Criticism seems to have a bad reputation these days, I for one, think that it is important and necessary but doesn’t need to be done by shredding the subject to bits. Garner focuses on the literary but to me his words apply to cultural criticism in general.
Garner references a Dave Eggers quotation from 2000, “Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic, and I wish I could take it all back, because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a [expletive] of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, this is what matters. What matters is saying yes.”
My response to Eggers’ notion is twofold: 1) I agree with Garner’s position that, “Eggers is arguing in uplifting tones for mass intellectual suicide. When a work of art makes you feel or think things, he suggests, keep those things to yourself.” 2) On the other hand, Eggers speaks to one of my personal quandaries with criticism personally and professionally. I do believe that one needs to have first hand experience working with artistic media to be able to truly understand the essence. One of my strengths as a writer is guiding the viewer to see the intricacies of a work–I came to that because I am an artist.