josh blog

newest | archives | search | about | wishlist | email

"josh blog" is where I write about music.

I write new entries whenever the mood strikes me, or whenever I'm able. The newest entry is always at the top of the main page. After that they come in reverse chronological order. The date and time an entry was posted are above that entry, and also form a link which functions as a permanent link to that entry. The main page only shows the nine most recent entries, but you can go back as far as you like, or at least until about six months ago when I started publishing entries the way I do now; before that there are large, bulky pages, one per month.

I started it late in December 1999 because I wanted to write about music, but didn't feel comfortable doing so in the ways that seem to be chosen most often - the review and the essay.

I hadn't liked the former for some time. In fact, I had been trying (or at least hoping) to write about music for years before that December, but I was too concerned with fundamental questions about value, taste, and subjectivity to be able to commit to writing anything substantial. Depending on when (I changed my mind sometime during college, although it would be more apt to say that I eventually discovered that somehow what I thought had become different from what I had formerly thought - it's not as if I deliberated over it), I was either so determined to evaluate music objectively that I set myself with the crippling task of doing so from the ground up (don't ask me how - the fact that I no longer understand what my deal was then tells me that there's a good reason I changed my mind), thus stopping me from feeling able to write anything worthwhile at all; or, I was so unsure of how to square my own personal appreciation of music with what I knew to be a number of conflicting views on how judgments are justified, that I was basically crippled in the same way as before, faced with too big a task and intellectual desiderata that I could not obtain.

As for the latter, the essay: essays are hard to write. I didn't always think that I had the material to support them (I have very high standards for essays). More importantly, I thought that the essay as a critical form demanded certain kinds of substance, the demand for which puts too many restrictions on what music writing can be like. That is, I thought I had something interesting to say, that didn't need essays to say it. Even better, I thought I had something to say, motivated by my everyday, routine listening to and thinking about music, that the essay form often just didn't have time for.

I'm not totally sure how or when I thought some of the things in the previous paragraph. I had some inklings, I guess - I wish I had written them down so that what I thought before December 1999 was better documented, just for my own sake. But seeing my friend Michael's frequent and insightful "Cultural Artifacts of the Moment" appended to his e-mails and news posts, and wishing I felt more able to write articles for Tom's Freaky Trigger or even song reviews for an early incarnation of NYLPM, called "The Singles Bar," I thought that I could at least try to write down what I thought about music in the kind of brief remarks that Mike made. The late Lemonyellow (which I would link to, but it's just a disappointing, empty directory now) also had something to do with how I chose to do things, as that's where I first heard of 'blogs' (short for 'weblogs'). More importantly, Lemonyellow must have inspired me to let the boundaries on what I wrote bleed a bit more, so that I didn't just confine myself to writing about a song, or an album, or an artist, or a genre, or whatever. (Think: anything where I could put above the entry, "THIS ENTRY IS ABOUT THIS ARTIFACT").

Some time before beginning to write here, I read Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and it became my favorite book by my favorite philosopher. The resemblances between the form he wrote in, and the form I am writing in, are not coincidental. But although I may have had him in mind when I started (I bet I did, though I can't actually remember), I didn't intend just to mimic his style in order to gain some kind of credibility. I do study his writing and experiment in ways similar to his because I think that what I want to do may be something like what I think he was doing, and writing in similar ways might be a good way of doing it.

Every time I try to explain what I'm doing here, I eventually end up trying to explain why I started writing here, and in this way. I think that's because, even though I'm not totally clear on the details, the reasons that I started are at least a semi-historical thing now, that I can refer to more easily, and I was more clear on my reasons early on.

By now, I'm simultaneously a lot clearer, and a lot less clear. So, at the moment, I can't offer a good explanation of what the hell I think I'm doing here. What I usually tell people to do is to just read it for a while, and they might get it. Sometimes I actually write about what I think I'm doing, but usually it just shows up in what I write about and how I write about it.

Some of the things I write about: I write about music I like, and music I don't like, but I try to be sympathetic and open-minded, and usually, I lean toward "like", because I pick and buy the thing I write about. Some of this music is new to me, and some of it is very familiar; some of it is in between. I don't listen to or like every kind of music but I like lots of kinds, and try to like more. It's not precise or exhaustive, but most of what I listen to falls under or is something like "rock", "jazz", "indie", "classical", "electronic", or "rap". I write about songs, and albums, and pieces, and multiple albums, and parts of larger works, and moments, and sounds. I write about what I think about them, or about things they make me think about or that I think are relevant to them. I write about how they make me feel. I write about them in relation to artists, and performers, and ideas, and genres, and movements, and what other people think. Sometimes I write casually, and sometimes I write carefully. Sometimes I am more argumentative or logical, and sometimes I don't have time for that, or it's inappropriate, or I just don't want to. Sometimes I consider the philosophical or ethical ramifications of what I write, and sometimes I don't. I write about some music very infrequently, maybe just once. I write about some music over and over again. I repeat myself sometimes, but hopefully it never gets too boring (sometimes I have to repeat myself). Sometimes I just take note of things, or link to things that interest me or that I think might interest me later. I don't always say if I like something, or if I think it's good, and sometimes I intend it to be ambiguous; often I like what I'm writing about, and just don't bother or don't care to say so. I write about myself, especially about how my reactions change over time.

That's a longer way of saying "I write about a lot of stuff," but sometimes I think people don't believe me when I say that.

I invariably hate anything like this page once I've put it out where people can see it, but at the moment I'd rather it be here than not. Hopefully some people will find it helpful.

I love to get mail about anything I write, or about anything I write about. It doesn't even have to be related. My address is kortbein@ellipsis.cx.

Yes, people buy me things from my wishlist. I'm as surprised as you. Yes, I like the yellow. No, I don't want to change it right now.