June 2, 2008

Weezer and Merton

I've appreciated Weezer ever since the "Blue" album came out around when I was graduating college. Simple, un-self conscious rock and roll with a persistent melancholic strain--what could be better? Their new single, "Pork and Beans" is a little on the silly side, but is no exception. The video just passed five million views on YouTube, and as well it might have; it is a kind of mash-up of internet "celebrities" and "memes."

As I've watched it, though, it's made me sad. As an homage to the creative riffing of memes and the unlikely individualism of the internet, it embodies exactly what it both mocks and celebrates. Unfortunately most of it isn't really about anything meaningful...making it a kind of meta-telling of a meta-telling of a story with no point.

My reflection on it made me think of Merton's reflection on television; one only has to replace "television" with "the web."
I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a sufficiently general agreement, among men whose judgment I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seem that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously. New Seeds of Contemplation, 86.

That's the kind of text that hooked me into exploring the Catholic tradition in the first place. But for what it's worth (and I imagine little) I find the song fun, despite the "inert subjection to vulgar images."

3 comments:

Michael Hallman said...

I love this entry. Your Merton quote really struck a chord with me. This November I finally begin the application process with the Augustinians, and my plan has been to prepare myself over the summer with time spent in silent contemplation. But so far since school has let out I've only been "contemplating" on the internet to a great degree of excess. I'm finally taking the necessary steps to get me away - though not entirely, obviously :)

Also, speaking of Merton, of whom I am a great fan, I am hoping to attend a five day retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani later this summer. I think the silence will do me wonders. If you don't mind, Father, please keep me in your prayers. The world has far too strong a grip on me, and I am searching for freedom.

Finally, happy patron saint's day :)

Brother Charles said...

Be well in your vocation, Michael. As a wise director once said to me, 'walk with the Lord, don't run.'

I go on retreat with the Trappists myself, but to St. Joseph's in Massachusetts. I'll be there in a couple weeks and I'll bring your intentions with me.

Tausign said...

I didn't bother to watch the video clip, but regarding Merton...his is the spirit of detachment, par excellence. Note how accurately he critiqued TV without actually watching it...indeed he critiqued it well because he didn't watch it.