On the Notion of Support 2

The directly economic: “support” means, literally, to give money to a group of musicians. To buy their merchandise, to purchase their records, and – by extension – this meaning also lends itself to the activities appended to these economic choices, although this second category is in itself completely different and separate: “support” meaning listening to an album, giving it one’s time, not ignoring it or rejecting it offhand, and then (the most important): allowing one’s stated opinion to conform, always, to an approbation or agreement with the music of these artists, the aesthetics of their pursuits and productions, and never to appear at cross purposes with the artists’ place in the “scene hierarchy”. To “support”, then, is just to hold oneself back from uttering anything negative concerning another artist, to refrain from casting doubt, suspicion, or blame on their productions. “Support” in this instance appears in the positive action of aesthetic corroboration and alliance and also in the act of refraining from the negative: that is, the notion of “support” takes upon itself the meaning of the positive and the domain of the neutral next to it. The only way to breach support is to utter the negative. Merely by keeping one’s mouth shut or pen silent one gives “support” to the actions of others.

As a badge of identity, scene hierarchy, place, posture, position, ranking, etc. then the list of others “supported” must be rigorously maintained and adjusted according to prevailing trends within the subculture. New bands come into favor, other leave. Bands are (sometimes spontaneously, it seems) decided to be indicators of growth, secret kernels of hidden talent, potentially strong signifiers, in themselves, of popular acclaim and scene identification…others are cast into infamy and exiled. Only by maintaining with a religious scrupulousness one’s list (always brandished and worn on one’s sleeve, as it determines one’s place in the hierarchy of aesthetic taste and political affiliations within the subculture) can one hope to remain in a position of illusory “power” within a group and so keep the respect of one’s peers (which supposedly tacitly approves and validates one’s opinion before one even utters it, a form of power doubtlessly admired by those who crave admiration free from the taints of realistic expectations or justified criteria of objective opinions) and one’s own access to good opinion open – especially if one is also in a band of one’s own. In this last case appears that most insidious form of “support”: the mutual admiration society, the notion that one must maintain a certain standing place in the subculture by patting backs and beaming smiles all around…only to ward off the incipient blows of one’s peers, whom one secretly envies and despises.

It is interesting then, this notion of “support” as it extrapolated from the economic realm and given so many social or scene-political meanings…in which I mainly should say: “interesting” or intriguing in that the economic relations can assume so many social correlations, and one word or phrase can mean so many different things and have so many variations in consequences.

Yet one can’t help but notice: if ejected from the realm of the scene/subculture hierarchy, where it appears in ridiculously biased and self-aggrandizing or hypocritical configurations, and taken back to the purely economic as merely a statement of intent or history…to say what one intends to purchase or what one has purchased, outside of momentary considerations of errors in judgment, this purity of economic choice, this statement of intent and/or action, how problematic is this economic function at its root. In the act of purchasing itself how many different signifiers are there of one’s aesthetic choices, and thus of one’s identity, one’s personality, one’s “worth” in the eyes of that all-too-critical subculture echelon of judgment that turns an invasive eye on everything but its own methods?

Forget the associated meanings of “support” clustering around the social behavior of group dynamics, how many levels of criticism and judgment exist at this basic level of economic choice, and teem through the confusion in the popular understanding between consumer choices, aesthetic taste, identity, personality, personal history, and social standing?