Tom Garvey, at The Hub Review, sees the gears of the free market existentially grinding away at the very idea of criticism:
Now critics have always been under attack. Always have been, always will be. That's the way it is. If a critic is not under attack, he or she is doing something wrong - or rather, he or she is simply not actually operating as a critic. What's new about the latest round of assaults on the critical role, however, is that today not only are individual writers, or particular styles or modes of criticism, under censure, but the very idea of criticism is under attack.
Not, of course, in the abstract, for criticism is all but an unconscious mental response to every form of cultural representation; we're all critics, and all the time, too. Indeed, people are more critical than ever privately. No, the current conversation, in the blogosphere and elsewhere, revolves around whether there can be a valid public role for the critic. Can there be a kind of accepted cultural "officer" in place at leading publications, or even in the blogosphere? Or can we correctly assume that knowledge, sympathy and insight into an art form have no place - and deserve no special respect - in the discourse?
It is the first of two parts.