On reading about it without having to experience the bloody thing

All of us who know anything of the broader picture of art and its history have what we know to be blind spots, in the form of things we know to have merit, to be significant, to have an intelligent audience, but which we personally can’t stand. Great, great, glad you love it, just don’t make me look at it, listen to it, etc.

My big artistic blind spot is jazz. Especially recent jazz, jazz perpetrated in my own life time, by drugged up artists more concerned with hiding from the shambles of their ruined and soon-to-end lives than with making proper tunes for a potentially wider audience. There you go. I can’t even write about jazz – can’t even think about it – without hurling abuse at it. (Early and badly recorded jazz with proper tunes, that I quite like. But, like many who hate a lot of classical music but might also strongly like some of it, I know too little about it all and don’t know where to start.)

Today, however, it occurred to me that there are plenty of things which I can’t stand actually experiencing, but which I love to read about. Most of history is ghastly, but I like reading history. And consider, in particular: war. I’d hate to actually be in a war, but I love to read about war, all the more so because war is so bloody horrible and I can congratulate myself on having throughout my life totally avoided all direct involvement in it.

Prompted by an amazon.co.uk email (amazon already knowing of my interest in a particular musical author (see below later in this sentence)), I have just ordered a couple of books by Ted Gioia, about jazz. (I quoted Gioia on the subject of JS Bach in this earlier posting here.) That way, I can learn lots about jazz, without having to listen to the bloody stuff.

3 thoughts on “On reading about it without having to experience the bloody thing”

  1. Odd you should post this the day I completed a survey for Norwegian Cruise lines in which I complained bitterly that nearly all the public music on the Norwegian Jewel was horrible, modern, atonal, arrythmic, unmelodic jazz.

    They advertised a number of ‘ballroom dance’ events, which was why my wife wanted the cruise, and the music was all jazz ‘tunes’ unrecognizable as dance music.

    One duo openly admitted knowing no tango music at all.

    Jazz delenda est.

  2. I go to plenty of jazz concerts. Very little of it is atonal nowadays. Last week I went to the opening gala concert of this year’s London Jazz Festival. Plenty of melodies, plenty of swing, some beautiful singing, some exciting virtuoso piano, jazzed up versions of songs by Stevie Wonder and Nirvana. It was a fantastic enjoyable evening. I think, just like classical music, jazz had mostly got over its atonal phase. Give it another go Brian. You don’t know what you’re missing!

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