Flaskaland
Sunday, November 14, 2004
 
Alex Ross looks at "The 'same concert' myth"

"Das Teachout addresses the syndrome of 'critical paranoia' -- the persecution complex that overtook B. H. Haggin when he found that other critics did not always share his view of musical reality. 'Critics need constant reminding,' Terry says, 'that criticism is not an exact science -- or, indeed, any kind of science at all.' It is so. Every critic has heard numberless variations on the phrase, 'I don't think you and I were at the same concert.'

"It's an extreme but commonplace exaggeration that dramatizes the sort of communication breakdown that Terry describes. Rather than accept the possibility of simple human disagreement, a certain type of irate single-space-typing listener prefers to deny that the offending critic was there at all.

"Which, in fact, is perfectly true. No two listeners are ever at the same concert. Each inhabits his or her own richly differentiated world. Two equally informed listeners may come away with a disparate set of sensuous facts, even if they generally agree on whether the concert was a thrill or a spill."

(More here at "The Rest Is Noise", better known as the Alex Ross website.


 




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