17 October 2013

Selective Naciremical Reverse Pseudo-Relativism Exercise

Imagine a purely hypothetical non-Western, non-white society with an autonomous, aestheticist-leaning classical music tradition. Now imagine the tempest of vitriol that would rain down upon the Western author of a postmodern, deconstructionist critique of this hypothetical musical culture. Imagine as part of this critique the positing of a Freudian subconscious underlying this musical culture whereby its aspiration to autonomy is understood as a manifestation of all of human kind's worst attributes all at once. Imagine the concurrent pathologizing of this musical culture based on the social implications of the aspiration to artistic autonomy and the normativization of functional music based purely on its preponderance across the globe and only secondarily on its own social implications. Now imagine the possible reactions and how out of place the customary urging of tolerance would seem when applied to an art-music tradition.

It's a purely hypothetical, highly cherrypicked scenario that will never ever play out. Perhaps that's simply because the kind of postmodern theory I'm thinking of was never designed or intended to be applied to any other cultures: as Albert Murray said, "We [Afro-Americans] invented the blues; Europeans invented psychoanalysis. You invent what you need." Then again, the notion of classical musical tradition is not, strictly speaking, confined to The West (nor would Freud be, if there is anything worth salvaging from him, applicable only to us, even if we needed it more). In any case, if there is such thing as a death drive, I wonder if our present relationship to our musical past might well offer an example of it at work?

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