Criticism as a palimpsest, not a stone tablet

When students asked if I could speak for an hour about writing criticism, the request flummoxed me. I look in the mirror to fix my hair and write in my journal; scrutinizing methods hasn’t engaged me. After a fitful start, I cobbled together a PowerPoint that encompassed my most sapient points. Readers will get an idea by looking at this post’s title. I even managed to discuss for a couple minutes Pitchfork’s coverage of Taylor Swift this morning.

Below is “Finding Your Voice: Writing Criticism in the Rotten Tomatoes Era.” Caveats about improvisation apply; I condescend to faculty who treat PPTs as if they, the PPTs, were scripts by Eugene O’Neill instead of Mike Leigh.

Finding Your Voice

3 thoughts on “Criticism as a palimpsest, not a stone tablet

  1. Jukebox

    WOW! Already downloaded!

    “You won’t change minds” Well, you did with me. I’m not always on your point (“anthems are vulgar”: well, it depends if their point is WAR and submission -most anthems are!- from “WeAre the Champions/We Will Rock You” to “The Final Countdown”- THEY ALL SUCK, or -let me indulge in one of your lowdowns- “Bridge Over Trouble Water” or “Everybody Hurts”, for instance. They’re the kind that work for me because they’re about lifting you up with kind lyrics for the downtrodden not a call to arms or selfish gibberish a la “Let It Be”. It’s reductive, I know. But pomposity can also be found with acoustic guitar alone.
    But “ideas” you made me re-evaluate:

    Alice Cooper
    Mott the Hoople
    Solo Macca/Wings
    Spector work in “All Things Must Pass”
    Loretta Lynn often neglected work in the 70s (at least here)
    Al Green besides his Greatest Hits
    “Free Ride”!!
    Sex Pistols!! (nobody could until you)

    I could go on, but I’m just in the 70s!
    Perhaps your love for freestyle make me FINALLY a converse when I get to the 80s!

    Great points!! Especially writing or evaluating from your own sexuality, gender, etc. It may seem obvious, but it’s not.

    1. Jukebox

      Also “what’s going on” besides a lyric, chord changes, key changes and time signatures. That reminded me of my film studies the dissection of a scene or sequence; when or why using subjective POV, close shot or medium shot; fixed or continuum,low angle or pan, what to leave off-camera or sideline in the focus lenght,, etc. Every decision must have a meaning besides what’s being told.

      1. humanizingthevacuum Post author

        Concentrating on lyrics is the equivalent in film studies on concentrating on acting or script.

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