Go read this Dave Eggers interview with The Harvard Advocate and then come back.
Did you like it? Yeah, me too. The only part I disagreed with is where he talks about criticism**. With sizable reserves of intelligence, Eggers can afford not to be a critic. He states he’s already got it all figured out…and I’m inclined to believe him when he says that. Like I said, he’s a smart guy.
But what about the rest of us? What about me? I certainly don’t have it all figured out. I’m not smart enough to just know things. I’m still poking around, seeing how things work, how people interact with each other, and thinking critically about art, design, science, religion, and pretty much anything else that crosses my path.
I certainly agree that “simply [letting] the goddamn butterfly fly” is essential to enjoying the things around us, but how can I learn about creating that beauty myself if I don’t know how it works? Why is Lolita such a great book? Why is ID4 such a bad movie? What can I learn from the successes and failures of these works? How can I apply that to what I do?
Dave would probably disapprove, but I’m going to go right on criticizing things…and well as watching the flying butterflies around me. I can do both, I’m allowed.
** I’m assuming here that Eggers was talking about criticism in a general sense (as in: “your Web site is too yellow and it makes it hard for me to read it, especially with the small font” def. #1) and not just in a negative sense (as is: “you look really fat in those jeans” def. #2).