Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I don't like the word obligation either

The Elegant Variation has a three-minute interview with new LA Times book editor and escapegrace crush David L. Ulin.

And finally, ask yourself any question you'd like - but be sure to answer it.

DU: When is criticism a creative act?

Actually, it's probably more appropriate to pose this question from the opposite perspective: When is it not a creative act? For me, criticism is fundamentally creative because it begins with a writer or a thinker interacting with the world. Such a process is, necessarily, one of engagement; when we read or go to the movies or listen to music - when we walk down the street, for that matter - we are first and foremost experiencing something, and all criticism stems from the desire (need?) to make sense of that. This shaping impulse is at the heart of creativity; life may be chaotic, but there is order in thought. What does this mean in regard to Book Review? I'd suggest it gives us permission to look at reading and writing through whatever filter works. The best criticism, after all, has less to do with answers than with questions, and the more we embrace that, the more open and creative our questions can become.

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