Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beer and Media

Earlier this month I wrote Digestion of Media which theorized that what makes us play a song repeatedly is an attempt to wrap our minds around the features of the song that are both appealing and new to us, making repetition of music a race to make the sound boring.

Now I want to talk about beer.

Specifically the kind of beer that arrogant bastards drink.

Now, Arrogant Bastard Ale is not what you would call "pleasant," but that does not mean that it is not the greatest beer I have had in my relatively short life as a consumer of lightly poisoned bread water. This notion is, I think, baffling to many and outright nonsensical to others. I will say that Arrogant Bastard does not exist to please your taste buds, now drink it. Arrogant Bastard will make you glare at me with confusion and anger as though you thought I was someone you could trust and then I poured a bottle of the devil's piss in your glass and grinned as you drank it. Now go drink it.

Why do I say that Arrogant Bastard is unpleasant and you should drink it anyway? Because it will remain outside your comfort zone. It engages you when you drink it. I am not a heavy drinker, I can not sit down and discuss the way the hops complement the beer's dryness or anything of that sort, but I can tell you that drinking Arrogant Bastard is an experience that engages you with the beer. If you can get out of the mindset that the pleasant is all that is worth seeking, then you will be able to appreciate Arrogant Bastard's ability to keep you from growing bored with it.

In this way, I present a counter-point to what I said in Digestion of Media. There is difficult music being produced and there is music being produced that is easy to the ear. What do I mean by difficult music? I mean music that does not necessarily sound good on the first hearing, something that you have to ease yourself into and learn to appreciate slowly. It is music that does not allow you to quickly digest it and reach the point of boredom. It is also music that does not exist solely to bring you pleasure, it draws you out of yourself, it asks you to meet it halfway rather than meeting you where you are.

I, for one, don't really listen to difficult music. I suspect that anyone reading this is beginning to wonder if I'm not describing something that doesn't exist. For that I advise finding a genre of music that lacks widespread mainstream appeal, one that is largely alien to you, and then reading the way its fans describe it. Perhaps I am letting myself be duped, but when I do this I get the impression that they're seeing something that I'm not seeing. I get the impression that there is a learning curve, but once you get past it you find something that can be investigated and digested slowly without drying up quickly.

Much like Arrogant Bastard demands your attention, at least if you're willing to buy another bottle even after overcoming that first sip.

This calls for a judgment, because there are two explanations that come to mind. Perhaps this is all smoke and mirrors; maybe Arrogant Bastard is just a bad tasting beer that prints labels suggesting that the deficiency is with the drinker instead of the beer, and some idiots buy into the advertising because their trying to tickle their pride, and likewise the somewhat obscure genres of music are just sounds that are not suitably capable of tapping into human psychology and physiology to deliver the kind of widespread satisfaction that top-40 songs can. Alternately, maybe it is true, and maybe chasing after what is pleasant to us is a way of confining ourselves to our comfort zones and trying to avoid experiencing and digesting that which is difficult to us in our present state.

No comments:

Post a Comment