This idea was furthered by Richard Wagner is his wonderful autobiography, My Life:
I insisted upon attaching an importance to the artistic destiny of mankind which far transcended the mere aims of citizenship.
We need this perspective. For a nation to be great, it needs more than economic success. It needs more than technological advancement. And it needs more than sensual passion.
It needs an art form that elevates humanity – one that expresses a universal life essence. It could be a three-act play that brings a grown man to tears. It could be an overture that inspires a young man to rise up and chase his dream with relentless fervor. Or it could be an epic poem, filling the classrooms of a nation with ethereal bliss.
Art is culture. And without a wonderful display of human expression, no nation can every call itself an EMPIRE.
There was only one Halloween picture of any value – the original (1978). The movie was celebrating its 40-year anniversary this week, so the former players were in the news a bit: i.e. Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter. The Major was 7 years old at the time, and I remember being terrified by the picture. Forty years later, the movie is still scary.
The success of the movie is centered on PLAUSIBILITY. Every subsequent version was ridiculous, because the villain was killed at the end of the original (he was shot five times after all).
Therefore, the Halloween franchise ended in 1978. The subsequent versions are a testament to Hollywood’s lack of originality – as well as its lack of decorum. Mindless violence is, after all, mindless. Moreover, there’s really nothing scary about a “monster” that could not exist – it’s no different than believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.
Horror is a very delicate genre. If done well, it can reveal the complex underpinnings of human psychology. If done poorly, it can quickly descend into a ludicrous waste of time. The Halloween sequels are the latter of the two.
Young and attractive female bloggers gain a lot of attention. They can post a photo and receive 1,000 likes, 500 comments, etc. And yet, all this popularity is suspect. Realize that America is infested with beta-male orbiters. These are men whose desperation is painful and palpable. These men are Incels (involuntary celibates) that are trying to gain the attention of attractive women in the digital landscape. Maybe…just maybe, she will bang him.
To all the young and attractive female bloggers: Do not conflate this online attention with genuine fandom.
You want to see how talented you are? Change your photo to that of a middle-aged woman. And then wait…just wait (can you hear the crickets?). Nobody will be liking or commenting on your daily thoughts. That’s the harsh reality.
The beta male giveth and he taketh away. His adoration of you is a false display of affection. Once you hit 40, he’ll no longer care if you’re alive or dead.
Only an older female blogger can truly assess her talents. Because the men that comment on her work will be basing their assessment on the value of her thoughts (as opposed to her youthful appearance).
All of these were great. With Richard Wagner, we read about a man that rose into greatness: how he overcame a myriad of obstacles on his journey. With PT Barnum, we get advice on financial matters – how to increase your wealth and, subsequently, your life. And with Marcus Aurelius, we read about the worldview of a famous Roman leader: and we find how his theories are closely related to Buddhism.
The Major saw Widespread Panic on Saturday night. The concert took place at the Park Theater in the Monte Carlo casino. It’s a beautiful arena, perfectly situated next to the T-Mobile Center and the Strip.
For many years, Widespread Panic has been on my radar. I like the Grateful Dead (saw them many times) and WP operates in that same milieu: i.e. the “jam” band. So I finally got around to checking them out.
Here was my impression of the show:
The Positives: Instrumentation, Performance and Atmosphere
In terms of sound, Widespread Panic is great. The instruments have a wonderful tone: great bass, guitars, drums, etc. Long story short, they rock. The volume was loud but not too loud. Everybody was dancing at it was a fun time. Positive energy was dominant throughout the night.
The Negatives: Lyrics and Vocals
Lyrically, the band is average at best. They have no soaring melodies, no catchy hooks, etc. And the singer (John Bell) does not enunciate. When a singer is not proud of his lyrics, then he’s not going to belt them out. That situation applies to John Bell. His vocal tone is also average. It’s ok, but not very unique or compelling.
If you’re looking for a good time, Widespread Panic will get the job done. You’ll find a festive show and you’ll dance the night away. But don’t be surprised if, after the concert, something feels missing. You won’t be whistling their songs or singing their lyrics.
The Stone Temple Pilots had a wonderful song entitled “A Song for Sleeping”. It’s a song that Scott Weiland wrote for his son. Even if you’re not a fan of the band, take a listen. This song will speak to your heart because it elevates HUMAN BEAUTY and it affirms a UNIVERSAL LIFE ESSENCE:
Such a wonderful arrangement. The music elevates the lyrical content, allowing us to float into another world. We’re taken into the Weiland universe…we see the love that a father has for his son.
Take a closer look at the lyrics and listen to the song again:
Finally I’ve met you, the day has come
You’re more than beautiful And you’re my son
I don’t deserve this I never thought it could be Quite like the moment When you first smiled at me A toothless, wonderful feeling Like I’d never seen
It’s you, Noah, it’s you And when you lie down to sleep I’ll protect you From the demons of the night While I’m watching you grow
I’ll pray There’s so much I could teach you If you only have the time Pray There’s so much God can teach you If you only have the time
So will you tell me the little things? What does God look like? And angels’ wings? I don’t remember these things So would you teach them to me? So for the moment I’ll watch you breathe
And when you wake up in the morning And I pour the coffee You’re always smiling sweetly
Art is the affirmation of the natural…a celebration of the beautiful. “A Song for Sleeping” is a good example of this. It speaks to the humanity in all of us…it raises our spirits into an ethereal plane.
Note: A nation cannot rise without a culture of NOBILITY. It must affirm the passionate rivers of CREATIVITY and BEAUTY. It must proclaim that life is to be celebrated. That human passion and natural wonders are the epicenter of spiritual bliss.
My vote goes to Crime and Punishment. The main reason is the simplicity and beauty of the plot. We have a central character—he commits a crime in the heat of passion, and then he spends the rest of the novel contemplating the ramifications of his action. During that time, the novel covers the fundamental topics of life: justice, mortality, good, evil, etc.
The Brothers Karamazov is complex in structure. It’s narrates the history of an entire family as opposed to one person. So it’s easy to become lost during the story, trying to remember what happened to which character. You almost need an Excel spreadsheet to follow along. It has some nice moments, for sure (The Grand Inquisitor” chapter being the most famous). But the reader has to work for these gems.
In my opinion, less is more. So if you have to chose one of Dostoevsky’s novels to begin with, make it Crime and Punishment. You’ll find it straightforward and beautifully written.