Friday, May 1, 2015
This could be individual / solipsistic, or it could be tribal (us versus them), but it was reliant on the either/or distinction - the good/bad, urgent/trivial distinction. It was divisive - creating a gulf between me / not-me, us / not-us
But with the glut of options, the overabundance of choices - with decisions carrying no weight financially or existentially - - first fanaticism goes, then any kind of intense cathexis. Ultimately you're processing things too fast to feel them.
As to the "anti-democratic" impulse in public displays of taste and allegiance... One of my never-attempted projects, during the tail-end of the Poptimism Wars, was to see if I could come up with a defence of the idea of cultural snobbery.
This mortal dread of being a snob, of making a critical utterance that could be deemed as snobbish, was leading, as far as I could see, to a paralysis of judgement altogether. People (I mean critics mainly, but some critic-minded civilians) got caught up in this bizarre competition to find things to not-dismiss, not-demean. It's still going on, a sort of frantic note of "what are we missing? what are we failing to cover?". It became a kind of inverted Bourdieu-an cultural capital, this ostentatious display of non-elitism. But there was an idealistic element, for sure, a "wanting to be good".
The energy behind this ever-more-inclusive overcompensation for the supposed slights of rockism seemed... nothing really to do with music - with taste or passsion, or how any real-world individual engages with music. It had a quality of impersonal conscientiousness, an aspiration to virtue that felt faintly bureaucratic, done on behalf of some Big Other. Like a policy that had been formulated by some public body for best practice.