“…no agent can perform any given act if there is lacking, at the same or any time, some condition necessary for that act.” – Richard Taylor
I was first introduced to philosopher Richard Taylor’s thinking in David Foster Wallace’s book, Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, published by Columbia University Press. David Foster Wallace, who almost always needn’t an introduction, is a very well-known essayist and fiction writer. Fans of his work, enough to research his career, may know that Foster Wallace was a philosopher in training at some point in his life. In an essay titled “Richard Taylor’s “Fatalism” and The Semantics of Physical Modality,” Foster Wallace dissects Taylor’s arguments on fatality, Taylor being one of the great thinkers on future contingents. It’s an incredible essay, on an incredible author. There is something obviously profound about the above quote that Taylor authored. It’s true that conditions for an act to be performed must be present. Thus, to produce Rock and Roll, there must be certain conditions present. Of course. Instruments. Musicians. The basics, first and foremost. There’s something else however. To produce Rock and Roll, there must be an identity (condition), that fuels one’s conviction to play one genre despite the potential benefits in playing others, one that comes about as a metaphysical conclusion, and much deeper than the famous waiter in Jean Paul Sartre’s being and nothingness. N.B.: rock here is defined as the commercial category. What is that identity as a metaphysical conclusion? That I’m a rocker, participating in rock and roll, and identity that precedes the word rock and roll. This identity as a metaphysical conclusion produces this giant, growing, category of lyrics, performance, instrumentation, in two words musical art, we’ve come to love and care for: Rock and Roll.
Women and men of all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds get on stage, buy a ticket, purchase styles, practice a spin on American language, to be rockers. They make choices and decisions that have everything to do with being and doing rock and roll. It’s more than what we understand as signifying. I mean, just look around you. It seems to shape the soul. “Papa was a rolling stone..,” or father left home and roamed around, leaving mother and us or me to fend for ourselves. The crowd shouts! Including those born to a solidly stable family, with a father who made sure to kiss his or her boo boo after putting a favorite band aid on where skin bled. What’s going on? There’s a moment wherein class, race, sex, politics, seem to all mean nothing more. All become musicians, dancers, etc, sharing a series of beats, chords, lyrics, gladly participating in a formidable, ultra-rhythmic present. What’s worse is that this formidable present never existed before the end of the second world war. It just happened, and then spread.
The identities vary, but are all that of rockers, whether it be “accountant by day, rocker by night” or “rocker methhead.” What’s the metaphysical conclusion? It’s within your rights to disagree with the statements made above. If you have ever been to Los Angeles, it will be pretty clear to you that it, a giant settlement, is not full of what you see in rock videos. Nope. It’s people who don’t rock and at all. However, rock songs by bands like RATM and Red Hot Chili Peppers have even led to many defining the city as just full of rock and roll everywhere, even at the ballet. These songs have had us make conclusions about the world around us, and about ourselves in the process. Listen to Dan Auerbach’s “Malibu Man,” much less popular than “Californication” and a similar conclusion about LA, both city and county, being full of badass people and living occur. Sidenote: philosophy, as defined by Gilles Deleuze is the production of concepts. One can argue (like right now) that one makes concepts out of what’s proposed by the music, and of these concepts is the self. Philosophers from Socrates to Foucault have participated in the game of “being.” Most have. That being, and also doing, is the conclusion is that metaphysical conclusion. A rocker, I am. A rocker, I do.