Cultural critic and Second Pass contributor Lisa Levy has launched the site Dead Critics, which will be devoted to her writing about “dead critics, a few live critics, and the nature of critical inquiry.” And so far, the site lives up to that description in almost exact proportions. There are dead critics (a piece on Dwight Macdonald’s crankiness in the 1950s) and living ones (a review of Wayne Koestenbaum’s new treatise on humiliation), and plenty about the nature of criticism, as in this excerpt from a piece about Lester Bangs:
Bangs was an important tastemaker, championing the Velvet Underground, garage rock, the Stones, all blues-based, noisy rock. The gist of this school is “let me tell you why this music moves me;” implied is “and why it should move you too. Unless you have rocks in your head, in which case, I can’t help you.” This type of rock criticism is a blunt, not a fine, art: it cajoles, bullies, provokes, and personalizes the music. Every piece is a mini-memoir spurred by a song: either the writer is telling you about himself and, incidentally, he is telling you about the music, or vice versa.
The site launches alongside Levy’s piece in the new issue of The Believer — partially available online — about the critic and scholar Richard Poirier, who died in 2009. If you haven’t bookmarked Dead Critics already, please do so now.