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No. 217 / The work of a critic (and the duty of an artist)

I found myself watching one of my favorite movies last night, Ratatouille. I think it’s a fantastic show that is extremely well done and has an impactful message. I have written about critics (and dealing with criticism). I have also written about being/becoming an artist. There are so many great quotes from Ratatouille about both the work of a critic and the duty of an artist, but the one that stuck out this time around was the final line to the movie as spoken by the critic, Ego:

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.”

Remember that. If you find the world being unkind to your new life or new creation, don’t let the critics dissuade you. Realize that some people thrive on negative criticism so find friends who understand you. You are doing the work of an artist. It’s hard work. It requires vulnerability, which can be just as hard (if not harder) than the work itself. 

Forget what people say (or what you think people are saying) and go to work. You’re an artist now. Act accordingly.