Continuing on a theme…
…The “theme” being the throwing off of old perspectives and patterns of thought…So, this is a fairly cheesy little vignette I conjured a little while ago, when I was thinking a lot about my attitude towards my friends and their tastes in various things ranging from Music to Literature to Film. Music, ironically is the one artistic from that in my youth I was most defensive of, in terms of my own taste and what I thought of as it’s “superiority” – ironic, because it is also the most abstract; it’s form is its content, and its form, in its most basic terms, is characterised by the spaces between notes. How do you go about objectifying something of which the sole faculty is emotional? I used to troll blogs and forums with tomes of text arguing for musical taste having a heirarchy; being a solidified fact. And somehow, now I take the opposite stand. I took a look at my opinions, and this is what I ended up with:
My friend Jim and I were, during a Saturday night gathering, isolated amidst a crowd trying to drown themselves in temporary self-imposed vibes of good will. We were vying for control: The choice of music that was to set the tone, mood and pace to our habitual weekly exploration of how much intoxicant our liver and renal systems could handle, was all important, and we were debating – although haggling is more accurate – with our hands tightening over each other’s throats, regarding whose taste should have precedence. This argument, as with any regarding artistic elitism, was coloured by a fair amount of self-righteousness and the kind of one up man ship that has more to do with speaking volume than with any point of relevance. One thing about Jim is he’s the kind of person with whom to have any kind of conversation, the pretence of mutual respect has to be abandoned. Things began to get abusive and we realised that any attempt to approach the argument in a Socratic way would ultimately fail in our present conditions, and thus we decided to pursue it at a time when our mental faculties were more intact. Some saw us as being curmudgeonly, but this was always a point of pride for us; acceptance was usually a sign that something was awry.
In the meantime, his argument had left such a mark of indignation on me that every musical experience became ammunition, holistically analysed for the sole purpose of facilitating an argument. The following evening I came across Jim, my first point of attack already formulated, and while we sat and made nice, we both knew what the inevitable point of focus would be. So it began with our mutual friend Jane seated nearby, feigning deafness, hoping not to get roped in. Eventually, we both gave up any sense of tact and directly began trying to extort some sort of contribution from her. “You know, your problem is that you try to intellectualise everything,” a fairly tongue-in-cheek response, but one that did not amuse Jim. “The difference between me and you is that I’m not someone who regards music as nothing but a way to fill an idle hour, or an uncomfortable silence.” I tried to hide my smirk. The slight looks of disdain on both faces were enough to tell me that this was precisely the kind of endless squabble that would entertain me. “That’s absurd, how is either of you going to be right in a discussion that concerns personal taste?” A satisfying assertion; one that immediately lead to the idea of subjectivity and objectivity, and as soon as there was a pause, I took the opportunity, “So Jane, you’re going to try and tell me that Coltraine and The Insane Clown Posse are of equal artistic worth? That’s fairly absurd in itself.” I felt a slight victorious twinge. “I guess you could say that you prefer one over the other, but that says more about your own personal neurosis than anything else.” Jim and I caught each other’s satisfied glances and chuckled. And then there was a silence in which I felt an uncomfortable subterranean breath. Something was wrong, something somehow perverse about the way in which we had cornered her. It made me think about my own guilty pleasures. Does preference not sometimes wish to be recognised in a kindred spirit? Was it some sort of defence that made us assert ourselves as the arbiters of taste? My smile waned with my thoughts for a moment. Then I remembered my own terms. I couldn’t allow myself to be carried away. The fiery zephyr died and was forgotten. After all, in a world so thoroughly governed by the tangible, how should one learn to rely on anything but the concrete? My lips curled upwards again. It was a practiced argument after all, I told myself. No need to second guess it. The sense of superiority was only a just reward for the enlightenment.