fm Bandit

Proust’s Mandolin

Our googleplexed world affords us instant confirmation about the folly of originality. I’m glad this Dwight Ozard fellow saved me the trouble of articulating most of my feelings in defense of pop music; his perspective seemed to me to be driven by a protective instinct, which I share, towards the beauty of any tune that AustereChannel repeats so frequently it can’t help but move you to sing along. It’s like some sort of corporate, suburban yoga that, in spite of its sterile unhipness, feels turncoatishly irreverent to dismiss.

Ozard’s reflection touches on all of the ideal merits of pop, but his most important thesis is arrestingly valid. Often, our experience is assembled from the songs we hear often. I believe this to be true in the strictest sense, but the nuances of that power are easily overlooked.

Go ahead and call it Stockholm Syndrome, but I am grateful for being able to stratify my life with animated and formulaic pop songs. Every now and then, I get some standout slaps. In between though, I am afforded a great diversion to love or hate but always with strong feeling.

It is the most severe insult for a song to be forgettable; I have overheard a song on a P.A. fail to state just how deep that first cut is to many bored, defended grocery shoppers. Just today, until (crap) just now, I forgot for once that self-flagellatingly-simple song about today being Friday and the order of other days that also have names–a memetic virus that has now infected the Saxon Supermen honored by the weekday’s nomenclature, and, worse, abandoned all my hope of whether the song is good or not ever being a realistic criterion for a song’s substance. The converse is true; for example, I have been so thoroughly drenched by the Dire Straits’ excellent Sultans of Swing that the shiver’s gone for good.

With music, it is visceral. It vibrates, reverberates in our innards, and finds a home in the box of plastic bricks from which we assemble our emotional impressions. This rich, multimedia fabric is not an auxiliary complement to our more objective sensory impressions. It is the the matter with which the psyche works to compose reality. If anything, it is our senses that are compromised by their deficit of precision and bandwidth.

This is not a social construct, this is a deity of magnificent and individual creation. For no reason, let’s slice a specific demographic: people who were in middle school in the year 2000–a time when people were honestly afraid computers would stop working and ATM’s would start spitting cash out because of widespread use of a short-sighted data type. Kids those days married some of their deepest and most introspective musings on (let’s say) the topic of young love with the muscle memory of their moments of resonance with demodulated radio waves. The reflexive collarbone-tightening that follows a glance from that girl doesn’t survive your self-confidence; nevertheless, it’s part of the dance that lives unforgettably inside the “soft animal of your body.”

There is no for better or worse; for some, the authentic memory informed by the feeling of young love’s bitter end are only clear once unearthed from the physical memory of, say, SR-71’s Right Now. It’s nothing philosophical, (read into the final lyric: “I used to be such a nice boy”) it’s more like time travel. One projects toward the authentic emotional state once truly experienced. On the other hand, the brain-memory most often accessed is a dark mine, and the ore therein is refined only through a process of complex and opaque distortion. This protects us from pain, but denies us the capacity to most clearly reflect.

I suspect that a song running through our head is a stunning feedback loop sustained by its impact on our musculature. A song has the capacity to induce a delusion of the most compelling sort. It pokes at our private suspicion that our life follows a narrative format, complete with a soundtrack informed not by our tastes but the memory of our deepest encounters of the most intimate sort.

Engaging in a ritual of honest harmony, I hope to share both the mundane muscle memories and the sacraments of my discovery about the unity between nature and the matter that moves me. A good friend told me that God is what we think about most. This creates over me an enrapturing sonic Pantheon. I expect to be infinitely fascinated by the enduring mythology this fantasy suggests. The persistent illusion that it all has meaning relaxes as the volume increases!

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