Criticism v. reaction

There’s something I think about critiquing that I need to say. I think there’s a difference between critiquing something and reacting to it. One of these, to me, belongs in class, while the other is more personal, something for home, for reading fun time. This is part of the reason why I have a problem with people in class who feel a need to relate every story back to their own personal experiences. I think that happens unconsciously for almost everyone when reading a piece — you bring your own history to anything you consume, whether it’s an old memory of bitter brussels sprouts to dinner or a lifetime of resentment toward the elderly when reading a story — but I think good criticism steps outside of that. In other words, if I have to hear one more person say something like, “This really spoke to me because I once had a job in sales, once broke up with a boyfriend for no good reason, once stole $1000 from my sister,” my head is going to explode like Uncle Duke’s.

OK, carry on.

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2 Responses to Criticism v. reaction

  1. therealjae says:

    With respect to the fanfiction world, I’ve always referred to this as a distinction between reader feedback and beta (or peer editing). Both are valuable, but for different reasons — reader feedback is useful to let you know how people reacted to what you wrote, and editing is useful for you to actually improve the piece.

    Reader feedback absolutely doesn’t belong in a class. That would drive me batshit.

    -J

  2. tmseay says:

    Oh, ick. I was getting all ready to disagree with you (I personally tend to get a lot from critiques that primarily explain a reader’s reaction), but then you went and described the most awful critiquers in the whole wide world. Ick, ick, ick.

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