Coolfer posts about the irony of digital music today, an obvious point that is not often touched on. He writes: “It’s the great contradiction of the “celestial jukebox.” As wonderful as it will be to have access to all the world’s recorded music, who has the time to listen to even a fraction of a percent of it? Nobody. (But at least it’s there to be heard, given the opportunity.)” I added the italics. And here’s why.
I am again reminded of that NYT article that concludes: “the technology of search will transform isolated books into the universal library of all human knowledge.”
It’s an existential paradox. Of course people can’t absorb all the information in the world. As Glenn points out though, it’s the knowledge that it’s out there. It’s the very existence of the accessibility. That is the draw. THat is the drawback. Isn’t it fascinating how much power an idea can have? Even when it’s an impossible reality? I mean, the fact that one could listen to all the music that’s out there, or read all the books. It doesn’t so much matter, the reality, does it?
The last time Nietzche was brought up it had to do with communism and racism and Greil Marcus. This time I simply want to say that the connection between existentialism and technology is asserting its presence here. This is probably something that many people have studied or know about, but it’s just occurred to me now, that learning about how big the world is makes one feel small. And Coolfer’s use of “celestial jukebox” makes me wonder, though, if Nietzche, even his era, is the root of this, because I’d be inclined to say no, that it has more to do with astronomy, so we can thank ancient Greece for that.
A related concern of mine is that the proliferation of music everywhere is turning music into Muzak. It’s all about having a constant soundtrack, constant sound in the background. It becomes secondary, rather than the focused activity of listening to it. Besides, you can’t even tell when you are hearing Muzak anymore, now that they simply license the music for their use.