08 December 2011

Doublethink Invades The West

Does Capitalism (or what goes for it here in the USA) not demand/engender/impose much the same psychological condition as archetypal Orwellian totalitarianism does? So few of the people I meet who play our Capitalist economic game, musically or otherwise, seem the least bit sincere in either words or actions, and I think this goes beyond the simple fact that convincing someone to purchase something they previously did not intend to purchase requires...well, some convincing. More to the point: no child grows up dreaming of selling jewelry or vetting credit histories, nor do the ones who grow up dreaming to be musicians typically find fulfillment of those dreams playing wedding receptions or church services. It is on that most basic level that sincerity is rendered more or less untenable in our culture, including for those "doing what they love" in service of something or someone that they don't.

This is merely our minimum common inheritance; the insincerity can, of course, be much deeper as well. My time at the airport permanently changed my perspective on this: here you have two groups of citizens ("business travelers" and "security professionals") more or less involuntarily thrust into an acrimonious "us versus them" relationship by economic and social realities (not to mention some questionable reactions to them by our elected officials). No one at these checkpoints wants to be there: Traveling Salesman and Security Guard are not dream jobs. Their unique relationship, of course, is that this is primarily due to the specter of having to deal with the other group! Such it is that the airport security checkpoint became the "divide and conquer" mechanism par excellence as the Bushes simultaneously crashed the economy and began erecting a police state from scratch: throw the middle class out of work and let them choose between selling useless shit and enforcing useless rules, and not just to anyone, but to each other. No wonder sincerity is in such short supply.

The dynamic in the musical world is not quite so sinister, but nor should we simply accept it on account of music being, as I of course have argued with apologies to most of my dearest colleagues, a very sophisticated but ultimately trivial recreational activity. Issues of sincerity are never trivial, and the recreational value of music, if that is in fact its greatest value, suffers tremendously at the hands of the entrepreneurial spirit, dismembered as these hands too often are from their thinking, feeling body.

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