Every generation has one or two critics with an uncanny ability to capture the cultural moment they’re living in. In the 1960s and 1970s, Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael gave us new ways to think about art. Before that, critics like T.S. Eliot and Edmund Wilson set the standard for what was considered great literature.
Now, the critic of the moment may be Mark Greif. He’s written memorably about the tyranny of food snobbery, the philosophical meaning of Radiohead, the rise and fall of the hipster, and his own inability to love hip hop.
Mark Greif is one of the founders of the literary magazine n+1, and he’s now come out with a collection of essays called “Against Everything.” He recently stopped by our studio, where he and Steve Paulson talked about the art of criticism — and how he was inspired by the writers who preceded him, including Susan Sontag and Henry David Thoreau.