Friday, October 8, 2010

Pinball Wizard

Truly a great song by the Who. But I always wondered what deaf, dumb and blind meant. Like the crowd I wondered how he did it. "How do you think he does it?"

But the more you think about bumpers and flippers, one wonders if one does not always stand like a statue playing by intuition. These things provide for externalized ways of living one amongst another. Pinball, blindness, deafness, and dumbness have no community.

Pinball is a pretty lame image to make this case insofar as it is dated--but pinball, with its jerky shuffling of the ball, may be a true image of how one must make one's way in the world in modern bourgeois, democratic, capitalistic, liberal societies these days. The pinball image may not hold up, but let me nonetheless hand my pinball crown to Pete Townsend for attempting to speak about what is true.

You may ask--what is true in a silly song about gaining recognition for mastery at something as ridiculous as pinball for one who is deaf, dumb and blind? Of course, it is easily answered in the see me, feel me, touch me, heal me refrain. But what does all this mean? Listening to you, gazing at you and following at you. Right behind you and on you I see the glory and get the story.

The you is surely important here, but so is the me that can't hear, see or speak.

This must be some sort of social psychology put to music. Is it typically Lockean in that we have no judge with common authority by nature? Is it Hobbesian in the ways in which Tommy's fame leads to the one answer to all questions?

Is it the typical British Marxist stance that popular culture serves as an anodyne for the suffering of the working class. The sigh of the oppressed in an alleviating opiate that shows itself in the new sensation of Tommy's fame?