“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don’t like. For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”
— W.H. Auden
“I can see that this is trash but I like it” constant mood
There’s a sixth, which I have had a few times: “I recognize that I dislike this too intensely to judge whether or not it is good.” (
… and come to think of it, I’ve definitely also had the reaction of “This is a work of tremendous skill and craft, and I have no idea if I liked it or not.” I suppose that’s a variation on the third.)
You can also always go with “I like/dislike this and I don’t feel any particular need to assess its quality”, because distinguishing between taste and judgment doesn’t require you to constantly use both – only to recognize which one you’re using at any given time.
there’s also: “this premise appeals to me so much that I can’t truly judge whether it’s actually objectively any good, but that’s fine”
Inscribe this into your hearts! One can dislike good things and like bad things. And sometimes, one just isn’t in the right mental/emotional state to approach something.