Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Backdated: Dance Dance Justice

I've been in a rut with the Theory Of Justice posts, obviously. And I couldn't find anything for it. I finished the chapter 24, about the Veil of Ignorance. I stopped after that, trusting that the concept would interact with everything else I've been reading, from Bolano's the Savage Detectives to Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami.

In something approximating idiomatic English, the Veil of Ignorance is a concept that says that principles we ought to abide by are ones that we could decide on if we were looking in on the Earth before we were born, without knowing what the lottery of our birth would be. Some people would gamble, yes. But people, mostly, not knowing where they would end up would likely, rationally, choosing principles that would be most beneficial to the greatest number of people and would set up a system that would levy the apparatus of our society not at the expense of the multitudes, but in favor of them.

That didn't swirl or interact with anything that I could find. I tried a drink to figure it out and I was left with a five euro bill and watching a pretty girl leave to go to a dance club I couldn't afford. C'est la vie. Life, right? Or maybe I've been reading waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much 100 Bullets. Regardless, nothing was coming and I'm still about five posts behind here. Last night, with the remnants of my computer's battery power, I posted some Murakami lines on Facebook and started the downtempo of going to bed, slipping into my pajama bottoms and brushing my teeth.

Tonight was going to be the same, too. Too much noir, and not enough actual progress here, but when I berated myself about not getting the work done, something finally interacted. There was a catalyst. And it was that Murakami quote from Facebook.

"Yougotta dance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you'restuck. Sodon'tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou're tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, ok? Justdon'tletyourfeetstop."

A note on its context is important: The speaker is a extra-dimensional entity, with its own floor of existence, phasing in and out of a hotel. The person hearing it is a minor writer that makes his living not writing pieces he likes, but pieces he can turn in quickly, efficiently and also on time. It is a warning to a young man to live, live while there is still time, from outside normal time and space.

That's how the two pieces swirled and suddenly, as I feel the light, chilling breeze at eight minutes past midnight, I'm looking out at the city of Rome. From behind that veil of ignorance, would I choose life if it was an option for me? Would I choose to dance, to use Murakami's language?

And more to the point, what does dancing constitute, philosophically? Dancing is obviously a way of expressing the idea of working, hard, like you mean it, at what excites you, but in the case of being behind the veil of ignorance, does it mean leveling the playing field or upending it? Or...is it something else entirely? I think it's something else entirely, or ancillary to Rawls' point. But still. Dance. Dance. Dance!

I remember the first time someone told me about the Arcade Fire. I ignored her because she liked Guster, Moe and Fountains of Wayne. (Which, in my defense, might constitute an actual axis of evil.) But she also recommended the Arcade Fire, who have since won a Grammy and before that become Pitchfork darlings.

But. They have this song. This song is called Modern Man and it confounds me. It's a slow but steady buildup to the crescendo and just when I expect the singer to start losing his shit, they just neatly tie the whole thing down, like testing a hot air balloon for takeoff. I'm waiting for the band to cut the ropes on the song every time, but they never do. Anyway. Modern Man is also a song by Bad Religion. But this is not Bad Religion.

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