I'm emphasising the educative role of critics, rather than their dubious role as 'guardians of culture'. A sample:
The big problem...is 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've also a piece in The Age today, 'An enriching, illuminating, bonding, godless Christmas'.
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)