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Baker's Dozen

13 Reasons Why I Can't Pick My 13 Favourite Records, By Drew Daniel
The Quietus , September 25th, 2014 06:41

When we asked Drew Daniel of Matmos and The Soft Pink Truth for his Baker's Dozen, he refused - and with good reasons. Thirteen of them, to be precise. Here Daniel presents them in an essay titled A Rant Against The Quantification Of Aesthetics. All photographs courtesy of Drew Daniel

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Reason Three: It Is Frequently Racist And Sexist In Effect.
Without naming names, we've all seen the Top Ten lists in which a white male is asked to produce a list of their favourite things and they dutifully produce a list of Great Masterpieces by White Men. So the space for the celebration of art becomes another place in which the pseudo-objectivity of the list, with its numeric pretensions to the measurement of some fact about what is the best, duly produces yet more de facto public space for white men to celebrate the achievements of other white men. Full disclosure: I'm a white male, and I'm a Shakespeare professor to boot, so I make my living as a white male celebrating another white male to all who will listen. But when I do that, I don't make the preposterous assertion that Shakespeare was "The Greatest Writer in the English Language", because I don't believe that the word "Greatest" has any meaning other than as shorthand for a highly over-determined, highly particular nest of assumptions, historically specific practices, ongoing critical conversations, and methodological quagmires about the criteria of aesthetic judgment. I love literature but I don't love "greatness talk" about literature, and for much the same reasons I don't like "greatness talk" about punk rock bands or house divas or honky tonk singers. When you set greatness talk against a history of patriarchy and racism, you're choosing to reinforce a way of ranking human beings in terms of superiority and inferiority, winners and losers, the best and the worst. Who gets in? Why? Who gets left out? Why?


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