Sunday, April 02, 2006

Getting no (musical) satisfaction

Reading a puff-piece the other day about the Rolling Stones' impending tour to these islands, a piece of research was quoted that suggested our 'cultural choices' (or some such phrase) are all made between the ages of fifteen to thirty, following which we all apparently seek to recapture and reprise the thrill first felt in the first flush of adulthood.

This, said the journalist about the research, explains such phenomena as the constant repackaging and re-selling of CDs and albums of arthritic rockers, the $umpteen squillion Jimi Hendrix Rock'n'Roll Museum in Seattle (paid for with Paul Allen's Microsoft winnings), and the bland dreck played on expensive sound equipment emanating from the car windows of too many highly-paid middle-aged middle executives - 'life in the fast lane' - 'I can't get no satisfaction' - 'let's all do the crocodile rock' - bleecch.

This, however and quite frankly, is the sort of 'research' that confuses statistics for explanation. As Ludwig von Mises used to say, "mathematics is silent on causality" -- and without causality you don't have meaningful 'research,' you just have description, just the very beginnings of research.

It's true that many people do seem to make their choices-for-life about things artistic in those early years of adulthood when they are seeking to find their place in the world, and to find art and music that seems to describe the way they themselves see the world. Art and music offer both the mature and the immature brain a necessary 'shortcut to philosophy' that is particularly evident and absolutely necessary in those teenage and post-teenage years when the 'searching ' for that shortcut begins; the offerings of popular culture however are peculiarly ill-suited to offer the significant art and music that really would offer the mature, thinking, brain a lifetime of interest.

The sad thing is that too many are unable to keep their taste maturing and their brains alive as they mature, even as their taste refuses to; rather than seeking out the great artistic heights that could truly touch their mature souls they choose to settle instead for the immature art and music they experience in their early years - the 'shake rattle and roll,' the 'raw power' of their youth -- and sadly, they miss out on art and music that could truly touch those places that 'raw power' alone can never reach. And then they end up listening to the bland nothings of Goldenhorse at dinner parties and find themselves huddled in corporate boxes at Rolling Stones' concerts -- and they find they have souls to match.

Its likely the 'research' thrown up by statistics about people's artistic and musical tastes is correct, but only because too many people chose not to explore any further than those early artistic and musical gropings, when their first questions about the world and their place in it are answered for them by the facile voices they first hear. The loss in their lack of further exploration is all theirs.

[Want more? If you haven't already, try one of my earlier articles on the same subject, but in greater depth: Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger and Hurt.]

LINKS: Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger and Hurt - Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Music, Philosophy, Ethics

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Ruth said...

Damn I can't copy here - but you are quite right and don't see the hypocrisy.

If one loves music one's taste is always maturing. That is why I simply cannot understand why you cannot see the artistic syncopation and rubato in Eminem. Ok - so not so much in the Marshall Mathers LP. Much more in his later work.

You tell me Sing for the Moment and Lose Yourself is not great music. Even my 70 year old mother, as a classical music teacher, can see the talent and unique style.That's not to say she likes it though.

You are posturing.

4/02/2006 06:44:00 pm  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Why do you want to tear down other people's pleasure? Hell, it's hardly libertarian. Music meets different needs in different people. We each respond differently to different sounds. Can't we have individual tastes without you telling us we are immature? What sends me off is unknowable to you. Let it alone.

Ruth, fascinating you like Eminem.

4/02/2006 09:58:00 pm  
Blogger Blair said...

I don't think taste in music has anythign to do with politics - unless the government subsidises music, forces you to listen to it, or bans it.

Music is like any great art - it can be critiqued, criticised, and mocked. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it ain't a piece of shit. The Monkees outsold the Beatles in America in the late '60s, but would you argue their music was of a higher quality?

Goldenhorse is subsidised blandness personified, and the fact they used to be a great band called Bressa Creeting Cake makes it all the more horrifying. Kirsten Morelle's unbelievable hotness is little compensation to my repulsed eardrums.

4/02/2006 11:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Amidst the "stop abusing my music - sob sob" Lindsay has accidently grazed the foundations of PC's argument: "What sends me off is unknowable to you"

So the question Lindsay et al is this: Is what sends you off knowable to YOU?

Have you every thought about what it is exactly about the music that tingles your neurons? Take Eminem for example. He has a talent - sure. He has a talent for marketing noise aimed at angry, confused white kids who yearn to be cool and unique. But if you sit there and listen to what he is saying about those bitches and hoes and stuffing girlfriends in the back of cars - you need to think to yourself: what ~is~ it about this bollocks that makes me want to seek it out and listen to it in my precious and limited spare time.

And if the answer is that you like treating women like shit, gunning down punk-ass-bitches and such then you will have learned something about yourself that you never realised, something that maybe you should address...

But if you can't find an answer, if you only listened to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin et al. because you didn't know any better - then wouldn't it be a good idea to think harder about the artistic things that do comfort you, soothe you or make your soul soar and seek them out?

In other words, PC is suggesting that you only have a limited time on the planet and that a wise man would spend it enjoying the finest art you can. We are in an age when the finest musicians, composers and performers can be purchased for your listening pleasure for a few coins - take advantage of it!

4/03/2006 06:07:00 am  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Blair, Sure criticising music and art is legitimate. Slagging the listener for their tastes isn't. Robert, I have never listened to Eminem. You've just made all sorts of assumptions about me from a couple of sentences.

4/03/2006 07:49:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Getting no musical satisfaction? I'm going to be getting TONS of it, PC, right up the front of Telstra Stadium tomorrow week unashamedly enjoying legends of 20th century rock!! Ha!

(And just to *really* whet your appetite for the finer things in life .. I might even follow it up with some cerebral NRL!!)

Rock on, baby! :)

4/03/2006 09:31:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Why do you want to tear down other people's pleasure? Hell, it's hardly libertarian."

Being libertarian means wanting politicians to get out of our lives, out of our pockets and off of our backs. Being libertarian however doesn't mean one can't judge people. Or politicians.

Tearing down? I thought I was trying to challenge them, to make them think, to wean them off Eminem. ;^)

"If one loves music one's taste is always maturing. That is why I simply cannot understand why you cannot see the artistic syncopation and rubato in Eminem."

Agree on the first part. But I had to look up 'rubato.' :-) Turns out if I want rubato, syncopation and sophistication I turn to Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong. I much prefer 'Body and Soul,' Sohisticated Lady,' or 'Hotter Than That' to 'Suck My Dick, Bitch' and the like.

"You are posturing."

Little 'ol me? Really. :-)

"Blair, Sure criticising music and art is legitimate. Slagging the listener for their tastes isn't."

Surely slagging listeners for their lack is legitimate? ;^) As Robert says, "you only have a limited time on the planet and that a wise man would spend it enjoying the finest art you can. We are in an age when the finest musicians, composers and performers can be purchased for your listening pleasure for a few coins - take advantage of it!"

Of course, there are always lost causes. Sus for instance. Stones and rugby league. Gawd!

4/03/2006 10:26:00 am  

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