Grading exams is not my favorite activity, so when forced into it by psychopomp and circumstance, I attempt to select appropriate axe-wielding music to accompany the venture. My music collection is modest, so often I have to go back to the classic eras of rock for something that fits the mood. Recently I selected Rush’s 2112. I have a long, if tangential connection to this album. Afraid of its pentagram imagery and heavy metal sound (to my young ears) when it came out in the mid 70s, I only listened to it when my older brother put it on the stereo, and then only furtively enjoying it. Looking back now, I often wonder how any of us survived the 70’s styles and outlook — they feel dingy and hopeless in many corners, while sloppy and simplistic in others. Some of the music, however, has proven timeless.
After the instrumental prelude, the first words on the album are from the Bible: “the meek shall inherit the earth.” This particular statement is among the most easily ignored in the Gospels, just as the meek are easily ignored on the earth. With all the trumpeting and bellowing that sound from self-righteous commentators beating their religion beneath them like an over-taxed war-horse, it is plain to see how the meek might simply get in the way. This particular verse from the Sermon on the Mount, however, is one of the reasons that I cannot give up all faith in traditional religions. It sets the perfect juxtaposition between greed and selflessness out in full light for all to assess. Thus say the priests of the temples of Syrinx.
There was a time when rock became self-righteous to the point of caricature; but Rush’s 2112 was not such a place. The meek inheriting the earth is sticking it to the man unlike any other biblical dart can. And it is probably a good thing to queue up when I’m having to face the onerous task of grading exams once again.