Contributions to [sic] magazine fall into at least five categories: cultural analysis; reviews; creative prose, prose-fiction and poetry; travel accounts; and open letters.
Cultural analysis consists of essays, both formal and personal in scope and tone. They are descriptive, narrative, argumentative; some are humorous or satiric; some are biographical, critical, or historical; some are objective, some subjective; many are instructive. All are well-reasoned, clear and accurate. These analytic essays reflect our common interest in art and the institutions that make up local and global human cultures.
The reviews are unique in that they do not privilege current commercial art releases. For that matter, they do not single out any particular genre or period of cultural production: a work of Shakespeare is as important to the contemporary critical eye as a popular new album. The reviews do, however, employ the methods of comparison, contrast and creative analogy familiar to book, film and music criticism in popular and literary magazines and newspapers.
The travel accounts are less prescriptive than descriptive; in other words, they do not primarily advertise for tourism. They offer instead limited, observant personal perspectives on the cultural and intellectual climates of specific places.
The creative prose and poetry section offers original compositions that reveal, either directly or tacitly, critical and skeptical insights into contemporary reality through both traditional and experimental formal means.
Our editors and contributors in every medium strive for the greatest clarity and most persuasive analysis possible.
What is Criticism?
“The best acts of criticism,” as the critic Susan Sontag put it, “would supply a really accurate, sharp, loving description of the appearance of a work of art.”
The special emphasis of the magazine is criticism in a specific sense of the word. Criticism, as it applies to [sic], is not necessarily a way of speaking unfavorably about objects or events. It is a procedure that digests loosely accepted notions about the reality of culture. The critic is like a great collector, primarily of facts about a thing, or at least of statements about objects and the people who create them. The critic amasses the evidence for a convincing argument. She or he observes the work of art, analyzes it, notes its properties, tastes it, scratches it. Then the critic holds it to the light in one way, then another; then finds and pinpoints the qualitative differences and similarities between it and other, disparate objects. The work can end there, or it can extend into a kind of speculative after-thought: you have seen the object as I have presented it to you; now I shall put it to you in a different way, say, as the product not of one hand, but of seventeen good citizens across three-hundred-and-fifty years, in eleven countries, five of which no longer exist; and you will see what it reveals about how such objects are made now or how they can be made in the future.
“The critic is like a great collector, primarily of facts about a thing, or at least of statements about objects and the people who create them. The critic amasses the evidence for a convincing argument.”
We would like to think that a critic need not serve as “arbiter of public taste.” Arguably, he or she cannot. Likewise, critics should not bear the responsibility of “interpreting” culture for us. (Us? Who are we precisely? And is this critic not one of us?)
The criticism that informs [sic] will have a way of breaking up the easy transmission of opinion from an authority on a subject to a reader (and consumer) disposed to receive reality as so many given statements. Our writers rather present the world not as authorities, but as conscientious skeptics, in a way that is as transparent as possible. And their efforts excite—must excite—serious interest in the world at large: they compel the reader into a dialog about meaning and appearance. Really engaging criticism has a habit of making the competing “truths” in art cognitively accessible.
“Our writers rather present the world not as authorities, but as conscientious skeptics, in a way that is as transparent as possible.”
The writers for [sic] have at their disposal an array of critical methods that sometimes differ from those of many academic journals and literary quarterlies. A familiar essay, a personal narrative, a skeptical glance at an all-too-familiar work of literature, a creative analogy, genre study, counter-intuitive reason, a literary correspondence, an interview, and a speculative review—all of these can yield surprising and novel critical insights when they are crafted intelligently, with a sharp sense and an intelligent sensibility. Quotes, images, attributes can be juxtaposed in fascinating ways with thoughtful commentary. Some metaphors are so provocative that they cannot help but inspire other equally imaginative acts.
[sic] also presents a wide variety of worthy objects for critical inquiry: a work of obscure Renaissance fiction seen with contemporary eyes, a work of pornography, a long-accepted “favorite” song, a film advertisement, a forgotten work of sculpture, an imagined work of sculpture, an elementary school placement exam, a bit of legal jargon. These objects demand criticism as much as anything else.
Changes/additions made July 15, 2008