Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste

I never would've picked up Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste (Carl Wilson, 2007) if its author hadn't shown up on the Colbert Report a little while back. But I'm glad I did, because it's an enjoyable, thought-provoking book.

The author, a music critic, decides to explore an album and an artist he's always considered the epitome of bad music--Celine Dion, and the 1997 album that includes "My Heart Will Go On." He doesn't "review" the album until the penultimate chapter, spending most of the book exploring strands of North American music history, how Quebecois culture and history shaped Dion and her music, and the function of taste (in music, books, art, food, whatever) as a way of defining our identities and our place in social hierarchies.

Good stuff, though I'm not quite ready to take him up on his challenge and, say, hang a Thomas Kinkade painting above my bed. I wonder what it says about me that Thomas Kinkade is my Celine Dion, as it were, when in general I know and care FAR less about the visual arts than I do literature or music. Most of the time I readily shrug off the popularity of books or music I don't enjoy, including Celine Dion, with a "Some people juggle geese." (Firefly reference) But put me in a Christian bookstore with a display of Kinkades or those patriotic paintings of soaring eagles, and suddenly I'm Absolute Aesthetic Judgment Woman.

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