Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 October 07 • Wednesday

If you read through Think, Write, Speak, the recent collection of interviews with and letters to editors from Vladimir Nabokov, and found yourself wanting just a little bit more, here is a little bit more, from the November/December 1965 issue of Fact magazine.

Inside is a piece entitled "Muzak: Chewing Gum for the Mind" by Raymond Mount Jr.

Several more or less well known people were asked for their opinion on Muzak. Everybody hated it, it turned out.

Dizzy Gillespie compared it to an assembly line and said that it gave him indigestion. Pete Seeger calls it an invasion of privacy and Melvin Belli wonders whether it "says anything subliminally".

Nabokov's response is perhaps the strongest and longest.

Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, writing on behalf of her novelist-husband from Montreux, Switzerland, said:

"My husband asks me to convey to you his reply to your questionnaire regarding his attitude to enforced music in public places. Here it is:

'I am opposed to all background music in public and every kind of music forced upon the public or played outside of concert halls.

'I find these enforced moronic melodies an abominably offensive imposition with police state undertones. Soviet citizens on trains, in stores, etc. are permanently enclosed in a prison of music. I cannot say how violently I am opposed to the brainsoftening and conditioning which result from exposure to "background" music inflicted upon the individual.

'An uninterrupted exposure to public music is bound to be damaging to the majority of people even if many of them think they like it, or are apathetic to it.

'I am convinced that the forcing of mass musical tastes on the individual everywhere he goes in civilized surroundings will have unfortunate consequences for the world.'"

Someone liked his alliterative phrase "moronic melodies" enough to put it on the back cover.