"What would criticism be like if it were not foremost trying to persuade people to find the same things great? If it weren’t about making cases for or against things? It wouldn’t need to adopt the kind of ‘objective’ (or self-consciously hip) tone that conceals the identity and social location of the author, the better to win you over. It might be more frank about the two-sidedness of aesthetic encounter, and offer something more like a tour of an aesthetic experience, a travelogue, a memoir. More and more critics, in fact, are incorporating personal narrative into their work. Perhaps this is the benefit of the explosion of cultural judgment on the Internet, where millions of thumbs turn up and down daily: by rendering their traditional job of arbitration obsolete, it frees critics to find other ways of contemplating music."
—Carl Wilson, Let’s Talk About Love, p. 156.
I’m about 85% of the way there with Wilson on this one. What’s holding me back is the proliferation, since his book’s 2007 publication, of the Internet’s idolatry of the personal. While I agree with Wilson’s basic ideas, namely that our aesthetic tastes are socially composed and aren’t nearly so objective as we believe them to be, and that the role of the critic (at least in part) should be to replicate the experience of the music itself, I wonder how frequently the kind of sharing he writes about here isn’t just more self-valorization.
But of course, I still wrote the above paragraph.