Monday, December 06, 2010

Waiting for Emily

A friend suggests we need a new Emily Post to dictate manners for our web-washed lives, such as whether or not you can ignore facebook polls (yes), text in front of someone (with apologies), or look up something online to settle a factual matter at the dinner table (only as a last resort).  As it happens, Wired Magazine tried to be that new Emily Post last year in a print edition that survives online here.  The rule torrent at the bottom was helpful, but we wait for Emily still.

I bring this up to point you to The New Criterion this month (which is as much a moving target as October), where James Panero articulates some new rules regarding how the internet relates to cultural criticism.  For example, "An over-active online presence often brings out a writer's inner beast."  Panero's judicious conclusions hit home:
The vital art of today continues to emerge from studios and ateliers and urban spaces dense with artists, just as it did one hundred years ago in Montparnasse and fifty years ago in downtown Manhattan.  The job of a contemporary critic remains to seek out that vitality, tell us where to find it, and explore its strengths....   Art writers should use the internet to counteract the dematerializaiotn of a hyper-connected world, not encourage it...  The point of good art criticism, whether you read it in print or online, should be to turn off the computer, shut off the television, and enjoy art in the flesh.
To state what should be obvious, but has been obviously forgotten, the internet should facilitate friendships and cultural encounters, not replace them.