The Beatles and the Stones against Aristotle
The Beatles and the Stones
made it good to be alone
The House of Love (1989)
Manichean dualism is one of the deepest marks of the Western intellectual identity. It dominates and traps us in its dead ends, most of the time without even noticing it. Aristotle made it explicit as the Law of Excluded Middle and propositional logic has inscribed it with golden letters in the epistemic patrimony of the Western World, under the formula (A V ¬A) - that is, either A or not A. This entails that one can and cannot be a teacher at the same time, even if she spends so much time inside and outside the classroom, she habitually inverts her condition to be the one who learns from the students or she was active a minute ago, but retired right now. There should not be anything between being a teacher and not being a teacher, between being a man or a woman, a conservative or progressist, pro-bullfighting or anti-bullfighting, Real Madrid or F.C. Barcelona. Manichean dualism is limiting, for it clouds our reason and entangles us in debates that could be sustained in a much more enriching way - when not simply avoided..
In a digital interview to the music critic/influencer Diego Manrique, a few years ago, we had the opportunity to read this:
— ¿Beatles or Stones?
— ¡Please, Sonia! ¡The Byrds! (El País, 06.26.2012)
The answer was not just a boutade. Later on, this time in an article on the Spanish version of the book Beatles vs. Stones, by John McMillian (Simon & Schuster, 2013), Manrique himself closed the text like this:
If you are put before the famous dilemma, answer like me: “Not the Beatles nor the Stones; I'm from the Kinks "(El País, 10.15.2014)
Manrique's wildness is certainly neither inconsistency nor posturing. It is probably his way of positioning himself against two extremes that seem to have become a binomial of incompatible archetypes and against its supposed infallibility when being used as a kind of personality test. If we take it that way, that is, as a dilemma subject to the Law of Excluded Middle, we can end up missing everything between the Beatles and the Stones, and even outside or beyond the Stones and the Beatles .
Personally, I was a quite late lover of the music of the sixties. Mea culpa. In any case, the retrospective analysis that I now make of that selective musical blindness or amusia leads me to the conclusion that the fault is, above all, of the intellectual weakness of my early youth, but also of the enormous weight of the Law of Excluded Middle in the question 'Beatles or Stones'. I didn't like the ubiquitous Beatles songs; worse still, they seemed solemn nonsense to me - sorry, Breton. For their part, the Stones had fossilized in the eighties an attitude and a sound that did not interest me at all. And if I didn't like the Beatles or the Stones, how could I like anything else from the sixties? I focused on the moment, in the eighties and nineties, decades when it seemed to me that everything I heard was absolutely new, without any precedent or possible comparison. I have been aware of the magnitude of my mistake for some time now. Without underestimating the contribution and support of previous popular music, almost all black, I now have no doubt that most of what we consider 'new' since the 1960s has a direct seed in that decade. Almost everything is still an exercise in revivalism, declared or not, of the rhythms and styles of that time.
If at the end of the eighties someone had come to me with the infamous personality test, I would liked to have been able to answer: Pixies and Jesus and Mary Chain. Today, thanks to my own curiosity and the good advice of the two or three people I trust in this, I consider myself capable of much more substantial answers. Beatles or Stones? Well, the Beatles and the Stones, if only a small part of each of them: the Beatles on the rare occasions when Harrison takes command - sorry, again, Breton - and the Stones while Jones is still part of the crew. Or better yet:
— ¿Beatles or Stones?
— ¡Please, Sonia! ¡The Sonics and 13th Floor Elevators!