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jabberwocky test

Post #83 • August 14, 2003, 4:37 AM

A.C. Douglas is on to something.

Genuine art, whatever its medium, always possesses secrets, and gives them up slowly, one by one, only to the most searching and probing eye or ear, the greatest works seemingly having an almost bottomless store which are never divulged entirely no matter how long and deep the searching and probing.

Which brings me to my initial rule-of-thumb criterion for judging whether a work is genuine art or not whatever its medium:The Jabberwocky Test.If a work fails that test on first and repeated apprehensions it’s unquestionably and irredeemably non-art, and to the extent it meets the test is it art of greater or lesser degree.

“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are!” exclaimed Alice after reading Jabberwocky for the first time.The capacity of a work to produce that feeling in an informed and experienced receiver is almost a very definition of genuine art, and regardless of its medium, any work absent that quality is most assuredly non-art.

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