Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jonathan Jones' osteopathic redunditis

You might think it's arrogance or snobbery that leads me to criticize a work of art, and maybe it is – but I'm still right.  Jonathan Jones

aLfRedO tRiFf

A piece by critic Jonathan Jones in the guardian entitled "art criticism is not a democracy." He opens with a blunt statement:
The reason so much average or absolutely awful art gets promoted is that no one seems to understand what criticism is; if nothing is properly criticised, mediocrity triumphs. A critic is basically an arrogant bastard who says "this is good, this is bad" without necessarily being able to explain why. At least, not instantly. The truth is, we feel this stuff in our bones. And we're innately convinced we're right.
With bragging jocosity, the critic flaunts that no one seems to understand what criticism is, which is why art is so awful. A lack of proper criticism brings forth mediocrity. Now a profound thought: a critic is an arrogant bastard & the reason you read him is that he boasts.

Jones renders truth engrafted & osteopathic!

Dig his epistemic lemma: when you are right you know you're right. 

Soon enough Jones is high on rendunditis:
Critics are born, not made. I don't know why I became convinced that I had more to say about art than other people, and an opinion that mattered more than most. But I did decide that – and persuaded others to listen.
Not difficult to be "convinced" if you believe it a priori, which is precisely why you have much more to say than regular folk. "Persuaded"? Not the right word. Persuasion entails fine argumentation, not brazen platitudes.

The hell, an opinionated bastard sticks to his defiance.
Of course, by being so blunt, I run the risk of vilification. I will be seen as a vapid snob, elitist, etc. But I am no more guilty of these traits than anyone else who sets themselves up as a professional critic; I'm just trying to be honest. 
We get that bluntness is a virtue. But there is a bit of a problem. Saying "I'm just trying to be honest" is a bit strange -since honesty cannot be buttressed with self-averments.

Don't let the circularity of self-doubt cloud your unfailing critical clairvoyance.

After all the critic's ballsy drumming above, comes a valley of anxiety (in red) followed by suspicious remorse? (in blue).
So, I'm sorry, but this is the deal. I don't believe my views on film or TV or music are worth anything special. But I do believe –actually I know– that my instinct for what is valuable in art is unusually sure.
So, what's the verdict?

In self-grandstanding jonesian: dickheady, hyperactive & redundant with lots of flummery fun.


Arlene said...

"A critic is basically an arrogant bastard who says "this is good, this is bad" without necessarily being able to explain why. At least, not instantly. The truth is, we feel this stuff in our bones. And we're innately convinced we're right."

I don't understand this type of thinking. It seems pretty circular. Does simply calling yourself an expert make you one? Where are the standards by which he's measuring himself? If there are no objective standards, can't anyone say they are an expert? Weirdly enough he's devaluing his own profession.

"Critics are born, not made."

Here he seems to defy the 1st law of thermodynamics: energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Where as other experts have to consume mountains of literature--literature that has often endured years of rigorous intellectual debate--before they can transform that knowledge into constructive insights about a topic, his brain has the remarkable ability to just "know." Who needs an explanation? It just is what it is. Hmmm there seems to be a new God in town.

"I know what is good and bad art."
"Because I'm innately convinced I'm right"
"Because I feel this stuff in my bones."
"Because I was born an art critic."
"Oh. Okay, so then you must know what is good and bad art."

Alfredo Triff said...

arlene. excellent rendition of jones' reduntitis!

Anonymous said...

triff, as always,

Anonymous said...

Great post! It seems like the lazy man's way of studying aesthetics.

-Daniella Lopez

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