Archive for September 8th, 2010


According to Webster’s dictionary, “cathect” means to invest something with emotional energy. Contrariwise, “decathect” means to take away your emotional attachment to something, perhaps anticipating that you’ll lose it. You can decathect from anything. Countries. The linguistic theories of Noam Chomsky. Your dinner. Your friends. Your president.

Why do you care? You’re probably busy at work, after all and don’t have time. Well, I mention it for two reasons. One is that you probably decathect from things all the time. Remember your friend who didn’t invite you to her wedding? I bet you decathected from her and decided not to invite her to yours. To use a much more pressing global political example, many groups, for example, the Serbians in the 1990s, have found they must decathect from the idea of a greater nationalism when they cannot realistically unite with their fellow ethnic groups in other countries. Decathecting is a silent friend and a silent killer. We do it every day, almost as much as we rationalize. A lot of us Democrats are going to be decathecting from Congress if we lose it in November. Also, if I go downstairs for a bagel later and find out that they ran out hours ago, I’m going to have to decathect from that wonderful butter-, rosemary-, poppy seed-, onion- and garlic-encrusted bread right then and there.

The other reason I’m talking about it is that I wrote a song called “Decathect.” Why? Because it’s kind of different. There’s no singing in this song. And I’m not playing the guitar so much as attacking it, not playing in chords so much as playing around them. I’d call it an atonal song, but I’m sure Arnold Schoenberg, the atonal master, would berate me for playing a few chords here and there. But the idea was to “decathect” from the chords, from the guitar and from song structure.

So if you don’t like it, now you know why. Click here to play: Decathect

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