Archive for the ‘solipsism’ tag
This sucky blog has been a bit moribund recently due to my lack of engagement with the outside world. No strike that, just a long, long winter and my body has made the leap1 from young to not-so-young, and with it, nagging health issues of various kinds that I won’t bore you with. Anyway, to jump start me writing here again, I’ve assigned myself topics based on the day, starting with Music Monday.
I may be one of the last citizens of America who still purchases music CDs on a regular basis. Streaming music is well and good, I don’t participate. I’d rather indulge my nascent horder tendencies, and have my own copies of things, especially since “used” CDs sound identical to “new” CDs 99% of the time. I also have wider, more varied tastes than the streaming algorithms encourage. I’ve only dabbled with Spotify and the Apple Music channels, but an hour of music via Spotify seems artificially constricted to my ear. You can change your musical directions by seeding new stations, but every “next track” is via a linear progression from the preceding song.
When I am the DJ of my own radio station, which truth be told, runs 20 hours a day2 whether or not I’m in the room(s), I queue up 500 or 1,000 songs at a time. If you are listening to Radio Seth3, you should expect to hear deep cuts from Funkadelic followed by Alt-Country maesters The Jayhawks followed by Brahms concertos followed by outtakes from Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti followed by whatever. Or 50 songs about rain, or 24 hours worth of David Bowie or Prince or Merle Haggard. Or albums released in 1985. Or albums released last year. I liberally use randomizing AppleScripts from AppleScript guru Doug Adams to top up my playlists, I change direction on a whim, and of course alter playlists when I have an audience4
There was a mythical era in commercial radio when DJs had the freedom to play what they wanted. By the time I was interested in music, this FM free-form radio era seemed to be on its last legs, so I don’t actually know if there were radio stations that played all sorts of music with only the taste of the DJ linking them together, or if that is another bullshit myth perpetuated by aging Baby Boomers. I don’t even care, in my mind, there was such a time, and I want to have my own radio station that plays all the hits as defined by my own idiosyncratic charts.
One last thing, the age of the CD box set has encouraged record labels and musicians to open their vaults, reissues and repackaging are attempts to cash-in, but also mean that much music is available that I’ve never heard before. I’m not one of those who claim “music today doesn’t have the same soul”, I seek out new music from current artists just as much as I seek out classic albums from garage rockers of the mid-1960s or obscure Nigerian funk musicians from the 1970s. I try not to have preconceptions over what I’ll explore, but of course, there is plenty of new and old music I am not interested in. As someone on Reddit said:
People think old music is better than new music because people have already stopped listening to the old music that sucks
I was amused that so many folks twittered complaining about their lack of knowledge about Arcade Fire that some wag created a tumblr blog devoted to the phenomenon. For the record, if you pay attention to a certain kind of music critic, you had heard of Arcade Fire. I mean, they’ve appeared on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report fer christsakes. But not everyone pays attention to these sorts of cultural signifiers.
Arcade Fire hasn’t sold enough units to be a household name apparently.
Nitsuh Abebe of the New York Magazine’s Vulture blog ruminates why, and what does it mean to be proud of one’s ignorance?
There are some obvious jokes to be made about people with Internet access using Twitter to complain about not knowing something, as opposed to using Google to look it up. But for the most part, this reaction — all these examples cherry-picked from teenage pop fans and bemused adults — is just plain normal. “Never heard of it”: This has been the natural and traditional response of all sorts of ordinary American humans to all sorts of phenomena. It’s not really about knowledge or information. It’s an argument, for the most part, and a faintly aggressive one — a way of insisting that what you pay attention to really does define the world. What you’ve heard of is real, and everything else is marginal. The center holds, and you are that center. You are normal and aware, and not just some tiny atomized entity that can only hope to know one tiny corner of the universe.
It used to be a little easier to get away with that. You could presume that you were an informed person and anything truly notable would have been brought to your attention at some point — and enough people would share your vantage point that you wouldn’t often be challenged on it. (The truer this was, the more attractive it was to pull the reverse move: that of the music aficionado who’s proud to have never even heard of the most popular artists in the country.) I feel like I can remember people acting baffled, twenty years ago, when some “weird” band called R.E.M. won a few Grammys — and this was an act that had multiple top ten singles, videos on MTV, and all the other monocultural perks that are no longer available to any but the most successful musicians. (They would have also had some underground haters looking at them as over-popular, middlebrow college-rock sellouts who’d stopped being good sometime in the mid-eighties; it always goes both ways.)
But that “never heard of it” chauvinism is harder to pull off these days, and it’s a real problem with talking about music. The funny part is that while the Internet tends to make people feel like they’re more aware of what’s happening in music, and what “everyone” else is talking about, it’s just as effective at doing the opposite — sustaining all different kinds of huge and vibrant music worlds, to the point where whichever one you’re aware of is surely just a single weird corner among many, many more. Look at any forum or comments box where random strangers find themselves talking about music, and you wind up peering into some kind of chauvinistic Tower of Babel: so many people fiercely sure that their vantage point is normal, despite being surrounded by so many staggeringly, radically different backgrounds, perspectives, and frames of reference.
(click here to continue reading Arcade Fire, and the ‘Never Heard of It’ Grammys — Vulture.)
For the record, Arcade Fire isn’t my favorite band, but I like them enough to own three of their records, including the one that won them a Grammy.
Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: Salvador 84
Self portrait, taken in the bathroom mirror1
I’m going to use this on the back cover of my third album.
Title borrowed from Al Green, by way of David Byrne and/or the Talking HeadsFootnotes:
- no jokes please [↩]
and yes, it has been ten years, as of next week, that I’ve lived here, by far the longest stretch of time I’ve ever resided in one place.
April 6th, 2000, to be precise. Lots has changed, lots still needs to be changed, but the decade was a good one, all and all.
My photos have been viewed 1 million times.
amazing really. Thanks everyone!
Numbers add up to nothing…
A few interesting links collected August 27th through August 28th:
- Solipsism « Earthpages.ca – Think Free – This is the philosophical position that only the subject exists and all impressions of others and the outside world are illusory.
While many dismiss solipsism as an extreme or strange view, others say it is logically impossible to prove or disprove
- d r i f t g l a s s: Da Mare Would Like To Apologize – "If you've never been to a public meeting where Da Mare or one of his goofs are having their political pipes rodded, let me tell you right off the bat, you should go. Over the years I’ve been to several, and it really is about as purely little-“d”-democratic an exercise as any big city could hope for: In front of Da Mare and the assembled heads of his every office and department, any citizen can step up to the microphone and “Cry Harold”"
Awesome description: I have to go to one of these sometimes
- Review: Snow Leopard Review | Mac OS X – Page 1 | Macworld – if you later try to launch a PowerPC app, Snow Leopard will pop up a window to explain that you need Rosetta and offer to install it for you (via Apple’s Software Update utility). I can only assume that making Rosetta optional is an attempt by Apple to goad users to upgrade their apps and to shame developers who still haven’t recompiled their apps to run on Intel chips. But given that most everyday users have no idea which of their apps are Intel-native and which are PowerPC, this seems unnecessarily harsh.