Although I’ve owned it for two years, I don’t use my iPod “properly.” It mostly acts as a musical way station, into which I upload the new albums I’m reviewing or interested in, or older favorites I need to hear at that moment. But I’ve never used all its memory capacity; as of eight-thirty this morning I’ve got a grand total of 57 songs uploaded, and it won’t change soon. I’m still attached to physical copies of CD’s, so the procedure goes: I get sent a digital copy of, say, Dear Science, I listen to it a half dozen times, then go buy a copy. When I want to hear Comes A Time or Please, I do what millions of listeners did before the advent of personal listening devices: I listen to it in my car or wait until I’m home. I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to upload hundreds of albums that I may not want to hear in the next few days. Besides, I’m a natural deleter: wasted space offends me. Ask my students how much I love ripping pages off essays and defacing paragraphs with red sharpies.

Yeah, yeah — I contradicted myself. Buying CD’s when I’ve already got a digital copy takes up space. It’s an odd sort of redundancy. But my habits haven’t adjusted to the paradigm shift of which Joe Levy speaks in his jauntily defiant response to remarks by Robert Christgau on the changing nature of music consumption: from home stereo system to laptop speakers and headphones. Christgau worries that the “privatization of music consumption that the iPod-computer speaker model assumes,” along with diminishing word counts for reviews, has constricted the ability if not the desire of rockcrits to think beyond their prejudices.

Whew. The remarks may deserve their own space. As much as I enjoy drawing correspondences between subtle changes in the thinking patterns of the world at large and the banal/personal, and as much as this midthirtysomething gets off on a certain earned orneriness, I don’t see the atrophy that Bob does — not yet. I do see a lot of good writers struggling to express their thoughts in shrinking space, some of whom adjusting better than others, as usual — nothing new in that. My iPod does have lots to teach me about managing shrinking space, though.

PS: Check out the roundtable at Slate between Jody Rosen, Ann Powers, and Christgau.

1 thought on “

  1. Josh

    I love how, in the same piece in which Bob’s calling out Pfork critics for being too lazy to investigate assumptions further, he actually admits being too unmotivated to investigate his own assumptions about KoL.

    Someone also needs to let him know it’s ConOr Oberst.


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