Rush and Philosophy: Heart And Mind United by Jim BertiRush and Philosophy: Heart And Mind United by Jim Berti

Rush and Philosophy: Heart And Mind United

EditorJim Berti, Durrell Bowman

Paperback | May 20, 2011

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The progressive/hard rock band Rush has never been as popular as it is now. A documentary film about the band, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, which was released in the summer of 2010 has been universally well received. They had a cameo in the movie I Love You Man . Their seven-part song '2112' was included in a version of 'Guitar Hero' released in 2010. The group even appeared on The Colbert Report .And now this, a book about Rush written for a general audience and geared towards issues concerning popular culture and philosophy. There has been a recent explosion of Rush onto the popular culture front, and how ironic for a band that has spent the early days of their career on the outside of mainstream popularity. Even legendary trios such as Led Zeppelin, Cream, and The Police don't enjoy the commitment and devotion that Rush's fans lavish on Alex, Geddy, and Neil. In part, this is because Rush is equally devoted to its fans. Since their first album in 1974, they have released 18 additional albums and toured the world following nearly every release. Today, when other 70s-bands have either broken up or become nostalgia acts, Rush continues to sell out arenas and amphitheatres and sell albums-to date Rush has sold over 40 million albums. They are ranked fourth after The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band.Rush's success is also due to its intellectual approach to music and sound. The concept album 2112 made Rush a world-class band and cemented its reputation as the thinking-person's progressive rock trio. Rush's interest in political philosophy, mind-control, the nature of free-will, of individuality, and our relationship to machines makes Rush a band that matters and which speaks to its fans directly and honestly like no other. Lyricist Niel Peart has even built a following by writing books, both about his motorcycle travels and about the tragic death of his daughter, which have only furthered the respect Rush's fans have for (arguably) rock's greatest drummer and lyricist.Fiercely independent of trends, Rush has maintained a clear mission and purpose throughout their career. With a unique sound, best described as the 'Rush sound,' the band has been able to blend thought-provoking lyrics and music for almost four decades. The Rush style of music can trigger the unusual combination of air-drumming, air-guitar, singing along, and fist-pumping, just as much as it can thoughtful reflection and deep thinking, making Rush 'The Thinking Man's Band.'Rush and Philosophy does not set out to sway the public's opinion, nor is it an awkward gushing of how much the authors love Rush. Rush and Philosophy is a fascinating look at the music and lyrics of the band, setting out to address thought-provoking questions. For example, elements of philosophical thinking from the likes of Jean Paul-Sartre, Ayn Rand, and Plato can be found in Peart's lyrics; does this make Peart a disciple of philosophy? In what ways has technology influenced the band through the decades? Can there be too much technology for a power-trio? Can listening to Rush's music and lyrics lead listeners to think more clearly, responsibly, and happily? Is the band's music a 'pleasant distraction' from the singing of Geddy Lee? In what ways is Rush Canadian? How can a band that has been referred to as 'right-wing' also criticize big government, religion, and imperialism? Rush and Philosophy is written by an assortment of philosophers and scholars with eclectic and diverse backgrounds who love Rush's music and who 'get' the meaning and importance of it. They discuss Rush with the enthusiasm of fans and the seriousness of college professors. The book will be a must-read for the many fans who have long known that Rush deserves as much respect as the ideas, concepts, and puzzles about human existence they write and compose music about.
Title:Rush and Philosophy: Heart And Mind UnitedFormat:PaperbackDimensions:332 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.73 inPublished:May 20, 2011Publisher:Carus PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812697162

ISBN - 13:9780812697162

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from And The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth For fans of the famous Toronto rock trio, Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United is indeed a rush. The 2011 book, edited by Jim Berti and Durrell Bowman, is part of the Popular Culture and Philosophy series by Open Court Books. The editors and contributors are all Rush geeks, or Rushians as I prefer to call them (us). They (we) are fans and followers who have been shaped by the words and music of Rush during its now 40-year career. How geeky they are can be found in the "Produced By" contributors’ notes section at the back of the book. Classics professor Melissa Beck, who specialized in Seneca and Roman tragedy, “uses all of her money and copious free time to go to Rush concerts” while Southern Illinois University philosophy professor Randall E. Auxier plays bass and “fancies himself the ‘Gary Weinrib’ of his hometown.” The book is broken down into four sections, each one riffing off a Rush lyric: To the Margin of Error, The Ebb and Flow of Tidal Fortune, I Want to Look Around Me Now and The Blacksmith and the Artist. Some essays, like Bowman’s “Barenaked Death Metal Trip-Hopping on Industrial Strings” delve deep into the musical ideas of the band with note and chord charts that break down songs by the second. Others, like Auxier’s opening chapter “Yesterday’s Tom Sawyers,” are personal recollections about Rush combined with philosophical explanations of their songs’ meanings. Rush and Philosophy examines the group and its career through many lenses and cites the thoughts and ideas of thinkers ranging from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx, Sartre to Wittgenstein. The book’s subtitle is also the chapter written by Liz Stillwaggon Swan. (Yes there are female Rush fans, at least five if this book is any indication). It’s one of the best of the essays in the book. Swan explains that the “crucial insight” in Hemispheres is something that philosophers would do well to consider when it comes to what she calls “the hard problem of consciousness.” That insight is that “it is human nature to feel, and not just think, our way through the world.” I agree with her and take issue with several writers, including Bowman’s closing essay on the Canadianness of Rush,” that it is too simplistic to see the other great track from that album, The Trees, as simply an allegory against unions. Sure, Peart is criticizing the "noble law" that cuts maples, oaks and everything else down to size. But don’t forget, the oaks themselves are depicted as arrogant. They don't understand “why the maples can’t be happy in their shade.” Also, The Trees as an allegory of balance fits in well with the album's first side. And I don’t accept Bowman’s analogy of the maples to Canada and the oaks to America but, hey, let's allow the critics' their suspension of disbelief. There are insightful observations, such as Deena Weinstein and Michael A. Weinstein’s look at 2112 in their article Neil Peart versus Ayn Rand. They call the sci-fi epic a work that “approaches Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘joyful wisdom’ – a transvalued relation of life and culture, in which they become united in moments of consummations.” In the same work, they point out that Oracle – The Dream marks a moment of what Hegel calls the “unhappy consciousness” for the protagonist and that 2112 represents “the Nietzschean tragedy of a nihilistic world, in which hierarchies of value are destroyed by a will to level distinctions of excellence – egalitarianism as nihilism.” Heavy stuff. There are a couple of editing mistakes in the book. For instance, Melissa Beck quotes the line “we could be down and gone but we hold on” saying it comes from the song Bravest Face. It’s actually from Out of the Cradle. In Jim Berti’s Ghost Riding the Razor’s Edge, he quotes from Bravado “If the love remains.” The actual lyric is “If love remains” – a minor distinction, but still. The Rush fanatic can also take issue with a statement like Kayla Kreuger’s about The Spirit of Radio when she argues that the phrase “almost free” refers to music of radio being free “except for the electricity. Furthermore, the radio play hopes to get the fan to buy the album. However, even the album price is paid only once, and the songs can be listened to again and again and again. Value, you see, is always being negotiated.” I would argue Peart’s point is that music, even if the artist’s integrity is intact, can never be truly “free” because there are always compromises with “salesmen” and the like. For those few disagreements – and what’s wrong with that? – there will be those Rush fans who nod their heads as when Neil A. Florek comments on the unique relationship of the three band members and their writing process. After explaining the “happy collaboration” (as Geddy Lee called it) between the group members, he concludes: “Their powers combined create a unique organic impact on the listener that is very different from the unadorned, non-musical, verbal essence of a philosophical treatise.”
Date published: 2013-09-18