“Criticism will always have the force of the child in the story about the emperor’s new clothes, because there will always be naked emperors who everybody says are wearing today’s Crown Jewels.” — Eric Bentley
Criticism is vital to our time because it is a form of witnessing, testimony to the possibility that the richness and joy of the arts can be articulated in ways that invite intellectual contentiousness in the midst of community.
According to our docile mainstream media, Boston enjoys a perpetual Renaissance — the merchandise in the cultural window is always worth buying. And that predictability makes for very boring journalism.
Based on Public Editor Arthur S. Brisbane’s recent New York Times column on arts criticism, he and others at the newspaper haven’t much of a clue regarding what a serious arts review is supposed to be.
Northrop Frye, inspired by the poet William Blake, demands that the critic be a warrior in a “mental fight,” articulating the liberating value of literature as a source of imaginative energy that generates possibilities.