Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Repeat: The Lamentable Power of the Gluttonous Loner

My name is Varsity Aesthete, and I repeat music. Repeatedly.

Years ago, when it finally became possible for me, I often enjoyed my music this way. Soundly out of the cassette ghetto, I was awash in the luxury of "repeat all" and "repeat one" - loving the songs more and more each time they played - and as ungrateful and dismissive of this power as the most blissfully spoiled child.

It wasn't until college that I began to push "repeat" with any twinge of anything, and even then it really wasn't much at all. After years of free time alone, I was suddenly 24-hour slumber-partying with all the other freshmen. We'd pile into eachothers' rooms soaking up the social, and it was terrific.

One night, I got to my room and found a bunch of my friends inside chatting - in silence. When I asked what'd happened to the music I'd left on, a pitying glance or two flickered amongst their faces. Finally, very calmly and with a bit of some pointed emotion, I was told that they'd turned it off because I "left it on repeat".

That "left it on repeat" was so loaded for me. The public/private protection was gone and I was out there exposed: naked and gluttonous.

It's only in the past few days as I've been trying to defend this quirk that I've gotten so far in understanding what may be wrong with it. Maybe what's wrong is that it's gross. Gross like eating the large all by yourself in your room alone is gross. You don't want company, it's all for you and no one else needs to know about it. Gross. It's also so bratty. So only child. Christ. What could be more the-world-is-my-oyster-and-always-has-been, oh-when-did-you-get-here? Yikes.

The troubling momentum of self-recrimination has sent me off the deep end here. This post has taken on a guilt-ridden, confessional life of its own. I am beat, I am sad, and I haven't even covered the aesthetic concerns at all.

In Six Names of Beauty, Crispin Sartwell investigates, among many other qualities, the aspect of beauty that comes from rareness, scarcity and innocence.

"My son Sam, now eleven, once crawled across a field at my mother's house toward a huge full moon on the horizon, trying to put it in his mouth. I myself saw the moon differently that night, and am now capable in a pinch of seeing it that way again. But it is a sad and necessary truth about people that the things we experience often become commonplace, that the green on the tree behind the house can no longer be for us a cause of rejoicing unless we receive with it a refreshment of experience in general. We cannot always achieve such a refreshment, and the dullness of the world emerges from our own dullness, from the bluntness of our desires and the and the surfeit of sensation in the course of a life."

Without meaning to, I am perhaps stripping my favorites of their appeal by indulging my desire to enjoy them over and over and over again. There is so much more to say about this, but I am exhausted and more than a little bummed out by this revelation.

Some other time, okay?

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