Plus ca change….
Critics, you know, they’re always ranting on, justifying themselves:
A little grave reflection shows us that our first duty is to establish a new and abusive school of criticism. There is now no criticism … there is merely a chorus of weak cheers, a piping note of appreciation … a mild kindliness that neither heats to enthusiasm nor reverses to anger. We reviewers combine the gentleness of early Christians with a promiscuous polytheism; we reject not even the most barbarous or most fatuous gods. So great is our amiability that it might proceed from the weakness of malnutrition, were it not that it is almost impossible not to make a living as a journalist … It springs from a faintness of the spirit, from a convention of pleasantness, which, when attacked for the monstrous things it permits to enter the mind of the world, excuses itself by protesting that it is a pity to waste fierceness on things that do not matter.
And when I say they’re always ranting on, I mean always, because this particular piece dates from November, 1914.
Which goes to show either that negative criticism has always been necessary, or that it has always been ineffective. One or the other.