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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nap Time

How do you guard against letting the views of professional opinion makers exert undue influence on you?

Although this is fresh on my mind because of the non-stop yammering of political pundits as the presidential debates unfold, this question has long had me in its grip. Film experts like Roger Ebert or the late Pauline Kael, or omnivorous readers/reviewers like the late John Leonard have spent whole lives examining their respective art forms. So, they clearly possess distinctions about those art forms I do not. Political pundits on both sides can make a similar claim re their expertise vs. my (relatively) less informed views.

Given that, how can you/I separate what we say is "our" view from the influence exerted by the experts?  How much is ours vs. theirs? How much does that matter? For me, this is more than an academic exercise. For example, the art form closest to my heart is music. But it's often difficult for me to tease apart where what I've read about a musician or a piece of music begins and my opinion of that same musician or piece of music ends. So as I get older and try to get wiser, I've begun withholding musical criticism unless I'm reasonably sure I arrived at "my" critical opinion largely on my own. But, I'm rarely as sure as I used to think I was. And I know quite a bit about music. I know less about film or books, even less about politics, and next to nothing about many other subjects. Is that the main reason professional opinion makers are needed? I need a nap.  

2 comments:

  1. "If you have not by nature a critical mind your staying here is useless."
    --Gurdjieff

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  2. Is there any such thing as original thought? It's getting harder and harder to know. The intellectual mind has always collected information from a variety of sources, using it to formulate ideas. Today, our information sources are myriad (seemingly infinite). The information is a constant and rapidly shifting barrage of advertising, news, commentary, photos, videos, music, garbage, chatter, etc. etc. etc. Who can know where it all begins? So the lines between originator and regurgitator are getting more and more blurry.

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