File puptcrit/puptcrit.0601, message 258

Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 01:41:58 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] critics

It's clear that there are few writers with a deep enough understanding 
of the field to be a puppet critic. However, one person I would 
nominate for the job is Eileen Blumenthall. She has been writing about 
puppet theatre for almost three decades now. The latest edition of 
American Theater Magaizine has a remarkable article on Basil Twist. 
Aside from her books ("Playing With Fire" on Julie Taymor and the 
excellent "Puppetry") Eileen is doing exactly what a good critic does- 
setting work of specific artists into a historical and aesthetic 
context. Wish there were more like her in the field.

On Jan 17, 2006, at 4:21 PM, mjm wrote:

> A word (or words) in general. Opinions, that is.
> Critics...
> I have yet to actually meet one.
> Or read one recently (years actually).
> What we are stuck with, plagued by, are not actual critics.
> They are "reviewers".
> There is a difference.
> A large, fundamental difference.
> Just because a person is called a "critic" does not qualify that
> individual.
> Nor does being hired or appointed by a publisher or an editor.
> "Critics" who are actually "reviewers" should be called on it every
> time they write or speak.
> Criticism is an art form.
> A literary art form.
> A critic is an artist. Their form of artistic expression is their
> critical essays and publications.
> Thinking that a review is a critique is a common failing.
> It is sort of like not knowing the difference between typing (or now
> keying) and writing.
> The late Robert Warshaw was a critic.
> M. Willson Disher* was a critic (sometimes, sometimes just a reviewer)
> (Disher claimed that there are only six kinds of jokes: "falls, blows,
> surprise, knavery, mimicry, stupidity")
> The popularity of TV film reviewers (Ebert & whoever =96 apologies to the
> late Gene Siskel who was the more insightful of the 2 reviewers) has
> only made people more accepting of the moronic "consumer reporter"
> paradigm that most print reviewers adopt. Art is not a product it is a
> process (yes, even in performance, maybe especially) Many reviewer's
> actually believe that it is their job to help you decide how to spend
> your limited amount of money as you "consume" (not experience) "art"
> and "culture".
> If you are okay with this, if you put your creative work as the
> equivalent to deodorant or floor wax, then, good luck & god bless, you
> & I are not in the same endeavor.
> Whatever your self definition or image it is wise to remember that if
> you believe the good reviews then you also have to believe the bad
> ones.
> I've had lots of productions reviewed, both raves & pans. Never learned
> a thing about my work from either. No-one has ever come even close to
> identifying what I already knew was actually working well or not
> working well in my shows.
> "This above all: to thine own self be true,
> And it must follow, as the night the day,
> Thou canst not then be false to any man.
> Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!"
>         =96 William Shakespeare
> * I've adopted a Disher quote as one of my main guidelines as a an
> artist: "Satisfy people's desire for the ridiculous and they will
> accept your idea of the sublime". Works for me.
> mjm
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