A Great Variety of Morbid Symptoms

Over on Retromania, Simon Reynolds notes a couple more symptoms of this lingering syndrome, before finishing up with this:

But there’s also an impulse to sort through/tie together/make sense of one’s life in loving music/film/books. Winnow down to the essentials and peaks. Create a map of a journey through taste; a consumer-biography. I can’t help sensing a morbid impulse lurking beneath this—almost like getting one’s affairs in order in readiness for death.

I don’t know that it’s growing awareness of the Grim Reaper standing at my shoulder but I’ve certainly been spending the last few years taking stock. I spent my thirties casting the net wide. The creative energy of jungle and post-rock ebbed and, spurred by the eclectic coverage in The Wire, I started to explore the wider world of music. At the same time, the reissue boom driven by compact disc reached its peak—an incredible range of music, from reggae to afrobeat to Ethiopian jazz to drone, was unearthed and put into general circulation. I gorged myself for years.

But eventually I realised that I didn’t care that much about a lot of the music I was listening to. Much of it I had barely listened to—some discs made the player just long enough to make sure that they were working, some I didn’t even listen to while I was ripping them (that Stravinsky box set). I had gone exploring, had gained a sense for the contours of the landscape, but I didn’t have a strong sense for where I wanted to be.

I cut way back, eventually trashing the music library on my computer and exiling all the files to a massive hard drive, and began to rebuild. It seems absurd to say, but after nearly four decades of listening to music, I am still figuring out what it is that I actually like. I haven’t entirely given up the search—I still hold out hope that some day I will hear the album that will unlock the pleasures of Brazilian pop for me—but I buy only a couple of albums a month, spend the rest of the time getting to know better the music I already own.

While I’m on a (blog)roll, my old comrade Ian went to see a clatter of films at the Dublin International Film Festival. For reasons known only to himself he maintains two versions of his blog, one on WordPress, one on Blogger, posting the same content to both. But sure, we all have our little foibles.

2 thoughts on “A Great Variety of Morbid Symptoms”

  1. The two blogs is basically insurance. I’ve long had a blogger blog, but I’ve noticed Google’s tendency to shut things down when their tech bro bosses lose interest in them, so I started the WordPress blog and kept the Blogger one going in case Elon Musk bought WordPress.

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?