Pop Culture Junkette

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Beatles v. The Stones

I ran across this old Slate article the other day, which reminds me that I have long had the theory that all art can be divided into two categories: Apollonian, which is characterized by reason, harmony, and rules and Dionysian, which is characterized by chaos, earthiness, and sex. I was positive that I had come up with this theory on my own, but Slate claims that Nietzsche thought it up first. Whatever.

The clearest example is the Beatles (Apollonian) v. the Stones (Dionysian). But Slate gives other examples, like Matisse v. Picasso and Emily Dickinson v. Walt Whitman.

So, the question is: can you come up with other examples? I would add Michael Jackson v. Prince (of course, Apollonia might disagree), and Fred Astaire v. Gene Kelly.

And which camp are you in? I hate to side against my girl Emily Dickinson, but I have to go with Dionysus.

8 Comments:

Blogger Red Fraggle said...

I would love to think that I am an Dionysian--who wouldn't rather be ruled by passion?--but I just don't think I am. If Beatles/Stones is the ultimate Apollonian/Dionysian question, I'm an Apollonian through and through.

The one that makes me think of music in my youth is Nirvana/Pearl Jam. Nirvana would definitely be Dionysian in that comparison. And of course, I would pick Nirvana every time.

5/31/2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger Laura Holt said...

Hmmm. This is interesting, b/c I actually think of both Nirvana and Pearl Jam as Apollonian. (I am with Red in picking Nirvana every time, although I did really love "Alive" in high school.)

Given the examples Bailey gives, I'm more in the Apollonian camp (Matisse, Dickinson, Astaire), though I do have my Dyonisian side (Stones, Prince). Maybe I'm an Apollonian in all things but music?

6/01/2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

See, I think Nirvana v. Pearl Jam is the natural dichotomy there--they both rose to fame at about the same time, and while Kurt Cobain was still alive I remember quite a few music magazines (Rolling Stone, Spin) debating which band was better. So if every pair comes down to Apollo v. Dionysus, which is which? I say Nirvana has to be the Dionysus of that pairing--they were far more raw.

6/01/2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

How about N*Sync v. Backstreet Boys? No, just kidding.

Is it possible that Pearl Jam and Nirvana should be compared not with each other, but with the muscial regime they replaced -- hair bands?

6/01/2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

I don't think so--because isn't the whole point of the exercise to find things that are similar and then determine which is more Apollonian and which is more Dionysian? The Beatles and the Stones, after all, were contemporaries.

6/01/2006 3:08 PM  
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