Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jim Rutter's Twitter response to my critique from the other day:


Like a lot of Twitter posting, this sounds good in 140 characters but makes very little sense.

In my original post I linked to his full review, so that it could be assessed alongside my critique. I quoted nothing out of context, and I didn't use information out of context in assessing the review--Mr. Rutter's affiliation with the Libertarian party is a matter of public record, and appears on the bio he provides for the site where he reviews. The arguments I made are sound, clear, and supported by audio recordings of the show and the talkback.

Also, let's be clear about the power relationship: when an artist has the temerity to respond to a critic, the artist is the one in a position to take a fall. A critic has an implied and express trust that their work is even-handed and aesthetically sound, and if an artist challenges that, especially in a review about their own work, they will probably lose. Tactically it is always better to concede and move on, especially from a poor review on a website in a city I do not live in—drawing attention to writers who despise your work is not tactically sound.

I didn't do that because I felt the discussion was worth it in this case—that the formal issues of rigor and bias were worth commenting on, and using it as an opportunity to reflect on the state of our criticism. I will probably pay for this.

What I'm saying is that I have no "dirty tricks" to play—I'm the artist whose work was reviewed. I have been thorough, polite, and I am the one who risks by engaging in discussion. If Mr. Rutter believes my response is full of "dirty tricks", he is deeply mistaken.

Given the disappointing tenor of this response, barring the unforeseen this will be my last word on the matter.