Wednesday, November 7, 2012

excess of access / choice burnout, part 209

1/ Dorian Lynskey at the Guardian, "The Tyranny of Cultural Choice Is Making My Brain Gasp"

"Time anxiety induces a perverse reaction to recommendations. Links to "must-read" articles or rave reviews of "must-see" box sets make me sigh. Must I? Conversely, if I hate, say, the first episode of a new TV drama I feel a thrill of elation: "Thank God for the Newsroom's smug, self-parodic hokum! I've just saved myself hours." Recently I was a few chapters into Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (which belongs alongside On the Road and The Magus in a subcategory of Books You Should Read Before You're 18 or Not at All) when I realised I loathed it and could exile it to the charity shop with a clean conscience. It felt great.

"When I hate something these days I find it liberating rather than disappointing because I like too much."

[I know this feeling oh so well--the relief, the delight, of eliminating something from consideration. Unfortunately, like gas pouring into a vacuum, the 'space' freed up psychologically by crossing something off the List, barely lasts a micro-second before it's immediately crowded out by all the other things rushing forward with claims on your attention). 

2/  Mike Spies at New Yorker, on "Spotify and its Discontents"

"We seem to have created an environment in which wonderful music, newly discovered, is difficult to treasure...  Because how else can you form a relationship with a record when you’re cursed with the knowledge that, just an easy click away, there might be something better, something crucial and cataclysmic? The tyranny of selection is the opposite of freedom. And the more you click, the more you enhance the disposability of your endeavor
 "I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, over the last half decade, very few new albums have stuck with me—I just don’t spend the time with them anymore. Sure, I’ve enjoyed lots of stuff, but I lose interest after a couple listens, bowing to my waning attention span, my anxiety that there’s too much to listen to, and not enough time to take it all in. It’s like going to a large foreign country for a week, and, instead of getting the feel for one glorious city, trying to hit all the sites so you can prove you saw them. And this is, I think, one downer of the digital revolution: the Internet frees up cultural treasures while simultaneously eroding the mechanisms that endow them with value."

Yeah, the decommodification of music didn't work out so well, did it? For consumers, as much as for producers.

What I notice is the amnesiac nature of shopping (legally and not so legally) for music (or books) on the Internet...  I can remember specific moments of discovery and purchase in record shops, I can't remember any acts of acquisition on the Internet...  the purchase of the moment becomes wafer-thin, context-less, without grain....

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