06 January 2011


Via John Dickerson:
Reading this by Morgan Beis in The Smart Set:

Criticism does not stand outside the work of art, but stands alongside, maybe even inside, the work of art, participating in the work in order to further express and tease out what the artist already put there. In this theory of criticism, we don't need the critic to tell us what is good or bad, to tell us what to like and dislike. We need the critic, instead, to help us experience. We need the critic in the way that we need a friend or a lover. We need the critic as a companion on a journey that is a love affair with the things of the world. Benjamin once referred to this form of criticism as "the first form of criticism that refuses to judge." The primary virtue of this kind of criticism is its inherent generosity. It wants to make experience bigger, it wants to make each work of art as rich as it can possibly be. Its sole medium, as Benjamin put it, is "the life, the ongoing life, of the works themselves."

I was reminded of this quote from Greil Marcus' from his new book on Bob Dylan:

"I was never interested in figuring out what the songs meant," writes Marcus, "I was interested in figuring out my response to them and other people's responses. I wanted to get closer to the music than I could by listening to it-- I wanted to get inside it, behind it."
I couldn't have put it any better myself. I've lost my blogging momentum over the past few months (which happens about once or twice a year for me, it seems), but after reading that my sense of purpose is restored. More to come this weekend.

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