Thom Yorke, answering readers’ questions:
You said in an interview once that you don’t like the idea that a banker could be listening to your music. Have you lost hope in people in the banking system? Or do you think artists can influence bankers? Katarzyna Slopien
I think artists can influence only through making music that challenges people, excites them and flips them out. Music that repeats what you know in ever-decreasing derivation, that’s unchallenging and unstimulating, deadens our minds, our imagination and our ability to see beyond the hell we find ourselves in. My problem with bankers or, rather, the banking system is, that it’s the ultimate expression of “Fuck you, buddy”. There is no communal human consciousness, no will to co-operation, we are all slaves to the market. It’s as if it has always been thus. It hasn’t.
These bankers have made personal fortunes by stealing, exploiting and destroying our assets, our workforce, our resources and our planet. All protected, assisted and now bailed out by our governments using our money. High priests to a false god that they’ve done very nicely out of, thank you very much.
That’s the rant over. In answer to your question, I guess lots of them are around my age and I know a few, and I am very aware of having led a very different life to most people my age. I hate to judge on an individual basis but I think whatever wealth has been accumulated in this sphere has not made those who have done it necessarily happy.
I hope, like I said, that sometimes music, maybe even my music, would help unravel the fear, cynicism and greed that stands between us and changing this shit for good. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll wake up tomorrow and say: “You know what? Fuck this. I’ve found my conscience, it was in the suit that’s just come back from the dry cleaner’s and I’m going to jolly well use it.”
Oh, Thom. Are you still on this silly romantic kick? There is no salvation for abstractions like “humanity” through some sort of objectively inspiring “art”; there are only individuals finding contingent meaning and inspiration where they can. What I mean to say is, fuck your derivative, unchallenging, snobbish clichés about how we will finally be free when the last bankster has been strangled with the guitar strings of the last Nickelback. Fear, cynicism and greed are equally integral parts of what it means to exist as a human, both collectively and individually; the progressivist notion that they can be neatly delineated and surgically excised, leaving only the “good” bits behind, is one of the oldest delusions of humankind, and ironically responsible for no small amount of suffering itself. We’re never going to all be inspired by the same things at the same time or desirous of the same ends by the same means. Let me guess: that thought depresses you? Let me reassure you: it doesn’t necessarily have to.
February 25, 2013 @ 10:02 pm
LOl. This is from the same blogger who used the phrase "Cool Daddy O" a mere one post upstream!
(Just kidding, just kidding.)
The only thing worse than a world run by evil conniving capitalists is one run by oh-so-earnest left wing revolutionaries (who quickly devolve into a priesthood). Maybe a world run by self important "artists" would be equally bad? I mean, I like small doses of Radiohead, but the music is not the Ultimate Transcendent Reality he seems to think it is.
February 25, 2013 @ 11:53 pm
None of us are worthy of Mr. Yorke. He transcends us all!
February 25, 2013 @ 11:30 pm
If you wanted to change the world through your music, shouldn't bankers and other unsavory types be precisely the people you'd want to listen to it? Otherwise, you end up doing nothing but preaching to the converted like every other posturing pseudo-activist.
February 26, 2013 @ 2:07 am
The thought of a banker appreciating his music scares him because it makes even a banker seem human, which means possibly anyone could be capable of such antisocial destructiveness, even enlightened artists who pride themselves on being morally and spiritually superior to such people. If you can't dismiss your enemies as complete subhumans, you have more trouble defining your own worth in contrast.
February 28, 2013 @ 9:03 pm
I agree that humanity = greediness…most of the time, that's why we need to be controlled and traditionally that control was given to someone who knows how to lead…who sees outside the box, who has a drive for a change, and can find the ways out…we're all guilty of the same mistakes, we all behave like animals, if a pack of a carnivore specie was left on an island it would most probably eat it up in order to survive, and most people would to..I do believe however human with it's forward thinking and conciousness is capable of much more… there ARE who can lead common groups, people who have a significant contribution in the course of history which made most of us live in peace nowadays..and I think Thom is making an appeal to them..it's good to have hope things will get better, cynicism and bitterness is a product of weakness and doesn't lead to a change..we live in renaissance times where everything seems..meaningless and I share your feeling but I also believe that as long as love exist (romanticism isn't that bad)we're not doomed..and I guess he's corrected himself- banking "system" and not bankers..he's addressing what humanity has created and not individuals…
March 1, 2013 @ 2:44 am
I don't think life seems meaningless, nor do I think humanity is necessarily doomed. But ultimately, his vision is based in a belief that underneath it all, people are all the same and all want the same things out of life, and it's only errors or misunderstandings or a small group of evil people controlling things that keep them from realizing it. I think that's absurdly mistaken.
March 7, 2013 @ 9:16 pm
"But ultimately, his vision is based in a belief that underneath it all, people are all the same and all want the same things out of life, and it's only errors or misunderstandings or a small group of evil people controlling things that keep them from realizing it. I think that's absurdly mistaken."
I don't think Thom said it, I did and I did so following your thought pattern..
"because it makes even a banker seem human, which means possibly anyone could be capable of such antisocial destructiveness" and
"Fear, cynicism and greed are equally integral parts of what it means to exist as a human, both collectively and individually; the progressivist notion that they can be neatly delineated and surgically excised, leaving only the "good" bits behind, is one of the oldest delusions of humankind, and ironically responsible for no small amount of suffering itself. "
also I said life may seem meaningless since if you despise of "silly romantic kicks", which are associated with purpose and activism, even scientists get romantic kicks..then what's left?
you're also saying thom's music/views are unchallenging, un-inspirational – perhaps to you but you forget that there are other people, who feel and think differently..you seem to know all those things "We're never going to all be inspired by the same things at the same time or desirous of the same ends by the same means. " but somehow you don't realise it yourself?
Thom said he hopes his music may influence the right people..surely you don;t expect him to sing to the robbers saying you've lied to me but I forgive youm, this would be unchallenging, when your child is behaving badly first thing you do is you tell it off, prove that what it's done was wrong, perhaps penalise it to prevent things from happening again, yes or no? what's your point? everyone voices their opinions differently and not everyone is brave enough to do so, since people in power will try to shut your mouth by all means
since you've contradicted yourself I don't know whether you're saying anything at all, apart from scrutinising a public figure..perhaps I am missing something?
March 8, 2013 @ 11:35 pm
To clarify, I mean "romantic" in the sense of romanticism, the artistic/cultural movement. I'm saying he's being overly idealistic.
He seems to conflate morality with art; he equates being a selfish, greedy banker with being spiritually and creatively dead, as if bankers are deficient people who never got enough love and affection, or never listened to challenging, creative music, and thus are incapable of knowing true happiness. How does he know they're not really happy? And how many creative, avant-garde artists have been miserable in their personal lives? There's no clear relationship between being morally righteous by his standards and being content or fulfilled.
As a widely-respected musician with a reputation for being cutting-edge, it's an obviously self-serving notion for him to claim that his standard of being "challenging" and "exciting" is equivalent to being more intelligent, more sensitive, or more moral.
As for contradicting myself, I don't see it — I'm not claiming my opinion is the only true one.