Thursday 24 November 2011

who let the dogs out?

What separates man from the animals? It’s a question that has exercised philosophers for thousands of years. Is it language? reason? morality? humour? religion?

98% of our DNA is identical to that of a chimpanzee, but then again we share 50% of our DNA with a banana, so I’m not sure what that statistic really gives us all that much insight unless it can explain why that other 2% seems to make so much difference. To us, anyway. I’m not sure that chimps are all that bothered about it, to be honest.

These grand philosophical thoughts sprang to mind as I drove to work this morning.

Let me explain: when I connect my iPod to the car stereo, it automatically starts to play songs in alphabetical order. On my iPhone, this means that every single time I plug it into the car, I am treated to the first 15 or 20 seconds of so of Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk” as I fiddle about to put on something different. Over time, this has meant that I have become quite familiar with those opening Upper West Side Soweto-tinged chords. It’s a good song, but who wants to listen to their iPod in alphabetical order? If I let it play, I’d soon be listening to “A/B Machines” by Sleigh Bells, “A&E” by Goldfrapp, “Abel” by the National and “About a Girl” by Nirvana. Good songs all, I agree, but not a playlist I want to listen to every single time I get into the car. To me, those opening chords have become a signal that I need to choose a playlist.

I mention this as when I got into the car this morning, I selected a playlist on shuffle and set off for work. I’d only been travelling for a few minutes when one song finished, and those familiar chords began to play out. Without thinking, I reflexively reached up for the stereo to select a playlist, only to remember just in time that I’d actually already done that, and that it was okay to sit back and listen to a song that I actually really like.

I am Pavlov’s Dog and I want my dinner, dammit. I’m starving!

(Pavlov’s actual dogs, of course, couldn’t stand indie lightweights like Vampire Weekend , much preferring the work of seminal noiseniks, Sonic Youth.  No drool for "Oxford Comma", but positively moist about anything off "Daydream Nation".).

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