For Those About to Walk, We Salute You

Yes, even I’ve come to think that the time has come for AC/DC to end things.

Speak up sonny–what explosion? 

When one singer dies of alcohol poisoning, the drummer is convicted of threatening murder, the rhythm guitarist has dementia, and the second singer is about to go entirely deaf, your band has kind of run out of the “nine lives” you’ve been singing about for the last couple of decades. Yes, you’ve been “abusin every one of them and runnin’ wild,” but after a career like AC/DC’s, there’s no shame in getting off the rock and roll train…

ht: Carlos Manalansan (thanks for waking me up at 6:30 this morning with the breaking news, bro)

5 thoughts on “For Those About to Walk, We Salute You

  1. My initial thought here was to celebrate their demise on the grounds that it would induce you to include them in your posts less frequently, but then I quickly remembered that no matter how juvenile and tasteless, let alone repugnant, their music might be, they have in fact probably achieved the closest thing to immortality that we mortal beings can achieve. If humans are still around 2400 years from now, I’d bet more of them will still listen to AC/DC than will read Plato’s Symposium.

    I’m with you on the Metallica, though.


    • AC/DC: A Guide for the Perplexed. I do object to her gratuitous characterization of Angus’s solos as “endless streams of ejaculate,” but the rest is basically on target. David Fricke’s got the news, too. I love his characterization of Brian Johnson’s vocals:

      Much of the credit must go to Scott’s successor, Brian Johnson, a savage screamer who combines the breast-beating machismo of Led Zep’s Robert Plant, the operatic howl of Ian Gillan (ex-Deep Purple) and the tubercular rasp of Slade’s Noddy Holder into singular, nerveracking, Tarzan-type shouts.

      And naturally, that’s a good thing.


  2. For purposes of contrast, my favorite Metallica song:

    Not coincidentally, perhaps, a cover (theirs is just vastly better than Diamonhead’s; Diamondhead’s came to be for the sake of Diamondhead, but exists for the sake of Metallica; since 1981 it may as well not exist).

    The difference between this and AC/DC? Instead of adolescent sexism and juvenile masculinity, we get an invitation to philosophical reflection about evil and the plausibility of the Guise of the Good thesis. I’m thinking our protagonist’s personal confession here supports the Guise of the Good thesis, perhaps better than Aristotle, Aquinas, or Anscombe could.

    And that, perhaps, is a good basis from which to challenge non-cognitive theories of practical reason.


    • As I’ve explained to many a baffled metalhead, “Am I Evil” is a pure aesthetic exemplification of Kant’s philosophy of religion–and I’m surprised, young man, to see you in such unsavory philosophical company:

      According to what has been said above, the proposition: Man is bad can only mean: He is conscious of the moral law, and yet has adopted into his maxim (occasional) deviation therefrom. He is by nature bad is equivalent to saying: This holds of him considered as a species; not as if such a quality could be inferred from the specific conception of man (that of man in general) (for then it would be necessary); but by what is known of him through experience he cannot be otherwise judged, or it may be presupposed as subjectively necessary in every man, even the best.

      Now this propensity itself must be considered as morally bad, and consequently not as a natural property, but as something that can be imputed to the man, and consequently must consist in maxims of the elective will which are opposed to the law; but on account of freedom these must be looked upon as in themselves contingent, which is inconsistent with the universality of this badness, unless the ultimate subjective ground of all maxims is, by whatever means, interwoven with humanity, and, as it were, rooted in it; hence we call this a natural propensity to evil; and as the man must, nevertheless, always incur the blame of it, (36) it may be called even a radical badness in human nature, innate (but not the less drawn upon us by ourselves).

      Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone

      Of course, AC/DC’s got “Hells Bells“: “If good’s on the left, then I’m stickin to the right.” Obviously an echo of Milton’s Satan.

      I really should have taken a longer blogcation. I think the downward spiral started with the blackbird post.


      • Oh, no, I take it to be clear that the song’s protagonist is philosophically confused (with a childhood like that, who wouldn’t be?). He doesn’t affirm the Guise of the Good thesis. But he helps us to see why it’s true (ok, well, plausible in many cases, anyway). I think Anscombe’s treatment of Satan applies pretty well:

        ‘Evil, be thou my good’ is often thought to be senseless in some way. Now all that concerns us here is that ‘What’s the good of it?’ is something that can be asked until a desirability characterization has been reached and made intelligible. If then the answer to this question at some stage is ‘The good of it is that it’s bad,’ this need not be unintelligible; one can go on to say ‘And what is the good of its being bad?’ to which the answer might be condemnation of good as impotent, slavish, and inglorious. Then the good of making evil my good is my intact liberty in the unsubmissiveness of my will. Bonum est multiplex: good is multiform, and all that is required for our concept of ‘wanting’ is that a man should see what he wants under the aspect of some good. A collection of bits of bone three inches long, if it is a man’s object, is something we want to hear the praise of before we can understand it as an object; it would be affectation to say ‘One can want anything and I happen to want this,’ and in fact a collector does not talk like that; no one talks like that except in irritation and to make an end of tedious questioning. But when a man aims at health or pleasure, then the enquiry ‘What’s the good of it?’ is not a sensible one. As for reasons against a man’s making one of them his principal aim; and whether there are orders of human goods, e.g. whether some are greater than others, and whether if this is so a man need ever prefer the greater to the less, and on pain of what; this question would belong to ethics, if there is such a science. All that I am concerned to argue here is that the fact that some desirability characterisation is required does not have the least tendency to shew that any is endowed with some kind of necessity in relation to wanting. But it may still be true that the man who says ‘Evil be thou my good’ in the way that we described is committing errors of thought; this question belongs to ethics. (Intention, 75-6)

        As for the protagonist’s apparently explanatory answer to his own question — “I am man” — I think we have to choose between taking it as something close to nonsense given that his evil behavior is emphatically not the behavior of normal people or, alternatively, reading it as a claim that his behavior is an expression of human nature under the conditions in which he’s been put. I doubt Diamondhead thought very hard about it — they probably wrote the line because it rhymed — but lucky for us authorial intention doesn’t exhaustively determine meaning. And whatever he means, he illustrates pretty well how horrendous evil can be, even if it is not always, a pursuit of what its perpetrators find good.

        Actually, though, I think it’s just my favorite because it’s the first one I ever heard, back when I was 11 years old. I’m sure it’s not the sole cause, but I suspect it contributed to my long held interest in the intelligibility of evil and with understanding the vicious from their own perspective.

        That might not be a healthy interest, come to think of it. But it’s healthier than the equation of women with impersonal objects of sexual gratification.


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