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How Does It Feel?: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Grant Maxwell

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Grant Maxwell examines the recorded music of popular culture with the same subtlety and care as he brings to the literary and philosophical texts of high culture. He seeks not just breadth of knowledge but coherence of insight; not just accumulation of knowledge but depth of understanding.

Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind

Grant is a very distinguished cat.

James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere

How Does It Feel? traces the significance of rock and roll through the early careers of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan, drawing on some of the most profound philosophical ideas of the last few centuries. Through the artists’ own words and intimate accounts, this study suggests that archaic modes of thought, including those associated with mysticism, alchemy, shamanism, and ecstatic spiritual practice, and even with often trivialized phenomena described by words like “magic,” “destiny,” and “prophecy,” are vitally important for understanding how these musicians were able to catalyze the inception of an epochal revolution in human consciousness.

From the recording of Presley’s first hit at Sun studio to the Beatles’ primal Hamburg initiation to Dylan’s “transfiguration,” this study shows how rock and roll has enacted the return of relational modes repressed since Descartes’ equation of thought with human being in the seventeenth century. Although the privileging of rationality, materialism, and science has apparently been in service to the development of humanity’s intellectual capacities, this “ascent of man” has come at the expense of intuitive, affective, and embodied ways of knowing.

However, nothing can be repressed forever, and rock and roll appears to have been a compensatory reaction to the modern rationalization and disenchantment of culture. Through an engaging retelling of the familiar narratives from a novel philosophical perspective, How Does It Feel? illuminates how the renewed attention to bodily experience performed by these musicians has opened the door to even more deeply repressed premodern modes, mediating what appears to be the emergence of a new world view that integrates modern and premodern premises.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2935 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 335 Seiten
  • Verlag: Persistent Press (10. März 2014)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #328.363 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  8 Rezensionen
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen How Does It Feel? Great so far! 18. März 2014
Von Jason A Quetel - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
I’m still making my way through “How Does It Feel?” but I thought I’d write a short review of the book, which is great so far. Maxwell is an excellent writer and his analysis goes deeper than the biographies I’ve read about these musicians, bringing in interesting philosophical ideas without getting overly technical. I’d say it’s definitely worth a read.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Grant Maxwell’s philosophical book on rock and roll is difficult but rewarding 29. Juli 2014
Von Stephen Pate - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Grant Maxwell’s How Does It Feel?: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll is one book I wanted to hate from the first page. Even the book’s title is too long.

However, I have come to the opinion that, unless you like wading through the garbage can of Dylan’s personal life or reading second-rate music criticism, How Does it Feel is the best book on Bob Dylan since Christopher Rick’s Dylan’s Visions of Sin.

The book is not just about Dylan, although he gets more than 50% of the book’s discussion. How Does It Feel? the Philosophy of Rock and Roll is about rock and roll, the sound track of our lives. Using Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Bob Dylan as three artists who respectively created, and transformed rock and roll, Maxwell explores the philosophical aspects of rock and roll.

How does it feel?

The longish title says it all How Does It Feel?: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll. The key is the word “feel.” Maxwell postulates that our society, on the cusp of rock and roll in the early 50′s, was reaching the pinnacle of the age of reason or rationale modes.

Maxwell’s proposition is that Elvis joined the world of rational thought, with its emphasis on reaching logical conclusions at risk of common sense or feeling, with the affective mode of how it feels. Does it feel good? Does it move you?

My son says, in discussing the book, that other cultures never forgot to consider feeling. Western culture got lost somewhere from the age of reason to the over-rationalized decisions of the National Socialists to euthanize the mentally disabled, cripples, and then 6 million Jews and the communists conduct genocide against millions of Russians.

Euthanasia made logical sense to the highly educated Germans raised on Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. That is not to say logic is not twisted today to justify atrocities because similar arguments are still being used. Nor does mere feeling create wisdom or compassion.

Today we live in world where we have dual roles of being rational in our work and external lives while maintaining deep connections to our feelings and rock and roll is a conduit to those feelings. Keeping those two opposing forces balanced is the trick of a healthy mind.

Maxwell discusses religion and rock and roll. John Lennon said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus which was blasphemy for many but true. Most people are more motivated by what music they are listening to than to what is being said from pulpits, despite attending a church of one kind or another.

When I was 14, I found a new religion in music - rock and roll and folk music, to my mother’s life-long consternation. Brought up right-wing protestant, I dropped all interest in religion, which is not uncommon for teenagers. Despite a few forays back into other religions, music was and is the prime mover in my life and I think that reflects most people today, except people who seek solace in going back to the Bible or Koran.

Maxwell discusses novelty as a driver in the development of culture and rock and roll. Artists must re-invent themselves to maintain audience interest, which Dylan has tested over and over even to point of massive booing and condemnation from his old fans when he converted to electric.

The music that moves baby boomers is not the same as the music of Millennials. My youngest hate that I might like their music, which doesn’t happen often. We’re all stuck in learned modes.

How Does It Feel? rewards you if you put the time in but it’s not a light read like most books. It does not veer into the author’s interpretation on criticism of the artists lives or work, as Dylan wrote in Gates of Eden,

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means…

How Does It Feel? is obtuse, difficult and laced with too many references for easy reading. By the time I had struggled to the end in a somewhat enlightened mental state, I knew I had to read it again.

For Pete’s sake the book has a Flesch- Kincaid Grade Level of 17. We’re always told to write at a Grade 8 level so your readers can easily get the point. How Does It Feel? the Philosophy of Rock and Roll eschews readability for erudition.

After reading the book once, I tweeted the author Grant Maxwell @ “Since you’re the author you can say what you like, I still think its over done. There are simpler words to say the same thing.”

Grant Maxwell rejects that. “If that’s true, then the whole discipline of philosophy is redundant and pointless, a supposition with which I vigorously disagree.” @grantmaxwell

After decades of slumming with the English language, I put Kindle to the rescue and re-read How Does It Feel? the Philosophy of Rock and Roll on my Kindle.

Kindle was made for this book and regressive readers. By touching the word on the screen, I was immediately provided a dictionary and Wikipedia entry for words like “concomitant”.

However, what Kindle can’t make easy is the long sentences and complex thoughts in this book. If you’re willing to read for enlightenment then the book rewards beyond most of the books on rock and roll.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Big Bang 20. März 2014
Von Don Edwards - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a great book! Grant Maxwell obviously loves and respects Rock and Roll and has crafted a thoughtful, caring and sophisticated study of the the big bang that was the start of Rock and Roll. He brings us along, not only telling the story, but also the integration of Elvis, the Beatles and Dylan's personalities. This book will be relevant for a long time. Dylan said it better than I can:
And every one of them words rang true.
And glowed like burnin' coal.
Pourin' off of every page.
Like it was written in my soul from me to you.
Tangled up in blue.
Don Edwards
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Something New Under the Sun 16. Mai 2014
Von Robert L. Weber - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
This book takes us through the deepest strata of rock and roll into the realms of philosophy, mysticism, and ecstatic shamanism. Rock and roll brought together blues, jazz, country, and gospel in the same way this book brings together intuitive art and intellectual analysis, and they both create novelty out of preexisting elements. Maxwell makes a convincing case that these rock and roll stars were actually participating in a transition between eras and that was the “something new under the sun.”
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Unusual and fresh view 6. September 2014
Von Marina - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Unusual and very interesting analysis of Elvis, Dylan and their influence on developmemt of music. Recommend to read to those, who are interested in music history.
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