Thursday, January 7, 2010

Behold! A Plucked Chicken

According to legend, at the point when Aristotle and his students had refined their definition of “man” to a creature having the qualities of “featherless biped,” the cynic Diogenes burst in holding aloft a plucked chicken, and announced, “Behold, your man!” Legend also has it that Diogenes lived in a large tub (or barrel, as depicted in many paintings), and purportedly walked through the streets of Athens in the daytime carrying a lamp, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Immodestly, he performed all bodily functions in public, and when criticized for publicly masturbating, replied he wished he could satisfy hunger merely by rubbing his stomach. Greatly admired by Alexander the Great for the freedom exemplified by his way of life, the great conqueror approached the cynical sage on a day when he, Diogenes, was sunning himself. Alexander the Great asked him if there were anything he could do for him. “Yes,” said Diogenes, “Get out of my light.” It is also reported that he asked to be buried standing on his head, because, so he thought, one day down would be up, and up would be down.

We find Diogenes to be quite modern, for he was the anti-Socrates. We can hear Diogenes in Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” when Dylan sings, “You don’t need a weather man/To know which way the wind blows.” We can hear him in the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off Of My Cloud.” We can also hear him in Muddy Waters’ brutal honesty:

I don’t want you to wash my clothes
I don’t want you to keep my home
I don’t want your money too
I just want to make love to you

A Few Diogenesian Performances:
The Cardigans – Hey! Get Out of My Way
Dramatics – Hey You! Get Off My Mountain
Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
Ian Hunter – Standin’ In My Light
Dave Mason – You’re Standing In My Light
? and the Mysterians – 96 Tears
Stan Ridgway – The Last Honest Man
The Rolling Stones – Get Off Of My Cloud
The Rolling Stones – I’m Free
Roy Rogers – Don’t Fence Me In
Steppenwolf – Move Over
Muddy Waters – I Just Want To Make Love To You
Hank Williams – Move It On Over

No comments: