An educated common sense of the last three decades holds that all art is rhetorical and thus a game of pretenses and/or of exposing pretenses. This view is basic to the gaming of art. In fact, all art can be seen that way, but not usefully, if anyone’s experience matters. It ignores the fact that good art happens to us in ways that knock us out of our educations. Good art evicts intelligence from its left-brain command centre into other parts of the brain, and of the body. It does this by some or another touch or twist of beauty, which can’t be conceptualized but only undergone, like a beneficent seizure.
However, all art criticism, tagging along behind art, inevitably runs on pronoun-driven fantasy. That’s the fun of it. The seriousness of it, as of art, is its difference from the misery that engulfs most of the non-art, non-make-believe, actual world, most of the time. Art criticism, like art, should furnish something more and better than we can expect from life without it.

-Peter Schjeldahl

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