Ricks on Artists and Critics

Literary criticism – unlike, say, music criticism or art criticism – enjoys the advantage of existing in the same medium (language) as the art that it explores and esteems. This can give to literary criticism a delicacy and an inwardness that are harder to achieve elsewhere. But, at the same time, this may be why literary critics are given to competitive envy[.]

And then there is the age-old difficulty and problem of intention. Briefly: I believe that an artist is someone more than usually blessed with a cooperative unconscious or subconscious, more than usually able to effect things with the help of instincts and intuitions of which he or she is not necessarily conscious. Like the great athlete,the great artist is at once highly trained and deeply instinctual. I believe that Dylan is conscious of all the subtle effects of wording and timing that I suggest, I am perfectly happy to say that he probably isn’t. And if I’m right, then in this he is not less the artist but more.

from Christopher Ricks’ Dylan’s Visions of Sin

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