It's probably not intentional, but critics always make me feel kinda stupid.
While not everybody's a critic, there certainly are a lot of them in the circles of wannabe full-time artists & writers in which I, er, circulate. I hear a lot of talk about how horrid this or that work of Art is, so I spend a lot of time feeling stupid.
Because I still see art of any kind as a sort of small miracle, an imperfect confluence of talent, skill, and intention that maybe -- if you're really, really lucky -- might just communicate something true and alive about yourself and your world, creating a new connection from which more art can grow.
I don't feel this justifies abandonment of my critical faculties, though. Quite the contrary... I want to apply my reason to understand the miracle as well as I can in order to make miracles all my own and forge more, perhaps better connections. And if, in the course of my reasoning-mind's study of art, I see something ugly masquerading as beautiful -- well, then, I hope I'll have the courage to transcend my innate passivity and do some critical ninjitsu.
Nonetheless, I don't ever want to lose the sense of wonder and love that draws me to art in the first place, nor descend into the sort of vitriolic, predatory bitterness that yearns to be the first to spot the cracks in somebody else's attempts at making.
That sort of thing's a cancer, feeding on the critic's sneaking suspicion of personal insignificance and inability for creation -- a feeling I know all too well. It's a feeling that quickly and inevitably devolves into a mad appetite for destruction, and I'd rather stick to making stuff.
On the far swing of the pendulum, my own fear of insignificance leads me to believe the critics are always right, and that I'm just another clueless stooge obliviously cheering for the Emperor's New Clothes. Like everybody, I'd like to be the one kid calling out the truth -- but I can't seem to muster the resolve.
I'm okay with this, though.
I think it's far better to risk being the idiot cheering wildly for the hack-job Christmas Pageant at the local Elementary-school gymnasium, than the bitter record executive who's got to live with the knowledge that he's the clown who turned down the Beatles.
I might not buy a ticket to next year's pageant, but I'm certainly not going to waste my time whining about the amateurish shepherd's costumes and the third wise man's poor delivery.
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