i'm not a critic


I am not a critic, I am a baby tasting a lemon for the first time.

There is so much I don’t understand in this world. I feel like an alien walking around with a pen and a notebook, picking things up, licking them, placing them to my ear to see if they make a sound. I write to figure out what these things might mean (to everyone else but mostly to me).

I used to review exhibitions. I did a Fine Art course at university where I did very little reading and a lot of making. When I began writing about exhibitions, I was trying to understand why we as humans decided to put on exhibitions; and why we made the little pictures and sculptures inside of them. My writing was partly a job of surveying that weirdness, but it was also revealing an insight into myself. How do I relate to or resent the contents of an exhibition, and why, and what does that say about me? If this exhibition was happening at another time in my life, would I feel differently about it? If I was seeing it yesterday instead of today, what would I write?

I enjoyed my mission on Earth but it got to a point where my notebook was getting pretty full; I knew a lot about exhibitions and I knew even more about myself after seeing how I was refracted through all these reviews I had produced. I don’t know if this is narcissistic, honestly soulful, or both, but I think I got tired of exhibitions when I felt like I couldn’t use them to learn anything else about myself. Maybe that’s a fine thing to say. Art nourishes us in deep ways, and things just got saturated because I knew too much. I knew what exhibitions meant now; I wasn’t tricked by the trends; I knew how the sausage was made and who made it; and I felt the sharpness of the institution framing the art, which felt like a killjoy, or like someone watching you take a piss.

I didn’t feel like I could use art to grow anymore, and so I had to move on. Fresh notebook, brand new pen. I had completed exhibitions, so I started to write about games instead. This was nicely timed with a pandemic closing all galleries so I thought it was meant to be. I had always enjoyed games but I didn’t know why I enjoyed them or what that indicated; and I was good at some of them, but I didn’t even know how games were made, so I didn’t know how well I could judge them. What words do you use to describe the things happening inside of games? Who do you ask for the answers? I had learning to do, and a lot of playing. And after 2 years of going from terribly confused reviews to coherent essays - coherent essays where I have been able to absorb a certain coherence for myself as well - I am starting to feeling saturated again. I am playing a huge RPG at the moment and I am struggling to find anything to say about it because it is a typical game, and it looks and sounds and plays like many of the titles I had to crack to get to this point. I would be writing nothing new and that means I wouldn’t learn anything either. So, what do I do now?

I write a little blog post as a treat. I panic and write a review of a film, a text that actually creates the energy I want. I wonder if the games I’ve played have been in my comfort zone, to my taste, and if writing about games I would never usually play would allow me to get what I want. I am thinking about going to exhibitions again. After 2 years of writing solidly about games, how might exhibitions look and feel to me now? And on exhibitions, we primarily have an art-interested audience so I feel a duty to go there; find the old notebook, again, and squint around the edges of the gallery to see what it all means. Would I remember? Would I be bored? I’m worried I would be bored. Too used to the taste of lemons, I’m worried artists aren’t doing anything new to challenge that! I’ve seen pictures online and everything is to be expected. But maybe that’s how it goes. Readers of The White Pube might have gotten used to us to, bored, texts in styles and tones they expect now. Everything is rolling on.

I will figure it out. These moments are always productive. I am just keen to skip to a time where it’s all figured out.