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Commentary :: Media
Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
01 Oct 2004
It was Foucault who dismissed the notion that we can fight power as outsiders because absolutely everything in society is permeated with power. To think that one is outside the grip of power is at best naïve. Power can be conquered, often violently, but it best serves a society when deconstructed and transformed.

On Tuesday, September 28, I went to a Pearl Jam concert in that hideous refuge of corporate advertisement that is the Fleet Center. I hate the Fleet, not only because it represents corporate supremacy over communal space, but also because, honestly, the acoustics are just terrible.
Once upon a time I was a huge Pearl Jam fan, back when I first moved to Texas for college and decided to make my political stance. Those were the days when I connected with Pearl Jam’s anger in trying to express frustration over the flaws and injustice of a system run by the self-serving powerful and their ignorant zealots. But my anger subsided and so did my love for Pearl Jam. My activism didn’t wane and finally found its home in three years of activism with Amnesty International, where I did my humble share of demonstrations and public education.

Tuesday I was cranky, rundown and felt removed from it all. The concert ticket was a present not an avid curiosity to see what Pearl Jam was up to these days. Into about the fourth song, “Dissident”, Eddie Vedder invited Howard Zinn on stage and introduced him as a great historian and inspiration to the community. The crowd went wild and I finally got to my feet to see Eddie in action.

The concert continued in such a manner, Eddie speaking bluntly against the war, probing the crowd to participate in politics. “The best thing you can do is vote,” he said. Singing such amazing tunes as “Bombs, dropping down,” the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," “Blood,” and “Do the Evolution.”

Towards the end Eddie announced that all proceeds from the concert were going to fight a death penalty case against the West Memphis Three, three men in Arizona who were convicted of a crime they did not commit. Police officers coerced a “confession” from Jessie Misskelley Jr., who is mentally handicapped after 12 hours of questioning him without counsel or parental consent. That was 11 years ago, before the Patriot Act and the so called “war on terror.”

Pearl Jam played the last song with the lights on, so they could see the crowd and we could see each other. Elated.

All of a sudden I realized that I had grown up, just like Pearl Jam’s band members, from an angry estranged college student to a member of the community who refuses to give up the fight. Pearl Jam should have not played at the Fleet, but then again, the power of their influence could be felt in the crowd. The pyrotechnic ads forgotten.

I don’t believe in revolution but I do believe in times of change. And I’m an adamant believer that transforming power comes from within. I can’t expunge the devil within by making a copy of myself; I can only hope I have enough skin to shed.

In Foucault’s own words, “There are more ideas on earth than intellectuals imagine. And these ideas are more active, stronger, more resistant, more passionate than ''politicians'' think. We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them. Ideas do not rule the world. But it is because the world has ideas... that it is not passively ruled by those who are its leaders or those who would like to teach it, once and for all, what it must think."

This work is in the public domain.
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Well Written
30 Sep 2004
I've seen over 100 concerts in my life. I have voted since I could vote. I know right from wrong. And I have joined many protests. I'm independent. Not connected with any orgaization.
The above article told me about the individuals feelings, summary of the concert and ideals of himself.
What I was hoping to read at the finish? Was the writer busting Bushing ass. Why? Because Bush and Co. deserve it.
Remember. Right from Wrong.
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
02 Oct 2004
right from wrong? you are trying to paint things as simply as bush does! now i despise bush, but what you overseer) are forgetting is that kerry stands for alot of the same things. Kerry hasn't come out against guantanamo, he supports free trade, and he won't be doing anything to help poverty in the US. Bush has already proved deadly, but give Kerry his time and he will too. And to all you 'liberals' that keep denouncing the war and the Patriot Act but drive around with Kerry bumperstickers, just remember that Kerry voted for the Patriot Act and for the war. Maybe Kerry would have done a better job with Iraq, but no job needed doing. Kerry used to be a friend of the anti-war movement when he was just back from vietnam, but he is not our friend anymore.
and for the majority of you reading this in massachusetts, remember that the free speech zone was at the DNC; Kerry never spoke out against the violation of our basic rights.
overseer's idea of right/wrong black/white is the same one that says those of us who protested the DNC and RNC are terrorists. come on now.
p.s.- good article
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
02 Oct 2004
The "West Memphis Three" are in Arkansas, not Arizona. Only a mistake of roughly 1000 miles and two time zones, and perhaps a slightly different shade of red on the necks,
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
02 Oct 2004
A word on revolution:

I believe in revolution, but revolution from the bottom up, from the grass root communities up, and the traditional top down style that has been tried in the past. Just something to think about...

Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
02 Oct 2004
er....i ment "and NOT the traditional top down style that has been tried in the past."

Hurray for typing to fast!
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
07 Oct 2004
I agree Jonathan "trickle-down" revolution has never worked and is actually a really paradoxical concept when you really think about it. I really dug the article and on some level i think i can relate except for that I hate Pearl Jam. (not them personally though I do think they appear to be a whiny bunch of clams especially that one with the hat)
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
08 Oct 2004
thank you for writing about Pearl Jam and Foucault in the same article. I resonate with your relationship with Pearl Jam, my love for them also still burns, maybe not as bright as it used to, but just because I've grown in new directions. I have always been intrigued and curious about Foucault but never knew where or how to start. Where would you recommend that I start? peace, Lev
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
09 Oct 2004
where you should you start getting to know Foucault? By reading Nietzsche who gave him most of his "ideas".
Re: Pearl Jam and the Devil Within: An Essay
16 Dec 2004
I also saw the PJ concert on the 28th, and it was awsome. This was a good article. When i first started reading it, i was getting pissed because i thought you were just gonna rag on PJ. But then it turned out good. NIce job.