PRINT October 1990


ANY CRITIC WHO DOES more than jerk a knee to kick a tire operates, knowingly or otherwise, from a set of first principles. But immediately the critic finds it necessary to relate principles to practice. This is an alchemic transmutation effected by mind reimaging itself through words, and it is felt to be faintly but essentially mystical by those who live with it daily. You could say, then, that the first or primary problem of criticism is language.

There is a two-way flow between language and “truth” that has not been done serious harm by the skepticism of the philosophically minded. I set the word in quotations because I am not speaking of a presumed essence apart from experience. My own model is slipperier and more phenomenological, woven on the loom of ordinary life. I like to imagine that the echo of mind in matter, and the echo of matter in mind, is where language touches ground.


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