While there have been a great many hit songs in music history that have highly questionable origins, there are perhaps few subjects of songs as unappealing as that of Bobby Darin’s hit “Mack The Knife,” a murderous psychopath whose history draws on German opera and philosophy and the joy of stabbing people to death. As much as we might want to pretend that the music of the past was somehow less troublesome and problematic than it is nowadays, this song is a reminder of the sad truth that many people simply do not pay attention to the lyrical content of a song and are more interested in its vibe or style or production.
There is scarcely a limit in what people will find joy doing. That is not to say, of course, that everyone enjoys everything. But rather just about any human activity can itself be the source of joy for someone. This is not an unmixed blessing. We can enjoy some very bad things and be led to keep doing them because of our enjoyment. Our enjoyment of that which is evil and our lack of enjoyment in that which is right to do are two large categories of ways that we can be led astray, in avoiding the cultivation of virtue and in the assiduous cultivation of vice because it is pleasurable or enjoyable. If it is perhaps the pleasure of some vices that is more noticeable and recognizable, the lack of pleasure that is found in cultivating the right habits of thinking and behavior certainly hinders the progress of righteousness in a great many lives as well.
It might be said that every writer experiences some sort of joy in communication. Yet as might be imagined, this joy is also not unmixed. The joy of the pen can be expressed in a variety of different fashions. That which we enjoy communicating is not always true, it is not always kind, it is not always beautiful, it is not always good. We can enjoy writing because it allows us to communicate at greater leisure and greater remove from personal interaction with others. We can enjoy writing because we can say things by pen or keyboard that we cannot communicate through the spoken word. We can prefer the freedom to write under an assumed name and avoid responsibility for identifying ourselves. Our joy, in short, can spring from a variety of motives and not all of those are praiseworthy. Such it is with all things that human beings are involved in. As creatures who are a mixture of good and evil, that which we enjoy, like everything else, partakes of the same mixed nature that we ourselves do in our nature and character.