Game Changers

I have been involved in an authentic discussion on an internet forum – I know sounds impossible, but it’s true. The entire discussion is here. It starts off as a normal theist/atheist debate – well, as a grown up one for the most part – but then Ben and I enter into a very intense discussion where we are using the same language to describe ever slightly different things.

During this discussion, I was for the first time ever, able to article a though about the origins of the universe as perpetual existence, in which creation and armageddon – creation and destruction are balanced.

The short version is that everything is energy, and a lower magnitude order of energy is matter – black holes pull everything in and compress the energy and white hole explode that compressed energy out and is the conduit for creation.

All the dark energy and dark matter is that which exists in potential or unrealized realities in our universe – every universe is telling every possible story that there is be to told, and it’s our collective and individual choices that direct the story from potentially being told to what is actually told.

In this way, the future is bright and everything could potentially happen – but our nature (aka genetics) give us our potential and our nurture (experience of other people) gives us our limitations within that potential.

Every now and then, a person can break through the limitations and potential and exceed it – these are the people who are the social game changers – they push the rest us off onto a slightly different trajectory than we would have, had that person not changed the game.

I digress for a moment and say that the first time I wrote a letter to the editor of my local daily paper was back in the 1980’s. A letter was published that said, in effect, we shouldn’t make a fuss over Elvis Presley, because he was just a human and a singer and he didn’t impact history.

The letter that I wrote responded with: Elvis was a human in the same way that Hitler or JFK were just humans. Elvis changed the culture and thus did change history and who else did the letter writer think could change human history – snails?

Nearly thirty years later and now with the blog – the biggest unedited letter to the editor opportunity since it lacks an editor, I expand on that simple outraged thought:

Game changers can be a representative force for good or evil, but either way, they represent a collective choice to change direction. When we talk about game changers, it is usually in terms of that they changed the course of history – as if history was on a set course, instead of plodding forward from the last game changer until someone does something and we all get behind the new direction.

Game changers can be in any arena but their impact is far sweeping and often, unable to be directly connected back, so profound are the changes they bring. Because what a game changer does, is act as a focal point for a collecgive existential crisis. They represent an extreme of a value that as a society, we’re all over the map is – game changers polarize the population, until the value crisis is resolved.

Hitler was a crisis of orderliness – all the mechanisms of society ran like clockwork under Hitler – he standardized railway lines, he increased employment and restored a proud identity – and the world could have gotten behind his family values even for he demanded the arts reflect purity in mind and representation – he was trained in architectural paintings – and his paintings where technically well made – they just didn’t have any purity of heart or imagine in them – and this is where they fell flat.

This is also where Hitler fell flat, for his goals were not to restore a sense of order, but rather to marshal forces for a purification – a genocide of everyone deemed lesser than.

The world could not get behind this, for, everyone is lesser than someone else – Hitler was nothing short of total annihilation of human kind – the diversity of humans is our strength – adaptability – if Hitler had succeeded, he would have had to turn on his own Austrians as falling short of the ideal – tall blond and blue eyes.

It also didn’t seem to register on the nazis, that the countries with the highest concentrations of tall, blond and blue eyed people – Holland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden – wanted nothing to do with his ideas. And, if they could have had any understanding of genetics – these northern Aryans were descended from the original Aryans, who started in India. The paler features being merely acclimated traits to the colder and less sunny climate in the north.

Of course, my favorite game changer is Elvis Presley – and I put him in comparison to Hitler because Hitler was intentionally trying to remake the world in a specific manner – whereas, Elvis was a game changer in a wholly organic and unintentional way.

Elvis Presley grew up in the poorest circumstances possible for a white person – the American South. His father is often referred to as a sharecropper, but that is a gross exaggeration, since Vernon was in fact a layabout who drifted from job to job without a thought to the legality of the job and he ended up for a short time in one of the harshest prisons of the south for altering a cheque – a small fraud of less than ten dollars.

Elvis was probably more scarred by the authorities removing his father than the poverty he grew up with, because the poverty was an experience that everyone he knew was having, so it was normal. This prison stint is likely why Elvis had something of a fetish for the symbols of authority – badges, uniforms and guns – because authority meant power.

Elvis wanted to sing and entertain people and he wanted to make enough money to support his parents, whom he referred to as his babies.

Elvis the game changer response to Hitler.

Hitler represented purity and order. Purity in behaviour, in body and mind, and purity of person – when purity ideas combine in religion and politics, ethnic cleansing is sure to follow.

Elvis represented everything impure about people – but impure in the fun and untamed sense – in him, the impurities were express through music, a joyful celebration of all that is earthy and basic drives for sex, food, colour, excess, vulgar but  an uplifting vulgar, a joyful vulgar. Elvis was the embodiment of racial equality, the unadulterated public sex, for Elvis didn’t just wiggle, Elvis fucked us all – the performance style of the fifties was exaggerated sexual movements and the represses teens threw off the social chastity belts and screamed and writhed and fucked back.

No performer would ever stand still to sing again until Sade in the 1980s, who made stillness her rebellion against the over choreographed performances that came after Elvis, reaching their penultimate in Madonna and Micheal Jackson.

Sadly, by which time, the audiences were once again used to carefully controlled performances and techno music, rather than the joyous and raw and authentic emotional release of the short explosion that the rockabilly, before it became the more mainstream and tame rock n roll.

John Lennon once said that Elvis died when he went into the army, but I think Lennon was being kind – Elvis the game changer died when his contract was sold to RCA and Elvis was no longer in partnership with Sam Phillips, who got the best of Elvis, Scotty and Bill – and Elvis, allowed himself to be led by Col. Parker, who took careful steps to separate Elvis from Scotty and Bill and turned Elvis away from the pure sexual art path and into a groomed commercial product.

We would not see Sun Elvis again, until 1968, when leather clad and running with sweat, Elvis again connected to his sexual power and made love to us all and then ended, white and powder dry, pouring out his soul, with If I Can Dream.

Please let that dream come true, indeed.

Hitler is the template for all that we should avoid in a political leader – one who dictates the party message, closes the field to differing opinions and especially prevents the development of future party leaders, seeks to control the role of women in society, controls eduction, focuses on families only and characters non-conformity as deviant – and in particular sexual deviance from the norm, scapegoats sub-cultures as being the cause of society problems and inequity, when it is the demand to conformity and purity that invents and is the basis for the inequity that sub-cultures and ethnic minorities are subjected to discrimination upon.

Elvis is the template to oppose these puritanical political-religious leaders – and he arose unforeseen from the ashes of the US South to challenge the social status set in motion by Senator McCarthy – a man not very distinguishable from Hitler at all in any meaningful sense, except that he did not achieve the degree of absolute power that Hitler had, McCarthy was limited to influence through threat and scare tactics.

Elvis equalized the the dominate white with the subculture of black, he was religiously zealous and worshiped authority and his 1950’s concerts should be viewed as southern revival gatherings. But Elvis never recognized himself as having any authority or power and thus it tempered his impact – for if Elvis had retained control of his artistic career, we well may have been pushed too fast, too far, beyond what we were collectively able to manage – so, Elvis, had to be not only tamed, but sacrificed.

Elvis himself, spent his life in a state of bewilderment, why him, of all people, was he Elvis Presley? To grow up so poor and then on the cusp of adulthood, become the most famous and controversial performer and the lighting rod for debate about public morals.

No one could have been prepared for the kind of existential crisis that would cause for a boy who was the first of either family side to complete high school, who aspired to the middle class American dream, to be entertaining people in a way that was no different to him than the churches he was raised in – Elvis brought what was his sense of normal onto the rest of us. Egalitarian and earthy, of the flesh and pure in spirit.

Elvis was the joy of living to the fullest, despite all hardships and setbacks, because you can’t know how long you will have life or how long a good stretch of life will last.

This is why Elvis was receptive to the message that he was a flash in the pan and he should get while the getting was good. Elvis, like everyone else, didn’t expect to last.

So, he listened to what Parker and the studios told him, they had the experience and were the experts – and he listened until he couldn’t anymore – then he would take control. When he did, no one could stand before him.

Sadly, this is in the purest sense, the SUN recordings and the 1968 tv special. Everything else was Elvis tamed and controlled, but still, Elvis working within constraints and Elvis phoning it in, was more often than not, better than most other people’s most authentic efforts.

And nothing that pure and gold could last. Elvis left the building of his own accord.