Friday, March 8, 2013

Digestion of Media

I have noticed as of late that whenever I cycle through my phone to choose music to listen to, I invariably tap the "Recently Added" button and choose from among the first ten or so songs. I have also noticed that whenever the player moves beyond my most recent additions, my finger starts pressing the skip button.

I remember being in early High School and getting excited whenever Sublime's Wrong Way or Date Rape came on the radio. Then I remember later in High School listening to Nirvana songs over and over again. Then I entered college and began listening to Rammstein's singles. Rarely will my music player land on a Sublime, Nirvana, or even Rammstein song without my ears itching to hear something else.

I wonder if my interest in a song, or more properly my boredom with a song, has nothing to do with the traits of the songs themselves and more to do with the novelty of the song. Perhaps what keeps my attention is the extent to which the song lies outside what I am used to, the extent to which the song has not been already digested.

Imagine it in this way. You encounter a new sound, a new arrangement of instruments, a new combination of tone, accent, and emotion in a voice, and if it has an initial appeal to you, you begin playing it in your head if not playing it through speakers. You begin wrapping your mind around it, you begin making it more and more familiar to yourself. This may take a long time, it may only take a few weeks, but in time you find that whatever it was in the song that fascinated you begins to fade.

I submit that the fascination arose because there were characteristics in the song that stood outside of you. The song left impressions that were unfamiliar, perhaps only a few unfamiliar impressions in otherwise well-traveled territory. If those impressions struck you as lovely, then you are driven to consume them. Paradoxically you want to end what makes those elements interesting: the fact that you have not already made them a part of yourself.

Fascination, in this conception, is the feeling one gets when they find something outside themselves that they want to add to themselves. Contempt, then, in the usage of "familiarity breeds contempt" is the feeling one has when one encounters something with nothing new to chew on.

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