“The great man who can only be succeeded by a
Archives for December 6, 2006
More blogging to come this evening, but for now here are some links to go with your cup of joe:
– I agree with Dan Green of the Reading Experience probably half the time, but I always read him. He can be counted on, for one thing, to seethe eloquently about what’s wrong with academic literary studies, as in his post today:
What now passes for literary criticism in the learned journals does less than nothing to encourage active reading, much less rereading. It wades around in the shallow waters of ideology and second-hand social analysis, leaving serious readers of literature to swim for themselves.
– I know, I know–some of you don’t want to hear about hockey! But far more estimable arts bloggers than your present interlocutor occasionally must need blog on such lesser matters. A new entry in the wide world of hockey blogs is A Theory of Ice. It’s turned my head with consistently elegant writing, and is particularly good on the culture of the game and its followers, as here on physicality as a two-sided coin and here on fandom and love.
– Mr. Quiet Bubble wasn’t bowled over by Borat. Can’t say I was either, though I giggled plenty. The Saunders link is well worth following. Part of the reason it’s been hard to blog lately is that so many of my recent literary and cinematic excursions have proven so blah. I crave a transformative art experience, but it turns out this doesn’t happen on demand. I do have a new lead or two, though, about which more soon.
See you tonight!
Yes, I’m in Connecticut, but something came up that I thought was worth sharing. The critics of the Chicago Tribune recently published a series of columns called “Critical Reversals” in which they confessed–sort of–to having changed their minds about pieces they’d written in the past. (For links to the individual columns, go here.)
Not surprisingly, these columns have provoked a certain amount of comment in the blogosphere, much of it skeptical. As for me, I have a personal interest in “Critical Reversals,” for in 2002 I published a column in The Wall Street Journal called “The Contrite Critic” in which I discussed one of my own blunders:
The big news for balletomanes is the coming of the Mark Morris Dance Group to Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. Tonight, the company will be giving the first of four performances of “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato,” Mr. Morris’s evening-long stage version of the Handel oratorio. “L’Allegro” is one of the most important dances of the past quarter-century, so this week’s performances are by definition a great occasion.
They will also be an occasion for me to eat crow, since I am, so far as I know, the only critic ever to have given “L’Allegro” a bad review. Seven years ago, I covered the Lincoln Center premiere for the New York Daily News, and I just didn’t get it. I called “L’Allegro” “impressive in its seriousness, stunning in its inventiveness–and, ultimately, disappointing in its emotional flatness.” I’ve written my share of wrongheaded reviews, but that’s the one I regret most, because I was too dense to know a masterpiece when I saw it….
I mention this because it is a good thing for critics to abase themselves in public, even though we do it so rarely. I’ve changed my mind about art more than once, and I’ve learned that I not infrequently start by disliking something and end up liking it. Not always–sometimes I decide on closer acquaintance that a novel or painting isn’t as good as I’d thought. More often, though, I realize that it was necessary for me to grow into a fuller understanding of a work of art to which my powers of comprehension were not at first equal….
“Prose is not to be read aloud but to oneself alone at night, and it is not quick as poetry but rather a gathering web of insinuations which go further than names however shared can ever go. Prose should be a long intimacy between strangers with no direct appeal to what both may have known. It should slowly appeal to feelings unexpressed, it should in the end draw tears out of the stone.”
Henry Green, Pack My Bag