Thursday, September 24, 2009
What's wrong with criticism?
J.C. Hallman says James Wood "honed in" a few years ago on what's wrong with criticism:
"He noted the tendency of critics to regard themselves as sleuths and texts as criminals: 'Having been caught out, the poem is triumphantly led off in golden chains; the detective writes up his report in hideous prose, making sure to flatter himself a bit, and then goes home to a well-deserved drink.'"
Result: "The dry, tenure-desperate prose of critics, who already have far too much say over how literature is perceived in the world."
Solution? "Another kind of criticism."
Or, perhaps [tongue-in-cheek alert!] as I've suggested on Harriet... graded short reviews, something like The Dean of Rock Criticism, Robert Christgau’s long-running “Consumer Guide” for the Village Voice. Here’s one version of a grading system he used (substitute poetry book for record, and reading for listening, and you’re in business):