Mark Edmundson declared that the point of reading the classics “is to see if they know you better than yourself”. More often than not they do. We relate to Salinger’s Holden and Twain’s Huck. They become a marker, a point of reference to not only who we are but who we can be.
When we like music we sometimes don’t understand it but we “get it”. But perhaps, as Edmundson might put it, the music actually gets us. It knows us better than ourselves and we latch on to our aural companion. Entire genres stand in for personal identity: punks, metal heads, b-boys, mods, and so forth.
And yet a genre, simply aesthetics, knowing you better than yourself sounds off. It wasn’t punk that got you, it was Black Flag. It wasn’t Black Flag that got you, it was Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn. It wasn’t classical music that knew you better than yourself, it was Mozart who did.
People relate to people. That is where the connection occurs, where ideas form and grow. As Marcel Duchamp famously stated…
“I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists”.