Are You a Critic?

“Reader, I think it proper, before we proceed any farther together, to acquaint thee that I intend to digress through this whole history as often as I see occasion; of which I am myself a better judge than any pitiful critic whatever. And here I must desire all those critics to mind their own business, and not to intermeddle with affairs or works which in no ways concern them; for till they produce the authority by which they are constituted judges, I shall not plead to their jurisdiction.” Henry Fielding

I’m (sort of) on vacation and reading Tom Jones and War and Peace (Prince Andrei just had an epiphany on the battlefield about striving for glory). The above passage by Mr. Fielding made me laugh.

ellen casinoLast week we visited the Oneida Mansion (the inspiration for Buck Crenshaw’s experience at a utopian society). My husband spotted the Oneida Casino (forget the name). It seems casinos are noted for their buffets(?). We stopped by after traveling back in time (at the casino it’s as if time stands still). I think we won $.50 but we only played about $5.00. The buffet was pretty good, but can anyone explain why there’s such a thing as an Ellen slot machine?

My tendency is to criticize noisy things. Like casinos. Despite my best intentions I ended up criticizing Ellen and the fact that slot machines no longer have levers which were the only things that made casinos even remotely bearable to me (I’ve been dragged to casinos three times in my life). My husband has no great love for casinos but he tends  to take flashing lights in stride–especially if there’s a good buffet to follow. 🙂

What about you? Are you a harsh critic? An annoying kill-joy critic or a more evolved person who realizes life is just too short to spend time criticizing? I’m somewhere in the middle (I think).

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Are You a Critic?

    • It’s hard to keep your head above water with people like that. There is a huge difference between people who express strong opinions about life, ideas etc and those with bitter and jealous or just plain mean intent. I avoid the latter.

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  1. It depends perhaps on the definition of “critic.” If I’m reading a book, I get to judge whether or not I find it rewarding and my conclusion will determine whether or not I read another book by same author.
    Hank, I don’t have to read your books. And if asked, I might explain why I think better books might be chosen. (Though actually, I loved Tom Jones.)

    If I’m hanging with friends, I try not to be a Debbie Downer, which I am all to often. You got duct tape? Apply to my mouth liberally. Ah, better all around.

    But if I’m in a situation where a professional acts like a jerk, refuses to assess or behave appropriately, ruins what was not broken, or harms an innocent person – I’m gonna yell. The jerks, the users, the inept, all hide under the banner of “What you gonna do ’bout it?” Sometimes I file complaints, sometimes they lose my business, and I alert my friends.

    What I don’t do is create a proposition to make my complaint a new law. I find grass roots propositions to be ill thought out (though passionate,) and while it is our right as citizens to create propositions, most of us citizens are lousy about going about this the right way. Such laws are sloppy and nearly impossible to put into action without muddling up the courts.

    Maybe it depends on how it’s phrased. OK, taken up way too much of your blog space. I may be off subject at this point.

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    • I like going off topic. I agree that a lot of what people consider their political beliefs are based on emotion and lack of depth when it comes to research (I’ve been a victim of this myself–and it’s embarrassing to look back on my early 20’s). Nothing is as simple as it sounds. Slogans get the heart pumping but not every good intention brings a beneficial result. In fact some things that sound horrible are just the necessary thing. 🙂

      Once a doctor’s oversight (and arrogance) almost killed me. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to sue since I knew it wasn’t his intention to kill me. Maybe I should have said something, but I didn’t. Lately I’ve had to step up and take social services to task over the treatment of our foster kid. Mistreatment of children really gets me and I find it hard not to criticize birth parents who hurt their children, yet I know there’s a good chance they suffered abuse themselves.

      Henry Fielding’s quote is about a much lighter subject, but while I agree with you that a reader has every right not to enjoy a book, I’ve noticed that some people write weirdly aggressive reviews of books (even great ones like War and Peace). Those reviews say more about the critic than the writer in many cases.

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