Out Of Time?


I would not consider myself a fan of Spin Magazine. Though I can see its worth to someone who spends less of their time obsessing over, listening to, and seeking out new music. For someone like me, a magazine like Spin plays it way too safe. They review all of the albums that one would expect them to review; mostly mainstream or only slightly below the mainstream's radar. And, even this, they do entirely too late. In an age where information is so readily and easily available on the internet, it is hard to keep a music magazine relevant (I can think of only one that I deem absolutely essential, The Big Takeover). However, Spin ran an editorial by Chuck Klosterman that I read years ago that featured one passage that has stuck with me ever since. The article is called "Out of Time" and appeared in a 2004 issue of the magazine. Today, I decided to seek it out.

The passage:

But what I have come to realize is that those four or five years (from 20 to 25, roughly) represent the only time when things can seem new. When you're a teenager, you can't appreciate innovation intellectually -- everything seems normal, and you take everything for granted. And when you reach 30, you can't enjoy innovation viscerally, because it's impossible not to see how everything is ultimately derivative of something else. And yet there is a very specific window of time when newness can feel truly authentic, and it's a really amazing moment in your life.

I was twenty-five when I first read those words. Though I didn't commit them to memory, I have remembered the essence of what Klosterman wrote ever since. And, in the nearly five years that have passed, I have frequently ruminated over this notion; the idea that as the brain accumulates a greater degree of knowledge, its capacity to view things as unique and new is gradually eviscerated. I do believe that there is some truth to this.

Take music for example, since that is what I write about here. I can't remember the last time that I heard a song that didn't cause me to immediately recall parallels, draw comparisons, cite influences. Nobody could ever listen to all of the music that is out there. But, at this stage in my life, I have listened closely and widely enough that nothing does sound totally new. And, while I do get nostalgic for that time when there were genres and sounds that I could listen to that sounded like nothing that I ever could have imagined before, I would be remiss if I didn't say that I am still stopped dead in my tracks by new music every single day.

The experience is not the same. That doesn't mean that it can't be just as pleasing though. In my opinion, discovering a new genre or a new sound was just a tip-of-the-iceberg experience. It was life changing, yes. But, it was only the beginning of the journey. The fun came, and still comes, in digging deeper into whatever has captured the imagination at a given time. In other words, something doesn't have to sound like a transmission from another planet in order to affect one deeply. One doesn't have to feel like a caveman discovering fire in order to be moved by a work of art. What the experience lacks, viscerally, can be made up for in the exploration of nuance. And while that might lead to a different sort of pleasure, it is a pleasure nonetheless. What do you think?

Read Chuck Klosterman's full editorial here.

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