Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Glasgow School III: A Manifesto for Critical Meaning

This manifesto begins on the assumption that meaning is developed through a dialectical process.

While no political implications are intended, the model of dialect is adapted from a simplified model of Hegel. However, it harks back to Plato's dialogues, with less emphasis on how cool and correct Socrates is.

It assumes that all partners in the process have an equal worth. 


Criticism is the system whereby a work of art is subjected to analysis by an observer outside of the work's production. 

This observer can be a specialist - with knowledge of the genre - or an audience member with no prior experience. 

The value of their analysis is not determined by the outcome (that is, the review in the most common cases), but as a subjective opinion that encourages further discussion.

As things stand, criticism is presumed to be a branch of journalism or academia.

It has recognised outcomes - the monograph, the book, the review, the feature.

Criticism is going to change as a result of the dialogue with artists.

It's about time, too.

Rules of Engagement

There is a need for absolute honesty and generosity in this process. While honesty is no excuse for being unkind, generosity might be a good reason to end the dialogue.

All partners in the dialogue are recognised as human beings and artists. They are also expressions of a deeper personality and circumstance.

The intention of the dialogue ought to be remembered throughout the discussion.

In the spirit of the Jesuit's entreaty, all participants are challenged to search for the good in other participants opinions.


There are no necessary outcomes to the process, except the process itself.

The primary intention is to expand the dialogue between critic and artist.

A secondary intention is to expand the hermeneutic spiral surrounding performance.

A minor intention is to redefine the status, role and process of criticism.

A minor intention is to develop dramaturgical thinking within the arts. 


The participants are makers of art and critics.

The critic is defined as an observer who is not connected in the making of the work under discussion.

A note on Critics

For the purposes of this process, 'the critic' is not a specialist. However, the critic must acknowledge any aspects of their subjectivity that may filter their interpretation of the work under consideration. 

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