I love my iPod. My playlists reflect who I am. I’ve got a workout playlist, a lay-on-the-beach playlist, etc. We all do. iPods are a very efficient and amazing form of technology. But, (I can see my kids revving up their eye-rolls already) we are losing a very important part of art and thought when we pick and choose our songs from an album, without hearing from the artist within the context of his or her work.
Albums tell a story. I remember riding my bike down to the record store with $5 in hand, to buy a new record. I can still feel the way the plastic tore off in one large sheet. I plunked down in my beanbag chair and poured over the album art and lyrics as I listened to my record, over and over again. Today, when I hear some of those old songs, I remember the song that followed on the album. We miss the album story when we don’t hear all the songs.
Whether it’s a music album, a book or a piece of art, the artist expresses his or her beliefs through their work. Whether or not we agree with or like the artist’s work and beliefs is irrelevant. We, the consumer, are exposed to new ides from the artist’s point of view and we have a chance to form our own opinion. True learning comes from listening, reading or viewing a work of art and evaluating it for your self. You then have the opportunity to agree, disagree or change your own worldview. That’s why censorship is so bad. It limits our information and our ability to get the whole story. * But, when we decide to only listen to or only see the parts we like and eliminate the parts we don’t, we are in effect censoring our own learning process. We miss the whole message. We also miss the opportunity to grow and to think. We are cutting short our intellectual process, thus the figurative lobotomy.
I’m not saying that we should dump our iPods. How I would I get through my workout without Lynyrd Skynyrd AND Bon Jovi? But, we should consider making a conscious effort to take in forms of art in their entirety, as the artist intended. We become less educated and less as a people when we limit our opportunities for growth.
* Disclaimer – I am speaking of materials in the realm of mainstream or even fringe ideas and thought. I have strong opinions about the “censorship” of sexually explicit and pornographic images and their usefulness to society. That is a discussion for another time.