Max Wyman — The Passionate Critic

Max Wyman — Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Below is a recent blog of mine. I have been blogging from Vancouver since January 2006. I am now an obsolete, redundant & retired magazine photographer/writer in what some might say is a backwater of the world, Vancouver, British Columbia.

And yet if you read the two (below) recent essays on what is a critic and can a critic survive in this century by Max Wyman (a retired but never obsolete or redundant) former newspaper editor and critic you might find that here is a man who might mightily contribute to good writing in Medium.

The critic is dead — long live the critic

Can anyone be a critic?

My friend retired Vancouver Sun critic and editor Max Wyman has a blog Notes Toward a Life — Seeing things differently through the arts. Of the man I first mentioned his name here.

It was about my long ago, late 70s, first contact with him at the old headquarters of Vancouver Magazine on Hornby Street. With his even then long and white hair he was much too imposing and scary for me to address a word to him. Since that time we slowly became friends and as a Saturday Vancouver Sun Arts section editor (when the paper had a truly marvellous art section) he sent me a book to review called “The History of the Breast.” He obviously had me pegged.

While an editor I worked for, Paul Sullivan was the first in Vancouver to coin the term “citizen journalism” I had no respect for the idea that I would want to read the opinion and criticism of the man (or woman) on the street. I am of the old guard who believes in trusting the words of a professional journalist.

While at the Vancouver Sun I can think of no other man (or woman) whohad the undisputed reputation for excellence of Max Wyman particularly as a dance critic. Some of us might remember that Wyman came to Vancouver as a writer on medical matters. By some sort of accident he was sent out to review something and that is with his career as critic began.
 I can point out here the thrill of having worked with Wyman on a joint project that saw the light of day at the Vancouver Sun. It was called The Pointe of it All

In a recent conversation with the former mayor of Lion’s Bay, BC, Wyman told me with a luxury of detail how a surgeon had to drill into his heart to treat his not-too-good heart condition.

Perhaps in his recovery he has had the time to write in his blog at length and in particular these two on what a critic is and does. And are critics endangered?

Coincidentally (or not) his two essays come as a reaction to the recent firing of Georgia Straight theatre critic Colin Thomas:

The recent unexpected and disturbing dismissal of Colin Thomas from his post as theatre critic at Vancouver’s Georgia Straight, after thirty years of service, brings the world-wide “crisis in criticism” into sharp local focus. You are invited to sample a pair of essays I have posted on my website confronting the positives and negatives of this multi-national “crisis” and redefining and reaffirming the enduring values of the profession and the qualities of its practitioners:

The crisis in criticism.1: The critic is dead — long live the critic


The crisis in criticism.2: So can anyone be a critic?

Link to: Max Wyman — The Passionate Critic

Originally published at