I’m grateful to Glenn Kenny and David Poland for their very human, very humble interaction over at The Auteurs film website (read the comments under Glenn's main article from the 4th September), reflecting on the negativity that propels so much of what passes for mature conversation about movies (or indeed, about anything) on the blogosphere. I trust that it is not inappropriate for me to write something in response; if it is inappropriate, I hope that the desire to advance the good will remit the sin of presumptuousness. Observing the conversation has had the effect of waking me up to some thoughts that had been stirring for a while, and now seem undeniable. Now, I’m not much for reading blogs. My other vocational commitments require too much attention; and I'm very easily captivated by the temptation to gossip, or to read it, and thereby overcome my plans for any given day. I’ve been allowing the view to permeate that my laptop should be used sparingly; at the risk of sounding like Jan Rubes’ Amish patriarch in ‘Witness’, for me, recently, it doesn’t belong at the dinner table, it doesn’t belong in the bedroom, and there’s a difference between work (an activity that has, to be sure, spiritual contours) and play, (spiritual, too, but not the same thing as reading other people’s commented skirmishes). So I'm choosy about which blogs I read; this is why I don’t usually know who is fighting with whom, or who has just been arrested for what, or what the 'right' thing to think about whatever happens to be.
I want to make a (hopefully) humble declaration of intent - in this case, focused on film criticism, but I mean it to apply generally to how we talk to each other.
Continue reading this post at The Film Talk, where it's entitled 'Film Criticism as Violence/Film Criticism as Love'; but it's really about all kinds of conversation.