Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The (Non)Education of Ralph Nader

Politics, at the highest level, is of course deeply invested in personality and personal ego--none of the candidates in this race lacks for ego, nor should they. But while this is part and parcel to the desire to rule the most powerful nation in the world, Ralph Nader seems to take the cake because he enters the race without consideration of his role in the 2000 debacle (which was substantive, no matter who you believe) or with any kind of real platform as to what he would do, but merely running on a platform of dissent. Not agreeing is simply not enough, and the promise of not being the thing we're all sick of while offering no viable solution seems unremarkable, and egotistical--he's not in it to win, he's in it to harry the proceedings.

An excellent essay on this topic from DailyKos.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The World is Lighter Yet Again

Today we mourn the passing of Alain Robbe-Grillet, author, screenwriter, director, and true maverick spirit. The world is lighter without you.

Now, I suppose...

...that the "liberal press" will start attacking Mr. McCain because he did not credit the authors of "Barbara Ann."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mozart Effect

Sorry, yet again, for my absence. I've been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston to hear music of mine, and have been hard at work on a huge, onerous project which threatens to destroy. Combine that with teaching a lot, and you've got a low-priority blogger yet again. Plus it's been cold, and who wants to simply complain?

So back from the grave, I offer a well-reasoned refutation of The Mozart Effect by Will Dowd. His hypothesis: it is not the scientific reason of Mozart that has been proven (only once, according to Dowd) to increase one's intelligence, but the presence of beauty, of sheer enjoyment. Apparently students also responded equally to an audiobook of a Stephen King short story. Is he Mozart's equal? Or is The Mozart Effect (a registered trademark) simply the best post-Amadeus commodification and entombment of classical music. After all, if you believe Susan Jacoby, we are getting progressively stupiderl. So if something proves to make you smarter, will it be avoided? And you'd think that Schoenberg or Webern would make you smart too, since their music is even more "organized." Get ready for my book "The Webern Effect," and for Zell Miller to insist that every child under five be given a daily dose of the Second Viennese School. Now that would be something!

Bad news for Stephen King, it seems! Or good, depending on how you look at it. Maybe he will write me here and let me know his thoughts.

Nice to be back.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes We Can, Part II

I quote three paragraphs which sum up the deceptive forces against which a lot of us wage. This is from the writer who will be known through history as the Times greatest mistake, Willam Kristol--he of the "white women are trouble" comment a few nights ago on Fox News.

"The American conservative movement has been remarkably successful. We shouldn’t take that success for granted. It’s not easy being a conservative movement in a modern liberal democracy. It’s not easy to rally a comfortable and commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power. It’s not easy to defend excellence in an egalitarian age. It’s not easy to encourage self-reliance in the era of the welfare state. It’s not easy to make the case for the traditional virtues in the face of the seductions of liberation, or to speak of duties in a world of rights and of honor in a nation pursuing pleasure.

One reason conservatives have been able to navigate the rapids of modern America is that they’ve often gone out of their way to make their case with good cheer. William F. Buckley, the father of the conservative movement, skewered liberals, but always with wit and élan. By 1980, bolstered by the growth-oriented doctrine of supply-side economics, and speaking the language of American uplift more than that of conservative despair, Ronald Reagan won the presidency.

Since then we conservatives have had a pretty good run. We had a chance to implement a fair share of our ideas, and they worked. In the 1980s and 90s, conservative policies helped win the cold war, revive the economy and reduce crime and welfare dependency. American conservatism’s ascendancy has benefited this country — and much of the world — over the last quarter-century."

Yes We Can

Yes Yes Yes

Everyone, please go vote. It is not your right, but as freethinkers it is your sacred duty. They might not be able to steal another one if all of us do everything we can to be sure they don't.