Postmodern Cant

newmusicbox November 14, 2007


It is interesting how new theories of art eventually descend to forms of orthodoxy.  The ideas are extended to the point of absurdity, and devolve to cant.  One thinks of serialism in the 70s as a prime example, but I think much postmodern thought has reached the same point.  We now have to explain the self-evident: that contemporary classical music has  very different functions and origins than the mass media.  


It was interesting to question aesthetic hierarchies back in the 80s, but now we have created an extreme where popular music is pushed forward as a sort of universal frame of reference.  The medicine was once useful, but is now an addiction.


We might also remember that in consumer societies, desire is largely manufactured.  There is no natural law that produced Elvis, nor the mass desire to hear him.  Appreciation for classical music must also be manufactured, and through a process that is far more complex than the desire for most pop.  We need to find the self-confidence to stand up for music education.  And America needs to give up its radical, isolated stance, and create an effective system of public arts funding like ALL other industrial countries.  Change is in the air.  Now is the time to act.


William Osborne