Post Mortem

Negative critiques

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/23/2018 11:56:13 AM IST

 1. After doing a strenuous and commendable job, you relish by looking at what you have done. The imaginations of the good deed executed can enliven and invigorate you when you are extremely fatigued. We feel good when we are appreciated. However, we shouldn’t ardently anticipate or solicit appreciation. We talk about the importance of acknowledging, encouraging and supporting someone when something good is done. So, when critics critique on a work, many vent rage at them and say they shouldn’t be pessimistic. They argue that instead of critiquing, we should appreciate and encourage. This is a critique on the critics. This is a negative critique. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t appreciate, but always demonizing the critics is a bad critique. Critiques are helpful in many ways. Of course, all critiques are not good. As critiquing is crucial, if you disagree with me, you can critique me on my critiques and rebut me. 

2. I strongly believe that a good critic contributes a lot to the society. He can sharpen and augment the lives of those whom he critiques. In the early stage of writing articles and publishing in the newspapers, I intensely realized the value of critique. In the past, as I read some articles, I realized that many disapproved rejoinder and took it very negatively. The term paper-war is often misused and misinterpreted. Correctly understood, it’s not really paper war, it’s sharing of ideas and knowledge. Rejoinder should not be utterly dismissed as petty. I actually expected rejoinder(s) to my articles, but unfortunately there was none. An individual and even society grow and progress when good critiques are given. In the developed world, critiques on articles and books are very common. That’s how they become more critical and sharp in their thoughts and analysis. In the article entitled, negative critiques, I’m writing about the goodness of critique. Now, let me point out the negative critique. Those who critique are often deemed as anti-people – anti- government, anti-national, anti-state, anti-organization, anti-Church, etc. The critics are criticized for critiquing. It’s a critique on the critics. It’s a negative one. Everyone is a critic in one way or the other. The difference lies in the quality of critiquing. Critiquing any organized institution does not of course qualify you as a good critic, there are obstructive critics. 

3. There is a saying that a critic will always remain a critic. While knowing the fact that there is value in critiquing and critics can do wonderful job, it’s important to know the negative side of it. Some critics always critique in everything, good or bad. And, startlingly, they don’t critique for good, they simply critique. They don’t have the heart for transformation and reformation. They can be called master-fault-finders, not critics for change. I consider them as bad critics because they always end up critiquing; they don’t share ideas for ‘solution’ – what can be done or what should be done is never espoused. These critics always talk about problems, and that is their problem. Such critique is not constructive. Therefore, it is negative. 

4. For certain matters, various sources of information exist. In some cases, it’s hard to arrive at one conclusive conclusion. Folk stories are one best example. As stories were passed from one generation to another generation through oral tradition, the possibility of having different version is obvious. Interestingly, in the naga society, almost every anecdote has different versions, narrated by different villagers. Thus, it’s hard to collectively write stories consensually. Just to write one story, it must be heard from all the villages which have that similar story. It becomes practically difficult. It can be argued that this can be done, but to decide which one is the true one is virtually impossible. Once, a researcher wrote about a particular history and what transpired after that was appalling. Many critics arose – they critiqued his writings intensely. He was censured badly for his version of history was different from others. Let me not call this an awful critique, but it’s not a very good one. To me it’s not an intellectual critique. Instead of accusing him, all those who claim that their versions of stories are true, they could write and even counter the existing ones. Counter view is not to be sidelined; it is not a negative critique. But, just because a history written by someone is not identical to the one you know, if you intensely critique it, it’s a negative one. 

5. At times, on social media, we come across words of appreciation and felicitation. Once, I learned that a man was criticized for appreciating someone who cleared a competitive exam. The reason for critiquing and disparaging him is simple: he failed to appreciate others who cleared such exam in the past. To me, this is ludicrous. Our understanding of fair and unfair at times goes wrong. His failure to appreciate someone in the past should not prevent him from appreciating others now and in the future. The critics may say he’s not just, but thwarting him is very unjust. This kind of critique is very common today. It’s a negative critique. Of course, if deliberate favoritism and discrimination is involved, it’s a different matter. But, the critique that you can’t do good now because you didn’t do it in the past is irrational. 

6. Finally, when something unpleasant or bad happens in an individual’s life or family, at times it may not be very unreasonable to speak against someone for not advising, guiding and molding his/her life. But, there is unhealthy critique in such circumstances. Everybody has choices in life. Good and responsible people do teach their family members, relatives and friends. However, such teaching doesn’t guarantee that those taught will definitely change and become good people. There are always high possibilities that they go wrong and do bad things. When they act wrongly, it is often critiqued that those good and responsible people do not teach or say anything to them. Of course, certain good people can be held responsible for certain bad outcome in people’s life. But, without even having any evidence that they didn’t do anything to make those people good, if you critique them and say they are responsible, you are wrong. It is a negative critique. If you always follow the idea that when bad things happen, the responsible persons must be blamed or accused, you may even blame Jesus for the evil act of Judas. 

These critiques on critiques can be critiqued. I have not perfected on critiquing. I have just written to uncover the goodness of critique and also the negative side of it. If you think my critiques are negative, you can give your critiques, for I don’t believe that critiquing a critic is absolutely wrong. 

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