Sunday, December 20, 2009

Was it good for you, too?

"In New York I eagerly accepted the soft job fate offered me - it consisted mainly of thinking up and editing perfume ads." -- Lolita, Ch. 9.
Humbert Humbert's second job in New York, maybe? Here's the back cover message from the 1965 sound effects album, A Cook's Tour of High Fidelity.

"WELL! Cook Laboratories has always taken pride in its position as industry leader in producing the highest fidelity music and sounds. It also takes credit for its leading role in uncovering a new kind of mental illness, variously called hi-fi addiction, audiophilia, phono-fetishism, etc., etc. For it is Cook's widely imitated recordings that have crystallized the psychopathology that might otherwise have been allowed to fester in silence, only later to burst into destructive flower before anyone was aware of its existence.

The symptoms have been described: the aggressive use of excessive volume, resembling some people's fast driving as a power symbol; the obsessive pursuit of perfection that results in repeated replacement of audio components; the morbid rituals of cleaning records and preparing playback equipment before every performance; the pre-occupation with gigantic sounds, particularly with that overt phallic emblem the railroad train; the audio eroticism implicit in twiddling pre-amplifier knobs. The list is endless. One authority has discovered that a large proportion of sufferers from this disease is unmarried or childless. He theorizes that in producing and delivering fully-formed sounds, these unfortunates are seeking the satisfaction of reproduction without the biological bother. Such "sterility routines" as handling records with velvet gloves serve as evidence.

At least one case is on record of a patient who buys his records one by one, pouncing on his choice of the moment while in a trancelike state of ecstasy and making certain of its purity by examining the factory-sealed plastic envelope. When he reaches the privacy of his home, he slowly strips off the plastic wrap, carefully lowers the the record onto the turntable until the spindle penetrates the center hole, then sinks back exhausted while the record gives the single performance of its life.

Experts agree that in most cases there is nothing intrinsically harmful in listening to realistic sound on records, even at volume levels approaching the pain-point; indeed many find therapeutic value in this pasttime. In their language, it 'externalizes the aggressions.'

They will permit you the aberration of owning this record without feelings of guilt. It might even be good for you."

"Blessed be the Lord, she had noticed nothing!", Lolita, Ch. 13.

"A propos: I have often wondered what became of those nymphets later?" - Lolita, Ch. 6
Word. - Lolita (grown).


Fresh from Cook Labs at 101 Second Street, Stamford, Conn. (an address which in the wake of a decades-long tsunami of urban renewal I daresay no longer exists) - nothing like an image of primary source (check out the PDF of the album's liner notes).

Should I be creeped out that I grew up in Stamford?

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