Popularity is a great question;
it’s just an intriguing question.
I think especially now in the kind of consumer capitalist culture
where taste and sometimes quality is being measured
in dollars and in numbers and in ratings and box office and all of that.
是用美元 数字 收视率和票房来衡量的
And sometimes popularity is just taken to be sufficient kind of judgment.
It’s like well everybody liked that and that movie made a ton of money.
Everybody loved that movie.
And sometimes those movies that everybody loved
actually turn out to be really good
or I think they’re really good.
Sometimes they’re not.
But the popularity has a funny way of correcting or reversing itself.
It’s always fascinating to me how like when I was a kid
every single person it seemed bought this album, Frampton Comes Alive.
因为每个人似乎都买了这张专辑《Frampton Comes Alive》
And it was like the biggest selling album.
I mean I’m dating myself.
I’m a very old person, but it was on vinyl.
And then like five years later you could not give a copy of that –
like no used record store would take your copy of that in trade
and just bins were full of it.
Everyone was just like, “What? No.”
And you see that with popular music; you see that with movies.
I mean a few years ago like Avatar made a billion dollars and everyone was going to see it.
就像几年前 《阿凡达》赚了十亿美元 大家都会去看
It even showed up on the critic’s top 10 lists.It was just this frenzy about Avatar.
And now nobody you know, nobody talks about it.
It’s not even that people hate it, people just don’t care about it.
So popularity is a weird and fickle kind of index of things.
So it’s never identical to quality,
although sometimes it coincides with it.
And I’ve been particularly fascinated with
how judgments change over time
and how things that were very popular fall by the wayside,
but also how the opposite happens.
How movies or books or paintings or music
电影 书籍 绘画 音乐
or whatever that was ignored or mocked or rejected at its own moment
以及其他当时被忽视 嘲弄 拒绝的东西
resurfaces and comes to seem so wonderful and to have such great value.
I mean I write a little bit in the book about Moby Dick,
which is just one of my favorite examples of this.
Herman Melville was a best selling author of nautical adventures
and he wrote this big philosophically ambitious novel about a whaling voyage
and the critics at the time basically sort of rejected it and it was forgotten.
He was forgotten.
It completely vanished.
By the end of the 19th-century
there was one copy of it in a library somewhere that was in like the fishing section of the library.
And now everyone who studies American literature reads it and it’s sort of,
by consensus, one of the great masterpieces of the American literary imagination.
How did that happen?
What was the critical process?
And that is an example of what criticism is and how it works,
both at its worst and its best that criticism
it was critics who misjudged this book
and cast it aside and said this is impossible;
this is 800 pages of like philosophical gobbledygook and there’s not really any great whale hunting in here
until the very end and cast it aside.
And then it was critics also, how so to speak,
fished it up out of the deep, out of oblivion
and put it back on everybody’s shelf.