Unless radical action is taken shortly, our civilization will continue plunging headlong into the desolate abyss of devaluation where our unheeding ideologies dissolve relations between media form and content, commodities and their use-value, and between mankind and his own humanity. Today man concerns himself with accumulating exorbitant treasures; driven by his socio-economic situation to pursue monetary and material objects, he has been futilely deceived to abandon his intrinsic passions and imaginative conviction, subsequently placing a high standard of living, over a high quality of life. In this modern era, people are possessed by a myriad of inhumane compulsions, expecting immediacy with most everyday routines, insatiably hoarding excessive goods as a means of attributing and constructing a projected identity about themselves, and experiencing a melancholic sensation whenever it is they suddenly become disengaged from the interconnected global human apparatus that has coincidently emerged alongside our technologically advanced digital age. With the introduction of computer technology and digital distribution, our reception of music has changed from appreciating the mystical auditory experience produced by the phonograph, which Eric F. Clarke coins in his article “The Impact of Recording on Listening” as acousmatic music, ‘sound produced without visible source,’ to fetishizing the form of digital recording, idolizing its accessibility and portability. Lately a counter culture movement has developed, revitalizing the sound quality and physicality of LP’s over that of their digital MP3 and WAV counterparts. The global online community has essentially made all modern recordings instantaneously available over the Internet; comparably, the sampling and replication practices of the 90’s created an unforeseen musical sphere as people began digitally altering tracks, applying effects and different sorts of aural manipulation, again enhancing the duplication and sharing ability of digital media. Glen Gould predicted the impending extinction of public live concerts about a decade ago, however I would argue that people, more now than ever, are travelling to concerts treasuring the actual live concert experience, over that of repeatable, immaculate recorded sound. Mass media and popular culture alike both overexposed the public to music produced solely for mass scale consumption, and have extirpated the original style out of traditional classical pieces, rerecording them with conductors who place greater inflection on cliché orchestral hits, adjusting the movement and instrumentation of the piece, and drastically slowing down the tempo. Consequently, this has created a tremendous illiteracy amongst listeners, who now are subjected to processed and doubly re-rendered venerated sounds of what long dead classical composers and artists must’ve sounded like. In “The Recording Angel” by Evan Eisenberg, he mentions Theodore Adorno of the Frankfurt School who explicitly argues, “The masses really do have bad taste, but not naturally. It is capitalism that stunts their palates, force-feeding them its swill until they like it, or imagine they do…he argued that classical music, because it reminds the dehumanized masses of their humanity, threatens the system and is therefore discouraged. But popular music, an opiate that dispels all realistic thought and reinforces the mechanized rhythms of the production process, is encouraged.” As Benjamin presaged in his article on how Fascism renders politics aesthetic, he warns that because “society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society.” We create machines in our own image, and then dismally allow our own formations to dictate to us with which context to ingest them. We ceaselessly pursue higher invention, while simultaneously disregarding our very basic humane virtues. Unless we step back for a moment, reassess our position and the direction in which digital technology is driving us, we will be forever doomed to admire the artistic gratification derived from sensual experience and be placated by the highly fetishized popular form of art, in which art loses all value and authenticity, resulting in the consummation of “l’art pour l’art,” or “l’homme pour l’homme.”


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