Is taste disinterested?

Via Arts & Letters Daily: Sam Anderson reviews Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk about Love, a study of Céline Dion, singer beloved by Ghanaian cabdrivers.

Overcoming a reflexive distaste for the Québecoise, Wilson “feels a twinge of critical conscience” and immerses himself in her work, delving into the nature of musical taste.

Wilson tends to side with the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who argues that taste is never disinterested: It’s a form of social currency, or “cultural capital,” that we use to stockpile prestige. Hating Céline is therefore not just an aesthetic choice, but an ethical one, a way to elevate yourself above her fans…

Although Wilson never grows to love Dion’s music, he’s also no longer comfortable with his former scorn. He acknowledges the merits of her work: “It deals with problems that don’t require leaps of imagination but require other efforts, like patience, or compromise”; although it is “lousy music to make aesthetic judgments to,” it “might be excellent for having a first kiss, or burying your grandma, or breaking down in tears.”