I was once talking to someone about my beloved old Latin teacher who used to give me free lessons at his home to make up for the holes in my education. I think they were actually an opportunity for him to reminisce over his long past days in the classroom and to show off. He had been a great classics scholar and he was an even greater show off. My friend who remembered my teacher and his wife, also a formidable, retired scholar, told me that he used to be at their house late in the afternoon and was frequently invited to share their daily 4 PM glass of sherry with them. Huh, sherry? I had my lessons at eleven on Saturday mornings and the most I was ever offered was a cup of Lousiane coffee. And “offered” is only a conventional way of putting it. Mrs. L. didn’t offer, she commanded you to drink. And not only did she force the chicory tainted brew on you, she had a scruple against drinking coffee black. So despite weekly protestations of lactose intolerance, she automatically filled the cup a third with milk before she poured. On bad weeks she put in sugar too. Experience quickly taught that it was better to risk cramping and bloating than to leave the cup untouched. I imagine Seneca felt that way when Nero didn’t remember his old teacher with such fondness. Though, yes, his sufferings must have been greater.
It’s the same way with those kind souls who insist on “sharing” their music with the world. Not musicians, generally, but consumers who everywhere you go have some kind of sound either blaring and thumping or oozing out to the general world. Musicians generally hate this kind of sound attack. It’s impossible for musicians, trained to listen, to ignore, even if it’s just the kind of spreading pool of sound from Muzak.
Like second hand smoke, public music is an infringement on those who can’t avoid it. I’ve got no problem with anyone listening to what they want to, at home and with those who also want to hear it. At the very least, there should be a law against the mobile moron mobiles that should be assumed to be a danger and are, beyond doubt, a violation of privacy. The inescapable pop music crazy quilt that covers our world is driving us nuts. Sometimes it’s a temptation to do bodily harm. It’s not only a symptom but a mechanism of social decay and downfall. If Nero had been able to amplify his lyre, those fleeing Rome as it burned would certainly have had that to deal with too.