U2 and Philosophy: How to Decipher an Atomic Band (Popular Culture and Philosophy)

U2 and Philosophy: How to Decipher an Atomic Band (Popular Culture and Philosophy)

Mark A. Wrathall

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0812695992

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

U2 and Philosophy: How to Decipher an Atomic Band (Popular Culture and Philosophy)

Mark A. Wrathall

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0812695992

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Is it possible to be a committed Christian and a rock superstar? Can political activists make good music? Do hugely successful rock bands really care about AIDS and poverty in Africa, or is it just another image-enhancing schtick? U2 and Philosophy ponders these and other seeming dichotomies in the career of the Irish supergroup. For over two decades, U2 has been one of the biggest acts in rock music. They’ve produced over a dozen platinum and multiplatinum records and won 15 Grammy Awards. Critics everywhere have praised the band’s thoughtful, complex lyrics and the artistry of their music. At the same time, Bono, the group’s lead singer, has dedicated himself to political and social causes, blurring the line between rock star and respected statesman. Offering fresh insight into the band’s music and activism, these thought-provoking essays allows fans to discover philosophy through the eyes of U2, and rediscover U2 through the eyes of philosophers.

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were complications and missteps during these years. As with their early anthems, there was no way of knowing if fans really understood the satiric, layered quality of the stage shows and songs. The intense cheers erupting among fans when the Hitler youth began their drum sequences during the Zoo TV tour suggests that the martial tone once again might have trumped the nuanced message. And what percentage of the audience would even recognize the reference to Triumph of the Will and thus absorb the

they are supposed to protect, Derrida calls for an “immuno-depressant” response by which we would seek to “limit the mechanisms of rejection and to facilitate toleration.” 3 Derrida articulated an earlier version of this strategic response in terms of what he rather cleverly called “hauntology” (the logic of being haunted), suggesting that we must accept the fact that 3 See Giovanna Borradori, ed., Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago:

Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 160. U2 2012_HIP HOP & philosophy 2/13/12 11:03 AM Page 78 78 Iain Thomson conclusion that this is the case with U2’s “Even Better than the Real Thing,” but let us begin with a more traditional example of poetry.) The real, true, or genuine meaning of E.E. Cummings’s “if you are glad / whatever’s living will yourself become” is not that when we feel “glad”

something as postmodern. Of course, postmodern polysemy suggests that it is a bit arbitrary to discuss only three more senses of postmodernity. (Why stop at three?) Indeed, a great poem always means more than one thing at once and yet does not mean everything, for that latter would drown out all the poem’s particular meanings in a dissonant cacophony (or, perhaps, a mystical harmony or fusion).6 6 At least in the form of song, we may experience a poem that seems to mean everything (if only by

simplest terms, living inauthentically means that there is some dishonesty at the core of the choices that we make. The lie at the center may be so simple as to tell yourself that these choices are yours. You cannot authentically just follow along because you cannot escape these fundamental questions, you must answer them or you must lie to yourself in order to avoid a struggle with them. Heidegger thought that inauthenticity, and our subservience to The They, was something we naturally lapse

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