There's an interesting discussion forming over at Rockcritics Daily that grows out of a piece John Fahey came up with some years ago about Greil Marcus' take on Bob Dylan's "basement tapes." At least I think it's interesting, because as I post this, two of the four comments are mine. By the time I get up in the morning, it'll be two of fourteen for all I know ... the discussion isn't over yet ... so it doesn't make sense to cut-and-paste my comments here when we may not even be done talking yet. But I can't resist, so here's a taste of what I wrote in response to Fahey's complaint that Marcus free-associates connections that don't exist:
The connections between Harry Smith, Bob Dylan, and the Basement Tapes most certainly do exist for Greil Marcus. It's not up to him to "prove" the connections as much as it's up to him to demonstrate their resonance in such a way that readers can get a sense, an understanding, of how those connections might be made, whether or not they are our connections.... it's up to Marcus or whoever to climb out of their subjectivity far enough for the rest of us to see where the connections might be. But the value of the criticism comes from the ability of the critic to show us those connections, not from some misguided sense that the work of art in question has a specific, single value that can only be appreciated objectively.