Consider this, from Rate Your Music member dnieper111's review of Lucio Battisti's 1974 album Anima latina (cut and pasted, so apply [sic]s as needed):
[G]eez, look at all these hyperbolic reviews. Unearth's review, for example. Funny how a high average rating seems to trigger so much subconscious sycophantic self-deception:Leaving aside the fact that hipsters are, in my experience, generally known for disliking things in order to look cool, I don't really understand the point of all this unpleasant, nasty psychoanalyzing. Unearth's review, admittedly, is a bit overwrought, but...well, it's hard to write about music, especially music as unusual and, yes, exquisite, rare, and supreme as Anima latina, whose beauty and power I certainly wouldn't be able to write effectively about if I listened to it a hundred more times. It is a great album, and I don't know why.
"I need to listen to this a hundred more times before sufficient words will form. I need to place these exquisite forms and colors within my framework of sound interpretation. I need to assimilate the rareness of this beauty completely before I can explain to you why this is one of the supreme examples of recorded art I have ever encountered. For now, just leave me alone with it."
Yeah, unearth, you *get* it don't you?
I wonder what prompted that review: was it genuine enjoyment of the album, or a desire to appear knowledgable about a highly rated obscure album that's far removed from typical pop music? A desire to tell himself "I seek to understand this album. I am noble and honest in my musical listening. I appreciate subtleties, and I have the ability to understand the nature of all music."
...a review like this, which basically says "This is a great album, but I don't know why..." is the best example I've seen of the fawning and delusional hyperbole that is an undercurrent for so many RYM reviews. Its purpose is not to honestly review the music but rather to make the author appear knowledgeable to others and, even more importantly, himself. I suspect a lot of the delusion is at a subconscious level. Unearth really *thinks* he's on the way to genuine appreciation of a genuine masterpiece. And what prompted that? The high rating at RYM and a bunch of other uber-hip reviews. The reason this straw hipster of mine gives the album a 5 is, I believe, its high average rating, NOT because he really likes it. The straw hipster is a textbook sheep.
Basically my question is: why does dnieper111 want to question Unearth's reason for loving the album? Judging from the review, Unearth had a genuinely affecting experience listening to the album and wanted to share that. I can relate. Most of the posts on this blog labeled "music" or "tv" or "movies" or "books," and a lot of the other ones as well, are a result of exactly the same impulse. It is true, I suppose, that people will frequently "fake" this in order to present a particular image of themselves--I'm sure I'm guilty of it from time to time, myself--but to my thinking such a practice is, on the one hand, harmless, and, on the other, less likely to occur if people in general become less prone to cynically dismissing descriptions of emotion as mere posturing.
If I say that I had an unexpectedly transcendent moment once, listening to Buffy Sainte-Marie's "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot" while walking in the snow, am I bragging about listening to semi-obscure music? Or perhaps bragging about my ability to experience genuine emotion? I'm not sure, maybe I am, but it's true either way. What if I say the same about, say, being one of thousands of people watching David Bowie in a stadium decades after his peak? Surely in that case I'm bragging about something else. If I say that a low quality video of Ike & Tina Turner is powerfully moving to me, why is a certain blogger's immediate response to obliquely accuse me of falling victim to the song's "legend," liking it only because it was a massive flop? That blogger went on to more directly (though not directly enough to give up plausible deniability should it be needed) call me ignorant and stupid, which was unpleasant, but it's that weird psychoanalyzing at a distance that really ended up bugging me. What if people like "River Deep - Mountain High" because they like it? Why must we assume that everything is a hipster pose? Once you start assuming that, it becomes an inescapable circle--because after all, nothing is more of a hipster pose than assuming that everything is a hipster pose. Starting with an assumption of insincerity is not going to take you anywhere good--or maybe I should say that, at least, it's not going to take me anywhere I want to go.
I know I'm not a paragon of acceptance, and I know I frequently make fun of people. Honestly it's not something I love about myself, though I at least try, when doing it, to keep focused on the content of what people are saying and doing rather than on bitchy second-guessing about the secret desire to seem cool that is supposedly driving what they say and do. Again, to stave off any potential accusation of hypocrisy, I know I'm not always good at this. Getting better at it is on my fucking bucket list, OK?
I don't really know where I'm going with this. It's an unfortunate thing that people do that I wish they--we--wouldn't. It's something I want to try to do less. There are a lot of norms of human interaction that deeply confuse and depress me, even as I engage in them myself, and this is one of them. I don't really know why anyone would want to navigate a world where every statement of feeling, every expression of emotion, every little "I like this" or "I don't like this," is examined with intent to judge.
In other news that makes me feel like never leaving my house, liberals are misguided, anarchy would be cool, Obama murdered more people, and wage slavery is a system to be opposed. I'll let you know if any of that changes.