05 May 2010

Day 39: Dan Walker (guest blogger)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  ISBN: 9780060850524.

A few months ago, I kick-started my current rush through my ages-old book list with back-to-back readings of 1984 and Brave New World.  And while I liked the former for its alternate history and linguistic efforts, Brave New World was the novel that really got me thinking.

In some hidden corner in the interwebs, I while away the hours reviewing music albums.  Music is really my "thing"; I spend a lot of time keeping up with who's doing what, and I listen to everything I can, from all over the world.  I have lots of opinions on music in general, and of course I have some pet peeves, one of the biggest being "indie music".

What started as a general movement away from large record companies (independent music) has metamorphosed into what I consider to be a free-for-all of total expression with no direction (indie music).  Indie music today is a mishmash of offkey singing and cacophonous orchestras, of screechy guitar solos and highly pretentious, poetic lyrics that make little sense.  And this bothers me.  I don't understand it, and for the most part, I don't like it.  I detest the jarring music, I mock singers who seem unable to sing, and I resent the pretention with a passion bordering on a blood feud.

But whether I like indie music or not, after reading Brave New World, I have to admit that the experimental and the artistic have their place in the world.  I could almost say that they're the most important art forms we have right now.  Pop music is catchy and accessible, and therein lies the problem.  Placating simple tastes with jangly hooks buries intellectualism and mutes experience.  People need to be made to think about what it is they encounter.  They can't be allowed to wallow in the mentally unstimulating surface pleasantries, or we risk developing a Brave New World, where art is produced by machine for easy consumption and no one is expected to think about anything.

This novel really made me question my opinions on music.  I mean, I love fiction that goes beyond standard boundaries, and the same can be said about my thoughts on visual art, but why put music on a pedestal?  So rather than railing against indie music and all of its shrieky, offkey, pretentious badness, I've had to step back, look at what's really important, and say, "Thank you, indie music, for keeping us from the Brave New World."

Dan Walker (pseudonym) is a writer from Northeast Ohio, who would be teaching ESL if he wasn't unemployed. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Wright State University in 2004 and a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language from Kent State University in 2009. He will make some lucky librarian a wonderful husband someday.

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