Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Slate writer pitches in on the Merritt controversy, further tweaked here and here

Slate's Jody Rosen also has piece on popism/rockism, a hint perhaps of a drift towards sanity on this vexed subject (see also Frank Kogan's murmurmings about trying to understand what was valuable about rockism before it gets chucked out, anti-rockists as teacher's pets, etc). I did wonder though about this bit in Jody's piece:

The question, for those of us who make our living at this, is how to talk about the music we love, and hate, intelligently and non-ideologically.”

What does " non-ideologically" mean? Is it possible, or desirable? I'm not sure you can even experience something (a cultural artifact, that is) without ideology coming into play. But I've riffed on this before. All I would add is that anti-rockism is exactly like deconstruction (or maybe simply is deconstruction?), useful in its historical moment, or as a stage in an individual's personal history, as an anti-schlerotic of thought... but very much about the elimination of reasons to value, care, feel passionate, get worked up, etc. Its logic is one of discrediting ie. eroding the basis of beliefs, and indeed of belief itself, in favour of a pleasure-principled agnosticism. The net effect tends to be a kind of negative egalitarianism: not that all things become equally valued/valid, but that all things become equally trivial. (And that logic dovetails with aspects of late capitalism, digital culture, mp3/ipod/etc etc).

I also had to wonder again about where all these reactionaries actually are. Maybe I live in a rarified world, but I don't know anyone who thinks albums are intrinsically superior to singles. I'm not sure I've ever met a person who espouses that much-pilloried view about singers not having written the songs they sing being inauthentic and thereby lesser. (Surely anybody who ever loved "Reach Out I'll Be There" or "You Keep Me Hanging On" or "I Feel Love" or "Are You That Somebody" or ___ ... which I assume is everybody in earshot, is in the camp of the righteous already by definition....).
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