It’s one episode in and I’m prone to hyperbole, but.
I found Merve Emre via her book The Personality Brokers back in 2018ish. This book helped me better understand the Meyers-Briggs personality test. Not my particular personality (INTJ, as discussed here, or anyone else’s for that matter), but – where the test came from, who it came from, and why it continues to proliferate itself in corporate culture. Emre has a way of hitting all my natural skeptic tendencies, with a dose of cultural empathy that, kind of puts the humanity back in the humanities. I really respect that.*
I’ve been following along via her New Yorker articles and other posts/appearances, but now, like all creative critics must do, she has a podcast.
With a special segment.
And it’s live.
After a conversational interview with a critic she respects, admires, and wants to highlight to her graduate-level students at Wesleyan, she asks her guest to perform a surprise criticism on the spot.
You might think you know how to do “criticism.” You might think you have “takes.” You might write in to your local paper, dial up your favorite call-in radio show, or drop knowledge in the comments on community Facebook pages.
All of which is fine.
But listen to a pro do it.
You should Listen to Andrea Long Chu read Zoe Leonard’s “I want a president,” and then praise its style (“I have a weakness for strongly worded and irresponsible sentences”) while criticizing its underlying logic and approach (the “noxious” aspects of acknowledging a desire while displaying a lack of understanding of its impossibilities).
This is a skill I’m striving to improve in myself. These are pros doing it organically on the spot with fresh material. I am in a college class I never got to sit in when I listen, and I’m (ba da da da da) loving it.
Thank you Merve Emre.
Listen/subscribe to The Critic and Her Publics wherever you do those listening and subscribing things.
*I think of this “be a critic without losing the humanity of the humanities” idea constantly when we’re prepping and recording the Breaking News YouTube episodes. Haven’t said that out loud before. But it’s very important to me.