Robert Christgau: “My friend in California and I…” (03/03/87)

“In the comments headed ‘Alternative Formats,’ you’ll find a dissenting and indeed abnormal standard applied to these issues–that of rock criticism’s great dissenter, proud crank, and undeconstructed postmodernist Greil Marcus. My friend in California and I disagree more than we agree, at least about music, and I somehow doubt that his daily dose of kilohertz would convert me to his philosophy of art–if I spent that much time in my car I’d install a tape deck. But where my slightly kooky and definitely doomed attempt to give every halfway promising record a fair hearing submits to the modernist assumption that music is created and perceived by individuals, Marcus’s dial-spinning honors music as social fact, and especially given his elitist tendencies I admire how persistently he subjects himself to other people’s musical will. It’s one more variation on a theme of his criticism, which often focuses on moments when intense individual expression is so difficult to distinguish from random outpouring that it comes across as the world calling–that is, when what some call the bourgeois subject approaches the verge of realization and/or disintegration.”
Robert Christgau, “Township Jive Conquers the World


Village Voice, March 3, 1987


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