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Living in The Merry GhettoThe Music and Politics of the Czech Underground$
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Trever Hagen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190263850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190263850.001.0001

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Creativity, Establishment, and the Self

Creativity, Establishment, and the Self

(p.79) Chapter 4 Creativity, Establishment, and the Self
Living in The Merry Ghetto

Trever Hagen

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines how acts of state oppression repressed environmental conditions that contradictorily enabled the expressive practice of “truth to self.” This repression heightened forms of collective awareness of an Underground “way of life” and points to how the politics of music-making is an emergent and embodied phenomenon. I trace how musicking came to be crafted within the Merry Ghetto, showing how practices (composing to lyrics, listening to records, playing with spirit, adapting poems as lyrics, writing and thinking about music) were linked to aesthetic phenomena (out-of-tune, rough and ragged sounds, sing-song recitation, heavy bass lines, screamed vocals, raw, unmusical sounds) that provided models, through contrast and comparison structures, for learning dispositions (how to feel and know “establishment,” “truth to self,” historical commitment, rejection) in the Merry Ghetto. This chapter considers some of the core building blocks of cultural ecologies by asking how music mediates knowledge production, commitment-making, and ontological security. I explore the “life sustaining” qualities of a habitat built through music that in fact have more to do with well-being, mental health, and protection than with protest and revolution. In short, it addresses music as a material of “cocooning,” as a form of protection.

Keywords:   playing with spirit, moral achievements, primitive, destroyed, furnishing practices

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