On Burning One’s Bridges

On Writing Reviews

I mean, they’re yours, so you have every right to burn them.  Set them aflame!

As you might expect from the above statement, this is the beginning of Review Week here in the laboratory.  Yes, this is the first themed week we’ve ever had here, and I must say that the staff is very excited with what we have in store for you.

First, we’ll have reviews.  And none of those mamby-pampy reviews that coddle you to their chest and tell you everything’s going to be all right.  These reviews are sergeants, drills in hand, ready to take both your words and your teeth to task.

Second, we’ll be talking about reviews.  Reviews, reviews, reviews.  Re-view, review review review, Review.  Review?

Third, one of our esteemed colleagues will talk about his times in the trenches and the teaching of reviews, both the interpreting and the writing of.

Fourth, we might have a very special surprise for you all.  We might!  It’s true!  And if we don’t, we’ll have ice cream.  At home.  In your freezer.

But really, truly, what we are talking about today is burning bridges.

The truth is, that sometimes you just have to do it.  I’m not just talking about when you need to burn the bridge behind you because the Nazis are on your trail and if they make it over the river than countless innocents will die.  I’m talking about when you need to tell the truth, to be honest, and be damned what people will think.

Because you will be damned, and not because people are thinking, but because they are reacting.

That’s a little harsh, I admit, but that’s the risk you take when burning, even if what you are doing is not destroying but recreating, phoenix-like, not the work itself, but the idea of the work.

For today’s homework/thought experiment, here are a number of arguable statements (as much as all statements are arguable).  Please leave your experimental results in the space provided.

A. Writing a review is not purely – or even mainly – an endorsement to buy or boycott.
B. A review is descriptive and evaluative rather than prescriptive (either in terms of what to write or what to buy).
C. Properly, a review should be labeled criticism and seen as the result of an analytical exercise.
D. Criticism is critical, but critical is not equivalent to negative.
E. Criticism née analysis née reviews further the art under review.
F. They further the art not because the artist whose work is being reviewed reworks their art to the reviewer’s specifications but because reviews inspire critical thought about the art at large in the public mind.
G. Thinking more deeply about anything can only be good.

For further food for deep thinking re: reviews, click here and here.

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