November 17, 2005

"Note just what it is about your work the critics don't like..."

"... then cultivate it. That's the part of your work that's individual and worth keeping." Jean Cocteau said that, quoted, recently by RLC. I've been thinking about that quote all day. It's quite inspiring. So look out.

15 comments:

P. Froward said...

Jesus, I hate that con law stuff. Amendment this, orginalist that, who the hell needs it?

Jeff said...

I guess this means that Althouse is about to become the new home of "Open Sores Media" criticism!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, the quote is a little too useful. It could be a slogan for a serial killer. The trick is to find the right value in it for yourself.

girlfriday said...

I like that little quote. It's hard to apply, though, because we (I?) are always fretting over the silly way we put things or the way our brain works. This will sound snottier than I mean it, but originality seems to cloak itself in uniformity so often resulting in a whole lot of the same thing "signifying nothing." Is the trick to trust your instincts when you're writing? I admire writers who don't care if the words "fit" or if critics will approve BUT don't write just to confuse the reader and annoy the critics.

Gerry said...

As far as I can tell, your most vocal critics seem to think you are too conservative (a wingnut, I think they called you, wasn't it).

Ergo, I think that you need to cultivate that, because it is what is worth keeping!

;-)

(Still wish you would get into "House")

Julian Morrison said...

Jar Jar Binks.

One sentence refutation.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Molotov Cocteau.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Sometimes critics are right though. Often enough, whether in our characters or creativity, the thing we most hold on to, and wrongly, is the thing most criticized, because we all contain a special little inability to truly know ourselves or see our own worst flaws.

One thinks of how Prince, freed from the critical eye of the corporation, released several self-indulgent, meandering albums.

Or, as Julian so hilariously pointed out, someone like Jar Jar Binks. Wisely Lucas listened to critics, verbally and visually castrating Sir Jar Jar from the last two films.

(As a side observation... Jar Jar, Prince, Lucas, Cocteau are not Althouse Men)

Ann Althouse said...

About George Lucas: He's also squandered his talent by pandering to "Star Wars" fans, giving people gobs of what they already loved. He threw away art for entertainment. Much of what he found on that path was sheer crap. Maybe he could have found a way off the path by challenging his critics.

Meade said...

Finn Kristiansen: You might be mistaken about Prince not being an Althouse man. It's been my observation that she is predictably complex and eclectic in her tastes.

Henry said...

I saw the art critic Peter Scheldahl give a lecture once. He was talking about how hard it is to criticize bad art in a way that will actually make people not want to see it.

There was some artist of whom he once wrote, "this guy gives bad art a bad name." Much later he bumped into the artist at some event and the guy thanked him for the review: "It opened up galleries in Europe that weren't interested in me before."

* * *

I don't know if critics are valuable, but editors certainly are. This is what Prince needed. J.K. Rowling could use a few more too. Her most recent Harry Potter book has two: a regular editor and a "continuity editor". But that's clearly not enough. She needs a "this isn't getting published until you cut out the filler" editor.

Starless said...

Ann Althouse said...
About George Lucas: He's also squandered his talent by pandering to "Star Wars" fans, giving people gobs of what they already loved. He threw away art for entertainment. Much of what he found on that path was sheer crap. Maybe he could have found a way off the path by challenging his critics.

After the massive economic success of Star Wars, I don't think Lucas was too concerned about what critics had to say about him. His position was probably best illustrated in Spaceballs when Yogurt explains to Lone Star about "moichandizing".

While touring with his League of Crafty Guitarists about 15 years ago, Robert Fripp would stand up at one point in the show and read the most uncomplimentary, scathing critical review he could find of their tour. It was all very droll and a little bit self-serving, but then he would sit back down and the group would blow the roof off of the place by doing exactly what the critic said he hated so much about them. He's always been a good example of an artist who, when poked with pointed sticks by critics, pokes back very effectively.

SippicanCottage said...
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P. Froward said...

"Tonstant Weader fwowed up".

If Nabokov were still around, he'd gleefully say that Foucault and A. A. Milne are indistinguishable. Heck, if he ever heard of Foucault he probably did say it.