Eulalio R. Guieb III
Criticism interrogates. It interrogates our individual and collective experiences with meanings. There are meanings that detain us in the prisons of our oppressors, and there are meanings that tell us which truths are more preferred under the contingencies of our present struggles. The challenge of criticism is to know the co-variances, similarities and differences between and among meanings, to know how to untangle the hidden power of meanings, to know how power is ensconced in those meanings, to know how that power can be unleashed to bring our social lives closer to the world we are redreaming, and to use that power to birth the possibilities of a just future into the present.
Criticism allows us to create new metaphors that speak of the turmoils of the present. It is always provocative, for to be complacent about the colonization of our empirical and imagined realities by unjust discourses and social practices is to invite tyranny and oppression.
Criticism shatters. It shatters the shibboleths of our silenced lives, the deep silences about the wrongs of society. To challenge those silences has often come to mean courting tragedy. Criticism challenges those silences. It breaks silence free from its silence. It proffers breakthroughs that break down debilitating silences, and, in the process, rejoices in the breakdown of unwanted silence.
Criticism is not about answers. It is about questions. The aim of criticism is to offer sheaf after sheaf of provocative questions that negotiate the terrains of the wrongs and the wronged, and the wrongdoers. Why is there too deep a silence about the wrongs of society? Perhaps, because we have been comfortable with the answers – and have been too negligent to ask. To be comfortable with answers is again an invitation to the discomforts of a morbidly terrible silence.
Criticism is about asking. It is not enough to have answers, no matter how approximately true the preferred truths to those answers come out to be. Answers should continually take the form of questions. Criticism asks questions that attempt to bring life back to life. That is why criticism is a celebration. We feast on questions that can tear to shreds the chilling comforts of silence and the discomforting decadence of our silenced lives.
Criticism is a festival. It celebrates provocations, welcomes incitement, agitates the world. It is a festival that celebrates war against those who lacerate the soul of the unjustly wounded.
Criticism fortifies the collective heroism of our anonymous revolutions.