I don’t know – I’m beginning to think that a lot of our attraction to media is because for years we got to have a THING that represented it, namely plastic discs and dead trees. Now that those are all going away it’s much easier to lose the attachment to those works – because then it’s just some kind of art form separated from a thing that held it.
When one does things like alphabetize a record collection, like I did for years, are we really celebrating an art form or are we just obsessive about our possessions?
For years I had told myself that I liked having a physical format for music, movies, and books. But today I look around at all this stuff and think of how much space they take up and how it will be a pain to move them if/when I move. “Music is timeless,” I told myself. “Art is timeless.” If so, then how come I rarely go back to most of them? If so, then how come there are such things as albums that work better on a CD or on Vinyl?
As I get older I see that these things from my youth that I told myself were very important, that spoke to me, were merely just what was available at the time I was growing up. Musicians like to talk about how music can speak to you, about how a song can hit at a time in your life when you need it. Weezer’s Blue Album is important to me because it came out when I was in junior high and I listened to it a lot. But if I came up during a different time wouldn’t it just have been some other album? Would the Beatles have gotten as big as they did if they weren’t marketed heavily to tons of up-and-coming baby boomers?
At its best, all this media can be something that speaks to you, but it can also be a reminder of who you once were or believed you could be. At its worse, they’re just things in a box taking up space in your new life.