Have you ever noticed that when a person speaks of MUSIC in a loud authoritative voice it always implys a sub text, an overtone of “the good old days were wonderful and can not be appreciated by anyone born before 1980”? These are the People of Vinyl, the ones who saw Celibidache or Karajan or Toscanini in 1953 and still look back in hindsight at the high art of it all. These are the people of First Editions, who quote the GREAT CLASSICS constantly. These are the people of art fixed in time and space .Where does all this come from?
Art, as in whatIknowratherthanyou as opposed to whatIlike, confounds the bearers of aesthetics because it hints at the moral superiority of insider knowledge over emotive response.For many years the relativist in aesthetics have argued that far from stating what should be heard as an absolute approach to artistic merit one should always look at the relative value of each artistic act, in itself.Sadly, I was brought up outside this way of looking at ART by having being dragged up as a follower of Luckacs and Duvignuad, who saw art as the conjunction of the artistic process and history, which makes me very cynical about (1) the absolutists (mentioned above) and (2) the relativist as I see both as denying the artistic act of being inside a social process, a history, a genuine act of change….
Perhaps this makes me wonder why Ben Jonson walked to Edinburgh and back rather than created “Volpone”, or Byron swam the Venetian channel rather than wrote “Childe Harold” or wondering why Francis Bacon painted the mattress of Allan Ginsberg rather than spent years appreciating “Howl”???? (just joking)
And the funny part about all this that the lovers of MUSIC span both ends of the spectrum – from the Venetian courtiers of Monteverdi to the fashionista of NEW MUSIC, both are searching for an image of themselves inside the musical process.
And it makes me shudder when I hear people swear by the reviewers in Gramophone magazine, or the followers of certain orchestras who claim they cannot do no wrong, or the apostles of the Celibidache/Karajan recording,or the ones who hang on every new book release,because each of these people are relying on a static episode, a point in time, and, eventually, a purely remote and barren aesthetic position, based only on a memory or a following or an ingenuous response to an event…It’s very hard to explain because I rail at the static nature of these events – as if they are fixed, like amber, in time , purely as a piece of archeology or, perhaps, as a fixed point.A sign without a future.A place without a time.