this is not an anniversary post

Three years ago today, I wrote my very first post about music on SOLILOQUY. But no, today is not SOLILOQUY’s 3rd anniversary. 2009 doesn’t really count given that I only wrote 2 measly articles that year. What I want to celebrate today instead is something far much important: the first instance this musically-challenged noob decided to crossover from passive listener to active advocate of jrock.

If, by any chance, you strayed over into my About page, you would have noticed that it contains nothing but a quote from George Starostin, a respected linguist who also found recognition as a music critic, and I’m reprinting it here:

Of course, this is presumptuous. Who am I to make my opinions matter? Basically a nobody — not a musician, not a musicologist, not even a superb connoisseur of the pop culture, and not even a native English speaker. There are so many people in the world who are better “qualified” for this line of work than me, it’s not even funny. And who am I to give someone something? How have I been authorized? How have I even been able to suppose that someone might want to con­sider taking this bullshit from me?

The answers are simple: you cannot really know until you try

So try, I did. And SOLILOQUY was born.

Well, that quote was actually part of a very insightful essay on internet based amateur criticism entitled “Why Writing About Music Beats Dancing About Architecture”. I was moved the first time I read it but the essay took a whole new level of significance when I found myself reading it over and over again during the times I’m contemplating whether to continue with SOLILOQUY or not. I’ve had my fun. The numbers might not have been groundbreaking, but at least I knew that there are those willing to take some “bullshit” from me. Now what?

Starostin captured that dilemma spot-on:

Then, at one point, the rut set in, and a crisis was imminent. First came the understanding that the process is endless; timeless musical masterpieces may be few, but “good” music stretches out to infinity, in width as well as in depth, and my idealistic “encyclopaedic” dreams of covering eve­ry­thing worth covering were shattered and smashed…

Second came the understanding that I had run out of things to say — there’s only so many different words in the English language, and far from all of them are easily applicable to a music review, and this brings on the horrible idea that, perhaps, if you catch your­self applying the exact same words to a dozen different albums by different artists in different times, this might mean that the music sounds exactly the same? And if it does not, what good it is to try and capture its essence with such inadequate means?

At a moment like this, the only thing that keeps you going is understanding that, if you just drop it, this means you have wasted an awful amount of time and potential with all your previous writing. There is also the idea of “obligation”: people who like to read you expect you to entertain them further, and maybe they have a certain flimsy right to. But going on just for the sake of going on isn’t a lot of fun, either.

Ouch on that last line.

Given that I’ve only been doing this for about a year or so, to speak about being burnt out is premature and to some extent egotistic.  But when there are tons of drama happening in real life, sustaining an existence in the blogosphere becomes yet another task competing for attention. At the end of the day, you just have to ask: “Is this a commitment really worth pursuing?”

April 3rd of this year, I found my answer. So here I am, looking forward to writing more about the music that I love. Once more, with feelings.

pensive HYDE

note: to read Starostin essay in its entirety, go this page. I highly recommend it. Be cautioned though that the page takes time to load and the essay is at the very bottom.


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