musicology #404

Catharsis #2

(Bobby Womack – Games)

While listening to a series of lectures on the subject of Ancient Greek philosophy one of the threads focused on the opposition between Plato/Socrates and the Pre Socratics particularly the ideas of the Sophists. According to the lectures the Sophists, (in debate), are not concerned with the Truth but rather the art of persuasion while Socrates/Plato hold that it’s the Truth that matters most when determining the outcome of a debate. To put it another way Politics, certainly in the current age, is Sophistic and deals in rhetoric while Science is Socratic.

I find myself in agreement with certain aspects of each method but also refute just as much which I found confusing but yesterday I came to a realisation that much western Philosophy builds arguments on the underlying concept of Right and Wrong. Socrates for example invites opponents to play the game using his rules, (question/answer), and then proceeds to beat his opponent using logic and reason. For example Socrates might start the game by saying “Do you agree that….” and once the opponent answered would tear down the Relativist/Sophist argument based on the answer given. But there is one Sophist in Plato’s Republic who doesn’t play Socrates’ game and what this highlights is that there is of course more than one game and each one has their own set of rules.

Problems arise when we find ourselves in dialogue with those whose game and rules are different to our own. My experience is that games and rules only become clear when one or both parties are trying to base their argument on ‘Right and Wrong’ which is a concept that personally  I don’t accept.

Today’s cut is courtesy of ‘the Poet’ a.k.a Bobby Womack a Cat who triggers many memories for themusicologist due to his music and message being a constant during my formative years with a piece taken from the 1981 set that was the man’s response to how life had, in his own words “turned on him”.

Just like to make clear that each slice of this cathartic pie is inspired by instinct and as such is nothing more than part of the process so bear in mind that interpretation is wholly subjective.


6 thoughts on “musicology #404

  1. I feel that it would be a less enriching world though if we only came in contact with people who thought the same way..I’m hoping there’s a way
    to accept different attitudes and maybe even enjoy the diversity of oppinions!


    1. less enriching? I’m not so sure. maybe less challenging.
      are you saying that you do not accept different attitudes and enjoy the diversity of opinions?


  2. its certainly not easy for me to accept different attitudes, at my best I enjoy the diversity of opinions, at my worst I want people to think like me i.e. right!……it would make my life so much easier!


  3. “Problems arise when we find ourselves in dialogue with those whose game and rules are different to our own. My experience is that games and rules only become clear when one or both parties are trying to base their argument on ‘Right and Wrong’.”

    Dialogues about “Right and Wrong” invariably include a trump card i.e. the “liar”. Playing the trump card, the dialogue, debate, or argument then evolves/mutates into one about “Truth”.

    And so to Lies… Lying is not just something that people have always done and always will do., or something to be unconsciously dismissed as “Wrong”. Ignoring the pathological kind, lying is based on fear, and what frightens people changes with time and circumstance. Once upon a time most ordinary people were terrified of their rulers, who in effect encouraged lying by insisting that people could only say what the rulers themselves wanted to hear. SPEECH SEEMED TO HAVE BEEN INVENTED TO CONCEAL THOUGHTS.

    Machiavelli (the dark master) summed up the ancient art of survival when he wrote….. “For a long time I have not said what I believed, nor do I ever believe what I say, and if indeed sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it away in so many lies that it is hard to find”.

    What’s this got to do with music?? Lots.


  4. Here’s an anecdote for you…. I’m not normally a fan anecdotes and the like… for me they have the whiff of “smug cleverness”. But in this case I’ve no choice.

    Russian roulette is a deadly game of chance in which participants place a single bullet in a revolver, spin the cylinder, place the muzzle against their head and pull the trigger. With a six-shot revolver and six players the chance of a lethal shot for a player who goes first is one in six (16.7%), for the second it’s one in five (20%), for third it’s one in four (25%), for forth, one in three (33.3%), fifth, one in two (50%), and sixth… 100%. Assuming of course that none of the previous shots have been lethal.

    “Russian” refers to the reputed country of origin of the game and “roulette” to the element of risk-taking and the spinning of the revolver’s cylinder being reminiscent of spinning a roulette wheel. Using revolvers with fewer chambers or playing with less participants are variations that increase the risk of being killed in any given round of play. It goes without saying that played by a single participant Russian Roulette is not a (deadly) game anymore… it’s “common” suicide.

    And so to the moral of the anecdote….


    Huh! That’s an obvious statement. True! But then the most important things to say are those which often one doesn’t think necessary to say – because they were too obvious (Andre Gide said that last bit).


    1. is that ‘True’ with a capital T ??

      Concerning moral judgements..The JFK, (reportedly), quote that has featured already on themusicologist always plays on the tip of my tongue.


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