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Who decides whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
Hierarchies of taste exist in our society, but their roots often reflect more than just the quality of work.
A. O. Scott joined The New York Times as a film critic in January 2000, and was named a chief critic in 2004. Previously, Mr. Scott had been the lead Sunday book reviewer for Newsday and a frequent contributor to Slate, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.
Mr. Scott was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism in 2010, the same year he served as co-host (with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune) on the last season of "At the Movies," the syndicated film-reviewing program started by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
A frequent presence on radio and television, Mr. Scott is Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism at Wesleyan University and the author of Better Living Through Criticism (2016, Penguin Press).
A. O. Scott: I think that taste hierarchies do exist and they're almost always the kind of the representation of other sorts of hierarchies and assumptions. And that's why I really think that part of the job of criticism is to be against them, is to refuse, at least the categorization of things as high and low.
I think it was Duke Ellington who's often quoted as saying, "There are two kinds of music; good music and bad in music." And everything else is kind of sociology and politics and prejudice and snobbery kind of sneaking in. And we're none of us immune to those things. We live in the world we associate with, who we associate with; we identify ourselves as we identify ourselves. But I think that the job of critics and of criticism is to kind of to push against that. And it has just even historically been the job of critics very often or of criticism to insist on the value and the dignity and the importance of works of art and types of works of art that had been neglected or ignored or disrespected. And it's in fact the rise of criticism, within any of those arts, that gets it to be taken seriously.
Movies are a great example. I mean movies, you know, nobody took movies seriously except like maybe in Germany in the '20s as an art form. And it was critics first in France and then in the United States after the Second World War who said well look no, this junk that's been coming out of Hollywood actually this is a significant modern art form. These people whose names you just see in the credits, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Orson Welles, these are artists. This is art. And it was critics who were able to do that and I think jazz critics and rock critics and people who have written about hip-hop and television have done that work too of recategorizing and redefining and challenging the hierarchical assumptions about what is high art and what is low.
The thing that's great about movies is that they are high and low and that they run, you know, there's a very wide spectrum from the most crassly commercial genre of products and the most refined and difficult works of art. And the thing that you discover when you write about criticism is that sometimes the ones that are very low are actually, you know, fantastic works of art and the ones that are very high can be just as terrible and a hacky and stupid as anything else.
- "Taste" in art and entertainment can often represent societal hierarchies, prejudices, and inequalities.
- Part of the job of a critic is to refuse categorization of art as "high" or "low."
- By challenging and redefining these assumptions, critics can level the playing field to include work from all walks of life.
Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.