Spirit animals, spirit bands

Do you know that internet algorithm that computes your spirit animal? Silly, I know, how a world so out of touch with the earth gladly embraces the concept of totem animal from a people that prided themselves on being guardians of that earth. But be that as it may, I tend to believe there is a very real thing such as a spirit band, a band whose basic sound has become such a part of your living, feeling soul that you become incapable of harboring ill sentiment against its newer music. Maybe you understand on some unsaid level that the band is operating at a lower percentage than it used to, maybe you are even honest enough to admit to the world that, yes, your favorite band is only a pale shadow of its old self; but the thing is, given enough time, even this less-than-optimal new material begins growing on you, arouses that need to be reaffirmed in your faith. And all this not as any consciously thought out process but as a helplessness despite yourself, innocent and without guile. It’s a little like being in love; you can’t help who you fall for; flaws that were once hidden under the giddiness of new glamour may come to the fore; we duly acknowledge them and then proceed to relegate them to the background; in time, we may even come to treat them as indispensable parts of the larger personality with whom we are so taken.

A spirit band is not quite a guilty pleasure. A guilty pleasure would insinuate a degree of alienation and abashedness; it arises when all our conditioned reason suggests that we’re indulging in a cheap simulacrum of what we’ve previously enjoyed in far better form; yet like an itch on the back begging to be scratched, we reach around and give in to the moment at the risk of incurring strained intercostals.

A spirit band, however, is nothing so base as that. For a particular sound to become so positively intertwined with your emotional identity necessarily means that its creators, at some point in the past, practiced their craft with utmost integrity. Time may have chipped away at the instant arrestability of their newer output, but this post wouldn’t exist if trace elements and more of that past prowess didn’t still remain. Such a spirit band’s music carries the hoary venerability of old age; and as we cherish our elders, as we humor them their increasingly frequent inadequacies and foibles for the erstwhile wisdom they’ve bestowed on us, so we think of a spirit band with affection and good cheer. Not with knives out for thinning blood, but with a keen understanding of where we come from and to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for being who we are.

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