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Vulgar and Prurient

July 19, 2011

I think I prefer reading film and literary criticism/analysis about how those mediums impact our world over similar pieces on music. Why? I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that the people writing in those areas spend a lot more time with language. I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace’s essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, which is an interesting study of television (and I think about what similarities TV shares with fiction circa 1990 but I still have about 15 pages to go). It’s a great read for a number of reasons, such as how clearly different television is today from when he wrote the essay.

Wallace can make extremely insightful observations in the most flippant way, sprinkling them in as tangents to his thesis. That should in no way diminish this revelation:

Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be really similar in their vulgar and prurient and stupid interests and wildly different in their refined and moral and intelligent interests. (Review of Contemporary Fiction 13:2 (1993: Summer), page 162)

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to waste time explaining how this relates to music. How come these ideas can’t be added into essays on music as near afterthoughts, in the midst of very insightful writing that has helped me develop a better understanding of myself and the world around me? You want to talk about vulgar and prurient, why do people even bother writing about music at all if they’re going to spend their time re-treading arguments that have gone on for decades long past their relevancy? I think I’m going to stick to reading words worth a little bit more.

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