My Critic……My Michelangelo
The etymology of the word critic suggests that it came from the late 16th century Latin word “criticus” meaning critical and Greek word “Kritikos” meaning to judge; hardly a damning word.
In modern world however this word is comparable with the word “Villain”. Its synonyms in the dictionary today, are words such as attacker, detractor and faultfinder. There are numerous posts, thoughts, ideas and arguments all over the internet about its detrimental value and suggesting how despicable it is to criticize. To quote from urbandictionary.com, the definition of a critic is someone who has no discernible talent so tries to make someone else feel as useless as he/she is.
A critic is seen as an unhappy person whose sole aim is to break you. He is a brute that lives to discredit you, your work and your efforts. He is someone who enjoys your failure and smirks watching you shattered and in pain. Reality show judges, like Simon Cowell have perhaps played an enormous role in “Villainizing” and establishing such ideas even more.
My problem with this though is that I am a critic and at the same time nothing like what is mentioned above. I believe that the problem lies in not understanding what a critic and criticism is and how critique can positively impact the growth and development of an individual and or an organisation. Most times it seems that there is misunderstanding and misinterpretation because of the lack of clarity in expressing the critique to the criticized.
Critique is but an art in itself perhaps most comparable to the art of stone sculpturing and so let me explain it by the same context.
One of the most significant pieces in the Renaissance art history is the sculpture of David by Michelangelo completed in 1504. It’s a 14 feet tall, marble figure of an Adonis shaped body standing tall with steely determination, fire in his eyes, veins bulging out ready to take on the mighty Goliath for the ultimate battle between the underdog and the champion. Imagine Michelangelo making the Statue of David, but only by caressing with his hands gently. The stone would not be cut unfortunately by that; not unless he picked his hammer and chisel and struck it one after the other in a calculated and meticulous way to give it the shape of his imagination. It would have needed several hundred blows hard and soft to create the magnificence that stands even today for art lovers to see and admire in Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence. Simply put he would have had to break that huge block of marble to bring out the masterpiece for the world to see and admire otherwise that stone would hold no value lying in some quarry of Carrara.
A critic is just the same, he aims to help you become a masterpiece because through his imagination he sees in you the capabilities that sometimes when you don’t see it yourself within you. He is someone who has the distant eye and can guide you to a better course than you would go down otherwise. It might hurt your ego no less than the chisel but that’s exactly what is needed sometimes. It might sound like you have been pounded by that hammer of the sculptor but without it you probably will not get in that perfect shape.
Now I do agree that for a critic to be constructive there must be two conditions that have to be met. Firstly the criticism has to be direct. It needs to be given to the person that it matters to and the one who can do something about it. There is no point criticizing someone on his back because that does absolutely nothing. Well actually that is not even termed criticising, it’s called bitching.
Secondly, the intention of critique must be improvement of future and not rebuke for past. It must not be judgemental in nature. It must come with positivity and perhaps some ideas too if possible.
If these two conditions be met, a critic may not be a villain but just turn out to be your Michelangelo and you, the masterpiece that is “David”
Let me leave you with a quote from Malcolm X that may help you value a critic a little more, “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success.”