Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Power of Association

Earlier this week, I posted about the power that association has to improve a runner's endurance. In addition, I believe that association is even more influential in the development of one's musical preferences.

So, here's my confession: I really can't stand much country music. At all. I don't like it.

And there's really no reason for this -except that I associate country music with rather unpleasant things... like motion sickness. And it's amazing how even songs that are musically beautiful and interesting can do nothing for me if they cross that "country music barrier" in my mind. There are very few country songs that I can enjoy, and when I do enjoy them, I have to try very hard. It's a shame, really, but I just can't help it.

I tried to listen to Indigo Girls yesterday and couldn't sit through even one song before I turned it off. I didn't like the Bon Jovi CD, Lost Highway, because it shared too many similarities with country music. Now, I'm probably making this sound worse than it is. I have no phobia, no irrational, psychological aversion. I can listen to country music without vomiting, but I feel like there's this certain barrier that prevents me from enjoying it the way others do, simply because of this association it has in my mind.

I think Cage was aware of this power of association, and therefore sought to remove all of his own tastes and preferences from his work - and in some cases removed all taste from his work- in order to allow everyone to experience it in as unbiased a way as possible. We all bring to our experiences our own set of "goggles," our own biases and preferences, a culmination of life experience that influences how we view the world. By removing his work from all those musical parameters set by society at large, Cage freed his audience of all the "baggage" associated with so much of the music that was out there, allowing them to experience it with the least amount of distortion from these personal "goggles." He introduced them to things never heard before, so that the audience could not have made associations regarding it and hear it for what it was, and not for what it meant.

And to my knowledge, no one ever vomited.

As an aside, I love Celtic music, which is really just Irish country music when you think about it... funny, huh?

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