Critical Trivia

A literary critic born in 1809.

A crossword clue that caught me a little sideways

A Sunday Crossword is a religious experience. A great unsolved mystery. Page after page, hour after hour, you chip away at it's blankness until you rage with despair over a wasted afternoon or you come to know the mind of the creator. Through failure we learn patience, for we can try again in seven days. Success brings enlightenment and peace.

And success means that the culmination of all that we have learned throughout our lives has been invested for a greater purpose, and when we fail, we only fail if we fail to learn something new.

Life is a constant puzzle, and its good to spend a little time looking for right answers rather than less wrong ones.

So I didn't know the answer, but I did find it odd that the name of a 203 year old critic would be considered a knowable or interesting piece of information.

As far as I'm concerned there are only two critics worthy of pop culture iconography and both of them are muppets. (Ten points to the first person who can name them both)

It would be easy to spend the little time we have together critic bashing, because what art form is less beloved among other artists than the critic? They're like hall monitors. Nerdy little demons hell bent on stopping you from getting away with something.

That's not really true.

They serve a very unique function, and just like all art, there is good . . . and not.

And the good can be extremely good. A critic with a fine palate can inspire an audience to see things in some work that might have been hidden to the naked eyed audience. They could introduce us to something new, something bold, they can give voice to the shy, and bring a crowd to an empty hall.

An insightful critic can hold artists accountable for uninspired work. I can't tell you how many times I've walked out of a movie theater wishing not only that I had my $20 back, but that I had trusted the review I had read. And critics can lead us to try things we might normally never try. It would take a whole lotta critical gushing to get me to buy a Justin Beiber album, but I might just if someone ever gave me a decent argument to do so.

But there are all kinds of critics. The good, the bad, the self. But the iconic? The historically relevant?

Cultural, political, religious criticism. That's the kind of work where a strong pen and sharp whit can gain entrance into the cool kids club.

But who cares at this point what someone thought of Huckleberry Finn a century ago? History has spoken. It's a good book.

And sure my best friend hates everything Jane Austin and will write about it till his death, all I can say is that Faulkner isn't selling tickets anymore, so, by all means, keep that candle lit as long as you can.

So why talk critics on a Daddy Blog?

Cause even though he doesn't know it yet, he's going to grow up to be an artist. I won't presume to declare what kind, that's his job, but as an artist myself, its my job to give the little guy as much of a leg up as I can. And that means a well rounded education.

He needs to look at the world with a critical eye while not missing the dirty joke. He needs to know fine dining and home cooked comfort food. He needs a little Lady Gaga sprinkled into his jazz like sugar on his shredded wheat.

He's gonna need to learn how to fix things, how to tune things, and how to solve a ridiculous amount of puzzles.

And he's gonna need a thick skin and a soft heart and he's gonna need to know that criticism is part of the process for good or for ill in both directions.

What he doesn't need to know is Lionel Trilling.

Unless he wants to solve this particular puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. Statler and Waldorf. I may have missed the spelling because I didn't Google it, scout's honor.

    As for real critics, I follow Roger Ebert on Twitter. He's worth it.