Adam Kirsch

The roots of criticism lie not in judgment but in receptivity and response. Everyone, upon encountering a work of art, has some kind of response, ranging from boredom or incomprehension to amazement and gratitude. In this sense, everyone really is a critic, in a way that not everyone is a painter or a poet. It requires some special talent to create an artwork, but any conscious person will have a reaction to that artwork. What makes someone a critic in the vocational sense is, first, the habit of questioning her own reactions — asking herself why she feels as she does. Second, she must have the ability to formalize and articulate those questions — in other words, she must be a writer. To be able to say what you feel and why: That is the basic equipment of a critic.

This entry was posted in story. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Adam Kirsch

  1. shinichi says:

    Is Everyone Qualified to Be a Critic?

    by Adam Kirsch

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/books/review/is-everyone-qualified-to-be-a-critic.html

    Everyone, upon encountering a work of art, has some kind of response. In this sense, everyone really is a critic.

    If I were conducting a branding campaign for criticism, the first thing I would recommend is a new name. Just about no one has a good feeling about the word “criticism.” Most of the time, it simply means chastisement; it sounds like what you don’t want to get on your performance review, or from your parents. If you have a critic, that person is likely to be your enemy, and to be critical means to be ill disposed, hard to please or actively hostile — in short, a hater. When it comes to the arts, for many people a critic is someone whose job it is to tell you why you’re wrong to like the movies or music or books you like.

    Undeniably, there is a kernel of truth in this way of looking at criticism. Etymologically, the term comes from a Greek word meaning “to separate,” and one of the central gestures of criticism is to separate the good from the bad, the original from the derivative, the important from the trivial. Critics make judgments, and the word “judgmental” is not a compliment. But these judgments aren’t, or shouldn’t be, made according to a rule, the way a judge in a courtroom applies a general law to a given case. In fact, appreciating a work of art requires the suspension of exactly that kind of judgment — the voice in your head telling you whether this book or this picture is done “the right way,” which usually just means the familiar way. The unfortunate critics who failed to “get” radical artists like Stravinsky, or Dickinson, or Pollock, were the ones who applied this Procrustean method.

    The roots of criticism lie not in judgment but in receptivity and response. Everyone, upon encountering a work of art, has some kind of response, ranging from boredom or incomprehension to amazement and gratitude. In this sense, everyone really is a critic, in a way that not everyone is a painter or a poet. It requires some special talent to create an artwork, but any conscious person will have a reaction to that artwork. What makes someone a critic in the vocational sense is, first, the habit of questioning her own reactions — asking herself why she feels as she does. Second, she must have the ability to formalize and articulate those questions — in other words, she must be a writer. To be able to say what you feel and why: That is the basic equipment of a critic.

    It is in pursuit of this articulate self-expression that a critic finds herself needing to make comparisons and judgments. To explain why a certain novel moves her, she naturally starts wondering about what makes it different from another book that left her cold. Then she begins to ask what features of the book produced this reaction: Is it the handling of plot, or the lifelikeness of character, or the quality of the prose? In this way, appreciation passes into analysis, the next stage of criticism — trying to figure out how a work of art does what it does. And when you have had enough of these thoughtful encounters with different kinds of works, you can claim expertise — which is not a credential or a stick to beat people into submission with, but simply a shorthand for extensive aesthetic experience.

    The fact that criticism often takes the rhetorical form of argument should not disguise the fact that its true function is not forensic. Implicit in every criticism is an appeal: Do you feel as I do? If not, why not? Good critics make us think about these questions even when we disagree with their opinions — they do not close down thought and response, but extend their possibilities and heighten their urgency. In that sense, the best tribute a reader can pay to a critic is to become that critic’s critic himself.

  2. shinichi says:

    アダム・カーシュ(Adam Kirsch)

    Google Translate
    批判の根源は判断ではなく、受容性と応答だ。 誰もが芸術作品に出会ったときに、退屈や不意打ちから驚きや感謝に至るまで何らかの反応をする。その意味で、誰もが画家または詩人ではないという意味で、誰もが本当に評論家だ。アートワークを作成するには特別な才能が必要だが、意識のある人はそのアートワークに反応する。職業的感覚で誰かを批評家にするのは、まず、自分の反応に疑問を抱く習慣を持つことだ。なぜ彼女が彼女のように感じるのか自分自身に問いかけることだ。第二に、彼女はそれらの質問を形にし、言葉にする能力を持っていなければならない。言い換えれば、彼女はライターでなければならない。あなたが感じることとその理由を言うことができるように:それは批評家の基本的な装備だ。

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.