A lot of people misunderstood the point of my “Total Frat Move” review, so I wanted to explain what was going on.
Its not up to me to decide who or what is the next big thing in fratire. Its up to the people who enjoy fratire. Life is always right, and people vote with their feet. Yes, I started the genre I guess, and yes I have some influence on some people, but its very limited in scope. And most importantly, my influence is only predicated upon my ability to deliver value–as soon as I lose sight of that, I am lost as is all my influence. That is precisely what has happened to professional criticism–they lost sight of what the entire point of their profession is, which is to provide valuable information to the reader. Instead, professional criticism became about the critic. But it goes much deeper than one job. I would say that almost ALL commercial writing is about the writer, and not the reader (which incidentally, is why all of it is shit to read).
But this is a subset of a larger issue, something that I think people have either forgotten or never learned: an opinion (e.g. professional criticism) is nothing more than a projection of the self.
Understand this: Every opinion you have says almost nothing about the object of the opinion, but says volumes about you. This is NOT my way of telling you to have the “right” opinions, so other people will think the “right” things about you. Quite the contrary, this is me telling you how to understand yourself–by looking at your opinions. They are not random. And most importantly, they are not about what you are focusing them on.
Take my review for example: Imagine if I had said I hated TFM, and wrote a long, angry rant about all it’s problems, how awful it was, etc, etc. What would be the first thing you would think? That I was in some way emotionally threatened by something about TFM, right? Either I was jealous of its success, or mad that something newer and fresher had come along, or envious of something. Of course you would think that, because had I done that, it would have been the truth.
But I didn’t have that reaction at all. There was no rant, no projection, nothing like that. I simply looked at the book for what it was, put it into a larger cultural context as best I could, and told the reader how to decide for themselves if they might like it. My review of TFM had very little to do with me.
Here’s the funniest thing: I absolutely did NOT like the book very much, and I said so in the review. But all the TFM writers thanked me for what I wrote. You know why? Because I didn’t substitute my personal opinion about the book for the objective reality of the book itself. And I was able to do that for two reasons: 1. I understand my emotions well enough at this point to . and most importantly, 2. I know that all opinions are emotional projections.
I’m not saying this to brag about myself. Shit, I have been as guilty as anyone for doing things like that in the past, and still do it to some extent in other areas. But you can learn from this:
Whenever someone talks about something that has nothing to do with them (like offering an opinion on a book), they are talking about themselves not that thing.
I can even take it a step further for you: Whenever someone hates something that has never done anything to them (like a book for example), they feel emotionally threatened by something it represents to them. Why? Because all opinions are projections of the self.