If you don't know who J. Evans Pritchard is, then shame on you. He wrote the article "Understanding Poetry" for the textbook used by students in the classic film "Dead Poets Society." Pritchard is actually a pseudonym for Laurence Perrine who wrote a similar article in his own introduction to poetry book. In the movie, Pritchard's analysis of rating poetry is mocked and attacked by professor John Keating who does not appreciate the idea of "graphing" a chart to evaluate a poem's greatness. He famously tells his students to "rip that page out."
Is Keating right? Should we not attempt to create a semi-concrete means of evaluating a poem, or anything else for that matter, beyond just "what did it mean for you?" When it comes to literature of any form, and for our purposes theme park attractions, does subjectivity always win the day? If someone believes that Storm Force Accelatron at Islands of Adventure is better than Spiderman, in what way are they correct? I suppose none of us could say, "no, even for you personally that ride is not better than Spiderman, your wrong, so change your opinion." But on the other hand, I would be willing to say with absolute certainty that Spiderman IS in fact a better ride, without question, than Storm Force. How then do those two realities work together? For someone personally, Storm Force might be better, even though they are wrong that it is a better ride. Interesting.
Surely Keating is correct that we should be warned against charting a graph as in a scientific experiment when dealing with something so personal like a poem. I think there should be means of evaluating it beyond just a pure subjective approach, but where is that line? When it comes to theme park attractions, the same question comes up. Do Rex and I dare tell you readers and the rest of the world which rides are the best? What do we eve mean when we do thumb ratings on rides? Do we mean, this was great for us, but it might be terrible for you. Or, do we mean that, regardless of your own personal opinion, this is a great ride based on objective criteria. If so, what are those criteria?
Any thoughts? I think Rex and I might be working on our own evaluation system, partly in line with our copyrighted "Exhilaration Value" measurement. But, the last thing we want to do is the join the ranks of J. Evans Pritchard. We don't want our little place in theme park history to be ripped out.