And All of Us Who Knew Our Place and Prayers
20 hours ago
Haven't you heard? Music is dead, a cadaver quivering coldly on the edge of the rave. Music writers, the poor dears, say nothing of note. In the hot, sweaty summer of 2009, this has been the concern of many heavyweight thinkers. Take Mark Fisher's requiem for dance music in the New Statesman, John Harris's elegy for music journalism in the Saturday Guardian, the Drowned in Sound series Music Journalism: RIP? or Simon Reynolds's criticisms of club culture in the Wire and on his own blog. Enough is enough. It is time to tackle these quibbles, look up, and take action.Jude Rogers writing here. It’s possible that the entire thing is a prank: note the close proximity of the words ‘heavyweight thinker’ to the name John Harris.
music is our tool to work with, and we can do with it what we wish, if we engage with it. Critics often forget this. They ignore the glimpses of light that the modern world offers, and prefer to bask in the nostalgia of their formative experiences.There are all kinds of slippages going on here. Who is the ‘we‘? Critics? Listeners? Everyone? (A royal plural?) It seems to be in flux. This working and engaging, is it making one‘s own music or a different kind of criticism? . . . So far as it applies to the errant writers previously named and shamed, Rogers’ argument must be that if they just worked harder at liking things, they would find that they could like absolutely anything. Music being a simple ’tool’, you can make of it what you will (‘You only get out what you put in!’). And that would be better because it wouldn’t get Jude Rogers down so much.
Just because they, like me, are no longer fearlessly young, and not experiencing movements and the draw of musicians for the first time, they shouldn't forget that other people are. What's more, they do little to get up and change things, and instead prefer to get themselves, and us, down.What these writers actually ‘did’ was to word their critiques and publish them, unlike Rogers who has . . . written a critique and published it. Why the assumption that the aim of those pieces was not to inspire any action or change any minds but just to, you know, ruin people’s day?
Later, Jobs dropped out of college. Again, this seems to have been crucial. Alan Deutschman, author of The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, says his lack of a proper education in a world of highly educated people left him permanently insecure, especially in matters of taste. “I think his choice of a minimalist aesthetic comes from his fear of making the wrong aesthetic choice. He was someone who had great wealth from his early twenties. He was worried about not being seen as a brilliant sophisticate, so he had gurus to help him. There was this anxiety about being judged, combined with a natural instinct about the tremendous importance of design.”It echoes, precisely, the connection made by Mark McGurl between Raymond Carver's reductionist aesthetic and his insecurities about his education and class. As discussed here in connection to minimal techno.