Klostermeme III

Chuck Klosterman IV is rife with meme fodder. The Klostermeme series will feature these questions, my answers, my speculations on how Klosterman would answer and an invitation to the reader to answer these questions in the comments! It will also challenge my recollection Roman numerals. So far I have failed because I forgot to put III between II and VI.

And so…

Assume everything about your musical tastes was reversed overnight. Everything you once loved, you now hate; everything you once hated, you now love. For example, if your favorite band has always been R.E.M., they will suddenly sound awful to you; they will become the band you dislike the most. By the same token, if you’ve never been remotely interested in the work of Yes and Jethro Tull, those two groups will instantly seem fascinating. If you generally dislike jazz today, you will generally like jazz tomorrow. If you currently consider the first album by Veruca Salt to be slightly above average, you will abruptly find it slightly below average. Everything will become its opposite, but everything will remain in balance (and the rest of your personality will remain unchanged). You won’t love music any less (or any more) than you do right now. There will still be artists you love and who make you happy; they will merely be all the artists you currently find unlistenable.

Now, I concede that this transformation would make you unhappy. But explain why.

dave matthews bandMy answer: Because the music you like is part of your identity. Like with books and movies, people seek out others who agree with your taste. That’s not to say that I couldn’t be friends with a U2 fan. Plenty of people in my circle love them. But it’s easier to share the common bond of taste. You can go to shows together. You can talk about the lyrics you like. You can identify on a deeper level using music as a template. Not only that, but having been into metal and then punk and indie in high school, that was part of my rebellion. It was how I differentiated myself from the right wing assholes I went to school with. There were lyrics about alienation and punk culture that I related to. I never felt the same way about the crap they liked. It was shallow. Would I have turned out the same way if I’d found emotional significance in the Dave Mathews Band rather than The Smiths? I think not. Klosterman says that I wouldn’t experience a change in my personality, but this is impossible. I might still be a liberal who attempts to do the right thing. I might still love nature and animals. I might be a happy goth. But I would be listening to Matchbox 20. This is incongruous. I would find Sugar Ray lyrics satisfying. There is no way that I wouldn’t undergo a fundamental change in my personality. I like my personality. I like my friends and my husband. That is why I would be sad.

Klosterman Theory: Because of his “your personality doesn’t change” clause, I’m really not sure. Perhaps it’s because his previous books would no longer reflect his opinions.

Put your answers in the comments!



  1. Are you saying that people who love Matchbox 20 could not also love nature and animals?

    Anyway. If his scenario happened I would suddenly love the Beachboys and world music. I would wish that I was hearing reggae whenever a ska tune came on. I wouldn’t understand what people could enjoy about the lyrics of Elliot Smith and Built to Spill. The music of Adam Sandler would be both beautiful and underrated. Yet, I like music as much as I do now. I’m a complete idiot. Jbax is right This question doesn’t work.

  2. Are you saying that people who love Matchbox 20 could not also love nature and animals?


  3. I have my own theory about his answer to this.
    Also, you should learn to like the Beachboys!!!

  4. I have my own theory about his answer to this.

    Do tell!

  5. Ok- here’s why- Douchey people listen to every type of music. So do great people. I think when we have a particular type of music that we like it becomes part of our identity so we kind of block out the douches. For example, many of my friends love barenaked ladies and would be surprised when they learn that many people lump them together as a bunch of sad dorks (by the way, did you hear about the BNL drug arrest? My friends are so shocked!!!)
    Anyway, if you suddenly loved MatchBox 20 and hated the Smiths, or whatever, you would suddeny be able to identify with the MB20 crowd and realize that they are ok, generally (because, taste asside, most of the people who listen to that band are probably good people). Suddenly you would see the Smith fans for the self important douches they are and that would be a huge identity crisis, I think. I’m not saying that Smith fans are douchier than any other music fan. It works with any kind of music. I know that I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of my musical tastes.
    Sorry about the thesis. Did that even make sense?

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