Ali Farka Touré

So just why are you into Malian music anyway?

Glad you asked. The obsession began around eight years ago when I strolled into the Hampshire College library one evening, as was my wont, after a somewhat reverse circle-jerk-like Philosophy of Time class, and Alice-in-wonderlandly fell into the music section: hundreds of CDs, and most of them really fucking weird. Like, I’m talking Karlheinz Stockhausen kind of excellent weird: there wast discovert Steve Reich, Sergei Prokofiev, Balian jegogs, and, at last, les griots du Mali.

Nothing Stops A God

It looks like the people who wrote this movie are fully aware of the trouble with Superman: nothing can stop a god, since a god is, obviously, immortal, perfect, and, yeah, unstoppable. That’s the Platonic view which probably got Socrates in trouble with the Athenians—who executed him on a cross of hemlock!—dying for a love of knowledge rather than our sins!—but to go even further, and to look at God from the perspective of Islam, and Ali Farka Toure, God Is Unique; there is nothing like God, nothing can be compared to It; It cannot have arms, legs, thoughts, feelings, or any recognizable features. This philosophical view naturally eliminates any possibility of drama, since if God Is Unique, and everywhere and everywhen and nowhere and nowhen, then It’s also doing everything and nothing, and there’s no plot, no tension, no payoff.


I was just listening to some fine piano music written by my friend Joe Cough and it made me think of how I’d never gotten around to writing a review of one of my absolute favorite albums, one I’ve been coming back to again and again for many years now.

God Is Unique

If Jesus was not an active political leader (like the so-called Zealots); if he desired no social revolution; if he did not seek a martyr’s death as proof of his message; if he led the life of a believer, awaiting God’s action but making no attempt to force God’s hand; if he was far from any desire for self-aggrandizement, and his whole life was an act of obedience to God’s will, his conduct becomes hard to understand. For by violence (cleansing of the Temple, creation of a movement among the people) he provoked violence against himself. What he suffered was the consequence of his act. In all this there is a flavor of militancy which is also unmistakable in other manifestations of his personality.

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