My buddy Keith Harris hated my blog about critics, and he wrote a really fun and angry response. Obviously we disagree on a lot of big points but I like how passionate he is:
Right now I gotta vent.
Most of the critics I know---that we both know---like, love, adore music (and more
music) much more than most adults. (Sorry, but most people our age don't listen
to music very much, and definitely not new music.) I've hung with said critics
quite a lot (I know, how "creepy!" of me to have friends with shared interests)
and I don't know one who needs "permission" to dance to Britney (really, what
the hell are you talking about?) Also they feel music as deeply (if not more) as
most people as well, though I didn't realize this was a contest (very unfeminine
of you to make it one), and they're not "loathe to admit to it." But they
also consider it part of their jobs to analyze how art works rather than just letting
their love flow. That's why they're, you know, critics, instead of people who
listen to the radio on their way to other jobs. And saying that crying is necessarily
how you "experience music on the deepest possible level" is reinforcing the
mind-body split with a vengeance.
Good criticism is actually not an exercise of "all-or-nothing thinking." Maybe
good polemicism is, but that ain't really the same thing as nuanced criticism,
even if a lot of published crit falls into that trap---though you'll find way
more dismissive polemics in blogs, zines, and everyday discussion. (Ask most "normal
people" why they don't like something.) And you'll find more polemics about
other subjects---politics, for instance--than you will about music. Plus, the alternative to all-or-nothing isn't everything-is-everything, and to say it's "simultaneously
all about the music and all about the fashion" is a cop-out---the "fun" comes
in figuring out where those intersect, and how.
If, that is, you accept that using your brain is a way of enjoying life, and not
just a way to kill free, natural, magical, "real" fun. "Musicians have a freedom
that most critics deny themselves." I�m not sure what this freedom is---not
to analyze your response to culture? (Jeez, talk about nothing left to lose.) That�s
just plain anti-intellectualism, and it plays so well in 99.9% of the United States
I somehow doubt that excess cerebration is really some sort of national epidemic.
"They get a little baby chip on their shoulders, that just grows and grows--especially
since most of them have musical yearnings of their own." Oh, that�s right, we�re
all frustrated rock stars, I heard about that somewhere. "You gain all your glamour
and mystique through the wild beauty of the animal you have tamed." What kind
of idjit goes after glamour and mystique by writing about records? If I have a
chip on my shoulder it's because every time I use a polysyllable to talk about
music some dimwit tells me I�m not rocking out enough, man. (See this for example.)
Sorry if this sounds a little defensive, but you basically spent a couple thousand
reductive words caricaturing the aesthetic choices of me and my friends and then
writing this misrepresentation of our world view off a kind of frustrated male pathology based on a single lame Chuck Klosterman column. Well, fuck that. Are most critics
jerkoffs? So are most musicians and doctors and plumbers and astronauts. Is there
a boy-culture baseball-card ethos run rampant? Sure, but that methodology has also
resulted in some perceptive, glorious, infatuated crit through the years. Maybe
I�m not being very rock and roll here, but know-nothing critic-hating bums me
out, and it's depressing when a friend whose opinion I respect feels the need
to join the chorus.
In other news, I found this awesome bit of writing on the blog of Mays Newman. It's by Baudelaire.
One should always be drunk. That's the thing that matters. In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time, which breaks your shoulders and crushes you to the ground, one should be drunk without ceasing.
But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as suits you. But get drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of the palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the lonely gloom of your room, you wake up, the drunkenness already abated or completely gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that flies or groans or rolls or sings or speaks, ask everything what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock will answer: "Time to get drunk. In order not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk. Get drunk ceaselessly. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as suits you."
In other other news, these were the top weird search-engine terms that directed people to my blog yesterday:
Kate moss, I just don't know what to do with myself
Britney AND zombies AND frozen
Teen first fuck
Summery of oddessey
Taylor hanson groupie
"cause you are not here" like rain
Zac hanson and Kate girlfriend
Old fashioned cornershop pictures
"wearing white jeans"
pictures for a bull wears the American flag
ben Sullivan brit
"celebrity plumber butt"
sex "Pasadena hilton"