Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Commitment to the Depiction of Life's Complexities

I read one particular blog on literary criticism.  I know nothing about the field but the authors write so well and elucidates how he breaks down and evaluates the subjective experience of a novel in such precise detail I find it fascinating.  While reading a post today about people and authors I've never heard of (Stephen Marche's semi-infamous 2008 diatribe against Alain Robbe-Grillet) I found some text that I thought articulated a simple yardstick with which to differentiate art from non-art:
What is missing from its mystery plot is a firm resolution of the mystery, and while this refusal to accede to the conventions of the genre might be frustrating to some readers, it also manifests a commitment to the depiction of life's complexities, which are not reducible to the neat resolutions of mystery stories. This commitment is not a characteristic of "high art." It is a characteristic of art.

It's not that I didn't already have a gut feeling about this but I could never have come up with that simple description: a commitment to the depiction of life's complexities.  I thought it was worth writing down.

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