Mike Portnoy is the Best

So far, I have revealed that Mike Portnoy is on two items of my “Best of 2012” album list.

You know, I agree with what Mike frequently says: there is no “best”; only “favorite”.

I agree that this is a great way to keep the peace when people are being obnoxious and unreasonable.

And it’s also a fine way to habitually cultivate humility on a personal level.

So okay, Mike, you got it. You’re one of my favorite drummers, and you are on many of my favorite albums this year!

But surely something only becomes a favorite because we consider it the best.

And the real reason we share “best of” lists, is not because we claim omniscience, but because we want to share what we know and love, so that others will do the same for us.

If they do, we can thereby learn from them, and thus grow in our love…

We don’t want to merely win musical arguments. We want to learn from the musical experiences of others, and to expand our own experiences, and to enlarge the way we think about music.

But still, when it comes to aesthetic argument, Roger Scruton gets it right:

Perhaps the most persistent error in aesthetics is that contained in the Latin tag that de gustibus non est disputandum— that there is no disputing tastes. On the contrary, tastes are the things that are most vigorously disputed, precisely because this is the one area of human life where dispute is the whole point of it. As Kant argued, in matters of aesthetic judgement we are “suitors for agreement” with our fellows; we are inviting others to endorse our preferences and also exposing those preferences to criticism. And when we debate the point we do not merely rest our judgement in a bare “I like it” or “It looks fine to me”; we search our moral horizons for the considerations that can be brought to judgement’s aid. Just consider the debates over modernism in architecture. When Le Corbusier proposed his solution to the problem of Paris, which was to demolish the city and replace it with a park of scattered glass towers and raised walkways, with the proletariat neatly stacked in their boxes and encouraged to take restorative walks from time to time on the trampled grass below, he was expressing a judgement of taste. But he was not just saying, “I like it that way.” He was telling us that that is how it ought to be: he was conveying a vision of human life and its fulfilment, and proposing the forms that gave the best and most lucid expression to that vision. And it is because the city council of Paris was rightly repelled by that vision, on grounds as much moral and spiritual as purely formal, that Le Corbusier’s aesthetic was rejected and Paris saved.

Check out this great issue (#14) of iDrum, with Mike Portnoy as the cover story: http://bit.ly/iDrum_Issue_14

Lots of interactive goodies in that one!

Stay tuned for more Mike Portnoy on my Best of 2012 list.

2 thoughts on “Mike Portnoy is the Best

  1. Chris,
    Thank you for this philosophical view on musical taste. I wish more people would share this attitude, not only about music but in all other areas of life. Learning from, and being tolerant of, the beliefs of others is fundamental to the creation of a better world.


  2. carleolson

    Roger Scuton reference! Yes!! I don’t agree with everything he says about music, but everything he says about music and the arts is worth reading and contemplating.



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