Monday, 6 July 2009

Intelligence and appreciation

The recent, bizarre Mike Patton gig brought up some thoughts that often whirr around my head when I’ve experienced something ‘out there’, ‘challenging’ or ‘avant garde’.

There’s much room when it comes to high art for people to scoff at anyone who criticises it and dismiss that listener’s opinion as being indicative of their lack of intelligence. This is merely narrow-minded arrogance though. It is your right not to like something, just as it is other people’s right to like anything they want to. Whether this applies to modern art or music or architecture or literature, everyone is entitled to an opinion even if it doesn’t tally with the accepted wisdom of the majority. I have as much right to say that some of the Aphex Twin’s music is unlistenable, self-indulgent rubbish as I do to say that some of his music is inspired, beautiful, challenging and verging on musical genius.

Anyone that denies someone else that right, whether it’s someone dismissing someone’s opinion as ‘arty farty crap’ or someone dismissing another’s opinion as they ‘clearly don’t have the intelligence to grasp the inherent meaning’ of a creative work, are merely closed-minded snobs (whether inverted or not). It pays to remember that their opinion is no more valid than anyone else’s and that whether you prefer reading Dostoyevsky to watching the X Factor or like going to a football match rather than going to the opera, your preferences make you no more or less stupid than the next person.

Useless music fact #5: The Aphex Twin said he used to dream a lot of his music while snoozing, which is exactly how Sir Paul McCartney came up with 'Yesterday'. The Aphex Twin may have been lying though, as that has always been one of his favourite pastimes.

Originally posted on on 6 July 2009.

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