Saturday, January 31, 2009


Leonard Jacobs takes on an article about the demise of the critic, written by Thomas Garry:

Note the assumptions in Garry's statement: that critics can and, in fact, must exist in traditional media only; that all blogger-critics are self-anointed and therefore, by definition, are untrained, unscrupulous, unwashed; that no blogger-critic can possess the credentials, the education, the wherewithal intellectually to write criticism worthy of the term.

As someone who has worked in print and Web journalism extensively, and as someone who is a committed blogger-critic and whose writing, I think, meets any fair standard of good or great criticism, I feel that Garry is rather obviously neglecting to acknowledge the long tradition of mediocre, willfully ignorant critics in print; that so many of them have lacked and continue to lack the academic background or the training as a practitioner to develop and deliver criticism that is both informed and constructive to the artists and audience. There is a difference between criticism that artists may disagree with, due to varying aesthetic judgments, and criticism that is inadequate because the critic possesses only some of the tools necessary to do the job effectively.

Bold is mine. Jacobs is right. I don't understand why so many who write about how the internet is diluting criticism fail to see that basic and very obvious point. Then again, maybe they have reasons for willfully ignoring it.

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