Tim Finney came up with an intriguing comment on an ILM thread, describing a certain contingent at Dissensus in the following terms (the comment coming out of a discussion of MIA aka Mud Hut Lady and the debates here about popism):
"When one of them finally and openly says "I love this piece of music but objectively speaking I shouldn't and therefore won't love it any longer", we will know that they take their own nu-rockist anti-enjoyment crusade seriously."
It sounds so puritanical and unpleasant doesn't it, the way he puts it!
But on reflection, I thought of plenty of instances such pleasure-denying might actually be an appropriate thing to do.
In real life there are myriad such either/or choices (coveting thy best friend's wife; priest struggling with the urge to fondle choir boy etc etc), and while you might say culture is a whole other domain from life, i'm not sure.
for instance, you can imagine someone who loved dancehall but decided to deny themselves that pleasure on account of the batty-boy-bashing. (Actually, I can think of an example where I've done precisely that-- that big TOK tune about we bun the chi chi man, before i knew what chi chi man meant that was my favorite dancehall track of the year, i loved it, but when i found out, simultaneously with finding out the name of the artist, i just couldn't bring myself to buy the CD. But i haven't go so far as to say, stop enjoying 'big it up' by buju on account of his other records or statements). Or another example: i don't rate whitehouse's music at all, but i can easily imagine a scenario of loving it to death but refusing myself that delight on acocunt of finding the serial killer/nazi commandant eulogizin' element offensive (even more offensive, actually, if it's all a giant put-on).
of course Tim is talking more about theories about music and what matters etc becoming so rigid that you close yourself down to avenues of pleasure
what interests me about this line of thinking is that it's either based in, or ends up with, a kind of moralism of pleasure -- in other words, the essence of popism is that it brooks no laws or prohibitions EXCEPT
thou shalt never deny yourself any pleasure. no principle , or set of ideas, could possibly be worth denying yourself a specific source of enjoyment -- open-ness as a value in itself
pleasure is the first and the final arbiter
but pleasure alone has never been enough as either spur or subject matter for critical discourse. There's always been an X(-tra)-factor. melded with pleasure. Kpunk, borrowing a lick from Zizek, has argued, “there is no emancipatory potential in pleasure”. It is these X(-tra)-factors that adds the element of emancipation. At various points in pop history, fun/pleasure/desire/jouissance/ecstasy has been allied with other forces (rebellion, expression, aesthetic shock, innovation, dissidence, quest, etc). This combination has time and time again “made of joy a crime against the state” (Barney Hoskyns). That statement should be understood figuratively most of the time--'state' as socio-cultural stasis--and over time as music has become more self-reflexive, it's degenerated into intra-aesthetic taste games (the transgression buzz of liking something kitsch, moving into forbidden zones of music). But "joy as a crime against the state" has been literal too, at various points--most recently, rave. (In Utah, a few months ago they sent armed troopers in to shut down a rave).
There are also plenty of things i enjoy musically but would never be stirred to write about particularly, in the absence of these X(-tra)-factors.
On another (final for now) tack, i would say that a lot of my own choices are based in a kind of aesthetic morality of finitude. In other words, life is short, so why waste it on lesser pleasures?