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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Might as well mention the Sanneh piece, about the Believer's music issue, which relates in some ways to the Eggers-bitching I did below. It's good, if maybe a bit too easy--that Rick Moody is a jackass isn't exactly front-page news at this point, although given that his stuff generally seems self-deprecating and sarcastic, it's easy to assume this was taken out of context, though then again that contemporary country quote is odious. It's also a bit no doy that overeducated middle-aged liberals (OMELs) like overeducated middle-aged liberal music; sure, it wasn't necessarily predetermined that OMELs would latch onto Canadian guitar bands, but c'mon, Iron and Wine! It's a chubby dude with a beard and an acoustic guitar singing about the woods. If OMELs don't listen to this, no one's going to. Most people get most excited about music they can relate to, and we relate most easily to what's most like us. Sure, it might suck, but it's neither unusual nor necessarily bad that people listen to what you'd expect them to listen to. It makes me nervous to talk about changing their taste in music--maybe it just needs to be expanded a bit.

At the same time, and aside from a lot of objective evidence that certain music editors of certain OMEL-centric publications don't think their readers will read about anything that's not indie-ish (the New Yorker being apparently some sort of fluke), where my post compacted things--sort of "well, you know, they can't have too many friends, and they like to publish from their friends, and that's cool, and besides, it's only a correction, it's not canonical Eggers"--the quote at the end goes a long way towards expanding the inquiry, and it comes from, of all people, a dude from The Long Winters. He says, "indie-rock culture is the real ghetto of people who have convinced themselves that they're too sensitive to be yelled at or to yell."

This is a perspective I hadn't even considered. The standards Eggers (and, let's be honest, most OMELs) has for himself also extend to other people, so he's not just controlling his own behavior, he's actually limiting the kind of art he's willing to come in contact with. In a quest for expanded respect, it's easy to end up not respecting much at all, simply because the artists involved don't fall into your standards of decorum.

I've always hated this, as you perhaps know--it's porting morality onto art, and the results are never pretty. The two are not in any way, shape, or form compatible, because art is explicitly not life, in its essence unreal and therefore more free, in many ways. To take away this freedom is to take away a big part of why we have art itself.

Any reason you have to not experience art is simply a rationalization and must be recognized as such. Some folks like to talk about the need for filters as if it's something we all agree on, but no, fuck that. If someone gives me music, I'll listen to it, and if I don't like it, I won't listen to again. Any justification I come up with for not listening to something--it's corporate, it's anti-feminist, it's hippie music, it's just a bunch of monkeys with bowling balls rolling them off planks and shreiking--is just a shield for my laziness. The worst thing that can happen is that you get exposed to a perspective you disagree with, and what's so damn bad about that?

This is something that annoys me about all genre partisans, not just indie kids, although they are the closest at hand. Why would you want things to be so narrow? When you have the opportunity to go anywhere, why stay at home? Why not be expansive? This is why, by the way, it especially annoys me when indie-rockers talk about politics; you're not just preaching to a political choir, you're preaching to a, choir. You know what I mean. Politics is by its nature concerned with the world, all-encompassing, omnivorous, devouring. When you seem to be closing your eyes to 99% of the world, why should we listen to have to say about politics? It never ceases to amaze me that people whose minds have ostensibly been broadened, who are apparently liberals, can choose to listen to such a narrow swath of artistic production, especially one that's so eager to confirm their prejudices.

And then, of course, there is the Believer's reply to the above quote: "When it's genuine, though, it's different." We don't really need to address that anymore, do we?