Criticism: Only Sophisticated Opinion

Of course the things that I like are better than the things that other people like.  I can bring intelligence and learning to support my likes and show why they are better than what other people like.  That is the way of the critic.  But for all the presumption of criticism, the reasons critics adduce for the arts they approve of are dressed up opinion.

Lately nihilism is en vogue.  “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” are examples.  This is because intelligent people today fancy themselves quasi existentialists and emulate Kierkegaard but without God.  Everything is meaningless and human effort is doomed to failure.  So they will come up with sophisticated reasons why art that favours this world view (their world view) is good.  I’ve been to Manchester, Mass.  I went there because Singing Beach is there and it is a beautiful beach and a solace from the frenetic pace of Boston.  Manchester is a place of peace, not a symbol for quasi existentialism.  My Manchester by the Sea and everything it means to me is as sophisticated as the Academy Award winning movie and everything it stands for.

We all have our likes and dislikes.  In school, they taught me “appreciation” for things I didn’t understand.  And to a large extent, they succeeded.  I now can appreciate things I didn’t like that much, before.  This has made my world expand and I am richer for it.  And the habit I acquired of appreciation continues.  There are certain arts I don’t like and I don’t bother with trying to appreciate.  And I think that this is a character defect in me.  But I can appreciate the fact that others appreciate those arts.  When I was younger, I would try to convince others that the arts they like, but I don’t, are inferior arts.  Now I affirm the likes of others.  That I may not like those arts is to my detriment.  But to assault the likes of others is mean spirited.

This isn’t relativism.  I remain true to my personal likes and dislikes.  Affirming that others have personal likes isn’t me liking those arts.  I still have reasons why I like the things I like, and reasons for the things I don’t like.  I will express my reasons, if asked.  But it all really comes down to, “I like this or that,–you like this or that.”  Live and let live.  I think that’s what an honest, and humble (remember that word?) critic would admit.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. audrey brooks
    Jun 19, 2017 @ 22:33:36

    I agree that an attitude of Nihilism exists these days, many people live frenetic lives as if they must do “stuff” before time runs out; there is too much negative information and no guaranteed solutions to events that are spiraling out of control.
    I wonder if this was as bad in Kierkegaard’s era, from the point of view of those who reflected on what was going on in their society..

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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