Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The blue meth

Dwight Garner on criticism:
By the time I was in high school my English teachers had turned me on to Pauline Kael and Greil Marcus. I loved James Wolcott’s stuff, too. [. . . .] I remember going through the microfilm and microfiche machines, getting a sore neck, just to find Wolcott’s old stuff in the Village Voice and Harper’s. I still have those Wolcott printouts. They’re on those warped old pieces of prehistoric photo-print paper. I’m still a fan.

His stuff just popped off the page. It was the most vivid critical writing I’d ever read. His stuff shouted, the way good art does, “I’m alive.” I felt the same way about Kael and Marcus, among others. These people had things appearing in magazines like Rolling Stone, and in newspapers, and it felt like, to my blinkered perspective at any rate, a golden age.

I reread the work of my favourite critics—Orwell, Agee, Updike, Tynan, Sheed, Macdonald, Kazin and so on—all the time. Just to breathe that air. But there’s nothing like reading a critic in real time. That’s the blue meth. There’s nothing like going to see a film and coming back and inhaling the words of a critic like AO Scott or Stephanie Zacharek, now at the Village Voice. There’s nothing like getting that buzz in your head.
It is a terrible confession, but I just don't feel that buzz - it's partly why I don't like Twitter, I don't want to be peppered with news about things happening right now - I love instead that feeling of immersion in a deep elsewhere, preferably far in the past....

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