More about me ~ theatre notes

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More about me

For which this blog is not intended, so I promise I will get back to controlled egocentricity very soon.

However, I feel that I need to explain that over the next six months I will have to be restricted in my reviewing, as I need to focus on my novel. I will certainly not be abandoning the blog, which in some ways keeps me sane while I prosaically labour away at my desk, but I am definitely limiting my playgoing to one show (at a stretch two) a week. Even I, blithe idiot that I am, realise that if I do more I will (a) collapse and/or (b) start writing tripe. So apologies in advance to the people whose invitations I will have to decline (and please don't stop sending them!)

Secondly, Theatre Notes has had a couple of nice mentions in the press this weekend, thanks to her inclusion in Creme de la Phlegm, a newly-released MUP anthology of notable critical hatchet jobs edited by SMH arts writer Angela Bennie. Worth reading in full is James Bradley's review in the Age this weekend, which among other things intelligently (and positively) discusses the arts blogosphere, and has some hard words for mainstream reviewing:

The democracy of the net is often closer to licensed demagoguery. But simultaneously it offers access to voices that struggle to find space in the traditional media. And the online forum's flame wars notwithstanding, these voices are flourishing, meaning much of the best writing about Australian art and culture is now to be found online.

[Bennie] is also correct in her assertion that we now inhabit a society where serious thinking about art and culture - indeed, serious thinking of any kind - is routinely derided. But simultaneously her desire to preserve the cultural status of the critic hampers her attempt to map out the factors that have driven that decline.

They are, of course, many and complex. The impatience with ambiguity and difficulty that has grown up hand in hand with consumer capitalism's culture of instant gratification, the increasingly blurry line between marketing and editorial, the ongoing erosion of educational standards; all play a part.

The status of criticism, as Bennie, like West before her, sees all too clearly, is only one victim of these forces. The same culture of impatience with serious thought pervades almost every aspect of our culture, from politics down. And almost invariably it is the interests of the powerful that are served by the lack of engagement and serious debate.... One of the symptoms of this malaise is the endless, underinformed rush to judgement we see every day in our media, the constant asinine commentary about what's wrong with our art and our artists.

And Gerard Windsor also says nice things about my criticism in his review in the SMH.

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