Monday, 23 January 2017

Progressive Thoughts - Day 23

Today’s song is a beautiful and unusually short song from Dream Theater, a band who are infamous for writing epic long songs.  A lot of their songs are lengthy, some reaching the dizzy heights of more than twenty minutes. This song, called Wait For Sleep, is usual because it is only two and a half minutes long.

Dream Theater fall into the progressive metal category, yet a number of their songs are what you would call mellow and beautiful, featuring deep and profound lyrics accompanied by exquisite piano, mild guitars and a powerful voice.

Their songs are intelligent and I love that.

This is one of the reasons I love progressive rock generally. The genre is fundamentally rock but is largely experimental and includes other genres from jazz to classical music, from heavy metal to dance music and is full of amazing technically challenging experimentation with time signature shifts and interesting subject matter.

There are a lot of people who mock progressive rock and label it as weird.

And that’s one of the reasons I like it. I think I am drawn to weirdness and I guess that’s why some people may think that I, too, am weird.

I don’t mind that. In fact I am fascinated by it. As I said in yesterday’s post, I find myself drawn to strange conspiracy theories and people who believe in bizarre things. I love the supernatural, the idea that there are aliens out there.

Most of all I love people who simply refuse to change their principles despite the colossal amount of evidence that shoots their belief system down in flames. Such people argue that the evidence is fabricated by the government and that the rest of us are the brainwashed majority and gullible fools.

I can spend hours listening to people like this. The only problem I have is that I don’t want to offend them and sometimes I struggle to keep a straight face.

My first real encounter with such a person was, unsurprisingly, at university. I studied computer science, which involved statistics and mathematics, and, as you can imagine, my course was full of geeks. I was surrounded by intelligent people who loved science fiction and the same weird shit that I liked. I was at home. There was one guy on my course who was, like the rest of us, an intelligent geek who loved a bit of science fiction – except he took this further – he was a strange conspiracy theorist.

He was utterly convinced that UFOs were real and that the governments of the world were covering this up from the rest of us. He studied maths and had a total grasp of logic yet when he talked about his passion, that logic disappeared completely to be replaced by irrationality and paranoia.

I loved it.

Now I could provide mathematical proof to you all that the number one equals the number two. You may scoff at this but I can provide convincing proof. Of course, my proof is utterly flawed and if you apply constraints then my proof is shown up for what it is – total misdirection that was exposed by logic.

In a conversation with my wacky friend, I brought this up and he knew what I was talking about because we had both learned about this mathematical misdirection. My argument was that all of his evidence of conspiracy theory was misdirection and that when you applied logic to the proof of conspiracy then the truth was exposed and the conspiracy shattered.

And he disagreed vehemently calling me a misguided gullible fool.

I asked for his evidence that UFOs and aliens exist and, of course he could provide nothing. His argument was bizarre because he claimed he had seen UFOs in the sky himself and the fact that there was no other proof was in fact proof that the government was hiding it.

In the end I gave up arguing with him and satisfied myself from that point on with just listening to his madcap theories. I knew that he took it seriously because he had a telescope and actually spent some evenings every week scanning the night sky for unidentified lights and odd movement.

He was a magnificent crackpot and I loved him for it.

By the way, if you want me to prove that 1=2 then let me know (if I can remember that is)!


Elephant's Child said...

I am a fan of the weird too.
And your country celebrate eccentricity (which some would call weird) really, really well.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

We love eccentricity (well I do anyway) and they don't come any more eccentric than UFOlogists.