Saturday, September 20, 2014

More remarks on taste

In a recent post on his website "Shit-Fi," my critical nemesis Stuart Schrader raised a number of points that helpfully delimit my own positions.

Here is the post

In discussing a band who never released any vinyl, the mega-unheard-of Spanish band Attak, Stuart sets up a curious strawman:

Furthermore, to suppose that the reason “everyone” today knows about Bad Brains and “no one” knows about Attak can be linked to some inherent and objective qualities of each band’s music is to ignore how reception is conditioned by circumstance and ideology.

It is hardly likely that any person on earth would think this. I would suspect that "everyone" today knows about Bad Brains because they toured and released records. Attak: not. The example is poorly chosen. But Stuart extends this strawman position by imagining that such a person would also have "naturalized" their experience of music such that Bad Brains would sound superior to Attak. Well, that is an entirely different question.

(Unfortunately, Stuart does not elaborate on the forms or determinants of such ideology.)

Stuart asserts that music does not have "inherent qualities" that make us enjoy it, but that these qualities are a "social construction."

Music, or art in general, is a "social construction." The group of artists who make up a band, existing in the real world, reproducing their lives on a day-to-day basis, are already "social"--and the experience which produces creative expression and leads to the creative shaping of this experience (art) is equally "social." Art itself is a social construction.

Stuart forgets that, in the words of Schiller, there is an "aesthetic education of mankind." It is just as much the Bad Brains themselves who have shaped taste, as ideology--or perhaps we are wrong to distinguish the two, and it is as unwitting "agents" of ideology that the Bad Brains were unintentionally mystifying our capacity to hear Attak properly.