September 29th, 2011 / 3:51 pm
Craft Notes

“‘You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad.’ – Gertrude Stein” — Hemingway

Georg Scholz, "Female Nude with Plaster Bust" (1927)

Writing is a matter of taste, criticism a manner of penetration.

Rodin, "The Sinner" (1885)

Criticism forces you to see outside the frame. It forces. You. To look.

Roy Blumenthal, "Photo of Marlene Dumas's Work -- 16022008(016)" (2008)

And yet it’s in the writing. It’s in the frame. Behind it, in fact: “Between the lines.” Like so many dots making up a picture.

Many have said art is a beautiful lie. Kees van Dongen. Claude Debussy. Jared Leto. A critic for life, Godard famously said, “Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” Infamously he said, “Every edit is a lie.”

But Rodin, who did not think much of photography nor of criticism, said, “It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended.”

Marlene Dumas in front of "The Sleep of Reason" (2009)

Goya, "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" (1799)

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  1. deadgod

      [The dictionary entries are useful here.  I was questioning “frankly bad” – how can something “bad” be ‘frank’ about being “bad”? – until I saw that new-to-me medical usage of “frank”, which Stein probably knew well.  She’s pretty competent that way, among others.]

  2. deadgod

      Dear Francisco,

      “Monsters” are also “produce[d]” by the unhappily wakeful deployment of “reason”.

      Your insomniac-when-not-napping pal,

  3. Janey Smith

      Criticism a manner of penetration? Reynard, will you criticize me? 

  4. postitbreakup

      do you also have a problem with “hopefully”

  5. deadgod


      but I see you have a problem with “also”

  6. Jimmy Chen

      i like how the dumas piece is referred to by its photographer, made me approach the image differently. stein looks like she needs the giacometti diet

  7. mimi

      gaze variant of penetration
      sleep variant of penetration