META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Thu Mar 13 16:01:49 PDT 2008

On Mar 14, 6:19 am, Andrew Burton <tuglyrai... at> wrote:
> Martin Phipps wrote:
> > My "thesis statement" is that purely subjective criticism is
> > completely useless and, as tem2 points out, potentially insulting.
> > Somebody says they don't like my story.  So?  They go on and on about
> > not liking it.  Okay.  Does the person have anything constructive to
> > say?  Apparently not.
> I disagree.  I've had my stories called "banal" and my characters
> "tin-eared" by a professional comic book writer, criticisms I accept
> proudly.  Sometimes knowing that someone thinks your doing something
> wrong is the best indicator that you're doing things right.

Except that if a review truly is "100% subjective" then it isn't about
the stories being reviewed at all but about how the reviewer felt when
he was writing the review.  I've suggested in the past that a bad
review may have more to do with a reviewer's personal problems then
the story written but it would appear as though such a suggestion may
be considered insulting by the reviewer.  And yet it seems to me that
if a reviewer admits that his reviews are "100% subjective" then he
should give up any pretense of objectivity, accuracy or


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