Sunday, October 3, 2010

Immanent Criticism in the Artistic Orders

The relationship between works of art and criticism evolved over time, eventually becoming a spontaneous order. In the oral tradition, the poet would have had immediate audience feedback, to which he would have adjusted his performance. The critic was the audience. IN many cased, they directly participated in the performance. When the arts became increasingly specialized, a full-fledged spontaneous order emerged. Outside of buying and selling, the readers/viewers/lsiteners ceased being critics -- precisely because there was little face-to-face feedback. The artists were freed to be more adventurous, and the professional critic arose to explain to everyone -- reader/viewer/listener and artist alike -- what it was they were encountering. In this way, criticsm provides feedback -- but the question is if it acts within the spontaneous order, or if it acts as imminent criticism which arises out of the spontaneous order of the arts. For example, Reader Response criticism makes sense as being immanent criticism if the reader is included in the literary spontaneous order. Art criticism is imminent criticism if it address the complete order. Thus, reader response, canon criticism, cultural criticism, etc. that take on the system as a whole, or at least consider individual works as parts within that whole, represent imminent criticism, while critical stances that dealt with individual works might more aptly be included within the spontaneous order itself. If we were to place this kind of criticism within the spontaneous order, then metacriticism would be included in the realm of imminent criticism. For example, one might consider Frederick Turner's "The Culture of Hope," "Beauty," and "Natural Classicism" immanent criticism, but essays and collections that deal with specific works, like "Literature and the Economics of Liberty," Paul Cantor and Stephen Cox, eds. as being within the spontaneous order itself (although the introductory essay by Cantor would more properly be considered immanent criticism).

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