Monday, April 28, 2008

Book No. 15: Carl Wilson - Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love

Carl Wilson's 33 1/3 book is unusual in many senses. First, Wilson is not enamored of Celine Dion's album, which is very much unlike the relationship most of the 33 1/3 authors have for their subjects. Second, Wilson is primarily interested in fan reactions: why do so many people love Celine Dion's music while so many critics hate it? Third, Wilson's methodology is aesthetic. He is trying to explain his own reactions to Dion's book through the signifiers it carries for him.

It's not just unusual but astonishing, too. Wilson rises to the occasional admirably, breaking out why Western listeners have their aesthetic reactions, delving into a brief history of aesthetics, constantly challenging not just himself, but his readers, too. As a work of music criticism, it's more like Harry Frankfurt's work of popular philosophy On Bullshit than anything else. I loved it and recommend it to anyone interested in pop culture, not just the music and lit geeks who usually enjoy 33 1/3 books.

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