days 25-28

It’s easy to criticise, particularly if you think you are the proxy of the public or speak on behalf of the common good. But you become then like those busybodies we know about from our local council, who although they have no vested interest in an issue–do not ride a bike when it is a question of bike lanes; do not catch a bus when it is a question of bus routes; do not drive a car when it is a question of carparks; do not have children when it is a question of child safety, child bearing, child welfare (who say it takes a village to raise one); are not part of a minority when it is a question of minority rights–crusade as if god and all his devils were on their side.

It’s easy to criticise if you are not Pooh who than not say anything good would rather say nothing.

It’s easy to be critical if you have the community’s best interests at heart, or think you do. But Pooh’s stance is far superior.

And in the first case, of having the community’s best interests at heart, we should note it doesn’t matter which community. Without having anything good to say will you say nothing? Or will you eventually say something good?

The Nietzschean proviso that goes for analytical critique takes it all the way to the roots of the issue, extirpates, demolishes, razes to the ground, in the familiar pleonasm, pulls

the roots up, planting something to grow instead.

But good doesn’t necessarily grow.

And we can imagine a graft instead; the stem of the bad idea, the resentment, the pity, or the humility, still with the sap in it of popularity and of moral superiority, cut by the critic at a certain angle will take a graft and change direction; but the new cutting has to be chosen carefully if it’s going to take and the sap is going to run through it when it’s grafted on: this approach is called trying to change the system from within


Critics will try and speculate and speculating try to outdo each other on what good, like Pooh, can come out of this current COVID-19 situation.

They will call on you for a reassessment of values: and in fact this is the speculation: that you will even entertain the idea.

Capitalist critics and liberal and neoliberal critics. It’s sad socialist critics do too. They explain the situation of COVID-19 as if it isn’t clear, then call it an opportunity, at which point they lay down the challenge: we must … since they don’t tend to say I or you or they (imagine if the critics called on them to make it right: what an abdication of responsibility that would be; and critics take responsibility seriously. They show they do by keeping a straight face, a poker face, when they say we must …, when they place their bet on the hand they’ve dealt themselves.).

The Dao might be, in saying anything good, saying anything is better is bound to be worse and to the worse.

New Zealand society is not good with criticism. Longstanding anti-intellectualism, waves of colonialism and neo(liberal)(re)colonisation, anticolonialism and decolonisation have been (processually) to blame: for the flight from reason, for the flight to a poorly conceived nationalism, informed by and awake more to blame than moral responsibility; for the swing back again to reason, as it has been demonstrated overseas in another country for that reason worthy of our admiration. It’s a funny version of Foucault’s pendulum, engaging the swing back in reaction, when the rest of the world begins to swing the other way. So we can catch up in retrogression. Just like goods meant for export are always better, NZ will even import its own good reason.

NZ has not historically been good with criticism. It prefers complaint. Not good with satire, it prefers comedy.

Excessive praise is also frowned upon. If a thing is really really good it ought to have been exported by now; if a thing was really really good it would have been exported by now. The other disincentive to praise is the getting high all those tall poppies with their bright and big ideas get: they get harvested off the field of Flanders–again the opiate of nationalism.

Then we are exporting the Rt. Hon. Ardern and exalting in the image-for-export of a government whose actions, whose performance backing and fronting up those actions, has been exemplary, over this crisis.

The other meaning of criticism must be these things are sent to test us.

The other meaning of criticism is then what is sent by