Friday, July 24, 2009

Record Collecting Manifesto: Connoisseurship

Yeah it’s a big word for good taste. It was the subject of a recent NPR piece on a collector of photographs. He dwelled on the idea of having an “eye” for photographs. What was implied was that some have a better “eye” than others. This is anathema to the current postmodern, subjectivist view that dominates our culture, where every point-of-view is considered legitimate, only different but qualitatively equal. (This undiscriminating attitude certainly pervades journalism in which the concept of truth is abandoned for presenting different points of view equally as if each article, especially political ones, is written like a re-tread of Rashomon instead of the fact-finding documentary it ought to be.) “Connoisseur” is kind of a joke-word now, outside of the wine-sniffing crowd, if it’s used at all. It’s been replaced by the more derisive word “snob”. The word “snob” subverts the notion of qualitative aesthetic differences, which is the concern of a connoisseur, relegating all claims to superiority as unfounded. That’s why “snob” is always a put-down. Record collectors are often accused of being “music snobs”, for example, when someone argues that vinyl sounds better than digital, eyes start to roll and thought bubbles form which contain the term "snob” and perhaps "loser". In a culture that devalues quality for convenience, newness and disposability, it may be looked down upon, but record collecting can be a form of connoisseurship. Just don't ask me about my ABBA records.

No comments:

Post a Comment