it seems like a kind of torment, the writer’s obsession to craft the perfect sentence. to perfectly wield rhetoric towards communicating a fact or sensation with comprehensiveness. they seek to, with perfect grace, offer observations like they are an oracle granting insight to the peasantry. on the internet, land of the hypertext, i believe this has lost much of its relevancy.
there is a historical context to this–description was a worthwhile medium in locales past and far. the journal was in its way the oracle of its time, much like vaguely religious and/or bureaucratic orators were oracles of an even further past time. (there was also a time where oracles were the oracles of their time) the description was your window into a world greater than your own, where the simple observation was profound entirely because it was something the reader could not ever observe themselves. this was, in a sense, the public duty of the journalist or the orator–to be a gateway to distant worlds.
in this terrifying age of the internet though, the description has largely become redundant. rather than embracing and integrating more apt descriptive mediums (photo, video, etc) some critics take the reactionary stance of self-indulging an appeal to traditionalism by writing in less relevant to their reader, and ultimately i think everybody winds up grimacing over bad sex. (if reading were sex) (thought sex)
what i’m at is not polemic at those with passion for wordsmithing, it is that i urge a moment of reflection to those in the media criticism spaces. if you want to offer your perspectives then you should accommodate your audience. why someone may disagree with this is a dark path to go down–a wailing lament for the erosion of a traditional occupation and the intellectual inaptitute that someone can not just READ your 5000 word essay! the purity of the written word cannot be dead! yet, it is. not because someone killed it, but because it never existed. the written word has always been contextualized through what it has been written on, and this rings true for our multimedia, mass-communication medium of today.
your reader is smart enough to open a tab and look something up, or click on a link and come back later. but it’s not just that, our culture of criticism (both formal and informal) has become mixed with a paternalistic outlook, one that demands your words be worshipped–that your ideas must be exhaustive or comprehensive; that your words are the one tome of ideas one should ever look to, and it is an offence of blood to interact with anything else or entertain any other ideas. collectively these grow into warring dynasties of opinion. yet, there’s no reason we need to be doing this. the internet is the infinite hypertext, where everything which exists on it contextualizes everything else that exists on it. this doesn’t work when those things are all fighting to be The One Thing. we should be embracing fragments and particles and incoherent stipends of ideas because they never exist alone or immutably.
why describe a piece of music when your reader can just go listen to it? why describe a videogame when they could look up a gameplay video? the internet has produced no shortage of individuals capable of describing what they see, and no piece of writing exists in a vacuum. we need more critics talking about their feelings instead of intellectual surrogates for their feelings. your personal perspective on something is the thing nobody else has, and in today’s arms-race of factory-esque pseudo-scientific, ‘objective’, irony-and-cynicism-laden criticism i feel like we need that now especially. we need so much more intensely emotive writing that wrestles with one’s feelings and life experiences–messy, difficult, gross, disgusting and sincere writing that breaks through this barrier where people feel like the only way to talk about a piece of media is with superlative, pejorative, polemic or arbitrary rubrics of sensibility.
to facilitate that we need to embrace ourselves and each other as beautiful imperfect beings in a sea of beautiful imperfect beings, where the goal isn’t perfection but to just understand each other and our world better. this requires adjusting the way we process feelings into words away from the vocabulary of polemic, and obviously i have work left to do here too, but that’s totally what i’m getting at.
criticism should be embraced as a collaborative process, a dialectic effort to produce a shared culture of ideas and experiences which interact and intersect off each other, where pluralism is valued more highly than rightness. where we can throw messy, personal fragments in the ocean without so much fear of nitpicking or righteous lambaste. this already exists, but it’s a tragedy that many reject it due to the belief that one must control the narrative of whatever it is that they’re talking about. it feels like a duty to me to not only offer what i have to say, but to make space for others to speak as well.
- Robert Yang on Shared Culture
- anything on intellectual fascism
- or hypertextuality