I hate it when I'm exactly like everybody else #223: The Rite of Spring

I have a fickle relationship with mass opinion. I’m not talking about boom-and-bust buzz, like the sucess and subsequent backlash towards Juno. Rather, I really enjoy looking for things to read, listen to and watch, but once something passes a certain threshold of critical acclaim, or “belovedness” I get almost afraid of it (closely related to this phenomenon is when I find something, tell everybody about it, then find out that a) everybody has heard of it and b) it was recent enough that I can’t ride the wave of “rediscovery” or “reevaluation” [Damn the day I found out Mitch Hedberg died!]).

Really, I’m afraid of being moved in the same way as everybody else is. That is to say, I’m scared of being the suburban white kid talking about his three months in Costa Rica changing his life, or the adolescent philosopher pontificating on the deep truth in the Matrix, or the Lilith Fair chick talking about how Exile in Guyville said in song what she could not in words.
The thing is, they’re not even wrong.
There’s probably a lot to be learned from time in another, non-anglophone non-western (-ish, don’t hate!) country for a sheltered American. Liz Phair is the liberated Sappho of our time, and circulation numbers alone have to put the Wachowski brothers at the top of any list of influential American philosophers. The only problem (to be clear, the only problem for me) is that those emotional responses are so common.
That’s why I hate, to use today’s example, when I (a teenaged musician) fall in love with Stravinski’s The Rite of Spring after reading about the crowd of young Parisian musicians’s love for the ballet, or about the multiple composers who fetishized their copy of the score in their youth.
I just recently acquired a copy of the score. My father’s college music professor, with whom he was close, died earlier this spring, and I had the opportunity to keep his considerable sheet music library. One of my favorite finds was a pocket edition of the Rite.
It’s such a famous piece, and has touched so many people of my age, that there is literally nothing that I could write that would be original. Not my analysis. Not my emotional response.
Maybe it’s better. Maybe the overwhelming judgment of it externalizes all other opinions on the piece, and I can just enjoy it.

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