Saturday, February 11, 2017

Simon Pure

I've been reading old interviews from The Paris Review. One from twenty years ago was of that most critical of critics, John Simon.

It's fascinating to hear his beliefs--his high standards, his self-confidence, his haughtiness (though he may not call it that).  Read it yourself, but here are a few fun excerpts:

There are several so-called critics—reviewers—who really hate my guts. There is one who slams a door in my face if he happens to pass through it ahead of me. But who cares? It’s wonderful to be hated by idiots.

One goes hoping that the theater is still alive and that this will be a good show. Nine times out of ten, one goes home with one’s tail between one’s legs, beaten again, and the only compensation is to sit down and write a vitriolic review. That’s the only satisfaction left one. 

Sometimes, sitting at a film or drama critic’s voting meeting, I feel surrounded by creatures from the black lagoon or from twenty thousand leagues beneath the sea. We don’t speak the same language. A great Russian film meant nothing to them, whereas a cheap American shoot-’em-up or cowboy movie is a masterpiece. They look at me as if I were some sort of strange comic monster; I look at them and think, What do I have in common with these people? Why am I sitting here? 

I once dated a very beautiful girl who thought Mick Jagger was the greatest thing in the world. So I showed her my review of one of his movies and she never spoke to me again. [....A] critic has to get satisfaction not from being popular or liked or invited to parties, but from having done the bloody best he could, however imperfect it may be. If somebody throws a cocktail in your face at a party because of a bad review, you just have to take it.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

"A critic is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased, he hates all creative people equally."
     – Robert A. Heinlein

True? Discuss.

2:29 PM, February 11, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Simon has written at great length about the job of the critic, whom he considers an important, even essential, part of the artistic world.

As for Heinlein, I'd guess Simon wouldn't consider his writing worth reviewing.

4:03 PM, February 11, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Guy doesn't sound haughty to me. Rather temperate, I'd say.

5:10 PM, February 11, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

He knew his shtick and stuck with it.

11:37 AM, February 12, 2017  

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