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a lot of people think auteur theory is bad but the truth is way funnier than[..]

Started by droqen, July 16, 2023, 11:38:42 AM

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QuoteAn artist giving an interview saying "my work is Important" is a fraud. Importance is something the audience bestows upon you; you cannot set out to make an important work.


QuoteIf you're insecure, if you're preoccupied with "but will people see me," you'll never be as good as if you focus on . . . expressing what matters to you. The artiste is insecure, the artiste worries about controlling your perception. The artist is secure, the artist knows you will see them.

There's something strange in "the artist knows you will see them" that rubs me the wrong way. Knows you will see them.

That seems not so different from worrying about controlling others' perception... I mean, what if you don't, can't, know you will be seen? You have to be secure not in knowing that you will be seen by others, but secure in knowing that you are visible, that you exist. "If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?" An artist does not know they will be heard, but that they will make a sound.


A lot of putting down of Kean Pauline Kael* just crammed into this article

A lloott of stuff to skim on past


Oh, this is interesting. Burford has two claims about what a critic 'should' be: first, one given by Pauline Kael (to which he disagrees), and second, his own.

Quote from: Pauline KaelThe role of the critic is to help people see what is in the work, what is in it that shouldn't be, what is not in it that could be.

Quote from: Doc BurfordThis is wrong, but it's how Kael says a critic ought to be, and it lines up with her claim that her job is to tell artists how to express themselves.

A critic's job is to educate — to tell people what is happening.

I don't really think of myself as a critic, and I have nothing in particular invested in what it means to really be a critic, or do a critic's job, but I align more with Kael's description of criticism than Burford's. I also think they're actually saying the same thing: Burford is just not being very precise about it. Does he say more later?

(No, I don't think so.)

My point here is that "help people see what is in the work, what is in it that shouldn't be, what is not in it that could be" is well within the realm of educating and telling people what is happening -- not in the work itself, but in the process of its creation, in the mind of the maker, the artist who you can (hopefully) see.

There is a lot of other stuff about Kael that seems distasteful but this quote seems fine. The only thing that would rub me the wrong way here is a critic like Kael making bad claims about what is in the work, bad claims about what is in it that shouldn't be, bad claims about what is not in it that should be. If all these claims are good, then the criticism is good.


QuoteShit takes work. You do the best you can. You don't just run on vibes; you work on craft.

Really not interested in the continued focus on this one person who I don't know or care about, especially all this very personal criticism I find distasteful, but there's some gems in here.

EDIT: Actually, while Burford defends 'frameworks' and 'craft', he does not really go into useful detail, which frustrates me. The problem is not the personal criticism of Kael -- sure, I find it distasteful, but I can deal -- it's that this criticism is utilized in place of actual didactic content regarding why Burford's claims are correct. Although not directed at the reader, Burford is producing a strawman of 'disagreeing with him' and then insulting her and taking her down.

To paraphrase Burford's style in an ugly generic way, he is saying,

"Answer 'A' is right and answer 'B' is wrong. This person who is a proponent of 'B' is a narcissist, likes 'B' because she is intellectually lazy, etc."

'A' may actually be right. That's immaterial. The important part here is that this is argumentation through indirect insults, and not education about the reasoning behind the choice of 'A'.


Jesus christ how much of this piece is going to be about Pauline Kael? I get it, you don't like her or her takes. move on from the ad hominem, man


Burford makes claims regarding what art 'is' in a way that's not particularly humble or interesting. I'm over it.


Quote. . . even if you're in charge of people, you still have to respect them; when we say "kathy has final say on this, bob does not," we're not saying kathy is a better person than bob, we're literally just describing what their task and responsibility is

QuotePower doesn't make you better or worse than other people; acknowledging that someone is in possession of authority is not a moral judgement on them as a human being.

yeah, this good


QuoteI want to make art so that people know me

I strongly prefer this formulation to Burford's earlier statement; this is personal rather than objective/absolute.


I don't think I agree with it, btw.

I mean, I don't feel this way myself:

QuoteI want to be understood. . . . I want people to know I was here. To do that, I need to make art that communicates some aspect of myself.


QuoteIt must be a lonely life not to be known for who you are, to want to be acknowledged, but to hate being seen.

I don't think it's ever really been a question of being known for who I am, but to know who I am. I don't particularly care if other people see it. If I'm a tree falling, I don't care if anyone is there to listen... Well, I care if a few people are there to listen, but only a few. Mostly I care about what we hear. I care about falling over and over again. I care about making as many sounds as my body will allow before it splinters and breaks.


Burford shares a photograph of himself and says he prefers to go by Doc.

He describes many features of himself, his personality, his past.

Having previously described an artiste as "the demanding, self-important, egotistical maniac who demands the absurd and impossible, then brags about how important they are to the rest of the world,"

Doc then says this piece is "for you, the artiste. What are you doing, man?"

I guess this piece was not for me all along.



It was still nice to have a picture of self to compare my own self to. I didn't feel seen, but I felt like I saw myself more clearly in contrast. Strange.