Fiction Makes You Smarter

Part of the problem is that, even at its best, criticism–including the criticism set down by poets and novelists, composers, painters, sculptors, dancers, and photographers–is easier than authentic art to grasp and treat as immutable doctrine. Depending as it does on logic and scheme, on arguments well argued, criticism uses parts of the mind more readily available to us than are the faculties required for art. And since the tests of criticism are completeness and coherence, whereas art’s validity can only be tested by an imaginative act on the reader’s part, criticism is easier to read; that is, it does not require the involvement of as many faculties of mind.

– John Gardener, On Moral Fiction, p. 8

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