Composition for Milton Babbitt (d. 2011)
By Logan K. Young
“First, as a public service -- guaranteed by fiat -- I regret, under duress, my inability to accord hoary dualisms a negative commodity value in an alien and inapposite world.
Like all communication, this declaration of faith breeds passive acceptance to those in search of what to think and how to say it (as well as the virtue of immediate translation of this boredom, alternatively and perhaps less contentiously, with the independent issue of evaluation). Inability to perceive and remember precisely principles of relatedness that have been banished from rational discourse understandably disqualifies these reasons as irrelevant to the content and value of the lecture.
Deviation from this tradition (i.e. articles not intended for popular consumption) presupposes a suitably equipped receptor and an irrefutable applicability towards the indisputable facts that seems to me, the very minimal properties characterizing this body, indefensible.
But to this leveling of categories,
a double standard is invoked.
The majority shun and resent it -- tapping that store of vacuous equivalents the respect due its advanced age.
This fall from innocence, this increase in efficiency, this committing to memory the numbers of phonograph records hallowed by time is of slight moment in a world where critical authority, charged with decadence and conspiracy, is established beyond the possibility of further inquiry. Curiously, their insidious demurrers (those who still patiently await each such atomic event with puzzlement, resentment, and finally, denunciation), stating an attitude that necessarily reduces the redundancy of the language where such circularity is one of the norms, contend that such historically retarded research is so supported because in the past, it has yielded the revelation of the criteria of Absolute Good.
Close enough to (and parallel with) antiquity to be respectable, but without the right to be confronted by the now sacrosanct fields of the endeavor itself, it is only the whistling repertory of the man on the street, and his interlocutor, that will be suspect.”
-- From As Per Modernity (vis-à-vis “The Composer as Specialist,” High Fidelity; VIII/2 [Feb. 1958])