Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth
The New York Times film critic shows why we need criticism now more than ever
Few could explain, let alone seek out, a career in criticism. Yet what A.O. Scott shows in Better Living Through Criticism is that we are, in fact, all critics: because critical thinking informs almost every aspect of artistic creation, of civil action, of interpersonal life. With penetrating...more
I read this for some hours until I toppled sideways slowly and crumpled to the floor, where they found me still breathing, but only just. I write this from a private room, tubes going into various parts. They say I will make a full recovery. They say it was a good thing I didn’t make it past page 215. There’s a woman in the next room been there for three weeks now, she read the whole thing. She hasn't said a word yet. Her family say they will be consulting their lawyers.
But I don’t think A O Sc ...more
At times Scott begins his argument about the uses of criticism with a false axiomatic principle--usually a belief that I don't ascribe to, but that Scott says I do ("everyone knows that critics are failed artists, and let me tell you why you're ...more
I laughed out loud dozens of times, sometimes out of surprise (the self-interviews are hilarious), sometimes out ...more
Freed from the shackles of having to review Tyler Perry's latest, or yet another Jurassic movie, he throws on the smoking jacket and ...more
The nature of the critic is to unpack the underpinnings of artistic endeavor. Love them or hate them, critics perform a vital service in the creative continuum, deconstructing movies/albums/books/plays down to their requisite pieces and casting the bones in an effort to call forth larger cultural themes and ideas.
Some choose to do this by way of unrelenting pessimism, focusing on the negative aspects of a piece of work in order to exert a kind of creative ...more
It may seem as if I am enclosing art (along with criticism) in a familiar corral of self-reference, an airless theoretical space in which poets write to, about...more
I suppose ...more
AO, you shall find no argument here with this critic (seeking better living). Scott's philosophical treatise on the nature and necessit ...more
Why do we still need critics?
That is the question. Well, because we will need to try something new, and we won't know where to start.
We live with relativism, pluralism, Yelp, IMDb and you, darling Goodreads. Some will make the argument that critics are obsolete since no one can know what will actually work for you. They say some other things, too. Here's the answer I got:
If you want more of what you like, the argument holds: you can choose yourself, try recommendation engines, ask your frie ...more
It's not that I didn't find the ideas interesting. S ...more
New York Times critic A.O. Scott dissects the art, the act and the overall being of a critic and why they exist at all. One could say we are all critics as we consume culture and veer towards what we like and veer away from things we don't.
Scott seems to be battling himself in these pages, always questioning why this job exists in the first place but makes a very solid case as to why a critic does what they do. I give this only 3 stars ...more
This is an interesting insight into why we criticise as we do. It can get a little circular 'whatever critics do is criticism', but move beyond that to differentiate what critics do compared to rotten tomatoes or other aggregators. And our unsteady relationship with art. What do we add to the world?
While it didn't change my world, it allowed me to consider what the hell I'm doing reviewing books etc. Enjoyable read.
There is a minor genre of books bemoaning the state of contemporary criticism. According to most of them, the “crisis” in criticism is internal or self-inflicted: it comes from critics who have lost interest in making judgments, or perhaps who only know how to make the wrong kinds of judgments. A. O. Scott’s Better Living Through Criticism is a departure from this narrative, but a vexing one. As a guide to understanding the material ...more
That I am trying to write a review of a book about criticism is not lost on me. There were parts of this that I really enjoyed (there are sections written in the form of a question and answer session) and parts of it that I enjoyed less than others. I tend to agree that well written criticism is a thing that society needs.
Still the needle that always remains hard to thread, as someone who watches a lot of stuff, and reads a lot of stuff, is that people are always less thrilled by long descripti ...more