Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Who Are You?

One of the ways that you know you have gone completely local in Hong Kong is that you always carry your MP3 or I-pod with you every where you go. It can be somewhat entertaining, in a low brow sort of way to look at all the people on the bus or MTR who are plugged up and singing to themselves. Cantonese pop music singers tend to sound flat anyway because many Chinese words end with a falling tone. Because Chinese is a language that uses single syllable words that have tonal endings Cantonese Pop singers cannot hold a note without changing the word and that gives the music a very choppy and disjointed sound as well. Still, some of the Cano-Pop singers do a pretty good job. But, when you hear a 14 year-old girl unconsciously screeching along with Andy Lau you can easily understand why everybody else wants to have their ears plugged and their own piped in music. I am no exception.

My musical taste is somewhat eclectic. Depending on my mood I will have Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, The Beatles, or Bob Dylan, as well as the likes of Enya, Norbert Kraft, Verdi’s Operas, Bach, Mozart or Muddy Waters. B.B. King is another favorite as are the lesser known Mark Heard, Larry Norman, and T-bone Burnett. Lately I have been listening to “The Who.” When it comes to English rock bands the Who are not the “Rolling Stones,” “The Beatles,” “Lead Zeppelin” or “Pink Floyd”; I am not even sure they would rank as high as “The Police” or “Yes” in my book but they are still fun and I have enjoyed listening to them over the past several days..

“The Who” are at their best when they just play Rock-n-Roll and do not try to be too intellectual or relevant or political or symphonic and instead encourage you to simply “join together with the band.” That said, one of my favorite Who songs is “Who are You?” from 1979 album of the same name, which in a strange way, is one of their more intellectual songs. In this song Pete Townsend asks himself who he really is. His answer appears to be a drunken, potty mouthed, somewhat violent, lecher. Well, at least, he knows who and what he is. He then demands to know who I am.

Do I know who I am? Do I want to know? John Dewey once said that he could not reveal more of his early life without more untruth than he was comfortable with. (I will obtain my source for this). I think most of us are like that. We want to present ourselves in the best light possible. But, we need to get past our ego. We need to see that we may be drunken, potty mouthed, violent, lechers. Or, we may be really as good as we think we are. Most of us are probably somewhere in between.

Who am I at a little more abstract level? I think I am as Jaspers would say, “what I am becoming” and “what I have become” All of us are works in progress. History moves on and so do we. Interestingly what we are does not stop evolving even after death. Our reputation, our deeds and the memory of our life in those we knew continues to change and grow for some time even after we ceased to be alive. That is why you cannot normally see a good biography of a famous person until they have been dead for about 50 years. Biographers need time for the complete definition of the person to stop evolving. This should give us pause. Perhaps we should not ask “Who are we?” but, “What will become of us?”

Who am I? I am an existential, pietistic, mystically inclined, fideistic, Christian who worships in a non-Pentecostal, protestant tradition. I am a librarian by profession, a philosopher by training, a crank by habit and nature. What will I become? I am not sure I can say. Perhaps I should pay more attention; or, perhaps I should stop listening to The Who.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Wonders Who He Is

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