Monday, April 04, 2005

The Darwinian Audiophile

The Darwinian Audiophile
But Darwin turned things around. The small, ubiquitous differences among members of a species are not merely noise on a robust, unchanging signal—the essence, or the underlying form of the species. Instead, those differences are the signal. They are the main stuff of life and its history. Nature cares not a whit about essences, only about these variations and deviations. As Darwin metaphorically put it, “Natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.”

Mother Nature sounds like an audiophile, doesn’t she? Daily and hourly scrutinizing her audio rig for the slightest variations in performance; rejecting those interconnects and components that are bad, preserving those that work well together… But it’s not this obsession with hardware that makes audiophiles Darwinian. Rather, high-end audio encourages a populational view of music much like Darwin’s populational view of species.

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