The Desocialising Music

“What do you know about [insert name here] music”, you may ask, “since you never listen to it?” But I do, I do – on trains and buses and in taxis, in shops, streets, squares and cafés, in parks and in my own home, all of it quite, quite involuntary. The strangers who are so eager to acquaint me with their tastes, however, know nothing about my own kind of music, since I don’t oblige them to listen to it.

Devotees of “classical” music very rarely impose it on others against their will (a dishonourable exception may be made for Wagnerians), but this is so routine for [insert name here] music as to be taken wholly for granted. It is so normal that nobody even comments on the phenomenon that no one listens to [insert name here] quietly, or is expected to. If an aficionado wants to listen to it, he also imposes it on his surroundings at high volume, as night follows day. Asking him not to wake everyone up at 0400 is, he feels, the same as asking him not to live.

Just like those who light up in non-smoking zones, people who play their music so as to deprive the entire apartment building of sleep expect to be begged, entreated, and humbly beseeched to desist. When simply instructed to stop, they get angry and even violent. When in a good mood, they may graciously condescend to obey the law or be considerate, provided only that we recognise that this is out of the goodness of their hearts and because we grovelled so nicely. Were we to go to their dwellings, however, pull down our pants and shit on the floor, would they request us very, very nicely to refrain? One rather suspects not. Indeed, those who keep their neighbours awake all night tend to become irate at any noise in the daytime, when they themselves are sleeping off the party.

It is the nature of unsocialised mentalities not to understand the principle of Do-as-you-would-be-done-by, even as a prudential device; they comfort themselves with the reflection that if someone were to do unto them what they do unto others, they can simply beat them up.

Is it then that people of uncouth and tyrannical bent are drawn to these genres, or is it that these genres are inherently desocialising; that is, they rewire people’s brains in such a way that they no longer recognise the rights of others, or even understand that there might be a problem? Just as for the conservative, “freedom” never means the freedom to choose socialist options, so too for the soi-disant rebel rocker, “freedom” never means the freedom not to listen to what he wants to hear, when he wants to hear it and how loudly. It may be that what they are listening to specifically damages the parts of the human brain we use to comprehend that “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, while leading to hypertrophy of that part of the brain that formulates the idea, “I can do whatever I like, because I’m Special”. Further research is needed into which way round it is, but anyone who denies that there is an extremely strong correlation needs to explain why no one is ever woken up in the middle of the night by his neighbour playing Bach. Not ever. There is an irreducible difference in behaviour.

Posted on December 26, 2011 at 10:17 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Cause and Effect Of Brain Damage

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