Disturbed by the way the teen seated next to him on the Metro was talking about Pope Benedict, an old man began speaking to the teen. At one point in their ensuing conversation, the elderly man began to tell a story.
“As every true musician knows,” the old man began, “rock is more than just a collection of notes and rhythms.” “Rock transports the soul and carries rock-stars and concert-goers alike to the very limits of existence. Inspired by this experience there was once a group of musicians who decided they would make the ultimate commitment to pursuing the very limits of music. They set off, having abandoned the chains of twenty-first century American society to found a new city. Their purpose was clear: the establishment of the new world order of music.
“At its inception the “city on a hill of music” was an instant success. Giving their whole attention to music allowed these bands to play harder than ever before imagined and their recordings outperformed even the greatest of legends. Solos, lyrics, melodies—every aspect of each new chart breached unknown territory. Technicians and craftsman had joined the musicians and they devised new adaptations, allowing instruments to open totally new doors for the bands. The world of music had never seen anything like this cooperation before.
“Soon though the guitars, drum kits and keyboards began to reveal limitations. The musicians pushed their instruments harder and harder, maddened by the desire to continue to crush the old boundaries of rock. Before long, the musicians were bringing instrument after instrument to the technicians for repair. The techs began to warn them about the dangers of continuing to abuse their instruments, but the musicians simply wouldn’t listen.
“Blinded by their lust for more, the band members ignored the advice of the repair technicians and put their faith in their own ability to judge the limits of their instruments. Disbelieving the word of the repair techs swiftly led to resentment and soon the musicians were only speaking of the techs in anger. Furious that the techs would try to constrain their attempts to pierce the horizons of music, the musicians expelled them from their colony.
“Without the technicians though, rock and roll’s city on a hill swiftly collapsed. Each day more and more instruments fell into disrepair. Having arbitrarily denied the limits of their world, the musicians fell into despair. Their refusal to heed the reasoned discourse of the technicians forced the musicians to abandon their mission.
Having finished his narrative, the old man looked at the younger and asked, “Will you, like the rash musicians, persecute the wise philosophers of our day? Will you too ignore the sages of our age?”
With that the train stopped, having pulled into a station. The old man stood up, passed through the open doors, and to exit crossed the platform.
Image: Edgar Bundy, Stradivarius in His Workshop in Cremona