Art in Theory 1900-2000

September 9th, 2004 · 5 Comments · Education


I’m sitting on the couch listening to Megan read critical theory out loud. This is the only way. There is something about really dense material that makes you sleepy. This is easily alleviated by reading out loud–stronger still if someone is in the room listening. That’s my job right now. This is one of two tricks that are essential for consuming high caliber writing.

Before telling the second trick, I’ve got to admit that I get a kick out of picking up her most impressive book, a big fat white one with minimal cover titled Art in Theory 1900-2000 in a simple red rectangle, and at random reading a sentence from it.

“A partisanship of this kind, unlike ‘tendency’ or ‘tendentious’ presentation, does not stand in contradiction to objectivity in the reproduction and portrayal of reality.”

It’s poetry, really. I just opened up the book and that is the first sentence my eyes laid on, the first sentence of a paragraph. I like to keep Art in Theory 1900-2000 in the bathroom, for extended investigations.

The Second Trick

You’ve probably heard this before, it has served me reliably. You would suspect that it wouldn’t make sense, and true, sometimes that’s the case, however, I’ve found that about 90% of the time this helps.

I theorize that most noteworthy writing is usually set up in the form of a defense because when stating something new and different, people are predictably suspicious. The denseness is a result of the necessary examples and references the author buttresses together to withstand disagreement. Like what I’m doing now. However, either because of nervousness that the reader won’t get it, or perhaps the love of getting credit for a new approach, authors generally summarize clearly at the end.

In especially dense material, it sometimes helps to read the last paragraph first.

Category: Education

5 Comments so far ↓

  • DaveShack

    High caliber writing!? Please let me not aspire to such… šŸ˜‰

  • Murray McMillan

    You tell the truth, Shack

  • Allie

    A valuable trick Murray. One of my favorite mentors always says to read books (or specific chapters) from the outside in: Intro, conclusion, then the meat in the middle. The meat can be skipped if there are time contraints…..I never do that.

  • carole BA (hons) fine art

    This book will use me up and dry me out.I wish someone would read it to me but unfortunately I’v had no offers, infact my audieance up’s and runs when they see me reach for the Bible of wisdon.

  • maria

    I am currently taking classes involving readings from this book, and reading out loud to someone who is listening is by far the best way to understand it. Sometimes I will read something out loud to myself and write it again in the margin. is also a constant companion.

Leave a Comment