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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weaponizing classical music

Brendan O'Neill at Reason Magazine writes about a new British trend in social control - "weaponized classical music":
Britain might not make steel anymore, or cars, or pop music worth listening to, but, boy, are we world-beaters when it comes to tyranny. And now classical music, which was once taught to young people as a way of elevating their minds and tingling their souls, is being mined for its potential as a deterrent against bad behavior.

In January it was revealed that West Park School, in Derby in the midlands of England, was “subjecting” (its words) badly behaved children to Mozart and others. In “special detentions,” the children are forced to endure two hours of classical music both as a relaxant (the headmaster claims it calms them down) and as a deterrent against future bad behavior (apparently the number of disruptive pupils has fallen by 60 per cent since the detentions were introduced.)

One news report says some of the children who have endured this Mozart authoritarianism now find classical music unbearable. As one critical commentator said, they will probably “go into adulthood associating great music—the most bewitchingly lovely sounds on Earth—with a punitive slap on the chops.” This is what passes for education in Britain today: teaching kids to think “Danger!” whenever they hear Mozart’s Requiem or some other piece of musical genius.

O'Neill notes that life has again imitated art: the frightening world of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange is now becoming reality in Britain:
Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of an elite using high culture as a “punitive slap on the chops” for low youth has come true. In Burgess’s 1962 dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, famously filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, the unruly youngster Alex is subjected to “the Ludovico Technique” by the crazed authorities. Forced to take drugs that induce nausea and to watch graphically violent movies for two weeks, while simultaneously listening to Beethoven, Alex is slowly rewired and re-moulded.

By the way, what works do authorities find most effective at irritating teenagers? The Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 by Rachmaninov, and Piano Concerto No. 2 by Shostakovich.


The_Iceman said...

When I hear classical music, my head explodes like the aliens in Mars attacks.

Simeon (Sam) George Drakich said...

I enjoy classical music, England gave the world Ralph Vaughan Williams,Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham and many more.

Thucydides said...

First it was "1984 was a warning, not a field guide".

Now New Labour brigs "A Clockwork Orange" to life.

What great literary work is next? "Brave New World?" "Anthem?"