Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Truth & Love

Riding the Metro today, listening to the Black Eyed Peas and to what has become one of my favorite songs, "Where Is the Love?"--which I just noticed is a joint venture of theirs with a person I consider faintly ridiculous: Justin Timberlake.

Be that as it may, I still like the song. "If you never know truth, then you never know love." Deep? I don't know. Can a pop song really be deep? Who knows? The lyrics are interesting, not because they're intellectually profound or anything, but because they go right at politics, which I rather admire: "over seas, yeah, we're trying to stop terrorism, but we've still got terrorism right here in the USA, the big CIA, the Bloods and the Crips and the KKK."

And I rather like the next set of rhymes: "but if you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate, and to discriminate only generates hate, and when you hate then you're bound to get irate--the badness is what you demonstrate, and that's exactly how anger works and operates, you've got to have love to set it straight, take control of your mind and meditate, let your soul gravitate to the love y'all."

There's something very basic and very true about that--it's not deep, it's just straightforward and honest. "The war's going on, but the reason's undercover, the truth is kept secret, it's swept under the rug, if you never know truth then you never know love."

It's got a nice 2/4 beat, which gives the song a nice paced quality, but also adds to its authoritative sensibility--or its straightforwardness. Or I think it's 2/4--I think it's a little too slow to be 4/4.

It makes me think, too, of the Joan Armatrading song, "In These Times," which also seems appropriate for 'these times'--the Bush Era. How do you avoid getting sucked into the hate machine that is the Bush Administration? 'If you never know truth, then you never know love.'

Anyway, I like to listen to it on the Metro, 'cause it reminds me that there are other sensibilities out there--other people desire some kind of peace.

I also thought about how the rhymes--the rap rhymes, about which I know next to nothing--were so much like the use of rhyme in Christine de Pizan's poems (early 15th century), which I was translating this semester. The poems are designed to be read out loud--they're all about courtly love--but the audience is listening for the end rhymes, waiting to be surprised, waiting for some kind of discovery--which is the way rhyme works in rap, I guess. But, anyway, listening to the Black Eyed Peas, I do listen for the click of the rhymes, thinking about their connections as words--that's the point, I guess, to both mess with language and try to get to some essential truths.

If you never know truth, then you never know love. I think that's just about right.

Robert's surgery is tomorrow. I hope he knows love. We try to be truthful.

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