Modern Scammery and Its Pleasures

Mon 10/26/15 9:40 am. The promotion of guitar equipment and “high-end” hi-fi obviously have much in common. They are both the kind of $4 scam normal people avoid, but nevertheless arouse surprising loyalty in their niche acolyte populations: mostly decrepit baby-boomering-no-mores. The hi-fi magazines usually openly lament the absence of youth; the guitar bunch pretend their ranks are frothing with the starry-eyed young, but it’s just a slightly more plausible lie then occasional eruptions from the hi-fi fanatics in the same vein. ... I have enjoyed the propaganda of both, and joyfully purchase an occasional (cheap) talismanic guitar and even a fairly substantial chunk of the allied keyboard equipment racket. Indeed, I have wandered into many consumer-lust fields with comparable pleasure, in particular the enthusiasts’ magazines and the beautiful ads.

But high-end hi-fi is wearing-off! I am becoming more “normal”, and my reaction to the high-end magazine puffery is trending towards an average disgust, that anyone would try to gull people this way. And I am fearful that it is a mundane question of price: both guitar and hi-fi magazines propagate the same kind of shameless puffery, but somehow it’s more galling with the hi-fi, and maybe it’s just as simple as $1K-$1M hi-fi compared to the more modest $500-$30K guitars — and in guitarland the 5-digit prices almost all apply to the precious antique equipment, while just the opposite is true of the high-end hifi.

But I am troubled. I’ve given-up on Absolute Sound. ... Stereophile used to be less irritating, but in a recent issue the editor stood squarely for the total-objectivity of global warming propaganda and, most ridiculously in such a context, income inequality whining! ... But then again, maybe it’s just that, along with the perfectly-normal intellectual bankruptcy, the high end hi-fi ads have gotten dull.

Cognitive Dissonance

I hate to even think of such a possibility, but maybe the high-end has just gotten too silly! ... Currently they’re promoting “analog” 33⅓ records at the same time they’re trying to flog the only modern media left standing of suitable scam-worthiness, high-definition lossless downloads. It’s just too wacko. ... To be sure, the guitarists have their analog cult too — all the hot guitar amplifiers are tremendously-expensive tube jobs, because of that so-cool analog sound — but they don’t attempt to promote super-digital at the same time — I mean the guitar pedals are almost all super-digital, as well as the Kemper super-modeling amplifier, but it’s rarely touted as a plus in itself. ... But the high-end hi-fi floggers feel obliged to puff everything as being super special better ’n’ ever and, maybe, it’s just too weird?

My Sorrow

So I turn to Digital Machinist and the old reliable Model Railroader, who puff their wares almost innocently — I mean, there’s no excuse for latter-day machining or model railroading, although the model railroading is and always has been a purer excuseless activity — the machinists occasionally claim to be doing something useful, which does taint their faith....

I suppose the art form I’m celebrating here is the enthusiast magazine itself, with the enthusiastic articles of strangely-holy joy. ... Long may they puff. ... But like any art, it can go wrong, and I fear high-end hi-fi is somehow straying off the holy path....