Thursday, October 19, 2006

Proud and hurt

A proud day as Tom Hull has a link back to my blog in his recent post, and I discovered this just hours after being run over by a bicyclist (hence the "hurt" in the title. I'm fine, if you are wondering).

I didn't comment on the Xgau quote I posted the other day, partly because it was just a quote I liked as an excuse to post the link, but also because I didn't have much time.

Like Mr. Hull, it's been a while since I've read Adorno (though not thirty years, mind). My main problem with him was what I read as his underestimation of the consumer's role in the reception of popular music; in short, that they take it sans questions because it is familiar, formulaic, omnipresent etc.

His stance makes more sense to me in light of the fact that he was, as Tom Hull puts it, "profoundly disturbed by Nazism". Nazism prospered thanks to a massive propaganda machine, "mass suggestion" and nurturing mob thinking. Maybe I'm wrong, but I suppose Adorno saw similarities in what he perceived as the omnipresence of popular music at the time. I am skeptical of his view of the passive role of the consumer, though, but I totally agree with Mr. Hull's closing thoughts:

"I'm not sure that Adorno has anything useful to say about popular music in America, but mapping him onto a highbrow/lowbrow spat that these days mostly shows our age is certainly wrong. He was from another time and place, maybe another planet. Wonder what he would have made of Sun Ra."

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