not mercenaries but musicians chasing cars

I've been reviewing one of my old essays for potentially flogging off to unsuspecting editors in high (well, low, actually) hopes they may find space in their publications for my writing. It's a comparison of Thomas Hobbes and Alexis de Tocqueville's views on freedom and my point (and one that has been made loads of times before, I'm sure) is that these two have a fairly similar view of freedom (that there should be limits placed on it) and a fairly depressing view of human nature. Being French, Tocqueville is convinced that human beings will withdraw into themselves and be fairly well-pleased at a repressive state and it (with "it" being the historical progression of a state) will all end unhappily with people quite pleased to be oppressed. The democratic condition, therefore, is likely to lead to misery and sameness and Tocqueville is not in favour of this sameness.

But, he does provide a way out: while wallowing in this desire to be all introspective and withdrawn and apathetic towards a despotic state, one way to avoid all this misery and overcome the desire to curl up in a foetal position and hum Ave Maria in a loud voice is through being taken out of oneselves. Now, despite how that sounds, it is a very practical advice on Tocqueville's part. Instead of sitting indoors and watching the telly or playing WoW on one's computers,* he urges getting out and about, doing things, and just interacting. In this, one becomes aware of one's differences and manages to still get along. And that, as they say, is that.

Well, that's pretty much what I ended up doing on Friday. I did scam a ticket for Snow Patrol and let good music, a great singing voice and the presence of other people take me out of myself--Tocqueville would have approved, I reckon. Dodgy living conditions (housing and immigration), lack of finances, discovery of other people doing similar research to mine and a strong desire to go home for summer (and the realisation that this is just not possible) were all temporarily forgotten as an Irish lad with a great voice chatted and sang for 1.5 hours. I've been to better concerts but none that were just right with regard to timing. The thing about concerts (or watching sports) is that you have to concentrate and enjoy watching or listening so there's no time for self-obsession and worrying. Especially if Gary Lightbody is the bloke singing.

So, thanks Snow Patrol--you were fun and cheeky and the girls' swim team anecdote was rather amusing but it was Run that made the concert spot on. Singing along while loads of other people, who didn't know each other, sang in unison. As Tocqueville would have put it (and did, actually), I was taken out of myself. I've even been grading papers today without wanting to tear out my hair or feeling tempted to write sarcastic remarks about the art (act?) of doing scientific research. So, yes, make this go on forever, please.

* Though WoW probably counts as interaction?


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