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August 16, 2009


Since I pointed this essay out to you, I feel responsible for defending it, and reading it again, I still feel quite happy to. It was interesting to me because I identified so strongly with that sense of being ruined my early experience of music.

For one thing, it's a much more personal essay than you seem willing to credit. Maybe if you want to develop this further, you could divulge what the experience of music was like for you when you were fourteen? I'd be interested to know that, even if, as I'd suspect, I wouldn't identify with it as closely as I did with Greif's.

Also, about your ending note: it's not an essay about pleasure, necessarily; it's an essay about response. It begins in fear and dwells in violence and pain. Your Hume riff makes a certain amount of sense: as you get older, your tastes mellow, and, you say to yourself, refine. My experience has been that I find music less immediately, viscerally full of impact, yet I haven't developed the sensibility to enjoy what might come next. That sense of being ruined by the youthful experience of music -- or at least unprepared, and somewhat at sea -- rings very true to me.

I was unprepared for its turning into such a personal essay by is beginning with such impersonal claims; if you're going to make claims like that, follow them up!

Probably nothing will seem as intense to someone in his early thirties as something of the same sort did to that person in his early teens; most things are experienced more viscerally then.

In my experience, i can still feel a visceral impact from some new music and that impact is perhaps felt more strongly because my taste is more developed than when i was young.

To claim that rock is for children is risible; i can imagine someone in the `40s writing about swing being for children, or someone else in 20 years writing about AutoTune-heavy hip-hop being for children.

I don't feel "ruined"; i find it a very strange way to feel about music. Yeah, i listened to a lot of crap as a kid. I don't anymore.

The second paragraph you quote talks about using tension in music, but it's hardly unique to the drummer.

Greif's head is so far up his ass in this essay, he could become a human Klein bottle with just another push.

I was unprepared for its turning into such a personal essay by is beginning with such impersonal claims

A fair point to make about a lot of the n+1 stuff. There's a personal hermeneutic style that often brings idiosyncratic experience to bear on artistic products and doesn't always account for it. You get genuinely deep insights that seem more generalizable than they might otherwise be.

AFAICT, that's a mischaracterization; what goes on is rather the bringing of artistic products to bear on idiosyncratic experience. That's what makes it such a tiresome (to me) instance of the personal essay: it's not about Fugazi, it's about Mark Greif, and the occasion for it is Fugazi. To the extent that you share some of Greif's Fugazi or punk-related experiences, you might see some insight into the character of that experience, in a sort of "what oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed" way, but it's not an insight regarding punk or rock music generally.

Greif might think that he's actually bringing his penetrating insights to bear on the nominal topic of his essay, and that might even be his goal, but if it is, he hasn't reached it.

This is, indeed, something that bugs me about a lot of n+1 writing, and I think I've even complained about it before. If everyone were like their authors, it would be a reasonable way of proceeding.

I would just like to add that I love it when you hold current writers to the aesthetic standards of Hume and Pope, Ben. It makes me feel warm.

Also, you have made me want to read Fisher, whom I have not read before.

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