Of course it’s about pleasure (judging merit of a work of art), which is precisely why the timid seek refuge in pseudo-objectivity.
What we examine, analyze—and ultimately compare, is not a work of art as some kind of ding an sich, but our own engagement with it—and all that goes into that. Out of order perhaps, but let me add, that engagement with a work of art is a public, not a private act. We enter a common reality (common with the work and its contingent reality) when we observe, read, contemplate, respond to it.
The sphere of contingent relations is always greater than the compass of critical thought and/or judgment—that does not make it ‘subjective’(solipsistic), does not make it beyond reach of meaningful discussion.
Scary to openly engage, think about, expose what one thinks to others in this way because this always, inescapably so—is a judgment that refracts back onto the judge. We are exposed. An honest critic is naked.
What is “Bad” is closure. Finality. Circularity (closure of the circle). What is ‘good’ is continual engagement, generative engagement—with the work, with others, and back to the work reimagined and reconnected to other contingent points in the sphere of experience and cultural artifacts: drawing the lines between the stars, identifying within and between us, new constellations. Endless fecundity.