Friday, October 31, 2008

The All-time Top 25 Countdown: Number 19

(for the previous entries on the list, see my old blog on motime,

We've only just begun-The Carpenters, 1970

If you are told to think of something repulsive, what mental image makes its terrifying appearance? A maggot? A man’s hairy bottom? A potato-sized pimple that changes colours every five seconds? The combined audiovisual impact of the singer Anastacia making you want to poke out your eyes and amputate your ears? While there is common agreement that these things are indeed vile, their obscenity pales in comparison with the latest universal object of disgust: The bank manager. The financial wizards who stole our savings. The kind of monsters that would never sell their grandmother: No, they would lend her out at an extortionate interest rate to make even more money on her and use her mohair beret to blow their cocaine-stuffed noses.

However, it is easy to forget that however much these degenerate monsters have tried to make our world inhabitable, they once created 3 minutes of exquisite, undiluted beauty. A person who can listen through The Carpenters' 'We've only just begun' without feeling almost intimated by its beauty, is a person whose sense of aesthetics has more than a little in common with that of a dung beetle.

Karen and Richard in the White House on behalf on the carpenters' trade union to conduct the difficult but ultimately successful annual wage negotiations.

What am I driving at? This divine song, dear Reader, started out as a commercial jingle for Crocker National Bank in California, before it was discovered by Richard Carpenter, who, together with his sister Karen, rendered it timeless. While the Carpenters certainly deserve the major part of the credit, this record would never have seen the light of day had it not been for the bank management’s degenerate desire for profit. Thus, our most evil instincts can inadvertently produce something beautiful.

What moral lessons can we draw from this? Are we suppose to consider financial asset managers human beings now? Like invite them to our birthday parties and let them marry our daughters and stuff? Of course not, they are wicked beasts capable of acts of such depravity that an award-winning serial rapist would recoil in horror. But something which is subjectively evil can sometimes produce an objective good. After all, without greed there would be no Capitalism, and without Capitalism we would still be living in stinking plague-infested mud huts together with our pigs and hens and half-dead grandparents and would have to get up at 4 in the morning to help the family cow get rid of its constipation. So while the financial sector (which by the way is not the entire economy, as some commentators seem to think) certainly needs to draw a lesson from the latest events, society should not try to abolish greed, which after all has given us both prosperity and the otherworldly beauty of ‘We’ve only just begun’.

No comments: