A guide to various philosophies—presented musically.
In his offbeat and intriguing book, Cook (The Worldview Literacy Book, 2009) attempts to distill the world’s most prevalent cultural mind-frames into sets of objectively fair lyrics, then set those lyrics to the tunes of well-known rock and folk songs. A detailed opening analysis of human neuroscience and sociology includes a multipart discussion involving everything from Richard Dawkins’ concept of memes to the biochemistry of naturally produced substances such as oxytocin, “the cuddle chemical.” He then undertakes big-picture analysis of the underlying themes in what he sees as the 81 most prominent worldviews employed by humans today. The underlying themes are TFJD—thinking, feeling, joining, doing—which underpin worldviews ranging from monotheism to addiction to libertarianism to “Bitterness & Vengeance.” Cook attempts to generate lyrics describing all these views, and the results are unfailingly earnest. For instance, the lyrics for “Free Will” (sung to “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull”) assure the listener: “I won’t interfere if you want to pray / May even laugh as you children play.” In “Apocalypticism” (sung to “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones), “The End Time is right now: / Fate all sealed and signed / I’m no believer, pal, I’ve been left behind.” Other lyrics are less successful. “Valuing Human Rights” (sung to “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen) goes: “Human Rights, we need to fight for them / Human rights, if not now, then when?” His attempts to assess the advantages of even the most repellant worldviews—scapegoating, fatalism, religious fundamentalism, etc.—aren’t always convincing, but open-minded readers will find them thought-provoking just the same.
An inventive, perspective-broadening approach to examining different life philosophies.