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May 14, 2006

Venue, or voice?


I read criticism that engages me. Period. I don't care whether it appears in a newspaper or magazine, or on a blog, or is broadcast in big, blinking letters on a sign in Times Square.

The bloggers-versus-critics formulation is, it seems to me, an utterly inept one, resting as it does on the notion that all blogs are alike, and that all traditional media critics are insightful and articulate.

I read maybe fifty blogs daily and scan several hundred others more sporadically through RSS feeds. The only thing all these sites have in common is their reliance on blogging software.

Some of my favorites offer highly opinionated responses to the arts, or to politics. Some are book news aggregators. Some are given to personal anecdote. Many are a blend. The best, like Amitava Kumar's consistently fascinating site, are unclassifiable, the product of one person's preoccupations. In a recent post about writer Nadeem Aslam's photographs of Afghanistan, Kumar writes:

Anyone who has read anything that Nadeem has written will recognize his vision of the world in these images. Who else would keep finding so much blue -- the blue of the sky, the blue of tiles and the bottles -- and would pit it like this against the brown of the devastated earth, the walls, and the endless graves?
That's exactly how I feel about the opinions of the critics -- whether of the old or new media persuasion -- I admire most: that they are clear, evocative as photographs, and offered from an angle that illuminates or challenges my own responses.

I don't particularly care where those opinions are published, only that I have access to them.

Posted by at May 14, 2006 10:24 PM

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