Sunday, June 04, 2006

“the time for being against is over”


To be against things was to be negative, and what’s the point of that? You can’t change anything by being “against things”—the world is what it is—so all that negative energy is just going to boomerang back on you in the end.

Here was someone who was very definitely against things, but this display of a fiercely engaged, critical intelligence seemed to make this group uneasy. It’s not even that they argued against his point of view. Why should they? What a waste of energy, and for that matter, how uncool! The time for being against things is over. If this is anything like the dominant view—at least among educated young people—then these do not appear to be very propitious times for any kind of criticism, let alone design criticism. Because, as I have always understood the term, to be critical involves not taking things for granted, being skeptical, questioning what’s there, exposing limitations, taking issue, advancing a contrary view, puncturing myths. On occasion, of course, the critic will take the role of supporter and advocate. He or she will seek to persuade us that some idea or thing is deserving of our full attention and merits a closer look.

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