Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bono, Nietzsche, and All of Us

Is Bono "one of us"? Can the anti-war movement make such a claim? Yes and No.

Read the Rolling Stone and other interviews conducted since 2003, and Bono is clearly against the invasion and occupation. But listen to the shows, and Bono clearly "supports the troops."

So perhaps, every single one of us can claim that Bono is one of us. Maybe hat's the whole point. Bono's music is the megalomaniacal and messianic magic that belongs to "all that have ears to hear."

Of course, he's like me when he's against the war, but not when he's praising Condy Rice or Billy Graham--which is enough for "the right" to claim him as theirs.

After Atlanta, I said it this way (see my full review here):

We're all "One," just not the same.

And of course, Bono loves to make the links and loathes the divisions he sees between us—the real and imagined trenches between right and left, fundamentalist and free thinker, soldier and protester, preacher and punk. When Bono introduced "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by saying, "America, this is your song now," I don't think he simply meant to invoke the woeful tragedies of war and hurricanes.

Rather, I think he spoke to the war within, the divisions in our country since the culture war intensified, in our school and church communities, about dogmas and social demons, over drugs and religion, in our blurred and fatigued attitudes towards the war in Iraq, in our treatment of others with whom we disagree, including those we saw in the seats at this very show. With a "tough-guy" preteen onstage with him, Bono in his "coexist" bandanna offered his prayer for the next generation, "That in order to defeat a monster, we don't become a monster."

One more addendum: that last quote seems clearly a paraphrase of another radical thinker: Friedrich Nietzsche.

He said: "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Of course, I have always tried to remind myself of this in another context: when I rebel against the stagnant status quo, I do not want to become the stagnant status quo. Bono, I think, uses this as challenge for Europeans and Americans in the so-called War on Terror. In both cases, may we not become monsters. And as we intend, may it be so.

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