Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Critics and Christmas

I've a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, 'A bad review can be a learning experience'.

I'm emphasising the educative role of critics, rather than their dubious role as 'guardians of culture'. A sample:
The big not that critics will murder restaurants or books - although I can understand why it feels this way if you're on the receiving end. The danger is that we will forget what good criticism is; that we will come to accept clumsy scores or shallow fawning or viciousness instead of works that genuinely diversify or deepen our taste.
(Image: G.C. von Max, 'Monkeys as judges of art')


I'm giving our version of an atheist Christmas - trying to avoid the extremes of shallow gift exchange and faux-religious laziness. A sample:
as I'm an atheist, there's no God for me. I believe that if he existed, Christ was a murdered holy man, not the child of a god. And that when I die, I will be annihilated and return to the nothing before my birth. But, with my family, and like faux-Christians everywhere, I do celebrate on Christmas Day. Before cries of hypocrisy drown out common sense, let me repeat: I celebrate on Christmas Day - I don't celebrate Christmas.
(Image: Softeis)


genevieve said...

And both pieces are beautifully written - thanks, Damon.
I really like the critic's piece, that idea of the critic as not necessarily professional or expert, but spokesman for the 'adventures of ideas' is rather more generous than the opinions some seem to hold these days :-)

Frances said...

What I love about Christmas, Damon, is that, whatever values our society claims to have, what it in fact celebrates is sporting wins, financial excesses and celebrity.

At Christmas, whether theist, Christian or not, the hype, the excess, the consumption celebration and excess is fundamentally the celebration of a baby's birth.
Always a miracle, and often a source of joy.