Patrick (patrick___) wrote,

Why we value some things...

Have you noticed how many of us rarely take things at face value?

Take music for instance. Many people (although not all) appreciate music not on how it sounds to their ears, but on its historical/cultural/personal value. So for instance, you play them a piece of lo-fi punk rock and they might not enjoy it, but you tell them it was by an early pioneer of rock music in the 1960's who preceded punk rock by a whole decade, and suddenly they might become completely enamored by it. What was worthless poorly-played rock music, now becomes some sort of prescient musical genius.

This kind of thing happens all the time. You could play tricks on your friends (if you are the malicious type) to convince them into enjoying music that they otherwise wouldn't. "Did you know Paul McCartney secretly produced hip hop music in the early 90's? He actually mixed all the songs by the artist known as 'Young MC' (MC being short for McCartney)!" If you could trick them into believing it, you might suddenly have an old Beatles fan become far more fascinated with early 90's hip hop...

We simply just don't take things for face value, hardly ever. Even food. There have been a number of studies where actual wine tasters have been tricked into drinking cheap wine, and thinking it was something of some high caliber. The same has been done with cheap fast food.

It's not that there isn't such a thing as objective quality standards. There are. But there is a near infinite amount of art out there of high quality. We need something to help us "weed through" and make sense of these things. And our cultural/social frameworks is a major way we do this.

It's not just with historical frameworks, either. We also do this through our own personal close friends and family members. ("Grandpa always loved this old record. I know no one else would ever care about it, but knowing he grew up with it has always made me enjoy it so much more.") ("Ooh, this is exactly the kind of dance music my old college friend Dave used to love so much!")

Perhaps toddlers and preschoolers are the best at enjoying things simply on face value. They don't care if you like it or hate it. It's their own taste that matters (whether it's Spaghetti O's or Teletubbies). It's always fascinating to play songs for preschool age children from a huge variety of artists and seeing what they do or don't gravitate to (or actively hate). They are vastly more open-minded than the average adult, and generally know nothing of the cultural/historical reasons to like or dislike an artist. In fact, the very idea of that is practically unknown to them. Interesting to think that in some ways, children might actually be better music critics than adults.

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