John Petrucci and Trump: Something to Consider When Your Guitar Hero Goes Rogue

So, John Petrucci came out in support of Donald Trump -- along the lines of "He's great ... something, something, something, ... give him a chance. I like him."


Now you lose your mind, light your hair on fire, and throw your Dream Theater albums in the nearest dumpster.

While I detest Trump and I only ever had one Dream Theater CD (it was a free gift that I threw it out my car window in a parking lot ... sorry for littering and I'm going to listen to a DT song while I type this to atone for my sin) there's another way to look at this.

First, I think it is important to separate the person from the entertainer. We have a concept called Homo duplex whereby the person is not a simple singularity but a dual-natured being: simultaneously an individual (with their profane thoughts) but also a social being (the artist, in this case) and these two 'sides' of our existence are usually in conflict with one another and we routinely confuse one for the other.

Do not confuse the person for the artist.

For example, U2 has made millions of dollars singing songs about peace, love, god, and all that jazz while living like bourgeois pigs. Give capitalism a chance, I guess, but go to church.

Are U2 nothing but a bunch of hypocrites? They might be but that could also be the easy way out of the intellectual dilemma. We wish our icons were sincere but, at the end of the day, they are also just individuals who, in their social 'role' are one thing while, in their private lives, they are or can be the complete opposite. U2 is just an entertainment business that peddles progressive-sounding values while raking in the dough.

Petrucci and Dream Theater seem like one thing (progressive rockers -- we can discuss the irony of 'progressive' rock some other day) while, on the side of the individuals, they could be something completely other -- like a bunch of regressive, money grubbing reptilians. I don't know and I don't care -- and that not caring thing will be more important when we wrap this up.

If you think of yourself as a progressive entrepreneur U2 is your kind of band. If you are an anarchist you can still like U2 so long as you remember that the music and the act are greater than, and different than the individuals that made it, play it, distribute it, and profit from it.

Okay, that Dream Theater song I was listening to is over (now I recall why I threw that disk out the window) and I'm going to listen to some U2.... more atonement, you know... Ah, but wait, Dream Theater has a song called "The Bigger Picture" so I'll put that on while I wrap this up....

The actual 'bigger picture' is that music is greater than, and different than, the individuals and bands that create it. Even the band itself is not reducible to the band members.

If we add up the members of U2 and whoever else in in DT we do not end up with the band itself.

From the reductionist standpoint we find normal math: 1 + 1 + 1+ 1 = 4. But a famous physicist once said that this kind of thinking is linear and simple whereas social reality is non-linear and more complicated.

In terms of the totality that is U2, or whoever, you put four people together and you have not just 4 guys but a funhouse of selves multiplying and reflecting off of one another and the emergence of a musical totality that has a life of its own. Think of it like this: one day, all the members of U2 will be long dead and buried but U2 will live forever; Elvis is greater as a dead icon than he was as a broken down spectacle while still living. Long live the King, baby. The music transcends people and time and their stupidity as individuals.

Musicians are like everybody else: mostly a bunch of stupid people doing bad things all day long. And at night they dream of bad things. Enjoy the music and leave the personal side of the issue off to the side.

The good is the evil we choose to ignore. There really is only bad. We have to ignore something in order to have some good in the world. So, I'm going to continue ignoring John Petrucci and Dream Theater.