Friday, January 28, 2005

in which THE CUSTODIAN is announced

Criticism so far as I have discovered has two functions:

1. Theoretically it tries to forerun composition, to serve as gun- sight, though there is, I believe, no recorded instance of the slightest use save to actual composers. I mean the man who formulates any forward reach of co-ordinating principle is the man who produces the demonstration.

The others who use the principle learn usually from the example, and in most cases merely dim and dilute it.

I think it will usually be found that the work outruns the formulated or at any rate the published equation, or at most they proceed as two feet of one biped.

2. Excernment. The general ordering and weeding out of what has actually been performed. The elimination of repetitions. The work analogous to that which a good hanging committee or a curator would perform in a National Gallery or in a biological museum;

The ordering of knowledge so that the next man (or generation) can most readily find the live part of it, and waste the least possible time among obsolete issues.

--Ezra Pound, Make it New

We at The Custodian maintain that the critic plays a key role in the transmission and even the transformation of culture. Though all too often we worry that we are at the superficial whim of a critic, rather than benefiting from a deeper reflection. We don't wish to dispute the diversity of judgment; man is, after all, compelled to interpret. (To return to Pound, "you can take a man to Perugia or to Borgo San Sepolcro but you can't make him prefer one kind of painting to another.") Man--we often state soberly in our offices--the judging animal. But we do think that some interpretations are more compelling than others. And it is with the simple hope of finding these voices, and looking at their work as a contribution to culture, that we hope to...Well, we're not sure what we hope to do yet.

Knowing us, nothing.

But we shall use this space--probably before a revering audience of millions--to sound out some of our ideas before the launching of the print edition of The Custodian later this year.