Blind Spots

(This is very much out of sequence, but caught my fancy.)

A newsgroup post from 6/26/2008:

Elsewhere on the nets, I’ve been reading (but not participating in) a discussion where a couple of people are talking about how they despise modern popular music — “modern” in this case meaning everything after 1955 or so.

What boggles me is their air of superiority — they listen to real music, i.e., classical. All this modern stuff is just noise.

Well, no, it isn’t. You cannot sell people straight-out noise; it’s been tried repeatedly. (Anyone remember what Yoko Ono did before marrying John Lennon?) Obviously, if millions, perhaps billions of people find something enjoyable in popular music, there’s something there to enjoy. No, you cannot fool that many people for that long. If you genuinely can’t hear it as anything but noise, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the music; it means there’s something wrong with you. You are lacking a normal human response.

This is not something to be proud of. You, whoever you are, are a part of the human race, a member of a social species. If you cannot understand, even intellectually, something that provides billions of your fellow humans with pleasure, this does not make you part of an elite; it makes you defective, an outcast, a failure.

I would think this was obvious. Apparently it isn’t.

4 thoughts on “Blind Spots

  1. They don’t really hear modern popular music as just noise, of course. That’s just the particular code-phrase that some people use to dismiss it so they can feel superior.

    They haven’t discovered the simple truth that even my 11-year-old has; that you can recognize something as being done well, and see how other people might enjoy it, even if you don’t personally like it. Even sadder, they feel smug about their lack.

    1. “Sad” is the right word.

      Incidentally, the phenomenon isn’t new. Years ago I went to an exhibit on ancient Chinese music at the Princeton Museum of Art that displayed old bells, drums, etc. and explained something about the evolution of Chinese ceremonial and popular music. It mentioned that Kung Fu Ze (Confucius) happened to live in a period when the elegant traditional chime-based temple music was losing ground to music that used strings and drums.

      He literally said, though you could see the translator struggling to phrase it differently, that “the music these kids listen to today is just noise.”

      1. Well, Kung Fu Tze (how I was taught to spell it) didn’t literally say that because he was speaking Chinese.

        I have made jokes along those lines (“That rap nonsense isn’t actually music, just rhythmic talking”), but I knew it was silly and was consciously mocking myself as old and white.

  2. I’m not sure what the current official spelling is, actually, but in Pinyin “ts” is usually represented by Z.

    Anyway, yes, he was writing in archaic Chinese, so that’s a nit well picked.

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