Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tom Sawyer in Academia

I received an interesting call for papers. The idea of "the cognitive function of riffs and other music in expressing difficult ideas" seems very questionable. How is Neal Perl's drum beat communicating Ayn Rand's concept of objectivism, separate from any lyrics? Answer: it isn't. There can be text painting, but that is a far cry from the music expressing the difficult ideas themselves. Even program music needs the words of the program to help make sense of the story.
The rock band Rush resonates widely for musician-fans and others interested in structural complexity, individualism, and a range of literary and stylistic influences. The group has explored such genres as heavy metal and hard rock, progressive and synth-rock, and post-progressive "power trio," along with various secondary influences. However, the band has also wandered among such lyrical interests as relationships, fantasy-adventure, classical mythology, European and world history, science-fiction, libertarianism, atheism, science, and technology.

We are looking for short articles (of around twenty pages) to add to this proposed anthology for the series that began with "Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing" (2000), but since 2005 has also included (see music-related books about hip hop, Bob Dylan, U2, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, and Jimmy Buffett. Writers in philosophy, musicology, economics, and psychology have already committed to "Rush and Philosophy," and they are exploring the following areas from across Rush's career (1974- ):
-personal tragedies, self-determination, and Sartre
-the anthropic cosmological principle and atheism
-Canadianness in Anglo-American genres and in lyrics and images
-tribute projects of the band's music in death metal, trip-hop, and classical strings
-the band's combination of secular humanism and mysticism
-libertarianism and left-libertarianism, rather than "right-wing"
-the cognitive function of riffs and other music in expressing difficult ideas
-a roundtable on political economy, Ayn Rand, and Rush's "2112"

Contributions from women, minorities, and people from outside of North America are most welcome! Particular areas of interest for further articles include: balance through instrumental “songs,” humour, roundtables on music technology and rock critics, live albums as career anthologies, and recent "sightings" of the band in the mainstream media.

Deadline for one-page abstracts: July 19, 2009
Deadline for completed first-drafts: August 31, 2009

Please send to Durrell Bowman and Jim Berti:;

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