I’ve just completed a draft of one article and more or less finished writing another.
I realise that I have put myself into these pieces, as I do into all my essays. I’m unrepentant about this. My view is never impersonal, never impartial. I see things through my own eyes and filter them through my experience.
To my mind this is a more accurate take on a dance, a poem, a performance or an exhibition than a review that purports to be impartial. I don’t believe something can be disinterestedly criticized. There are of course things in any creative production that anyone intelligent might point out – but these are of the order of a double negative, a grammatical error, a technical glitch. But the impulse to acknowledge quality, or the sense of distaste, whichever it may be, and whether so strong it approaches wonder or so revolting one vomits, that impulse comes from an individual, and is mediated by that individual’s memories, even by personal bio-rhythms (or state, possibly, of intoxication).
And so the accuracy I am talking about comes from the piece being a mediation between a personal reaction and the work.
Frank O’Hara talked about personalism in poetry, by which he meant writing a poem as if one were writing a letter to a particular person one knew, maybe with secrets being alluded to that were only shared by the letter writer and the recipient. When writing an essay, I want a touch of that personalism to come through, like, I want to be writing to you, not to a public. And my impression is coming from me, with all my grouches and enthusiasms and foibles.
My essays are personal.
Essay writing is closer to poetry than it is to science.