Let us say I wake up one day and find myself in a world with a collective brain and mouth.
The brain feeds directly into the mouth. Through this mouth—anonymously or not—I can compose or write anything I want.
I can tell the truth to power, or I can lie to the weak.
I can post doctored photographs of you doing unspeakable things. You can do the same.
We can see and hear it all.
Pretty much any opinion or act or accusation we want to share with one another, we can, with the exception of a few things that might, after a very long time, catch the attention of the authorities.
But let us say that until the invention of this worldwide web of expression, I’d been like that child, and believed there would be consequences if I thought or said certain things.
And now there are none.
Let’s go a step further and say that I had been, before this web was woven, a composer or lover of composition, and that I’d believed that there was something composers needed to rebel against, or witness, or (even silently or obscurely) to protest…
Well, now what?
It’s always been the case, naturally, that there were plenty of horrors and injustices taking place on any block in any town in this world.
Of course, these were often not nearly as exotic for the purposes of composition as the horrors outside our borders—or so we thought.
But, now, no human needs to be drafted and sent to war or awarded a Guggenheim to witness massacres, stonings, beheadings.
There’s an app for that.
Google Images: “body parts” “starvation” “torture.”
There’s a multi-page Reddit thread devoted entirely to expressions of regret about having watched the video of Daniel Pearl’s beheading.
All these years later, people are still posting about having seen it, complaining that they can’t sleep.
About “witness,” many of these posters have come to the website to warn others not to.
Don’t witness. No good will come from it.
But I can watch anything I want. I can say anything I want. I can publish any composition I craft on the internet any time I want.
I can compose within some tradition (however I wish to define it), or I can compose in defiance of any tradition.
I can consider my audience or spit in its eye.
Just try to stop me.