It Took Me Years to Like . . .

hailtothethief.jpgAs a recent victim of Sudden iPod Death Syndrome, I’ve returned to my antiquated Dell MP3 player. It’s a bit of a throwback to the four years or so when I bought it. . . . and I’m tired of most of the pop songs on it. But one album I never liked at the time strikes me as fantastic now–Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief. I found it pretty much unlistenable when I bought it.

What changed? When I took a poetry course from Helen Vendler, she once said: “If you don’t like a poem now, wait for 10 years, and re-read it.” That may sound a bit smug on the computer screen, but I think you’d have been as impressed as I was if you were there. She tended to declaim like the Iris Murdoch of Judi Dench’s Iris–always from a minimalist lectern surrounded by hundreds of square feet of empty polished parquet floor.

In any event, I’d love to hear about any book or music it took you years to like. I think the experience is a nice phenomenological confirmation of the problem of affective forecasting.

From the abstract of the article by Jeremy Blumenthal:

I review here the empirical data demonstrating that individuals predict emotions inaccurately, and spin out the implications of this research for a number of substantive legal areas. The data show potential flaws in the way civil juries assign compensatory awards, and in our approach to certain aspects of sexual harassment law. The findings have profound implications for the presentation of victim impact statements to capital juries, but also undercut some abolitionist claims regarding the suffering that death row prisoners experience.

And a final note on Radiohead. . . if you find Hail to the Thief too harsh, try Optimistic….a nice piece of minimalist social criticism along the lines of “the big fish eat the little ones.”

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