“Critics build nothing.”
– Robert Moses
How many times have you heard of a creative person saying they can’t look at their own work, because all they see are the flaws? How often do people credit the desire to improve for their output and creativity?
Creators are often highly, highly critical. So this little aphorism, is at best, overstated, and at worst, corrosive to creativity.
But on Twitter, these three words may count as high literature. And I criticize that.
When you start citing Robert Moses on critics it might be a sign that you are losing perspective.
Moses did build things but he was also a megalomaniacal control freak who didn’t hesitate to destroy neighborhoods in order to achieve his goals. That he didn’t listen to criticism and created a situation where he didn’t have to listen to criticism until it became overwhelming is probably one of the sources of his mixed reputation today.
Jane Jacobs, one of his greatest critics(!), likely has the more favorable and influential reputation today. She became a civic activist to preserve Greenwich Village when Moses wanted to build an expressway through it that would have destroyed Washington Square Park. http://bit.ly/6R8zs Jacobs may not have “built” anything aside from books and ideas but I think a lot of people are grateful for her criticism.
But is any critic responsible for so much destruction? I’ll take Ebert over Moses any day of the week.
I love your blog and all, so don’t take this as a personal slam, but Moses was a jerk.
+1 against taking advice from Bob Moses.
It was my quote cited and I agree – he may have been a jerk.
The quote was writ large on at exhibition looking at his questionable impact in NYC several years ago. So yes, I am aware of who he was and what he did.
But that quote has gotten me through many a challenging client situation.
It’s only the internet, folks!
Not heard the quote and don’t know much about Moses to be honest.
Would disagree with the statement though. Constructive critique and opinion helps build many things. Obviously depends on the way it is done.
I know it’s only Internet but it asks for comment/opinion.
We are all motivated by different things :)
This quote is pretty much nonsense. A sweeping, over-simplification like this can never really be taken seriously. We are all critics anyway. All of us.
Moses was scary! Maybe we could suggest quotes by Jacobs?
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