* It’s not important to always be right. But it’s important to never be stupid.
* One’s identity position is no guarantee of anything, but it certainly counts. A majority-identified critic (so identified either by history or mere honesty about certain accidents of birth and circumstance) should be more listener than maker of pronouncements.
* A majority-identified critic should be prepared to make statements regarding the oppression of others. (The oppressed have plenty to worry about without constantly having to be their own sole defenders.)
* Corollary: the majority-identified critic should understand that he or she is taking a (well-intentioned) risk of being wrong about the issues, possibly even offensively wrong. This is part of the discomfort that comes with risking one’s privilege (and as risks go it is indeed a minor one). The solution to this is to accept being wrong and allow oneself to be corrected through listening.
* Critical work is work – a material process.
* This material process is intersubjective. The critic engages with the object under consideration by bringing it into dialogue with its own history, the history of similar objects, and the phenomenological circumstance (time and space) of its existence.
*This idea of the phenomenological circumstance of an object includes the social and political formations that both condition the formation of the object, and inflect its reception. This circumstance is both historical and future-facing, and not restricted to linear time or some circumscribed notion of the present.
* The critic can and should be involved in developing, conditioning, or otherwise shaping this broad notion of the object’s phenomenological circumstance. Drawing connections between the object under consideration and other objects and/or events is part of how this notion is articulated.
* Some connections are obvious, based on unavoidable aspects of the object and/or its immediate present. Others must be articulated through careful argumentation.
*With the proper rhetorical means, anything can be argued. This is why, above all, the critic must understand his or her cultural and political investments, and the stakes involved in making a particular argument at a particular moment in time. Understanding who, where, and when you are is the only way to avoid being stupid.