Meditations from mid-December 2010 (but they could be anytime in the last few years):
Both Oscar Wilde and Mae West, in very different contexts, had their personae utter the sentiment that too much was just enough — barely so. I am musing on plenitude. Plenitude and its discontents? Or its contents?
When I was a young record collector, with fewer records available to me and limited funds, I would sometimes imagine that one vision of jazz paradise would be having more music than I could possibly listen to. Standing in front of the racks of records in a Greenwich Village shop, I would think covetously of having it all.
Now that my weekly allowance is larger and it seems that everything ever recorded is available for purchase, I haven’t turned demonically acquisitive. I am pleased to report that when I visited two of those shops on a rainy afternoon ten days ago, I found one CD I really wanted to buy, bought it, and was delighted. And I left the stores without any wistful backwards glances. Better to have one CD I would listen to and prize than a half-dozen ones that I would not get through ever.
But at home I am surrounded by music, and not just because I own an iPod. I don’t just mean the CDs and records I’ve acquired over the decades, nor the ones that come through the mail (both solicited and not). As I write this, I am trying not to consider the boxes of cassette tapes next to my desk, or the small hoard of vinyl records.
What caused me even to think of writing this post was a moment this evening where I found myself downloading jazz videos I had taken onto YouTube (something that doesn’t require minute-by-minute supervision) on one computer while listening to a new CD that I wanted to review on my stereo system. In another room, I was using my laptop to transfer music from one format to another.
I wonder what a moralist would make of this scene — a somber illustration of “Be careful what you wish for,” or the epitome of delight? (Of course, I would only consider with any seriousness the opinions of moralists who knew who Walter Page was.)