This is just one of many variations on a common argument these days about artistic oversupply, inter(hyper)connectivity and the general ennui that many of the more vocal type of music fan seems to find themselves in these days. It’s too easy; it’s undervalued; a whole generation does not value what we used to value; the embarrassment of riches.
I don’t understand these arguments. I do not “get it”. I keep trying and failing.
(Somewhere, someone with a degree in missing the point sums up all of these things as “first-world problems” or, more commonly, “white people problems”.)
I understand most of the terms used; the omnipresent undercurrent of “anti-capital” stylings; the confusion of the concrete realities of technology with metaphors about techology – or even just-so stories about how technology makes the author feel; and even the need to write silly shorthand shit like “inter(hyper)connectivity”.
But it’s just completely foreign to my experiences, to the point where I’ve stopped seeing this genre of essay as a case of mistaken identification (the cruel whip of nostalgia punishing them for cheating death) and now see it as something more tragic.
Which is perhaps arrogant, but I cannot help but feel the answer is ultimately “Motherfucker, heal thyself.”
Blaming laptops and file formats is missing the point. The point is you need some discipline, sad-sack would-be gatekeepers of the digital age. You need to exercise deep listening. You need to learn to resist novelty if novelty is what cheeses you off. The problem isn’t the world. The problem is you. You fucked up. You got old.
Did they spend their youths walking into record stores as I did, excited at the chance to find something new? Or were they mad that they couldn’t possibly listen to every single release in the store, much less afford them?
Let’s try an exercise: spend a week listening to only one album. Cultivate that simple experience (worth doing, but choose wisely) into a corrective to the things you see as damaging your experience of the arts. Practice mindful self-selection and/or isolation. Some of that “resistance” you read about in your post-Marxist texts, writ small and quite personal.
That is the beautifully tragic side to the access explosion you mourn; it comes with an off switch that is too easy to engage.
The person who wrote the above essay is an expert on his particular field of interest i.e. dance music. I cannot critically comment on the quality of most dance music, having no taste for most of it. And they might point to this as an example of just how thick and debased and impossible to navigate things are, but I’d prefer to think of it as having internalized the simple idea that knowing one’s limits is the most important knowledge one can have.
Instead these bizarrely conservative desires are being broadcast by people who, by and large, would react to that word like they’d been punched.
Maybe that’s not tragedy, but comedy.
Junior Buckleys, heal thyselves.