What do you believe?
Richard Melville Hall, a.k.a. Moby, is one of the most important dance music figures of the early '90s, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in England and in America.
Born in Harlem, New York in 1965, and raised in Darien, CT, he played in a hardcore punk band called the Vatican Commandos as a teenager before moving to New York City, where he began DJing in dance clubs. During the late '80s, he released a number of singles and EPs before, in 1991, he set the theme from David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks to an insistent, house-derived rhythm and titled the result "Go." The single became a surprise British hit single, climbing into the Top Ten, and was named one of Rolling Stone's top 200 records of all time. Moby, his first full-length album, appeared in 1992. Since then, Moby has recorded eleven studio albums, including his multi-platinum breakthrough Play (1999), 18 (2002), Hotel (2005), Go: The Very Best of Moby (2006) and Last Night (2008).
In addition to his musical endeavors, Moby is the proprietor of teany cafe and teas. He is also a well-known advocate for a variety of progressive causes, working with MoveOn.org and PETA, among others. He actively engages in nonpartisan activism.
Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?
Moby: It’s hard . . . It’s hard for me to voice the personal philosophy without sounding like an overly earnest grad student. But essentially . . . I mean, what we’ve learned . . . the way . . . whether it’s through quantum physics or eastern philosophy, is that the world as we perceive it is not the world that it really is. You know, the material world couldn’t be further from how we perceive it. And once you know that, it has to affect the way that you view yourself and the world around you. And nothing is permanent, you know. All matter . . . You know, the current manifestation of matter is just an infinitesimal blip in time. And so we shouldn’t get too attached to it. You know? If you know that everything, including yourself, is gonna go away, enjoy it while it’s here, but certainly don’t be too surprised when it goes away, you know? I mean I think that as humans, we’re always so surprised when buildings crumble or when people die. And like really, these are the only guarantees that we have.
Question: Why is tolerance important to you?
Moby: I don’t have this sort of like soft, new age . . . I don’t think that . . . I mean tolerance is a nice thing; but I think the underpinnings of tolerance have to be, that given who we are as humans, there’s no way any one person can be right. And if we all approach . . . you know . . . . if we approach our belief systems in that way, that like, our belief systems are subjective and there’s no way we can be right, it naturally makes us fairly tolerant. Because if I’m not right, and you’re not right, therefore we have to kind of respect and tolerate each other’s beliefs. The only way that intolerance creeps into the picture is when one person is convinced that they’re right. But given our limited capacity to understand the world or the universe in which we live, there’s no way one person can be right.
Question: Is there one philosopher that you think really “gets it”?
Moby: Mmm . . . If I . . . I mean, if I had to pick people, they’d all be pretty obvious. You know, I’d have to pick Buddha and Jesus and . . . I mean I’m almost hesitant to say any names, because they’re the exact sort of names you would think I would pick. So I mean, a part of me wants to be, you know . . . I don’t know . . . a little bit counterintuitive and say someone like Homer Simpson; but at the same time I don’t really live according to Homer Simpson’s values as well. So I can’t think of anybody.
Question: Where is Christianity today?
Moby: When I was in college, I studied linguistic philosophy. And in talk . . . You know, and it was basically a waste of time . . . a really fun waste of time. But the one thing that you learned early on is that in order to use language, language had to be . . . you know . . . terms had to be clearly, objectively understood. And a term like “Christianity”, it means so many different things to so many different people that – and I don’t mean this in a value judgment way – but it’s sort of a meaningless term. You know, because if you say “Christianity” to a Russian Orthodox, it means something very different to them than it would mean to a Southern Baptist or a snake handler. You know, Christianity to a voodoo priest or to a Roman Catholic mean very different things. So I . . . I almost don’t know how to talk about Christianity. I mean unless you wanna talk about, you know, contemporary, North American Christianity – specifically like the Evangelical Movement – which boggles my mind ‘cause it has absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. Well the agenda of the evangelicals, there’s no biblical foundation for it, you know? They’re pro family, pro . . . You know, they’re patriotic, and they’re pro war, and they’re pro death penalty, and they’re anti-homosexuality. And none of . . . You know, if you look through the teachings of Christ, there’s no foundation for the evangelical agenda in the teachings of Christ. And I just . . . that boggles my mind. I mean, evangelical Christians are kind of like vegans who eat hamburgers.
There is no way one person can be right.
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