(K. Brent Tomer),
Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth. By A. O. Scott. Jonathan Cape; 277 pages; £12.99. Penguin; $28.
THESE are tough times for the gatekeepers, for those who claim a certain expertise and get paid to pass judgment. The oracular voice of authority is being drowned out by the aggregated voice of the Everyman, the credentialled scholar dethroned by the anonymous Wikipedia contributor. As assessments of quality are increasingly crowd-sourced—through the Facebook “Like” button, the Yelp review, and algorithms predicting preferences based on previous purchases—the professional critic is marginalised as at best irrelevant and at worst the embodiment of an elitist and undemocratic patriarchy.
Few people are in a better position to respond to these slings and arrows than A. O. Scott, a film critic for the New York Times. As he points out in “Better Living Through Criticism”, his new book in defence of his own profession and of the critical faculty in each of us, “critic” has…Continue reading