Sunday, April 06, 2008

This is important.

If people who are trying never get criticized because "Hey, at least they're trying," then all anyone will do is the bare minimum.  The only way to make things better is to keep at it.  Keep making things better, correct false steps.  Criticism is necessary, otherwise people won't know when they put their foot in it and they'll just continue to put their foot in it.


  1. I think that, when strictly applied to writing, people are likely to get better by almost osmosis, just by keeping on at it and reading other people's work. But that doesn't mean criticism isn't helpful, or shouldn't even be left because that would depress the delicate soul of the person who wrote something in the public area of the Internet with free comment...

    When it comes to the Important Social Issues, I figure criticism is necessary both for the critic and person critiqued--those kind of feet are very much best when yanked out of it, and the yanker may have every right to express frustration. (And I would hope that my feet would be yanked to better ground too.)

    Sorry about the tl;dr--and your cat is adorable! Was this post prompted by anything in particular?

  2. The idea that accomplishing something - no matter how good or bad - is notable as being a big A Accomplishment is a loathsome one. You can do something and still have your something be a giant pile of trash.

  3. "At least they're trying" is def not a defense from criticism and I hate when ppl try to use it as such. It's just like a statement. >:| Like yus, they're trying, and I approve, but when you're trying you want to get somewhere right? So then criticism should be accepted and learnt from or at least examined. :) Criticism does NOT necessarily mean that the critic believes the person isn't trying to improve or trying to learn or grow. :)

  4. Also, sometimes it's good to know what direction you should "try" in. :) I mean sometimes trying is not enuf if you dunno what you did wrong, and what you did right and where to go from here :)

  5. Was there context to this post, or is this a general statement?

  6. Dane -- What difference does that make?

  7. I don't know what difference it'll make, but I'm curious too.

  8. Ragnell -- Not much I suppose, but it sounded like a response to someone who said something along the lines of "At least they're trying." It just seemed like it had a context, like your March 31st entry.

  9. Trying > Not trying.

    Not all criticism is useful or in any way helpful.

    Context is everything.

  10. I agree: Trying IS better than not trying. How could it be otherwise? But "trying" doesn't make one exempt from criticism. Presumably, everybody tries.

    I think there's some confusion about types of criticism. There is, after all, more than one. Off the top of my head, you've got:

    1. Non-criticism. Suspension of judgment. Reserved for sensitive friends who you know don't really want to hear your opinion. Fairly useless in terms of improving their work, but maybe a good policy if you'd like to keep them as friends. You know who they are.

    2. Constructive criticism. Delicately pointing out flaws, sometimes where little exists that isn't flawed, in hopes that the creator will learn. Cheering on what's good in hopes that the creator will learn to do more of that. Generally reserved for workshops and other educational settings.

    3. Criticism intended for mass consumption. Reserved for works created for mass consumption. You, the creator, are asking time and/or money of the audience. This is not a small thing. If you, the critic, wrote for Consumer Reports, and told your readers that a car was really pretty good and only spontaneously combusted sometimes, but we should really keep in mind that no one wants to make a car that explodes for no reason and maybe think about buying it so that there are no hurt feelings, and anyway that manufacturer has kids to support, so come on, then you wouldn't be writing for Consumer Reports for long. The critic here has an obligation to be as honest as the day is long because s/he is advising someone to invest (or not invest) in a work. This type of criticism is not about the creator; it is about the consumer.

    If you're creating something for mass consumption, you have no right to expect any type of criticism other than that last. Because it's not really about you -- it's about your work, which exists independent of you, and which others are making a decision to buy or not buy. So, you know. Deal.

    (Apologies for writing a book. God, this subject gets so far under my skin, though.)

  11. must....not...make...obv-

    "No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."

    sorry, I just couldn't help myself