eclecticism

I’ve been following the discussions about eclecticism (of taste, of anthologies) among the poblogs.

My initial reaction was that it was being intentionally divisive – in the Silliman mode of needing to denigrate the competition to justify yourself. But I just remembered how true it seemed when I once heard someone say “I just don’t understand how you can like both the Pre-Raphaelites and Vermeer”.

That’s a pair that means more to me than the ones KSM has come up with, which either involve poets whose work I don’t know very well, or jazz musicians. It would be an interesting game making up similar pairs, although I’m still uncertain whether people’s taste is as coherent and predictable as that.

A different question is whether one should embrace these divisions as an inevitable truth, or try and cultivate a broad appreciation of different work. You don’t want to be so open-minded that you blunt your critical faculties, but an insistence on the impossibility of eclecticism is likely to be self-fulfilling.