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Who We Are, Why We're Here

Posted: November 3, 2001

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Editor in Chief

So what exactly is Shaking Through anyway, and why should I care?

Good question.

If we start from the basic premise that the Arts -- the noble creative instinct, the whole of what is often referred to as "pop culture" -- is the lens through which we view the world, some larger questions emerge. What are we doing with the information we receive from that lens? How do we process it? How do our reactions to these other peoples' views of the world -- and thus, in a filtered way, the world itself-tell us about ourselves?

The answer is this: Usually, very little. Few people take home any lasting impressions about themselves, any universal truths, from most films, books, recordings, television shows, plays, what have you. And most of the time, that's as it should be.

But there are times when a certain work of art-say, the latest book from Don DeLillo, a shattering disc from an obscure, introspective singer-songwriter, some art-house flick or perhaps even an unlikely Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle-will unexpectedly hold up a brutal mirror, forcing us to confront truths about ourselves, our place in the world, that we'd heretofore missed (or avoided).

Granted, that won't happen too often, but when it does, we here at Shaking Through World Headquarters think it's worth noting. And sharing.

Let me be clear: Shaking Through does not have the answers, does not have the secrets of the universe written down on a series of index cards. We have no amazing powers of insight that will allow us to glean the Meaning of Life from the entertainment industry's clumsy attempts to tell us what we like, what we think, who we are. Not at all. That'd be like trying to divine the existence of a higher power in chicken entrails...only with less chance of success.

But at least we know this about ourselves.

Like the best thinkers, we hold two separate ideas in our brains, two seemingly contradictory and incompatible ideas sharing the same space at the same time.

The first is that the impulse to create is one of mankind's noblest traits, and we can all be enriched just by sitting down and taking in in the endeavors our fellow human beings have striven to create.

The second is that in the end, very little of it is going to make any real difference in our lives. Most artistic impulses are subsumed, if not hopelessly compromised, by the larger corporate entities that fund, package and distribute the artist's end result.

So why go to the trouble?

Because something meaningful can arise out of something mechanical and lifeless. Like that proverbial roomful of monkeys pounding at typewriters and accidentally producing the complete works of Shakespeare; like an album of grace and insight packaged by a cynical conglomerate.

After all, it's hard not to find something worthwhile in the works of recognized craftsmen like DeLillo. But it's also hard to find the DeLillos of this world among the staggering piles of inconsequential trivium that passes for the entertainment landscape. And if we can help someone find a William T. Vollmann or E. Annie Proulx, a Lucinda Williams or Matthew Ryan, a Warren Ellis or Alan Moore or Ed McBain or Jim Jarmusch, well, then, we'll have done our job.

So that's what we're doing: Sifting -- shaking through, if you will -- the music, films, books and even comics that strike us, panning for gold, for some small kernel of truth that will point the way to a clearer way of thinking, a more enlightened path through the dark and scary woods. But more often than not, settling for humorous, insightful and occasionally just-plain misguided writing that brings us somehow closer to these works of creation, to the noble spark of inspiration from which they sprang, and thus to ourselves.

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Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
Apr. 18, 2002: Celebrity Skim
Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are