Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"A man watches a movie..."

"...and the critic must acknowledge that he is that man." Or woman. In both instances. Hi Jamie.

Okay all, since Mr. Singer so deftly opened the door to quotation and meditation, allow me to doff my critical cap and show you what's underneath, before I tell you where my vote for "The Steve Guttenberg Award for the Actor Whose Inexplicable Popularity We Hope Ends Soon" goes. Whenever I'm writing a piece, whether long or short, and I get to that point where I begin to question the basis, validity, and possible/probable ridiculousness of what I'm trying to express, I silently whisper a little critical mantra to myself; a definition of criticism that has always seemed elegant in its simplicity, and usually just what I need to bear down to essentials. Numericals, coefficients, and the like have always thrown me off considering I don't know how to count, so I may not be quite as keen on formulaic translations as is Matt.

Criticism = analyzing and describing one's pleasure (or lack thereof)

Some of you may know I've paid fealty to the house of Warshow in the past -- please bear with me (again, Matt: your fault) as I do it again in hopes of contributing partways towards figuring out why we do what we do, and what exactly it is we do. I can't say it any better than this:

"The movies, the theater, the books and magazines and newspapers -- the whole system of mass culture as creator and purveyor of ideas , sentiments, attitudes, and styles of behavior -- all this is what gives our life its form and its meaning. Mass culture is the screen through which we see reality and the mirror in which we see ourselves. Its ultimate tendency is even to supersede reality.

Now it is precisely this -- the experience of an alienation from reality -- which is the characteristic experience of our age. The modern intellectual, and especially the creative writer, ths faces the necessity of describing and clarifying an experience which has itself deprived him of the vocabulary he requires to deal with it. The writer who attempts a true re-creation of life is forced to invent the meanings of experience all over again, creating out of his own mind and sensibility not only the literary object but also its significance and its justification -- in a sense, he must invent his own audienceā€¦And the writer is par excellence the man of conscious experience; the problem of experience and the problem of a language for experience are for him one problem."
So take that for what you will. If, by entertaining, we're putting forward not merely a "critical face" but also our "own" in a sense (our experience), then I think we're doing our job. Whatever form of expression one chooses to take is right as long as it represents one's experience truthfully. I think. Now, onto the award for "Best Wardrobe." The envelope, please...


Blogger Matt Singer said...

I gotta dust off my copy of The Immediate Experience that I never made it all the way through. Welcome aboard Pete!

7:47 PM  
Blogger Pete L'Official said...

It's really great. I've got two copies of R.W.'s TIE (not obsessed, really) if you can't find yours (Oh-kay, maybe a little). Anyways, this ought to be fun! Where's everyone else? And how come I don't have a sweet picture?

10:16 PM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

I know where my copy is: it's in my old room in New Jersey. In fact, I nearly brought it into the city with me a few weeks ago because I was interested in reading it before you brought it up, but alas, my bag was too full of clean laundry to fit it in.

You can add a picture by going to your blogger profile and updating it and putting a link for a picture. At least that's how I did it.

12:02 AM  

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