Woolf’s essays are often both manifestoes about and examples or investigations of this unconfined consciousness, this uncertainty principle. They are also models of a counter-criticism, for we often think the purpose of criticism is to nail things down. During my years as an art critic I used to joke that museums love artists the way that taxidermists love deer, and something of that desire to secure, to stabilize, to render certain and definite the open-ended, nebulous, and adventurous work of artists is present in many who work in that confinement sometimes called the art world.
A similar kind of aggression against the slipperiness of the work and the ambiguities of the artist’s intent and meaning often exists in literary criticism and academic scholarship, a desire to make certain what is uncertain, to know what is unknowable, to turn the flight across the sky into the roast upon the plate, to classify and contain. What escapes categorization can escape detection altogether.
There is a kind of counter-criticism that seeks to expand the work of art, by connecting it, opening up its meanings, inviting in the possibilities. A great work of criticism can liberate a work of art, to be seen fully, to remain alive, to engage in a conversation that will not ever end but will instead keep feeding the imagination. Not against interpretation, but against confinement, against the killing of the spirit. Such criticism is itself great art.
This is a kind of criticism that does not pit the critic against the text, does not seek authority. It seeks instead to travel with the work and its ideas, invite it to blossom and invite others into a conversation that might have previously seemed impenetrable, to draw out relationships that might have been unseen and open doors that might have been locked. This is a kind of criticism that respects the essential mystery of a work of art, which is in part its beauty and its pleasure, both of which are irreducible and subjective. The worst criticism seeks to have the last word and leave the rest of us in silence; the best opens up an exchange that need never end.
”—Rebecca Solnit, “Woolf’s Darkness” in Men Explain Things to Me (2014)
“‘The man who gets to the top of the tree is forced to realize there is no top and no tree. I was your age when I first grasped that nothing is worth the least effort. It both calmed me and unsettled me. Now it frightens me.’”—Thomas Bernhard, Frost (via muumuuhouse)
We’ve gotten our itinerary for the road trip more or less hammered out! Tentative dates that we’ll be hitting each locale are listed below.
We’re hoping to try to get to know each city as well as possible even though we won’t be spending much time in each. Tips on cool places, cool people, etc. will be greatly appreciated!
If there’s an asterisk by a place, it means we don’t know (or know that we know) anyone there and could use a place to crash—put us in touch with your awesome friends with some floor/couch space, yeah yeah?
May 1, 2013 Philadelphia, PA *
May 2, 2013 Baltimore, MD
May 3, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA *
May 4-5, 2013 Lima, OH
May 6, 2013 Cleveland, OH *
May 7, 2013 Detroit / Ann Arbor, MI
May 8, 2013 Ft Wayne, IN
May 9, 2013 Cincinnati
May 10, 2013 Louisville, KY *
May 11, 2013 Nashville, TN
May 12, 2013 Knoxville, TN
May 13, 2013 Asheville, NC
May 14, 2013 Athens, GA
May 15, 2013 Montgomery, AL *
May 16-17, 2013 New Orleans, LA
May 18, 2013 Houstin, TX *
May 19-20, 2013 Austin, TX *
May 21, 2013 Dallas, TX *
May 22, 2013 Oklahoma City, KS
May 23, 2013 Kansas City, MO *
May 24, 2013 St Louis, MO
May 25, 2013 Iowa City, IA *
May 26-27, 2013 Chicago, IL
May 28-29, 2013 Lima, OH
May 30, 2013 Madison, WI *
May 31, 2013 Sioux Falls *
June 1, 2013 Rapid City *
June 2, 2013 Alliance, NE *
June 3-5, 2013 Boulder / Denver / Colorado Springs
June 6, 2013 Santa Fe, NM
June 7, 2013 Petrified Forest, NM
June 8, 2013 Tucson, AZ
June 9-11, 2013 Orange, CA
June 12, 2013 San Diego, CA
June 13, 2013 Los Angeles, CA
June 14, 2013 LA / Long Beach, CA
June 15, 2013 Santa Cruz, CA
June 16-17, 2013 San Francisco, CA
June 18-20, 2013 Yosemite, CA
June 21, 2013 Davis, CA / Reno, NV *
June 22, 2013 Eugene, OR
June 23-26, 2013 Portland, OR
June 27, 2013 Olympia, WA *
June 28-30, 2013 Minneapolis, MN
July 1, 2013 Seattle, WA *
July 2, 2013 Missoula, MT *
July 3, 2013 Bozeman, MT *
July 4-5, 2013 Yellowstone
July 6, 2013 Salt Lake City, UT *
July 7, 2013 Zion
July 8-10, 2013 Grand Canyon
July 11, 2013 Las Vegas, NV *
July 12, 2013 Orange, CA
I posted the travel itinerary for our road trip on the travel blog—any pro tips on things to do, happenings to check out, & people to see in the various places would be rad~!
Also, for those who missed my previous post, some context: Jim & I are moving out of Boston on May 1 and hitting the road for 10 weeks. We’ll be blogging the trip at the blog above. Check it outtt!
show starts at 10pm—listen in at whrb.org / 95.3fm in Boston.
unfortunately, the radio station can’t host a normal show for people to attend in-person. the university has kept a strict eye on the station lately, and we would lose our space in a heartbeat. I’m really bummed about this, and hope people understand!
so stoked to be doing sound for tonight’s broadcast.
”Reading these stories, it’s tempting to think that the arts to be learned are those of tracking, hunting, navigating, skills of survival and escape. Even in the everyday world of the present, an anxiety to survive manifests itself in cars and clothes for far more rugged occasions than those at hand, as though to express some sense of the toughness of things and of readiness to face them. But the real difficulties, the real arts of survival seem to lie in more subtle realms. There, what’s called for is a kind of resilience of the psyche, a readiness to deal with what comes next. These captives lay out in a stark and dramatic way what goes on in every life: the transitions whereby you cease to be who you were. Seldom is it as dramatic, but nevertheless, something of this journey between the near and the far goes on in every life. Sometimes an old photograph, and old friend, an old letter will remind you that you are not who you once were, for the person who dwelt among them, valued this, chose that, wrote thus, no longer exists. Without noticing it you have traversed a great distance; the strange has become familiar and the familiar if not strange at least awkward or uncomfortable, an outgrown garment. And some people travel far more than others. There are those who receive as birthright an adequate or at least unquestioned sense of self and those who set out to reinvent themselves, for survival or for satisfaction, and travel far. Some people inherit values and practices as a house they inhabit; some of us have to burn down that house, find our ground, build from scratch, even as a psychological metamorphosis. As a cultural metamorphosis the transition is far more dramatic.