Saturday, October 1, 2016

Judgement and Bias

One of the things about today's world that continues to puzzle me is the bias against judgement. I mean the tendency we see to denigrate all forms of genuine criticism in favor of a kind of bland approval of everything. We saw it just yesterday in Alex Ross' paean in praise of experimental music and we see it everywhere in the reluctance to offer actual criticism. If we don't like something we just toss it down the memory hole. I think I ran across where this comes from. It is a mild form of the more extreme notion that bias and bigotry are everywhere. The assumption is that everyone is a racist and sexist and we have to be condemning this with our every waking breath. Now this does not come from any actual data or statistics or analysis, it is the base assumption and cannot be either questioned or disagreed with. Why is this? As one writer said, it is not
based on any form of reasoned observation, but on pure political calculation under the self-aggrandizing and self-deluding mask of moral narcissism.
Ah, now it makes sense. Two characteristics of life in the 21st century are that cultural Marxism has seeped in everywhere and it is combined with a particularly rancid form of moral narcissism.  We believe things to be true because they reinforce our sense of moral superiority. The cultural Marxism comes from making all moral judgements on the basis of membership in a group. Your group identity is all that matters, not your actual moral acts.

So if you move into the area of aesthetic judgement, some of the same faulty and distorted principles are at work. You cannot criticise any individual composer because that indicates bias. After all, they might be a member of an officially designated oppressed group. This is why criticism of, for example, women composers is extremely inadvisable. On the other hand, membership in an officially designated oppressor group is a final judgement in itself. Music, for example, that encodes racism, colonialism or sexism is automatically bad music which is why there is always a bit of a cloud hanging over classical music. Misogynistic rappers get off scot-free though because they are members of an officially designated oppressed group which trumps everything else.

What you cannot do any more is objectively evaluate aesthetic objects without considering the identity of the creators. That would be wrong because we are all sexist and racist and infected with implicit colonialism.

Bryan, by the way, is my slave name and henceforth I wish to be called "Cthulu" and my designated personal pronoun is "Your Eminence". Thank you.

For our envoi today we have Igor Levit playing the first two movements from the Beethoven Piano Sonata op 109:


Christine Lacroix said...

Thought you'd get a kick out of this, Bryan:
'Some pet owners are protesting that Halloween costumes for dogs are too gendered. Stores, for instance, sell nurse's outfits or cowgirl chaps for female dogs, but male dogs get to be doctors and police officers. These people say this is sexist, and they're trying to organize a boycott. (Abha Bhattarai)'


You have to scroll down quite a bit to find the piece.

Bryan Townsend said...

Oh yes, I have given up thinking that there is any logical end to this lunacy!