Saturday, March 28, 2015


When I was teaching Ecclesiastes some years ago I considered playing a little of Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is? as an illustration. Decided against it as taking too much time; referred to it instead. Her attitude isn't exactly the same as the Preacher's: she sees everything as futility but is both completely materialist and completely misses the joys of work and the possibility of gladness. She's desperate for something transcendental. But our culture is extremely reductionist; maybe that was part of the problem for her. It is hard to enjoy beauty and think about meaning when people keep nagging you that this is all merely chemical reactions. It short-circuits any search for transcendentals.

It feels like Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now is a reply to Peggy. Joni sings that what she thought she knew then wasn't the whole story, and each example ends in a kind of calm despair of knowledge--sort of like the Preacher's.

I've always been kind of fond of Ecclesiastes. I wonder how much overlap there is between fans of Is That All There Is, Both Sides Now, and Ecclesiastes?

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