Crush Your IPod.
A discussion with Brady Cranfield, who has a new blog here, brought me to some realizations regarding the whole "uncool" issue.
1. Turns out that the standard I was using for my value judgments was not that of Van City indie-rock hipsters but that of I, me, myself. I realize now that it's me who thinks that Kate Bush, Ween and abstract electronica are embarassing/not "okay to like".
2. There is a "new cool" in the indie-rock world, which is rather like the old cool but without limits. That is to say, to the Pitchfork/Ipod generation, it's okay to listen to pretty much anything, just so long as you don't like it too much. This is the coolness of expertise rather than the hot, flustered state of fandom. I remain a fan of the things I love, through and through but I am, at least, very embarrassed about it. Am I cool yet?
3. Seriously though, this goes to what people have been saying about downloading exposing listeners to a massive variety of music but only in a very superficial fashion. Dilettantism is in; it's cool to dabble. But to me - a FAN of challenging music made by genius-auteur archetypes - this kind of behaviour is seriously square capitulation with the dictates of consumerism and the rule of mediocrity. Not cool. Also: Constant! Shallowness! Leads! To! Evil! At least the old cool was about hidden depths not proudly displayed shallows.
4. So who's cool then? Is it Saelan, with his voracious appetite for whatever he can download today? Or is it Barbara, with her collection of a mere five albums she really loves and listens to again and again (at least three of which are by Current 93). Ah... I think you're both super cool.
5. And the moral of the story is that I have to decide whether (a) i want to be cool (b) I want to be wilfully uncool (c) I want to grow up and get over it. Each has its advantages and disadvantages life-style and ideology-wise. I'll keep you posted.