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Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:
Every once in a while you get an epiphany. Something you've been meaning to say for a long time jumps, crystal clear, to the front of your brain. You've always known it, but you've never been able to say it.
This happened to me while reading an essay by Sasha Frere-Jones about Lady Gaga. Frere-Jones opens the piece with the following thought:
Dedicated fans of popular music have a certain conversation at least once a year. Call it The Question of Endurance. You and your friends are talking about music, and the conversation turns to a popular band. You express support. A friend voices her opinion, maybe as favorable as yours, but appends a qualifier: “I like them, but will they be around in 10 years?” You may feel compelled to defend whomever it is you’re talking about, covering the present moment and the future with your positive take. After trying this approach, though, you realize that pop music has no Constitution and doesn’t operate like a de-facto Supreme Court: Precedent is not always established, and isn’t even necessary. Pop rarely accretes in a tidy, serial manner — it zigs, zags, eats itself, and falls over its shoelaces.
It's a smart point, and it applies, as far as I'm concerned, to pretty much everything in the realm of what we like to call “culture.” I would take it even a step further in regard to contemporary art. I don't care whether or not any specific work of art will be around in 10 years, or a hundred, or a thousand. I'm utterly uninterested in trying to judge whether this or that work will “stand the test of time.” I don't think there is a “test of time.” Time doesn't “test” things. Longevity and quality have no intrinsic connection. Time does not slowly sift out the truth from the lies — it just moves along, usually in directions we could never have fathomed. Civilization isn't stable and progressive and never has been. For the critic, 10 years from now ought not exist, 100 years from now ought doubly not.