My initial response is that critics are no different than writers. They aren’t necessarily Kantian, which implies testing and experimentation, but rather as I assume critiques of English literature are, they deal with impressions of society and what feels right about what is going on. They try to articulate something that is abstract, hard to find the right words, creating a story about story or poems, where just as society is influenced by the latest theories, deconstruction, for one, or how the Republican party spins the truth so that even the truth is a lie, critics live in this world, speak in its terms, are a part of the problem, this “deadness and meanness,” as you say. I believe as writers, we are like actors. We clothe ourselves in the accoutrements of the times, we fashion the undergarments of what we think is the soul, and as critics, at least for me, I must break it all down to see what is being said because it is often too much for my mind to take in, before I put it back together and comment on it. (Here I have not taken the time.)
I think when she talks about pedophilia, while I don’t subscribe to it, I feel it is the next issue, like gay marriage was, where writers tend to go where injustice may reside, certainly not for the abused, but about those so inclined to have such proclivities and how that must make them feel against the inevitable whole condemnation. Writers deal with that issue and think about it, perhaps, if they are bold enough, they may even write about it.
Writers are like artists, who often have to be original.
I think the point is criticism has become human-hating because artists and writers are irrelevant in a world that lies. It has lied to itself so often that it doesn’t know what the truth is anymore. We’ve accepted perpetual war because the blood on our hands is invisible, we don’t see pictures of the carnage up close. We see cool computer simulations, as all of life is a computer game. We have proxies. We work for corporations that tell us to leave our emotions at home or else we will loose our jobs.
But, as writers, we know we cannot ignore our distortions, if we are courageous and I think as critics, we take that anger and loathing out not necessarily on good writing, but on all writing. We kick the dog. We are moving through the morass of ourselves with an understanding of ourselves and our irrelevance in a world that hates the truth and we are making small noises and readying for the demise of art all together, because the bankers are going to pull the carpet from under us.
Just ask the Syrians or the Iraqis. It is called shock and awe. Take all the resources away and the people will let you rewrite their constitution just as long as you feed them.
Critics are a victim of the law of abused abuse and might makes right. For now, the truth is the underdog.