23
Aug
10

On a Second Pass

Unemployment brings nothing if not time. Surely by now you’ve all read the NYTimes magazine article about 20-somethings or Slate’s response. Large numbers among our generation seem to be swamped with time that the previous generation might have filled with an office job, a spouse, or children. I know I have too much time. Time can be filled with attempts at exercising off anxiety or crafting of a perfect cover letter, but even after attending to these thankless tasks the hours tend to be hard to fill in a way that feels meaningful. Some fill the time with totally arbitrary or foolish projects. For instance, I have decided to re-evaluate my cultural (and media) history by taking a second pass and revisiting those things that I used to love and those things that I have never really given myself a chance to feel anything about. I will be attempting to listen to my entire music collection alphabetically.
I will not be so spartan that I won’t allow myself to listen to specific albums when I want to, I just want to force some thoughtful engagement. Without putting too fine an economic or political point on the thing, I find that since I started reading musical criticism online, I consume far too ravenously, too readily; my love of culture has spilled over into a tendency to stockpile. I had been inspired by this site, aptly titled The Second Pass, in which writers re-view old works in the same spaces they review new works. I hope, in so revisiting what I already have (and possibly writing some small essays) to devalue empty novelty for myself–not to eliminate the blush of excitement one finds with novelty, but to curtail my tendency to value it for its own sake. I would like to re-engage with those things that I already have, to discover new wrinkles and folds. Maybe I can change a few of my listening habits in the process. Maybe I can work on my own ability to write about music, write more like Lester Bangs on Astral Weeks and less like Pitchfork on Kid A.
To paraphrase something Nabokov once said–only the second reading actually counts.
I have another project in mind, which seems to me to be just as difficult judging by my own ignorance to visual culture–I will watch through the entirety of the Criterion Collection. I will probably blog about this too, but I won’t pretend that I know enough about film to say much of interest. Maybe I will by the end of it. Hopefully I can at least watch the films at a clip that outpaces their new additions.
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