the Moynihan courthouse), which was just yards from the 24 Baxter site I would soon be intrigued by, but not until much later know where it was. So I’m generally in the area when I visit the festival, with Chinatown Fair being the end of my annual circuit.

So this got me thinking about the group. It’s like in one band, a little bit of all the elements of all the other music I like. I’m just coming to realize how much I would be thinking of one song or line or another over the years. It was something I really took for granted.

The parts of music, and religious criticism

All of this should shed light on why I was so adamant against the old-line fundamentalist “traditional music only” music “philosophy” I wrote about in the old CCM essay ( As I said there, “Rejecting everything for only serene orchestras and stately hymns is like blasting away the entire earth and every city, leaving only Christian countrysides”. That was what they were essentially arguing, in not only condemning secular music, but even Christians’ adaptation of contemporary styles (embodied in “CCM”, and at least one critic even goes after “charismatics with their jazzy harmonies”).

Obviously, what I’m discussing here is primarily “harmony“. The fundamentalist music class I took discussed the three main divisions of music: melody (basically the “tune” that helps us identify the song), harmony (the chordal structure), and rhythm (the beat). Their issue against rock and related styles is that rhythm is prominent (especially with the drum “backbeat” almost universal in pop music, where the heavier drum stroke is on the “down beat” [even numbers], which they then claim is what makes it “sensual” and even “demonic”).
Jazz is criticized for emphasizing “harmony” too much, which they claimed “distracts with its sensuality”. (This is why one leader calls even the fairly conservative charismatics’ music “jazzy”). It is what can shape mood (hence, what I’m discussing here), including sadness, which they criticized old jazz for. (And what was most of that, but blacks expressing their pain over the rough life the “exceptional” white Christian society these teachers uphold, created for them! Blacks are really supposed to have been happy under that, whistling while they work or sit enjoying watermelon, and it was the “godless”, giving them “free stuff” they didn’t deserve, or freedom they weren’t fit to receive, who created all their “problems” afterward; —and also all the nation’s problems as well!)

While all music has rhythm and harmony, these are to be put in a specific order, with melody as superior, then harmony, and then rhythm. This is what you hear in the simple church songs they use, where the primary sound is the singing of the words, and the instrument being played is a background, pretty much following the melody, and providing some harmony and tempo (rhythm), for the singers to follow.

While it’s true that harmony and rhythm can distract from worship (the main purpose of singing in church), their whole jihad against contemporary music goes way beyond that; as much of CCM is marketed for enjoyment, and they don’t only condemn it in church. Their whole philosophy is that the harmony and especially rhythm are leading to “sin”, and even destroying the “culture” (in addition to bringing God’s judgment on the nation, on top of all the other sins! At least one writer I ran across actually blamed 9-11 on CCM in church!)

What I think is happening, is they’ve recognized the affect of music on the emotions (as I’m discussing here), and assume this is always, and in itself bad. Their whole argument against those who do answer them is that they are “making music neutral“. A University of Seattle study is cited by CCM critics acknowledging that rock is based on “mathematical formulae” and “calculated frequencies” that affect the body as well as the mind. This is what it has made it as well as jazz and other forms so catchy. This is obviously what Fagen (and others like Stevie, etc.) has mastered.* The assumption then is that this is being used for “mind-bending” or “indoctrination”. (i.e. again, the pleasing rhythms and harmonies are being used to lead the youth into sexual sin and “rebellion” against God).

*(Where my introverted Thinking with extraverted iNtuition leads to a mastery of analyzing and synthesizing concepts, introverted Thinking with extraverted Sensing; which these musicians likely prefer, leads to a mastery of more sensory things, like sounds and visuals. So both will deal in “mathematical” elements. I’ll deal in ‘abstract’ symmetries such as personality matrices, while the music has audible symmetries, such as the arrangements of different tones like the chordal changes, and I greatly admire the symmetries because of the Ti, but because of Se being “shadow” for me, it takes me a while to be able to put my finger on them and decipher what makes them pleasing, and it seems to be virtually impossible for me to come up with any music of my own).

The overall insinuation is that the pleasure itself is bad (always connected to those sins, or just the plain “hedonism” of “self-gratification” as they call it). But of course, most (at least, not anymore) would never own such an idea to that extreme. They just see pleasure for its own sake (even so much as tapping feet to the rhythm, as some will mention), as being too potentially “sensuous”, and then they do see many in the “world” using music for sexuality, which builds the case.
On the other end of the emotional spectrum, it can convey and/or produce sadness and anger, and those negative emotions they also see as “sensuous” or “of the flesh“. (And then they key it into the scant scriptural references they can find, like the “music that sounds like war” the Israelites were using with the golden calf). Man’s emotion is to be “joy” in “Christ”. He’s a sinner who has no recourse but to give God back what He is due (since God is really the only legitimately “offended” party in life), and Christ paid to provide the way for man to be saved.

So anger is only for the righteous preacher thundering at those who are not in Christ (and are destroying “godly Christian culture”), or those within the Church, “compromising” with “the world”. Sadness is to only be over one’s own “sin”. Once that is cleaned up, then what really is left for us, but “joy”?
So any music that produces or reflects any emotion besides that is seen as “sensual”, and “feeding the flesh”. Hence, one leader even says the only acceptable rhythm is “marching”, which many of the 4/4 timed hymns do lead to, and even some 6/8. (You can even look at the common “battle”-themed songs “Onward Christian Soldier” and “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”. Not sure what that teacher said about the many 3/4 “waltz”-timed hymns, but I imagine the “marching” criteria is probably only for 4/4. And then isn’t “marching” also associated with “war“?).

It’s obvious that this is all about CONTROL. And as such, it’s not any biblical concern, despite how much wisdom there may be in some amount of musical “discernment”.*

They’ll deny they are only pushing one culture over others, but as in many issues, they are known “more for what they are against, than what they are for”. Their philosophy as to what should be played in church (and even what’s “good” even for entertainment) seems to default to what you hear them play, which is the old hymns, and maybe something symphonic (including secular classical, among some. The “culture” that produced that is seen as “Christian”, and so falls under “sacred” culture even if every artist in it was not a born again Christian).

The original full basis of their teaching is that Africa is cursed, and anything they produce is spiritually bad, and “worldly, sensuous, demonic”. (And math, as we see is involved in music, was a great gift of early African culture, as can be seen in the pyramids and other creations. But this is here yet something else demonized).
True religious “cuckservatives” as most of them are [i.e. indirect in their ideology, instead of openly naming the perceived racialized threats, as more radical supremacists labeling them as such desire], they try to hide the full implications of this with extensive code language [they’re worse than Steely Dan in that regard!], yet hold onto the censure of contemporary Christians who are seen as “compromising” just for using some of the same sounds.
(A couple of teachers I’ve seen, “brother” Mike O’Neal and Mike Paulson, retain and boldly affirm the full racial underpinning of the teaching. Yet people calling this out to those who hide the true meaning will be accused of “playing the race card”. The very first time I ever heard that term in fact, was when calling this teaching out on a Christian board).

Music and the unconscious; questions over “discernment”

But music is very important, providing a “background” to life, and capturing many moods and sentiments. The critics appeal to this, when they talk about “influence of music” to prove that their sounds are good, while anything black-influenced is bad. (Their only tack is a bunch of “scientific studies” one leader completely misconstrued [and he being recently exposed as having “sensuality” problems himself!], or just looking at the often troubled and sometimes fatal lifestyles of rock stars, to prove “guilt by association”, and “that’s what the music leads to”).

Often helping their arguments, are that many “good” (aesthetically pleasing) sounds were produced when the artists were high or something (you hear this with the likes of Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, who eventually died from his lifestyle). So I’m sure this may have had an influence on Fagen and his associates (Dr. Wu was even said to be the actual doctor who helped treat him).

What I think this might be, from knowing something about the “unconscious” now, is that the altered states of consciousness probably do give you access to ego-states that might otherwise be drowned out by all the other “chatter” in our heads. So that would be why drugs might seem to produce greater creativity. (Stevie never needed drugs, though!) But then that means it doesn’t prove that the sounds produced in those states are necessarily bad themselves.

I’m addressing this, because many Christians (from fundamentalists to charismatics) believe this opens you up to “demons”.
In passing, I’ve heard that Jung claimed demons were really only “autonomous complexes”, which are ego states that take executive control, as happens in addictions and such. Seeing how the notion of demons as these invisible people who walk around causing various trouble for no reason, basically, sometimes gets tossed around too much or overdone; some saying they even “cling onto” physical items (Chick & company used this as an argument against “rock music” records, IIRC); I considered the “autonomous complex” idea, but demons as an individual’s ego-states doesn’t square with Christ casting them out of one person, and into a herd of pigs, who then run to their demise from it!

(In the Fulfilled view, Satan is primarily an “accuser”, who tries to torment believers with the Law, being we all hopelessly fall short, and when the Law system was completely ended in AD70, he finally lost any real power, though many religions continue his mission, with effort-based distortions of the Gospel message, and resultant accusations of the Law in various ways, including what I’m discussing about music. So perhaps now in this post-Law age, it’s possible that much of what people call “demons” might be deeply repressed ego-states, which are lesser senses of “I” in the psyche, that can come up and even take control of us. We don’t see any being cast into animals, though many different religious groups will claim many sensational things are occuring in their services).

Chick had published one book on the “planned destruction of our children” (echoing the typical conspiratorial mindset of those who believe they created an “exceptional” Christian society that everyone else is ruining with “sin”). One chapter was “Don’t Mess With My Music”, which is what teens often said to their parents trying to throw out their records. The verdict was that it was “demons” attached to the music, capturing these kids’ minds, and making them rebel and say this. (Just like one Chick tract showing a baby in a “backslidden” household yelling because a demon pinches him!)

All of this is like trying to grab onto smoke. Tossing around something you read about in scripture, but extending it way beyond what is actually printed there, in trying to stretch it to apply to our experience.
So in actual practice, you can’t prove it or disprove the alleged invisible “cause”, but the teachers think they have the upper hand because they take the “rebellion” (supposed effect) itself as the proof; basically putting the cart before the horse. (Then they lament society and even the contemporary Church continuing to turn from their “values”; as they no longer take them seriously).

But music obviously taps into various ego states, which include ones that like whatever it is that the music represents to them and want to identify with. So of course they will react that way. The fundamentalists and other cultural conservatives are constantly, and very loudly telling others to stop messing with or “taking away” things of theirs (or that they think are theirs; including “society” itself, as well as “their music”, the old hymns). And as this includes control over others through fear in the name of God, this is actually more in line with what Satan’s ploy is!

But as I said in the psychology essay (when addressing Jung and his teachings on the unconscious), I still believe we still should not mess around with the unconscious. (My discussions of it [aka the “shadow”], in connection with Jung’s typology, and the complexes that connect with the cognitive functions of typology, involves being aware of it, because it does come up and affect us, and can even be seen by others and not ourselves at times, as the “Johari Window” points out. But not to deliberately tap into it (which occultists do, often using drugs, and shamans even do something called “disintegrating the ego” which gets you in touch with a deeply suppressed complex called, interestingly enough, the “Demonic Personality”, which they then remain partly in touch with. —And these are often the sort of religious guides telling southern Africans that raping virgins, including newborn baby girls will cure AIDS).

If these deeply “shadow” ego states take control, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s just a “complex” within the individual psyche, or an actual living “fallen angel” from outside, when it creates behaviors like that, or other problems you then cannot control.

*As for Carman’s statement about the “spirit behind the music”, I would say there is still something to that, but it’s very difficult to determine it in practice. I would say people with sexual or dark spiritual themes are definitely suspect, and then groups like Steely Dan and Earth Wind & Fire are reasonably questionable; but then as the “spirit behind the music” is not really a biblically developed concept, it can get into speculation of some “bad effect”, which may or may not occur, with any given listener, and that’s what we see when the [more fundamentalistic] rock music condemners point at the deaths of rock stars (including Christian ones like Rich Mullins, who did not die from the same sort of “lifestyle” cause many secular stars died from).

Like some have this fully developed concept called “doorways”, based largely from taking God’s condemnation of pagan worship, and pairing it with demon posession or “attacks” against Christians recorded in places. So various things you do might supposedly lead to possession or Satan “winning” over us somehow.
But Paul’s treatments of meats offered to idols (which you would think would be something demons would definitely be “clinging to”, if they did any such thing) should have shown that the real problem is in man’s “knowledge” [perception of good/neutral or evil]—which was precisely what was involved in the original Fall to begin with, and which is internal, rather than external forces like “demons”, or “Satan”, who even the world has acknowledged often gets blamed too much for people’s own shortcomings.
Satan is supposed to be “defeated”, as acknowledged in Christian teaching, but in practice, he and his minions are ascribed all of this active power everywhere, and all tied in with human “choices”, especially behavior. (This gets into the question of when the “age”, recorded in the NT, when Satan was still “walking about like a lion seeking whom he may devour” ended, and what his “devouring” of people really meant. But he is really portrayed throughout the NT as attacking with “condemnation”, and is resisted by trusting in Christ instead of our own efforts).

Like for me, I get a funny feeling from the unreleased song “the Bear” (apparently from the Gaucho sessions), which starts with it being so cool in sound, with it’s harmonies, done in Clavinet; the keyboard Stevie had made famous, but stopped using by that time. (It uses their typical techniques, but still sounds different from what was on most their albums; or at least those two. That adds to its sense of intrigue. It does have more of the feel of the previous album, “The Royal Scam”, and is particularly similar to the title track).
But then it starts seeming “too good”, like when everything seems so cool and perfect, then disaster happens. (Like “when they shall say ‘peace and safety‘…” 1 Thess.5:3). In addition to some of the lyrics and even the tone of the vocals, a part of this may have been from the scenery the video showed, which reminded me of WTC (as the song was about Wall St. which is in the same area), and from there, 9-11; especially this being right after the anniversary, and having watched a documentary that showed footage we had never seen, with those images still in my head. So it comes off as something fitting the last thing you listen to the day you head up into the towers and then become trapped; like the soundtrack for the whole scene leading up to the tragedy, and the chorus would play while looking up at the tower one last time. Maybe even looking up at it on fire already. (Something about the sound gives an image of height or tall things). It also sounds like the type of thing that would be playing in a drama, and fade out, leading up to someone like possibly a bride, gone in a room by themselves away from the action, taking out the gun to kill themselves. That’s probably where I get this sense from.

The same thing had happened with an old Earth Wind and Fire song, when I completed the entire collection with the somewhat rare second album that I had just put on CD. It seemed so perfect to complete the whole collection, but then I got this very strong negative sense about this one song in particular (“I Can Feel It In My Bones”; a title that certainly doesn’t help; and then a nice sounding one after it, and a later one called “Energy”. It gave me the sense of a ritual ground then covered over with a garden or something, or a mother turning one child up for sacrifice, but then nurturing his sibling), and led to me giving away the whole collection! (What made it worse, is that I was trying out this new food, duck bacon, but apparently cooking it wrong, and ended up with this strange looking black meat, while making the transfer to the CD, and then the song wouldn’t record after several tries. I’m usually suspicious of “coincidences” like that that the charismatics around me would hold up as definite “signs” from God; but I was just totally spooked by the whole sequence).

This is an example of “introverted iNtuition”, especially for me, where it shadows the extraverted iNtuition I normally see life through. Music fits an external (environmental) pattern I compare other music with, enjoying the discovery of the multitude of possibilities with it; but now, some imaginal impressions are coming up from an individual unconscious sense (which is considered internal), and imagining some very dark possibility. And so thus (for my type), the functional perspective is generally associated with very negative ego states like this.
And again, this negative dynamic is likely also colored by things the bands do, like EWF’s pagan themes, or Fagen’s constant veiled sexual themes and later song against God. It could also tie in with something I heard when really young and frightened by something, perhaps in a strange place with tall buildings; so a sound I hear now will subconsciously remind me of that. (Which is why it won’t affect others in the same way, and thus can’t always be made into something intrinsic in the music itself. There are a lot of different possible factors in something like this, so it’s not right to seize upon one and generalize it. Though it is possible for certain elements of music to have a common affect on nearly everyone, like well-familiar “sad” sounds).

So that’s how I practice “discernment” in music. Of course, the anti-CCM Christians are also anti-psychology, and would condemn all of this Jungian stuff on top of the music. What we always end up with; just do what they say, because they are always right. Slap a “Bible chapter:verse” on a teaching, find a bit of empirical supposed “evidence”, and you have heard the clear “truth” as if from God Himself! (Of course, no “grey areas” either, one says. They also don’t realize that their “the music will lead you to…” or “fill your heart with…” claims is a form of psychology, appealing directly to the “unconscious”! They use the different concepts when it suits their argument, and they can key it into a scripture passage that looks like it pertains, and some things might fit to some extent, but most of the time it doesn’t address their specific “standards, so they have to create broad generalizations into distinct “principles” or even “laws”. Using scripture like that turns it into psychology!)

Where all of this highlights the “sinfulness” of man, it’s like “what can you do?” You can become “contrary to all men” (1 Thess.2:15), which seems to be what many Christians, particularly “old-line” conservatives, think we should be. But Paul was referring to those advocates of the Law who opposed the “freedom” of Grace, through Christ. The ones who were actually being reserved for the condemnation they tried to place on everyone else!

All apart of the thing called “life”

I once believed all these people were condemned; judged under the Law, basically (though evangelicals won’t usually put it that way, since “the Law” conveys the notion of certain Old Testament commandments even they don’t keep). I now believe Grace is unconditional, and that makes me feel better about their “fate”, and that God would forgive them (even Fagen’s words), without demanding something in return, as common teaching insists. Many are just trying to get through life, like anyone else, and thus sharing their experience through entertainment people find enjoyable.

So all of the stuff Fagen sings about is a slice of “life”, and coupled with the sound, that is why it has come to be so significant to me. When he jumps from image to image in the songs (like all the places he mentions in “Snowbound”, or from “up on the hill” to “Chinese music under banyan trees”, to whatever club he does his “dime dancing”, to the arms of the woman he then “runs to”, and the police whistle in the park [during the interlude]), it’s just all pictures of “life” (and love). Just like the bustling “free” living people of the Village.  And hence, the connection.

Songs by other people that remind me of this sense of “life” embodied in Manhattan, are “Rosalinda’s Eyes”, by Billy Joel, which has a lot of rich Fender Rhodes chordal progressions and varied “life experience” and “New York” imagery like Steely Dan (“Crazy Latin dancing solo down in Herald Square…”. It may also have that “police whistle” effect, like “Aja”); Edie Brickell & New Bohemians “What I Am”, which with it’s somewhat Steely Dan-like all over the place lyrics (“Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box…”) is like a late 80’s Village “proto-hipster” song that reminded me of walking down Broadway through Soho with all those shops of theirs during that time (and was like the last moments of “freedom” right before I hit boot camp), Sade’s “Keep Looking” from the same time reminded me of a late sunny weekend afternoon in the Village, feeling lonely (her earlier “Maureen”, about the loss of a close friend, remembering good times together, and wondering what it would be like if the person were still in her life), and then later, Susanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”, which is about another similar kind of person recounting the imagery of an average day’s life in an urban diner like the ones you find in the area. A song that brings up gneral images of the city is All 4 One’s rendition of “Something’s Coming” from the 1996 “West Side Story” CD. It perfectly captures the anticipation of waiting for love, in how the songs begs for this “something” to finally show up, and even pondering on where it could appear from. (“Around the corner, or whistling at the river…”).
(A few tunes not associated with the urban scene, but picture an otherworldly serenity I associate with the anima, are the “Cosmic Cove Galaxy” background score, from Super Mario Galaxy 2, and EWF’s instrumental “Splashes” from their last album. While the sound doesn’t match the sentiment, I like the second verse of WAR’s “the World is A Ghetto”: Wonder when I’ll find … paradise. Somewhere* there’s a home … sweet and nice.” [*sung with real emotion, like sighing the word!] Someone tells me “that’s a lie; the world is not a ghetto”, and they are an “orthodox” evangelical whose theology is the one that teaches that the world is still “lost” and “condemned” with all the increasing “sin” and unbelief in it. But don’t be so “negative” as to sing in terms of it being a “ghetto”! Go figure!)

It’s a shame that the Church historically made it a choice between their controlled culture, and the rest of the “world”. And that stuff like “Godwhackers”, on top of all the drugs, sex and even false religion in secular music, further makes it seem like this, and questions the “goodness” of their artistry. I just wish we were in a physical, millennial or eternal “Kingdom” already, where people’s talents would be redeemed, and God would be at the center of it all, and unmistakably seen and known by all. (Which is one of the things that had lured me to the “futurist” soteriology in the first place).
For now, I really wish Fagen would rescind that stuff about God, and find some other way to voice his frustration about His place in a world with painful death. He has still lived the colorful life he sings about, and no religious movement or leader has apparently stopped him and brought him under their control. “Live and let live” (or “believe and let believe”) goes both ways.

I should make clear I’m not saying the lifestyles known by the Church as “sinful” are good or “OK”. But they are apart of life as we know it, and which we have to navigate through as well as dealing with our own sins.
The Gospel is supposed to be about “freedom”, but the church turned it essentially back into Law (greatly modified, and even stepped up in many ways, though), with “grace” as some sort of “help” God now gives us to keep this “magnified” Law. God does not want people just doing whatever they want out there, but our motivation is to be love (to Him, and towards other people, which includes realizing that they are their own living souls, like us, and not objects merely for our own pleasure; see just published rather than the fear and control religion has often used. Having tempered my whole “prime of life” based in large point on that, that’s why at midlife, this stuff is figuring strongly in my reflecting.

I just hope God is true, and that He does forgive all men [unconditionally], (including even Fagen), and that there is something better beyond this, that these “life” feelings points to. (That “Any World” even he would be welcome to, that’s “better than where I come from”). Where good things will be truly good, with no hidden dangers behind them, talents like this will always be used for good, and everyone can recognize everything good is from Him.


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