Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It itches.

I'm not sure why this whole Ebert thing has me so hot and bothered, but I thought Santiago's response was a nice ointment. Meanwhile, the comments below it get me flustered all over again. I think discussions about "whether x is 'art'" when using "art" as an indicator of quality is a button. Being the art police on a Picasso sounds no different than this. Now you know my secret. Feel free to go *boop*.


  1. The problem with this whole discussion is the same problem with our use of other words, like "love," where there are multiple working definitions of the word. I think this is the reason for so much subjectivity; there are too many variables in understanding and communication.

    Poetry falls into the same pitfall. Is it poetry just when it rhymes? Because it uses metaphor and comparison in an interesting way? Or only when it resonates with or opens up your understanding/perception of the world?

    So really, we need to break it out into different definitions somehow. Perhaps Eliot's "The Wasteland" is Level 57 'Epic' Poetry while Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is Level 44 'Pensive.' Dr. Suess's Poetry would have to be modified somehow, because while less "meaningful," it is absolutely genius in its execution and entertainment value. So maybe Level 45 'Charm' Poetry or something like that. And of course, there would have to be an 'Emo' category as well because there are a lot of angsty/depressive teenagers out there that would be upset if they were simply declassified for sucking so badly.

  2. Point taken on categorizing poetry, though the definition of poetry simply seems trickier. I don't grasp the obstacle to backing away from subjectivity with art, especially when we already discuss "good" art and "bad" art as it is. I feel like I have a blind spot on this one, and can't figure why I see this as a "blacker/whiter" issue.

  3. My last post was mostly a joke, but my real opinion is that critics and academics alike love to be able to look down their noses at others and having a nebulous definition of art is very useful to that end. When backed into a corner, they can always invoke the name of "art" and gain the upper hand in the argument because pitting the evocative qualities of one piece against the rhetorical properties of another is comparing apples to oranges. Also, the nature of criticism is fire-and-forget, so even when someone calls Ebert on his b.s. he's already off onto another subject.

  4. True. It occurred to me more than once how much sense it makes for a critic to protect a subjectively definition because holding the key to its valuable "blessing" makes their job more (self) important; that they hold the key to such a valuable blessing. Again, ironically, because focusing the discussion on whether something is even "worth" further discussion dulls the impetus for analytical criticism (why analyze something that can't even be called art?) and encourages people to disregard critics ("But I liked /x/... Oh well, I guess opinions are like assholes").