Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Snippiness

I caught a truly crass review by Stefan Beck in the March New Criterion of a Judi Bari (Earth First) bio. Trying to prove your conservative cred to your superiors with your sneers, Stefan?
Here's some of what he said:

"Being tear-gassed was 'profound.' During her brief career as a postal worker, she was disgruntled. She wrote folk songs. Not even a capable and decorous biographer can rescue her from self-caricature."

Oh, I don't know. It sounds to me like Judi Bari was a human being who pushed herself into the pains and contradictions of life, trying to make a difference on this planet. The passion Beck knocks is what gives our short lives meaning. The alternative is to be walking dead robots passing through this civilization in unquestioning straight lines. Yes, Bari was an "activist." She was a person it would've been interesting to know.

3 comments:

King said...

To me, the way to engage the public IS through passion. As opposed to, say, wonkiness. I believe also that the activist writer's point-of-view should be toward the bottom of the social and economic pyramid, not at the top of it.

BradyDale said...

The problem with most critics is it seems like they are all uncreative people. They don't seem to understand that creative people, even great ones, usually do a lot of trite, cliched and derivative crap for a long time as they search for their new, original idea.
Criticizing a person who was ultimately an activist force for doing some "typical" things in her early life is like slamming on Pollock's early paintings or riding Myles Horton for not figuring out how to run community schools earlier. We gotta search a while to be original.
Uncreative people don't get that. When uncreative people feel insecure because they aren't stirring the pot of creativity... I guess they become critics.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your position: Beck's review was needlessly mocking. However, the dichotomy you imply by saying:

The passion Beck knocks is what gives our short lives meaning. The alternative is to be walking dead robots passing through this civilization in unquestioning straight lines. Yes, Bari was an "activist."

-- is not a true one. We aren't either activists or brain-dead. Your complaint is consequently not very subtle--and frankly loses my sympathy.