Higgins Versus Klosterman V: The Musical Reversal

Assume everything about your musical tastes was reversed overnight. Everything you once loved, you now hate; everything you once hated, you now love. If R.E.M. (always with periods) used to be your favorite band, they will now sound awful to you. If you hated Jethro Tull, they will now entrance you. If you consider the first album by Veruca Salt slightly above average, you’ll now find it slightly below average. Particulars will be changed, but the whole will remain in balance (and the rest of your personality will remain unchanged). You won’t love music any more or less, just differently. 

It’s very likely you find this transformation highly objectionable. But explain why.

So this one isn’t quite as fun, in that I’m not sure how I can put a poll at the bottom to elicit quick feedback. Instead, I’d have to suggest that you use the long form–comment away!

At first glance this question befuddled me. Rational me wanted to say that it didn’t matter; tastes are tastes and I shouldn’t worry if they change. Irrational me said they were a core to who I am. In the end, I think irrational me is right, but for rational reasons, and this is the part where I explain those rational reasons.

First, a point: tastes are not entirely arbitrary. They are the result of both environment and self-cultivation. If I think White Light/White Heat is the best VU album, you can probably extrapolate a little about my personality, worldview, and politics from that. If I am totally into Bikini Kill, I’m probably mildly into the whole feminism thing.

Tastes, then, exist as part of a cohesive whole. It would cause you a lot of dissonance to find out George Bush was (after the switch) a huge Immortal Technique fan. The thing is, it would probably cause ol’ George some trouble, too. People would say, “hey man, is this a phase?” It would weird people out.


It hurts to say this, but imagine the scene–you notice some cute guy or girl on the BART. They’re rocking a Greenpeace shirt. They’re reading Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine. They pull out their iPod… and you see they’re listening to Kid Rock. Probably not going to talk to them after all, right? But the rest of their personality hasn’t changed, so even if you two might have hit it off, you’re never going to make it anywhere, because they like Kid Rock and that just doesn’t fly.

So I think there is an objective basis for claiming that the musical reversal would cause a decline in your life, based on the dissonance between the reversal and the preserved personality. In fact, it might be more difficult to argue against an entire reversal, because it might lead to the argument that some preferences are inherently better than others. I’ve been able to avoid that here (despite my use of Kid Rock in the example).

What say ye?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This is Ashok.

reality in bits: economics, technology, and thought

Notes on a Theory...

Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

Nicole Gaddie

Journalist | Golfer | Storyteller | @NicoleGaddie

A kitchen for every pot

Public housing, people and policy

99 is not 100

"It's not about trash, not about waste. It’s about how we’ve chosen to live.”


Startup and Technology News

SHAM Lifestyle

SHAM Lifestyle Agency.

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

Burly's Baseball Musings

News and Jaundiced Views on the National Pastime

Sad Old Bastard Radio

Broadcasting sad sounds for sad old bastards and reviewing live music around the Bay Area

dvdsn dvdsn

work, thoughts, translations

Collectively Speaking

A Blog of The Women's Collective

Another World Is Happening

and I want to learn about it


Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, sports, science, economics and culture.

dc young entrepreneurs

You're an entrepreneur. We're your support team.


Sports and pop culture from our rotating cast of writers

%d bloggers like this: