Friday, May 17, 2013

A Statement of Purpose, Slowly

My listening project began in February 2008 (link) and continues today. The idea was simple: listen to everything in my music library and review it on my blog. I was faithful about the concept until 2010, when a big move and a long period of unemployment left me in poor emotional state to muster the blog reviews. I have kept the music appreciation side, though. As of this morning, I have listened to 53,140 tracks out of the 72,340 in my library. I have spent just over 150 days—five whole months!—in the last five years listening to my music alphabetically. That is 3,600 hours. This does not include new tracks, repeats, ephemera such as podcasts, little obsessions, and deletions. If I were to add nothing new to my library, I would have 19,200 tracks left with 50 solid days of listening before me. My current rate of listening (1 solid month per year) indicates that this will take another year and a half to complete the project.

Today I rarely update my blog. Perhaps my job and family are more demanding, but in truth, my creative reserves are too often just empty. I work. I parent. I play music and tinker with electronics. I try to keep up with interesting TV shows and movies. This stuff takes time, and I’m uncertain that the ramblings of a middle-aged man are worth anyone else’s time but my own. So the blog is a low priority.

This project was about looking at the world differently. I intended to slow my consumption down and try to appreciate the music I love on its own level. This year I am 41 and appreciably slower than I was when I began this project at 36 (actually I was 35, with my birthday still some months away). Anyway, my point is that I am more in tune with the act of slow listening and I am unsure whether this is more because of the influence of the project or the inevitability of time.

I have an enormous and growing backlog that lives in a folder on my iTunes called “To Review.” It is at 16,363 songs and just over 45 days of music. Just shy of what I have left to listen to, and a little less than a third of what I’ve covered thus far. In the interest of reaching the end, I have threatened in the past to do faster, more perfunctory posts, even if it violates the spirit of this project. But I have balked at this. Without its animating spirit, what is the project? If I get annoyed and simply rush to the end, am I not cheating myself, breaking my own rules for instant gratification, despite the fact that delayed gratification was the point from the beginning?

So I will give it another go. Because five years is far too long for a project to be unnamed, I hereby call this The Slow Music Library Project.

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Cary, NC, United States
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From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

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