Re. the essays about criticism doing the rounds.
It’s true, though, that I find it more useful to read someone eloquently explain why a thing might be good than why it might not be. But it depends on the thing. At heart I’m a contrarian. I start hearing a little voice going “come on, what’s the real story?”. If something is praised everywhere I want to read the doubters. If something is casually damned I want to hear from the fans. Honest doubters and honest fans, not some #slatepitches linkbait - though sometimes you can’t tell the difference.
A property of the social web is that these options and alternatives emerge from it with less self-consciousness than they might in the professional sector. I like that.
I like criticism as a vehicle for ideas about things - this isn’t the same as centering criticism on the writer but it’s not centering it on the artist either: I respect critics who specialise in piecing together artistic development, but it’s not my thing as a reader. The idea doesn’t have to be central to the piece - it could be half a phrase somewhere that turns out to be a hidden door.
I don’t expect critics to explain everything.