A very valid question is whether my broad opening line only applies to moderate obsessives. The answer may well be yes, but then one wonders how many such people exist. (A conjecture based on personal experience - we all seem to be moderate obsessives...)
Friday, March 27, 2009
A conjecture based on personal experience - we all seem to consider ourselves some form of critic nowadays. With the rise of mediums where one can express oneself comes the natural urge to do just that, and in a way befitting a professional in the area. I don't think there's anything wrong with aspiring to be a critic, which I see as aspiring to simply possess a more discerning eye/ear than the average man. But I suspect this desire leads us to works that would once have been confined to the most esoteric branches of academia, and yet in today's world become magnets of incessant argument. It is very tempting to dive into these arguments and attempt to come up with a valuation that attempts to pin down a challenging work of art. This is again not necessarily a bad thing, as it can open your mind (maybe). On a personal level, though, I would like to have the critic in me play a slightly smaller role in the future when it comes to choosing what to read/watch/hear. In particular, I would like to pursue things that are likely to give lasting pleasure more than things that are of some less emotional, more academic interest. I'm loath to give an example, because I have to defend what I suspect might be academic about it, but I hope the sentence just completing suffices. I believe it may well be true that one doesn't fully understand the development of modern literature without reading Ulysses. But will it be pleasurable? I suspect not. (Only suspicious, not sure, and my mind might change, etc. etc. Bah, this is why I didn't want an example!) In that sense, I am happy to admit defeat to the book, and accept that it may forever lie beyond my comprehension. I get the feeling that the modern day everyman-critic finds it hard to do so, and instead has the constant drive to conquer everything. It is definitely noble and laudable in one sense, but I wonder if it is to a good end.
Friday, March 13, 2009
An addition to my constant struggle with the internet. As it is something I am quite familiar with, let's take music. I absolutely value the recommendations and articles the internet has afforded. Yet their pervasive nature does have some other implications. There is no longer any innocence with our musical tastes, and it is hard to for us to find out for ourselves who the real deal is. I can imagine that if you start a voyage nowadays, there is no period of discovery that is subsequently looked on awkwardly. You can be 15 and espouse about Trout Mask and Rock Bottom. One consequence is that there's no longer a sense of music that is beyond us, that is too advanced for where we are at currently: "anyone" can (and many do) rattle off opinions on such things even if they require a certain maturity on the listener's part.
Even leaving that aside, it is difficult not to get inundated with information, and we feel the need to keep up constantly. It is a contradiction of sorts, because maybe without it, I would likely never have even considered, umm, jazz, say. But now it feels like one has to qualify and justify everything...