Accounting for tastes

Terry Teachout’s Cultural Convergence Index is simple enough, yet fiendishly complex: there’s no obvious, or even concealed, pattern to it. As the man himself explains:

Are there other critics whose taste is as predictable as that? Sure — bad ones. And how can you tell they’re bad? Precisely because they are that predictable. Taste is not an ideology. It’s a personal response to the immediate experience of art. If your responses to new or unfamiliar art are wholly predictable, it means that instead of allowing experience to reshape and refine your taste, you’re forcing your perceptions into the pigeonhole of your pre-existing opinions. That’s the opposite of what a good critic does.

Sometimes, we like things because, well, we like them, without regard to whether it fits into some particular school or tradition or era or whatever. The true value of the Teachout Index, I’d say, is that it reminds us of this fact without having to slap us in the face with a damp carp.

John Salmon of Mystic Chords tried his hand at the Index today, which is what prompted this post.

And if you’re wondering if I were going to do this, you’re about twenty-seven months behind: see Vent #397 for my own results. (I agreed with Teachout roughly half the time.)


  1. John Salmon »

    3 October 2006 · 6:47 pm

    Thanks for the mention.

    I’d done it before on an old blog, and as I remember had a fair number of different answers. I’ve really matured in the last two years.

  2. CGHill »

    3 October 2006 · 7:09 pm

    Maturity, alas, continues to elude some of us (by which I mean me).

RSS feed for comments on this post