Less is More

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy6eingHcOs- stop at :45
Less is More

For the purpose of this specific blog, the clip above is only needed until :45 min.

System of A Down was one of the few remaining political bands in recent history to have the ability to spread their message to a giant audience. Serj Tankian, the lead singer, lyricist, and figure in the video above is the main driving force behind this band when it comes to political message. Pick out any System of A Down song and try to tell me that it’s not politcal. I dare you. It’s not possible. And if you’re not a fan of the band or aren’t familiar, just sample any song on itunes or youtube and you’ll see what I mean. It’s pretty interesting to hear a man who has written five albums which were all extremely political say that when listening to music, he does not focus on the message of the song, nor focus on the intentions of the author. Instead he says that he gets a feel from the song and through the emotions within the song he finds his own feeling to “riot”. By experiencing what the song says through emotion, the listener understands the message naturally without having to focus ONLY on the lyrics.

The same philosophy could be said about literature. It really could be applied to any form of writing at all, but is very applicable to literature as a whole. In his essay on tolerance, Tony Kushner made a similar comment on writing the political in literature. Kushner says, “ …political agendas can’t successfully be imposed on the act of making art, of creation, for all that those agendas will invariable surface from within once the art is made. Tankian did not state that intentions should not be present going into the process as Kushner did. Tankian more so commented on the fact that political agendas should naturally flow out of a work and should not beat the reader over the head. Tankian most certainly writes his lyrics with a message in mind, which does eventually evolve into beating the listener over the head. But that’s the point. he’s fine with that. He’s fine with making the message obvious because the messages he touches on don’t always have large media coverage; in fact they rarely do. Kushner feels that the political message should flow out of art, and similarly Tankian stated that he receives the message of the song at hand by feeling emotions, not only listening tot he message. The message for Tankian “ surfaces” from the art at Kushner would say. 

 I haven’t read too many works that beat the reader over the head with a message, but the few that I have have left me never meaning to return to them. If a writer wants to really reach the heart of the reader or listener in some cases, they must ease into it. To the beginning listener or reader, less is more at least at first.


One thought on “Less is More

  1. There was an episode of South Park which dealt with this. I know it’s cliche but bear with me here. The kids wrote a book which they intended to gross people out. When Stan’s mom read the book she puked all over herself because it was so gross, but she also thought it was brilliant. The book got published to the boys’ astonishment and eventually the entire nation started reading way too deeply into it. I don’t disagree with you about System of a Down in any way. As a fan of their earlier music (primarily from their album Toxicity) I understand your claim regarding their political stance. However, I also believe there’s a possibility that people are reading way too deeply into their music. While they have a message, there is no doubt that at the core, behind the talented musicians that they are, they have a lot of rage to get out – which goes without saying when listening to many of their songs. With this rage drive, there’s no doubt that sometimes fans could easily understand one thing as another, after all, many of their lyrics are vague and could mean a variety of things. Regardless, the ability to perceive a message out the music is what makes someone thoughtful. There are many listening to this band who rely on it for an emotional connection or because they are angry, and not because it makes them think.

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