Dialectic of Pop, 151–168


III. Uprootings


The recording of popular music and its consequence deterritorialization is not without aesthetic consequences. Recording, as we have seen, must absent the singing body in order to render it present. To suggest the music of communities and local forms of life so effectively, it must tear them from their autarchy, their roots—in short, it must deterritorialize them. This condition is perhaps not a tragic one for every possible genre of popular music, but it deeply affects the aesthetics of those who wish to care for these roots and to invest their authenticity in them, those who want be faithful, through music, to a certain idea of the popular for which a bond to some autarchic land, some autarchic community, is among the most essential symbols. This is a difficulty faced by blues, country, flamenco, reggae, and any other genre that could be said to be ‘rooted’. Each of these genres lays claim to roots that its phonographic history continually severs. But this is no sterile contradiction; it is productive. Indeed, the entire history of a certain popular music depended upon on this very difficulty. From the most patriotic country music to the most deracinated blues and folk, pop aesthetics continually negotiates its symbolic relationship to roots, and the possibility of pop’s authenticity is founded upon this very negotiation.…