“Men must live and create.”— Albert Camus
Riddle me this:
Who is JA Scheibe? Julius Meier-Graefe? Madame Anne Louise Germanine De Stael?
Never heard of ‘em?
Yeah, me neither.
Til I googled their names to make a point.
What point, you ask?
The names of all the people-you-never-heard-of above have been preserved for one common reason:
They criticized great creators.
And while you may be unfamiliar with their names, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard the names of the artists they critiqued:
JS Bach, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jane Austen, respectively.
That’s not to say that those critics were mere amateur sourpusses. They had clout, in their own circles, in their own times.
But decades, even centuries later, no one cares about them anymore.
While Bach’s, Van Gogh’s, and Austen’s art remains relevant to us today.
Isn’t it telling that these critics’ main claim to fame is for talking smack about other, more creative and productive people?
That is not to say that people should never criticize creative works of art.
Criticism is necessary at times, so that gatekeepers can help consumers, by recommending creations that are worth their time and money.
Criticism is also a skill that creators need to use on their own work, to keep improving.
But if you spend more time criticizing others rather than creating something yourself, then that’s just being a parasite.
I’m not talking about watching, analyzing, and learning from other creators. Go ahead and do that as much as you want.
I’m talking about spending all your time and energy pooh-poohing other peoples’ performances and creations, rather than learning to perform/create yourself.
The first is admirable and necessary, the second is a waste of life.
So. Critic vs creator. Which do you want to be?
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