Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Are Heartney and Hanson being vindicated?

According to this site here, the Vatican has released a list of what it considers to be "“a semiserious guide” to the top ten rock and pop albums of all time".

Whilst what is on this list is far too familiar for me to desire writing a single word, I do serious desire to say that what the Vatican is doing is hardly unbelievable when one realises that the counterculture of the 1960s was heavily influenced by Catholicism, most especially by the personalist philosophy of Emmanuel Mounier and Dorothy Day, both of whom are considered candidates for canonisation. Mounier has been acknowledged, importantly, as an influence by numerous non-Catholics such as Albert Camus and Allen Ginsberg. Another source of Catholic influence on the Beats and the 1960s hippies can be seen in the nineteenth-century Decadent movement, which is studied in Ellis Hanson's somewhat flawed but fascinating 1997 Decadence and Catholicism and less effectively in parts of Eleanor Heartney's Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art. What I recognise now is that this Decadent movement's influence can be seen in a great deal of underground rock music from before the late 1970s "punk revolution" when AC/DC turned decadence into genuine Epicurean nihilism through their songs of celebratory violence like "TNT". This middle 1970s period is when the anti-Christianity of the modern counterculture really emerged, not during the 1960s when people like Tolkien and Dorothy Day were heroes to many in the underground. (Can you imagine that people at Woodstock were much more likely to have met Day than Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem, which is probably true)?!

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