[repost of an entry in my dramaturgy blog on the Philadelphia Dramatists Center web site. Original post can be found at: http://www.pdc1.org/viewthisblog.php?post=77]
“Criticism is a habit of mind, a discipline of writing, a way of life”
by Martha Wade Steketee
A.O. Scott has crafted a bittersweet and reflective piece on the state of arts criticism in America, “A Critic’s Place, Thumb and All”, on the New York Times on-line, and to be published Sunday [4 April 2010] in print form. (if i read the dates and details correctly).
The piece seems to have been inspired for him by recent speaking engagements on the future of criticism, the same Variety dismissal I blogged about a week or so ago, and other “currents” in the cultural ether including the recent decision to pull the plug on the television show with film criticism, “At The Movies”, originated by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. (Just a short aside: I do so miss Chicago. Sigh. There. Now I am able to continue.) Scott and Michael Phillips have been at the helm of “At The Movies” for a time. They recently were told that this season will be the show’s last. August 2010 will end the venerable run.
What is stunning about this New York Times piece and Scott’s response is that he takes these events as a time of reflection. Articulate reflection. A sample:
“How can you do a movie justice in 60 seconds? You can’t of course — or in 800 words of print or in a blog post — but you can start a conversation, advance or rebut an argument, and give people who share your interest something to talk about. And that kind of provocation, that spur to further discourse, is all criticism has ever been. It is not a profession and does not stand or fall with any particular business model. Criticism is a habit of mind, a discipline of writing, a way of life — a commitment to the independent, open-ended exploration of works of art in relation to one another and the world around them. As such, it is always apt to be misunderstood, undervalued, and at odds with itself. Artists will complain, fans will tune out, but the arguments will never end.”
I don’t know about you, but this inspires me.
For the full article, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/movies/04scott.html