Music-making and listening as subversive political act

Posted on: August 5, 2010

Tuesday (8/3) on, Frank J. Oteri writes, “According to a news article that appeared in the Guardian yesterday and was linked from ArtsJournal today, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who in the past has made comments discouraging music, though rarely in public, has now officially stated that music ‘should not be practised or taught in the country.’ … Khamenei further claimed that it’s ‘better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music.’ And since everything he says is interpreted as absolute law, the fate of musicians in that country is quite precarious right now. … Last week I remarked in passing that music’s greatest asset is that if you truly listen to it, you are allowing the input of someone other than yourself into your consciousness. For leaders who don’t want their citizens to challenge them, this is extremely subversive. … Even if the act of listening is in some sense an act of submission to someone else, it is an open-ended submission that ultimately leaves you with a new perspective.”

Posted August 5, 2010