Wednesday, June 27, 2012

...in youngstown...


The Rude Pundit, who lives up to his name, has already produced a thorough takedown of David Brooks's New York Times column yesterday.

I would like to add one minor observation, however, concerning this silly analysis of Bruce Springsteen's œuvre, which Brooks honors by constructing a psychological landscape within the heads of old Bruce's audience:

My best theory is this: When we are children, we invent these detailed imaginary worlds that the child psychologists call "paracosms." These landscapes, sometimes complete with imaginary beasts, heroes and laws, help us orient ourselves in reality. They are structured mental communities that help us understand the wider world.

Over the years, Springsteen built his own paracosm, with its own collection of tramps, factory closings, tortured Catholic overtones and moments of rapturous escape. This construction project took an act of commitment.


Nice theory, except what Brooks fails to notice is that Springsteen's work is what painters call "representational." His "tramps and factory closings" are as real as a heart attack, and never more so than in a song like "Youngstown," which Brooks mis-heard at the Springsteen concert he attended in Madrid.

Having never been a Springsteen fan, I wasn't familiar with the song, but I appreciate its history of Youngstown's tragic fate, interwoven with Springsteen's ideology. Afte all, it's where my family lived when I was a small kid, and my earliest memories are of this dreadful place as it used to be.



David Brooks is the Times's useful-idiot-in-chief, employed to tickle and stroke that massive American audience seeking reality, as long as it's not too real.

3 comments:

Joe said...

A strange tidbit of news I heard is that Youngstown has been doing better lately. I forget the details on how that upturn took place.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

I've heard that they're building up the state university there, in size and reputation. Big U's are big employers, and usually a pretty good bet, economically speaking.

Joe said...

Aha! That would explain it!