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Art is Not Just a Matter of Preference

Sunday, 15. September 2013 23:44

When I was an undergraduate, I had an English professor who said that the accomplished student of literature should be able to read a poem and separate the quality of the work and whether or not it was personally appealing. The implications, of course, were that not all poetry is created equal and that liking something has nothing to do with whether it is good or not.

This has not been a popular position in the postmodern world, where all work is pretty much equal. And although postmodernism is, according to some, dead, it left a legacy. Daniel C. Dennett has said, “Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.”

And as elevated as the egalitarianism of postmodernism sounds, most of us who work in the arts know that it simply isn’t true. There is good acting and bad acting, good directing and not-so-good directing, good writing and bad writing. There are, in fact, qualitative differences in the performing arts. And other arts are no different. Given that, the problem is articulating what constitutes good art and less good art, and that, in turn, requires that we be able to distinguish art from non-art.

Although many have attempted this, novelist Leo Tolstoy is one of the few who not only distinguished art from non-art, but articulated the conditions which determine the qualitative levels of art. Tolstoy collected his views in a book called What is Art? It is not an easy read. Fortunately, Maria Popova has summarized and presented Tolstoy’s ideas in a recent posting to Brain Pickings. Essentially, Tolstoy said that art is a union between the artist and viewer or receiver of the art that allows the receiver to feel and experience the feelings and experiences that the artist put into the work. Additionally, this union works not only in one era, but across time and cultures. He says that what distinguishes real art is the presence of this infectiousness.

He goes on to say that the stronger the infection, the better the art, and that the degree of quality is dependent on three conditions:

  1. The individuality of the feeling being transmitted. (More is better.)
  2. The clarity of the expression. (Clearer is better.)
  3. And the sincerity of the artist. (Sincere is better.) This is the most important condition.

Sincerity in Tolstoy’s view is what gives art it’s power and is the source of its infectiousness: “The chief peculiarity of this feeling is that the receiver of a true artistic impression is so united to the artist that he feels as if the work were his own and not someone else’s — as if what it expresses were just what he had long been wishing to express. A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”

Whether or not we fully agree with Tolstoy, or even understand him, most of us instinctively know that all art is not created equal. There is excellent work and there is crap, and there are all sorts of levels in between. Most of us know that. It’s time that we quit pretending that it’s all about individual expression and acknowledge that Tolstoy has a point. Art is not just a matter of preference.

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Yes, Education Can Help You Appreciate Art

Monday, 27. February 2012 0:53

A friend of mine teaches high school English. This past week she was teaching poetry and had a student who was rather vocal about the silliness of poetry and how it was hard to read and why would you want to anyway. She asked him to read a part of a poem aloud and then suggested that he read to the punctuation rather than to the end of the line.  He did so. She said that she could literally see the light bulb going off. His assessment? “It makes so much more sense when you read it that way.” Now he got it. Poetry had become cool. It would never have been so without that small amount of education.

Having even a small amount of education about a work of art is not absolutely necessary for appreciation. The unlettered serf during the middle ages could appreciate a cathedral because of its size and grandeur, but think how much more there is to appreciate once you have educated yourself beyond “big and impressive.” If you know something of architecture, of art, of religious iconography, the architectural work can speak to you on more levels. And if you know even more, it is likely that it can speak to you on many more levels.

But do you really have to know something about the medium itself to appreciate the work? It may not be absolutely necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. I sometimes teach a course in the development of the motion picture. More than one student has told me after they completed the course that it changed the way they look at movies. Now that they have some idea about how film is put together and some background, they have developed a different perspective that allows them an appreciation that is both deeper and broader.

And what is true for poetry and architecture and film is also true for any art. The more knowledgeable you are about cultural history and art, and perhaps aesthetics, the better able are you to appreciate a work on more than the superficial level.

And, of course, if you are an artist, the more you know, the more layered and complex you can make your work, even if that occurs on a subconscious level. Just as mastery of the techniques of your medium allow you to create more complicated, more challenging works, so general knowledge gives you more to draw from and informs your work, allowing it to have a richness of meaning and operate on multiple levels at once.

Essentially, the more you know, the more you can do and the more you can enjoy—or not: the more you know the easier it is to spot crap. And that, even though it might reduce your enjoyment of certain work, is wholly positive. Artistic value is often assigned by what the work brings at auction or in the marketplace, and many times what passes for “good art” is really just one-dimensional junk.

You don’t have to have a degree in art either to make good art or enjoy it fully. The student in the opening story didn’t need a year’s study in poesy to appreciate a poem, just a better way to approach it. Having knowledge can help you better understand a piece of art.

The next step, of course, is the development of taste.

 

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Creative Advice from Spoken Word Poet Sarah Kay

Monday, 5. December 2011 0:08

The Domino Project, founded by Seth Godin, is about reimagining publishing in the twenty-first century.  Last week under the title Why publish poetry? The Domino Project introduced Sarah Kay to those of us who hadn’t heard of her.  Living up to the idea of using new media to spread ideas, the posting included a YouTube video of Sarah Kay at TED, where she earned not one but two standing ovations. Her presentation was a demonstration of her first love, spoken word poetry, followed by a talk about making spoken word poetry.

Kay, it turns out, is not only a remarkable poet, but has taken it as her mission to teach and encourage others to make spoken word poetry. The majority of her presentation was about this aspect of her career. As I listened to her, I realized that what she was saying not only applied to spoken word poetry, but to any creative undertaking, irrespective of the medium. And it is valuable advice—probably as important as her poetry.

Kay notes that her poems are for her a way of learning and “figuring things out;” I think this approach to creating may be true of a number of artists. She says that artists should bring all they know to bear on the project at hand, “gathering up all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected up to now to help you dive into the things you don’t know.” Of herself, she says, “I show up to each new poem with a backpack full of everywhere else I’ve been.”

A second thing that Kay teaches is how to get to the poem. She uses a list-making exercise as a springboard for creativity. This exercise often takes the form, “list of 10 things you know to be true” or, in one case, “list of 10 things you should have learned by now.” One has the feeling that she has hundreds of list possibilities. In any case, the lists can be compared to the lists of others, or simply used as a way to discover an interesting story or idea, which in this case, can result in an interesting poem, or for those of us who are not poets (yet), an interesting painting or play or photograph or dance or sculpture or novel. It is truly an inspired creative tool, even for those who, like one of Kay’s students, think they don’t have anything interesting to say.

Another thing that Kay believes and tries to pass along to others is her belief that each artist is unique. “I’m trying to tell stories only I can tell.”  Then she combines the ideas of utilizing things you know to be true and allowing yourself to be unique. She says this of one of her students, Charlotte: “By putting the things she knows to be true into the work she’s doing, she can created poems that only Charlotte can write.”

All you have to do is take that statement, change the pronouns to “I,” change “poems” to whatever your art is, plug in your name instead of Charlotte’s, and you have a mantra that you can live by, at least artistically speaking.

Kay’s last piece of advice for artists is one that we have all heard before: “grow and explore and take risks.” But you have the feeling that when Kay says it, she not only means it, she lives by it. Perhaps we too can use her words to guide our artistic lives.

 

 

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The Most Beautiful Part of the Picture is the Frame

Monday, 13. June 2011 0:00

G. K. Chesterton said, “Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.” Frame has a number of meanings, but they all carry with them the idea of limitation.

First, of course, is the literal meaning of frame. Look at frameless images of paintings on the internet or in books and then examine the same paintings framed and hanging in a museum.  Aside from the difference of being in the presence of the real thing, you will find that the framed image actually looks different from the unframed one.

The impact of framing can be seen in something as simple as deciding what mat board and frame to put around a print. The mat and the frame so modify the image that many fine art photographers and print-makers demand only white mats and the simplest frames surround their images. For the same reason, many contemporary painters show their work sans frame.

The second meaning has to do with what is included within the boundaries of an image. Photographer Gary Winogrand said, “Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put 4 edges around some facts, you change those facts.John Sexton also talked about edges: “And then as I frequently do, some times I’ll peek out from underneath the focusing cloth and just look around the edges of the frame that I’m not seeing, see if there’s something that should be adjusted in terms of changing the camera position.

This notion applies not only to still photography. Martin Scorsese has said, “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” And that is the essence of the matter for all arts. What is incorporated and what is left out determine what the art work is and what the art work is about. So framing is really editing: deciding what is to be included and what is to be excluded. It is a problem with which every artist is familiar, and perhaps one of the more difficult things to do in any art.

And third there is the idea of frame meaning the framework or the structure of the piece. Organizing the information of the artwork into a structure alters the facts of the art work. Again, as Winogrand commented, “putting four edges around a collection of information or facts transforms it.”

We can see this in nearly every art. The “wrapping,” the form of the piece transforms and controls the content of the piece. The ideas contained in some of Shakespeare’s sonnets is also are also found in some of his plays, but how different the experiences of reading a sonnet and watching a play are.

This is true even within a genre; one can find many different poets who tackle the same subjects, yet organize their poetry into different formats, which, in turn, modifies the meaning, creating unique experiences for their readers. Compare any of the first-person novels of Kazuo Ishiguro and the first-person novel The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. Yes, there is a difference in material, but, more importantly, there is a great difference in the framing of the novels in question. Consequently, the novels impact the reader in very different ways.

Even a thing as simple as deciding where to put the act breaks in a play can significantly change the experience, if not the meaning of the play. Ask any producer who has tried to squeeze a three-act play into two acts with a single intermission.

So the issue of frames becomes not only how a piece of art is framed and the nature of that frame, but what the artist puts in and what he/she leaves out of the piece. And it also includes how that material is arranged and formatted. It’s an area of art that is discussed very little, but one that should be.

 

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Life Getting in the Way of Your Art? Use It!

Monday, 2. May 2011 0:06

This was the week to read the journals of the students in the acting class I am teaching. They are asked to write every day of the semester something related to acting. The task is intentionally broad and has a number of purposes: to get them into the habit of thinking about their art every day, to provide them with the opportunity to verbalize ideas about acting and theatre, to provide a safe vehicle through which they can communicate thoughts they might not otherwise express. (Nobody except the writer and me reads the journals).

Going through the journals is always an interesting exercise. One of the things that I find is that there is direct correlation between the quality of work that the students do in class and the complexity and frequency of the thoughts that they put into the journal. Another thing that I find is that there are, particularly among those who are not yet fully committed to any of the arts, a number of statements that run something like, “I didn’t get a chance to think about acting today because [fill in excuse here].”

It is fairly well documented that successful artists are thinking about art, if not all the time, certainly every day. They may not be thinking about their artistic specialty, but sometime during the day, ideas about art, or their practice, or art business, or some aspect of art will have play in their minds. Some, like Minor White, try to make this a habit; he said, “I am always mentally photographing everything as practice.” Others just recognize it as habitual. Many have no choice; they can’t not think about art.

Reading journals this week set me to wondering how many of us who consider ourselves practicing artists make the same justifications for not at least thinking about art or our art practices on a daily basis. As these acting students will attest, it’s hard to keep your art on your mind every day; there are other things to do. And for us who are no longer formal students it is no different; there are a thousand other things that demand our attention: families, bills, chores, day jobs, and the list goes on and on. For some it is not situations that divert them from art, but mental or physical states: exhaustion, frustration, depression, anxiety, love, physical pain or disability. The distractors are manifold.

We can’t presume that those who are “successful” in the art world are living lives without all of those same distractors. All practicing artists have physical bodies and lives that are not perfect. Regardless of our situation, and we have to deal with it and keep making our art. Susan Holland makes this point very clearly in her blog “When Life Gives you Lemons…Paint!” on Empty Easel. Holland says that when life “kills the motivation to create,” the artist should “paint about it.”

The advice holds for any artist, of course. When life gets too painful or too distracting or simply in the way, incorporate it into your acting, or your directing, or your photography, or your novel, or your poetry, or your dance, or your music, or your choreography, or your sculpture. Use it. That’s what all those artists you admire have done. Think how disordered their lives are/were. Theirs, like ours, are/were messy and imperfect, but they have managed to create art anyway, sometimes even masterpieces.

If they can do it, we can do it too. If we are to call ourselves artists, we must.

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It’s the Audience, not the Artist

Sunday, 13. March 2011 23:45

Denis Dutton in The Art Instinct argues that in fiction there is a “communicative transaction between reader and author.” Citing Roland Barthes’ “Death of the Author,” Hazel Dooney presents a very different view, maintaining that “a creator’s role is to produce and neither to explain nor to try to control the response to their work. It’s the reader (or viewer or listener) who gives it meaning through their individual interpretation,” a notion which is also explained here.

While I cannot argue with Dutton’s assertion that the author is “trying to control the show—the interpretation of characters, their actions, and the events that befall them,” I must agree with Dooney when she says “Even if people understand the concept of a work, their interpretations and deeper, emotional responses are always at a remove from the creator’s.”  My experience is that both are correct.

For example, in a recent rehearsal of a musical, an associate and I were discussing how an actress rendered a particular song. He was struck by the intensity of the piece while I was concerned that she had missed the feeling of the piece entirely, and, being the director, made a note to correct the problem. For a time I was convinced that our differences were caused by our differing functions on the show, but I came to realize that it was just that we, because of our different experiences, backgrounds, and internal reference materials, had interpreted what we saw very differently.

I have experienced similar reactions with audience members. Sometimes I am able to see their point of view and sometimes I wonder what show they have seen, because it wasn’t the same show that I saw, and it certainly wasn’t the one that I directed.

So what has all of this got to do with anything? All that holds true for fiction according to Dutton and Barthes and all that holds true for theatre according to my experience holds true for all arts. We make photographs and paintings and sculptures and collages and write haikus and novels and short stories and we have no idea how they will be received. We have no clue whether our audience will “get it” or not. We will attempt, in Dutton’s words, “by persuading, manipulating, wheedling, planting hints, adopting a tone” to control the audience’s response. We will fail.

There are simply too many factors outside our ability to control. There is all the stuff going on in the audience’s mind when they encounter our work. There is the experience of the audience, their education, their belief structure, their aesthetic. There is all of that and more. There are ins and outs and corners and nuances that we could not possibly know about or plan for when we built our art.

And no clever titles, explanations, artist statements, biographies, statements of philosophies will ever convey to them exactly the interpretation that we think they ought to give our work. Dooney has said that’s not our job, and she’s right.

We make our art and it is what it is. No matter how much we try to “control the show,” we will always fall short. That doesn’t mean that we should stop trying. It just means that we must recognize that the audience brings its own baggage to the party. Our work will always be viewed through someone else’s filters, interpreted in ways that we cannot imagine. Things we have been careful to insert will be missed; things we had not consciously intended will be seen. It will always be so.

The best that we can do is to continue working to create our visions, to manipulate the materials so as to minimize misunderstanding, to make our work sufficiently clear that our message is unmistakable. Then stand out of the way.

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Elements of Style: the Untaught Part of Art

Sunday, 6. March 2011 23:59

Yesterday afternoon I was reminded of one of the skills of a stage director that seldom gets noticed or discussed: deciding the how and when of giving specific notes to actors. For the words you say to actors to be maximally effective, ideas have to be couched in the right phraseology and then timed right. You have to know when to cajole, when to confront, when to use humor, when to be severe. It’s a thing that most directors do instinctively, although sometimes I find myself calculating so as to have the most impact. It is also a thing that is never, to my knowledge, taught in directing classes. Most of us learn by trial and error that developing these skills will allow us to become better directors and produce better shows.

This conversation caused me to start wondering how many things there are that fall into this same category: skills that are never taught in formal training and are hardly ever noticed or mentioned. Every once in a while you will run across a reference to something that “was not taught in art school” or “is never discussed in a seminar on photography” or was never explored in any teaching/learning environment, but not often.

For example, I know from experience that order in processing images matters, that  performing individual adjustments to an image in a certain sequence makes the process easier to control than doing it another way, yet no one, it seems, teaches that. I am sure that in every art there are skills and procedures that are analogous to image processing and giving notes.

So the question is, how do these untaught things impact us? And the answer is that they are elements of style. The way that you talk to actors, the way that you process images, the way that you handle the clay, the order in which you assemble phrases, the way that you layer the paint are pieces that, when assembled with other pieces, comprise your personal style. Aside from your vision and your subject matter, it’s what separates you from all the other directors and photographers and ceramicists and poets and painters. It’s part of what makes your art unique.

These untaught things may not influence the way that you see the world, but they certainly impact the way you express what you see. The fact that they are evolved rather than learned is reason your style develops rather than appearing full-blown when you begin your art career. Every day that you work adds to your experience which adds to your style. The things that you develop yourself, whether they are built on a foundation of formal schooling, apprenticeship, or self-education, become part of the work that you do, become part of your style, become part of your art. As Berenice Abbott has put it, “You have to evolve on your own.

And these untaught things may be the most important part of your art, the part that makes your art distinctive, the part that makes your disparate works form a cohesive whole. Hans Hofmann said that a work of art “is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.” Your style is, in large part, responsible for that reflection, for the delineation of your artistic world. No matter what you have learned from others, your style, that you have evolved yourself, is what defines your art.

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All Art is Censored Art

Sunday, 13. February 2011 23:14

Censorship has been a big topic lately in the art world. First there was the situation at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery involving a 4 minute portion of a film by David Wojnarowicz and the disapproval of the religious right.  Martin E. Sullivan, the museum’s director said that the offending film was removed in order to protect the rest of the exhibit. Then in Los Angeles, there was the whitewashing of the wall art of the Italian street artist Blu instigated not by any political body, but by the curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art who said that the art in question was insensitive, given its proximity to a VA hospital and war memorial.

In both instances the reasons given were not accepted by bloggers and pundits. Cries of “No censorship!” were heard throughout the land. Instead of being swayed by the opinions of the internet writers, I tried instead to gather the facts and decide if the logic put forward by curators was valid.  Would the wall in Los Angeles really have offended veterans and their families? Would that have been a bad thing, or does that matter? Did removing Wojnarowicz’s piece from Hide/Seek in Washington really save the rest of the exhibit from further censorship?  Was it worth it? There is really no way to know.

Theatrical producers have always made these sorts of judgments: if they exceed the audience’s expectation by too much or fall short of audience expectation by too much, ticket sales dwindle, so producers bring to the stage plays that fall into that “acceptable” range of audience appeal.

The American film industry followed suit over a century ago, and chose self-censorship as the best option available. The MPPC, through its National Board of Censorship decided that if the movie industry could successfully censor itself, the government would not. They were right.

There are other examples.  Galleries and museums hire curators to decide what to collect and display and what not. That’s what curators do, and unless there is public controversy, they do it quietly and efficiently, and sometimes artfully. This is nothing more than institutional censorship in the person of the curator.

Sometimes, however, outside influences intervene; Cynthia Freeland in her book, Is it Art? notes, “But if a corporation is funding an exhibit, museum directors and curators may feel restricted in what kinds or art can and cannot be shown.”  We all know this, but it’s the way art is exhibited, so we say nothing.

Editing is used to shape the final version of the story, novel, poem, collection of images. This, you say, is not censorship; this is editing; it’s different. But is it? Editing, by definition, includes “selection…correction…and other modification,” deciding what to leave in, what to leave out. It’s just curation on a smaller scale.

Even before our work gets to an editor, we self-edit, that is we self-censor. We decide which images to show and which to throw away. We censor ourselves for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes those reasons can be less than artistic: “That won’t sell.” “This is not representative of the niche I am trying to establish.” “This will confuse potential collectors.” Sometimes there are other issues; consider Charles Darwin: “It took him a long time to publish his ideas, mainly because he was afraid of being attacked as an atheist.”

Some would argue that we should be afraid of nothing, that we should eschew self-censorship as much as outside censorship. I have to disagree. Not all of our product is of the highest quality. We must edit our output in order to exhibit only what we deem worthy of show. Self-censorship is part of the artistic process; it helps define who we are as artists. Indeed, self-censorship is the only valid censorship.

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Finding Your Own Voice

Sunday, 21. November 2010 23:40

Sharon Olds, who was raised as a “hell-fire Calvinist” began to find her own voice as a poet through a sort of “deal with the devil:”

I said to free will or the pagan god of making things, or whoever, let me write my own stuff. I’ll give up everything I’ve learned, anything, if you’ll let me write my poems. They don’t have to be any good, but just mine. What happened was enjambment. Writing over the end of the line and having a noun starting each line — it had some psychological meaning to me, like I was protecting things by hiding them. Poems started pouring out of me and Satan was in a lot of them. Also, toilets.

And find her voice, she did.

This week I spoke with an actor who was going through the same sort of despondency that pushed Olds into making her deal, although the actor was not fully aware of the real nature of his situation; he just knew that he was not satisfied with what he was doing. Later in the week, I talked with a designer who voiced similar questions about his work. I think that it’s a natural sort of artistic identity crisis that almost every creative person goes through, and keeps going through until he/she finds an answer or just gives up.

I suppose that there are artists who speak with unique individual voices from the beginning, but many of us wander around creating pieces that we feel finally do not accurately represent our point of view. Or we create work that somehow fails to say exactly what we want to say. Or we spend our time doing work that is derivative to the point of not being our own. Or we do this and that and the other thing and find that while it is all acceptable, it is somehow not really us, or it is us, but somehow not satisfying. While I was in the last category, you (if you have this problem) may be in one of the others, or you may have a category all your own.

The real question is how do you get out of that category and go about finding your own voice.  You can try making a deal with the devil, as Olds did, and hope for a similar sudden burst of intuition. My experience is, however, that such visions are few and far between, and you certainly can’t count on them.  So I think you might try another approach: experiment. Take a risk or two or three or four or seven. Try things outside your comfort zone. Try different twists and variations and approaches and processes until you find the one or the combination that is authentic, that represents your ideas—that is you.

Maybe that sounds a little clichéd, a little too easy. May be. But I have found that to really experiment, to try really new and uncomfortable things is difficult even on a good day. Sometimes, just to think of new and uncomfortable things to try is difficult. But to do them, and then to be honest with yourself about the results of those experiments is even more difficult. But it’s how you find your voice, or at least one way. In addition, you may find out a number of other things about yourself and your art, useful things, things that you can’t find out by thinking, or pretending, or even imagining; things you can only discover by doing and reviewing the result.

So, if you haven’t already, go find your voice. Imagine, think, intuit. But then put those thoughts and intuitions into action. Do, play, experiment, discover. It’s the only way to learn what really works—for you. Then you can produce art that is authentically you. It may not be completely original. Some people posit that originality is no longer possible, but that’s a subject for another time. What it will be is authentic. And few would argue that authenticity is not possible. Go find yours.

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Likes, Dislikes, and Quality

Sunday, 5. September 2010 21:50

I remember explaining to my English professor that I just did not like the (American) romantic poets.  She informed me, in her British accent (which gives any academic an air of authority), that it was not important what I, or anyone for that matter, liked or disliked; what was necessary was that I understand what made those particular poems good.  It was one of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever got.

I find that students often dismiss a play or a movie or some other work or art that they do not like as not worth the time it would take to understand it, or at least figure out how it works, or know why it might or might not be important. And I think that many of us who are not formally students do the same thing.  We often confuse what we like with what is good, thus making the individual, educated or not, the arbiter of quality.  Without troubling ourselves to really examine the work in question, we fail to apply some standards outside our own personal feelings to determine quality.

I moved on in the course, and I remember how pleased I was with myself when I finally figured out exactly what those romantic poets were doing, how their poems worked, what made them good. I still did not like them, but I understood the difference.  And that was important.

My taste has changed since those days; the quality of the romantic poets has not.  My opinion of at least some of the romantic poets has modulated; the quality of the poems remains unchanged.

The capability to make that distinction between quality and personal appeal is an ability that every critic must have, and by “critic” I mean everyone who renders an opinion. That ability is even more important in today’s world of instant electronic, often uninformed, opinion than it was when I was learning it as an undergraduate.

You may be saying, “But my opinion matters. What I like and don’t like is significant.” Of course it is. It’s called taste. It’s part of what you bring to the art work. And it is important to you, and maybe even to the people you hang out with.  It is not, however, the determinant of the quality or worth of a piece of work. That is something that the artist puts in.

I am not suggesting that, like Phaedrus in Robert M Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, we spend our lives and our sanity in the pursuit of the nature of quality, although I think that is quite possible. I am suggesting that, before we spout our opinions about a piece of art, that we learn enough, educate ourselves sufficiently to have some foundation to begin to determine the quality of that piece.

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