A dead hand laid upon a living thing.

One thing at least is clear. The more we acquire a genuine art of discrimination amid the subtler processes of the mind the less we come to deal in formulated or rationalistic theory.

The chief role of the intellect in criticism is to protect us from the intellect; to protect us from those tiresome and unprofitable “principles of art” which in everything that gives us thrilling pleasure are found to be magnificently contradicted!

Criticism, whether of literature or art, is but a dead hand laid upon a living thing, unless it is genuine response, to the object criticised, of something reciprocal in us. Criticism in fact, to be of any value, must be a stretching out of our whole organic nature, a sort of sacramental partaking, with both senses and soul, of the bread and wine of the “new ritual.”

–John Cowper Powys

Powys, John Cowper. “The Art of Discrimination.” Suspended Judgments: Essays on Books and Sensations. New York: G. Arnold Shaw, 1916. Web. Accessed: 5 Mar. 2015.

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