Posted by: Steve Coplan | February 10, 2007

Links for a Friday in February (mostly music)

The official song of the Cricket World Cup taking place next month across the Caribbean (some people care about silly mid-offs).

Jamie T — out-Arctic Monkeying the Arctic Monkeys. Of particular note is the video for Sheila.

Josh Groban’s cover of the South African classic Weeping. Weeping was one of the seminal songs of my adolescence for two reasons: it’s both beautiful and for the time, was intentionally subversive, weaving in the melody of Nkosi Sikelel’ Afrika, the unofficial anthem of South Africa’s opposition. The cover itself doesn’t compare with the original – which will be up on my Vox site as soon as I relocate the CD — but it’s great that a whole new audience will be exposed to the song. Turned up in the process of Webulator perusing: Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Space and The Weeping Song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

If you have had the misfortune of being subjected to the M&M’s commercial where humans are transformed into cartoon characters, you’ll recognize the third song on this MySpace site. I am sure Matt Johnson like everyone else has to pay the bills, but I feel particularly aggrieved about ‘This is the day’ being used to sell candy (‘sweets’ for my erstwhile compatriots). When I was 21 and fairly convinced that my sanity was ebbing away — probably more the result of being depressed about the cognitive dissonance in Johannesburg (see this great BBC report) and generally alienatd from most people in the narrow-minded world I grew up in — the song was an emotional oasis. Which is not to say that The The can be characterized as relentlessly optimistic — it’s more about coming to terms with anger, depression and the inability to perceive the positive.

Commentary on the parsha of the week — Yitro (Jethro) — in which the Ten Commandments are handed down.  Yeshivat Chovevei Torah  highlights the notion of belief (which as Zizek points out is a kind of a metaphyical joke — belief implies absolute confidence in the existence of something when in fact, in the context of religion it can mean either ignoring evidence to the contrary or accepting inconclusive evidence). The parsha links the continued existence of Judaism (Jewish history) as ongoing support for belief.  This is misleading at several levels, but also elides over some vastly opposed views of history within Judaism. As part of my book research, it’s become clear to me that four very different views of history existed within 13th-century Judaism, developed in part in reaction to the Christian argument that God had abandoned the Jews — after how else to account for their lack of power? The first was that history reflected a series of tests for the Jewish people to allow them the opportunity to pay the ultimate price for their faith when the Crusaders or bllodthirsty mobs came knocking, or an instrument to nudge them back onto the appropriate path by rejecting philosophy or alternatively, a linear progression that was ultimately immaterial in the ahistoric divine realm where time did not exist, as the kabbalists argued.  Interestingly enough, the idea that the duration this world is just a “blink of the eye” in the divine realm  has clear parallels with the concept of geologic time.  The fourth idea is that life goes on: our fate is sometimes to live in times of hardship, but that doesn’t fundamnetally change the specifics of the religion. This is the idea that Maimonides (the Rambam) advocated, as did many of the scholars who perpetuated the legacy of the Golden Age of Spain when it came to a close. By enduring, the religion gains in strength.



  1. Mate,

    Looking forward to the World Cup. Have a small group who are keen, and have DishNetwork at their houses. I will park myself there, bring some cheap Tanzanian beer, and soak it up.

    I am creeping back into the music. All Songs Considered, iTunes, and a decent internet connection have me back in business.


  2. When I said that some people care about the relative merits of the silly mid off, I wasn’t actually referring to myself. Once every four years is just about the right frequency for me.

    Now can we discuss the Rugby World Cup?

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