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May 15, 2006

Terms of Engagement


Larry, what you and Chris Lavin espouse, honoring the “communal nature of cultural experience” and an “arc and depth and color” of cultural coverage, resonates with what I have been hollering about. I favor a more radical and comprehensive move along the same lines. I believe every aspect of the template that holds criticism at arm’s length should be thrown out. Let’s erase the line between critics and practitioners. This is also what Enrique is talking about, if I read him right.

One of the most irksome aspects of critical disengagement, in all its forms, is that this “objectivity” business is something new and questionable, not something old and venerable. In fact, its history is recent and murky. It’s fallen into place arbitrarily and circumstantially. In my blog piece (“Engaging with the Arts”), I suggest that its strict implementation at the Times, when I was a critic there, was partly a function of a senior critic’s particular limitations.

Look at Brustein, Tynan, Shaw, Greenberg, Clurman, Thomson, Schumann, Berlioz. They were part of the arts community. They were engaged. They didn’t limit themselves to pro forma “reviews.” They wrote with style. They mattered.

Posted by at May 15, 2006 7:48 PM

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