I’ve been thinking and having deep and thoughtful conversations with people lately about fashion and music and just taste in general.
And I’ve been thinking about why we like the things we like.
Last fall there was an article in The New York Times Magazine about the music site Pandora. They try to match you to music you’ll like for mathematical rather than cultural reasons, in an attempt to bypass the inherent biases of consumers and the music industry.
It reminded me of how this one time in high school, upon realizing that I was not at all sure as to the extent my choice of music reflected my tastes or those of my friends, I laid all my cds around me on the ground and stared at them. In the end, I gave most of them away and dropped others at The Last Stop CD Shop. (I remember being very upset that they refused a perfectly good Billy Joel cd, claiming there had been an influx of Billy Joel that year.)
So, my main issue at the time was that I wanted to know what I really and truly liked. Me. And I think it was a useful exercise. I realized I didn’t actually like much pop music, and I started looking for what I did like. And then, as I made friends who also liked that kind of music, my tastes again started to morph into theirs – and I’ve come to the point where I ask myself, is that so bad? Do I have to have to achieve Pandora’s purity of taste? What is taste for? It changes so much every year. Clearly, although there may be enduring elements of something that make it generally pleasing – the music we listen to now just isn’t the same as it was a hundred years ago or maybe even one year ago, for the more savvy among us. And some people like bands with minimal skill for reasons of their own.
But we tend to like things that connect us to a certain group – even a group that separates itself from groups. And so, if our tastes conform to those of others, is that really so bad? Can we relate to each other in a conscious rather than mindless way? I’m starting to think that maybe relating to other people is more important than purity of taste.
I say all of this because I live in stylish Seoul now.
And I just bought real heels.
So don’t judge.