Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A Pragmatic Critic: Across the Literary Divide
He finds a chair on which to perch and retrieves a notepad from his satchel. "I took the liberty of making notes, and thought we might review them together." Pragmatic Critic looks down at me across the expanse of a protuberant nose, one eyebrow raised in a slightly skeptical manner as if personally ambivalent of the merits of this entire endeavor.
"Now, let us begin." He clears his throat, peering down at the meticulous jottings on his pad. "Humble Musings of a Literary Kind? That is what you call it? Literary would you say?" Pragmatic Critic snorts, the sound a curious combination of sardonic amusement and scoffing disbelief. I squirm on my chair. "I perused your...what did you call them?..ah yes...your musings..." A tight smile that more closely resembles a grimace crosses his lips. "And I must say I found them wanting. So much fluff. Romantic dither-dather. What is this nonsense about sepia-toned images coming alive?" He scrutinizes me with a narrowed gaze over the rim of glinting glasses; his tone, when he spoke again, was heavy with haughty disdain: "I daresay you might have some potential..." Pragmatic Critic waves one long-fingered pale hand in languid dismissal. "But you do insist upon these long-winded fanciful notions...who do you presume is interested in reading such drivel?" He shakes his head dubiously as he unwinds his lanky frame from the chair. He has retrieved his satchel, redeposited his notes, and stands, obviously eager to be gone. "What you need to do...." Pragmatic Critic pauses for maximum effect, "is pursue serious writing."
With his hand on the door, he turns to look over his shoulder. "One last word of advice, my dear. Dispense with these utterly irrelevant musings...and for goodness sake reevaluate your choice of roommate." And with a final scowl in the Golem's direction, who issues a guttural growl in response, Pragmatic Critic is gone, the door slamming heavily behind him...leaving the Golem and I together in the darkness.
So I am ruminating on Pragmatic Critic's advice, and a marvelous quote by Ezra Pound springs to mind: "I consider criticism merely a preliminary excitement, a statement of things a writer has to clear up in his own head sometime or other, probably antecedent to writing: of no value unless it come to fruit in the created work later." A preliminary excitement - what a gorgeously optimistic assessment! Of little account unless it contributes to the fundamental improvement of one's final narrative. So upon my next encounter with Pragmatic Critic I will keep Pound's wisdom firmly in mind, extract any useful elements and mentally discard the rest, all the while offering a seat, a smile and a cup of tea to my most fastidious of guests.