The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is autobiography.
~ Oscar Wilde, from his ‘Preface’ to The Picture of Dorian Gray. Does it follow that autobiography is always a form of criticism? Criticism of personal experience? There’s a superficial satisfaction in the reversal. The merely confessional, in that case, would make up criticism at its lowest. The rigorously reflective, its highest. Or perhaps Wilde would disagree.
Robins scour the suburban lawns two hours before sunset. Between the door and the mailbox yesterday I counted five: three males, two females. One hopped ahead of me on the concrete walk and I thought for a moment he was leading me somewhere, that I was supposed to follow. All were perfectly silent and watchful, hunting insects through the little forests of grass, intimately concerned with my intent; cautious, hungry.
Do birds engage in criticism or indulge in autobiography? Is gravity nothing more than the weight of self-concern that prevents us chasing them into the willows?