The problem with Higgs is that he’s too fast-and-loose with this terms, presents sloppy arguments and then conveniently claims his sloppiness is intentional when people call him out on it (in other words, Higgs–unlike a real intellectual–can never admit when he’s wrong and/or learn from someone else), and is generally close-minded. The insert shots are being used to help build character, and demonstrate how the building of a performance is done by several different people working on a film, not just the actor. Against Interpretation, and Other Essays - Susan Sontag - 洋書の購入は楽天ブックスで。全品送料無料!購入毎に「楽天ポイント」が貯まってお得!みんなのレビュー・感想も満載。 And I think this website has a reputation, in fact, for, ahem, spirited conversations? Were I making a film, a formalist reading of another film helps me decide what I want to do. (She likens this also to “[recovering] our senses […] to see more, to hear more, to feel more.”). Chris is making that mistake I just described (“Erotics sounds good; I’m all for it! I think Against Interpretation is my favorite work of philosophy/literary theory I’ve read so far. If Higgs really does believe in this, he can be easily Fourth Printing. My bowels explode, regardless, as I open the book. I tend to think that when people do metaphorical criticism, they’re really making new artworks. How could one? As always, it’s a pleasure talking with you! Throwing paint at a canvas might represent the thrower’s inner experience only occlusively, especially compared to what’s revealed about, say, that forced interaction of the paint’s texture with that of the canvas. (Knapp, Michaels, Ashton) And along those lines he says that all readers are critics, and that their task is to describe or mirror artworks. It then attaches allegorical meaning to those elements (and therefore to the artwork). It resists value judgment. …I should add that I’m less interested in symbols myself than I am in motifs. I really want to clarify this point. They take time! ‘Against Interpretation’ remains challenging to art writers. But I’d characterize that more as unpleasant. So in many ways this book on Sontag is a defense of the essay. Write it in another language. In Freud 's work interpretation plays a key role in understanding meaning, however Susan Sontag in her essay Against Interpretation challenges this idea and argues, “ interpretation must itself be evaluated.” She believes that the process fractures the overall purpose and closes to many doors for later possibility. The translation of X to A a) needn’t be a rigid commitment. ), we can still ask “what did they mean when they wrote this?” And even if we never can get it 100% right, we can still try and figure it out. And the author is just another reader. But if one is talking about some other kind of reading—say, a free response—then there are an unlimited number of those, and no special action is required. And that it “amounts to a philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone.” To this end, she gives the example of Stanley Kramer’s “translation” of A Streetcar Named Desire: [In] order to direct the play, Kazan had to discover that Stanley Kowalski represented the sensual and vengeful barbarism that was engulfing our culture, while Blanche Du Bois was Western civilization, poetry, delicate apparel, dim lighting, refined feelings and all, though a little the worse for wear to be sure. There will always be conventions the author is unaware of using. That, I condemn as hippy-dippy superstition. Now we’re getting somewhere. Sensitivity to a “surface” of ‘X’ that doesn’t “alter” X commits Sontag to an unmediatedly present X. Originally published in 1966, it has never gone out of print and has influenced generations of … :) obsessed with biography: Tinyanov planned to write a big 1000 page book Judith Fetterley’s “resisting reader” can come into being only if there is something to resist.(263). It’s a brilliant bit of deconstruction that’s still very critical, I think (mainly by being satirical). “Form […] is synonymous with appearance.”. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) — all are treated as occasions for interpretation. Chris can continue applauding as children dance in front of artworks, but that has nothing to do with what Susan Sontag wrote. I’ve been meaning to respond to this since you posted it, but school intervened—apologies. That said, I don’t think intention is as unavailable as people make out. A question: What, then, does Sontag mean by “interpretation”? Close reading operates similarly for me and encourages a somewhat similar thrill of discovery as fiction/poetry. You are Adam. Against Interpretation is a collection of essays by Susan Sontag published in 1966. The reader definitely has his or her own experiences. But the description of the effect should be rooted in a description of the form. And thanks for chiming in, Alicia! Susan Sontag, in “Against Interpretation,” takes a very interesting critical standpoint on the idea of literary interpretation. Is that resemblance intended by Fellini? They revolted against the sloppy psychologism Why did Tarantino include those shots? Then he expands this reading to all novels postmodern, cut-and-pasting his “ontological spin” interpretations. That may be so. In literary criticism this Cheers, yourself. 1. But I also like debate. But a formal reading of Gravity’s rainbow versus, say Ulysses, will not quite hold up the difference he insinuates. And I guess some people are probably tired of your polite antagonism toward Chris, but as someone who generally thinks it’s very hard to make interesting content without someone to write against, I find it totally fun. Only thing we can be sure Indeed, understood with the nuance that translators bring to their craft and art, “translation” is a successful way of thinking about ‘encountering surfaces’. I simply doubt that “discovery of what meaning the author intended” is a useful enough way to figure the reader coming to understand their experience of the text. And you’re supposed to be a literary person? Now if we were talking DC it would be a tough call. Oppose metaphor?? I love it! It also seems likely that someone could make a case for film *as* literature (if they have not done already). Alain Resnais. If anything, I tend to geek out over it. And, yeah, one would have to look at the full film, and not just a still from it. But that said, I realize that they may seem more transparent and “content-full” to audiences. Apparently, were it to go on being a play about a handsome brute named Stanley Kowalski and a faded mangy belle named Blanche Du Bois, it would not be manageable. But there is nothing to preclude them for possessing “a vocabulary of forms” as well. 3. Sontag goes on to name select works by those critics whom she believes is doing this kind of work: Erwin Panofsky, Northrop Frye, Pierre Francastel, Roland Barthes, Erich Auerbach, Walter Benjamin, Manny Farber, Dorothy Van Ghent, Randall Jarrell (all, she hastens to add, only on occasion). � �}�n�H�������CҺ�*E�c�ޝt�c�dw7A�,IL(R�"m��� � ���ḳ̓�V�"E��t��'Ab���V�˷V�_=����O��I: ����UzI0KY:������t�?��:\�j�E^�ц�\X�L�I�V��',Ց����"��쐈4K"��a�Ͽ���8��i0q�n�7��r�!������LD�@�"ɟ�����g�R�a�1�-;ٴCw*���,��%R��| \?��)���w�D�T�@� zom���F��Ҿ�X`W9�P����c���x~����ذ����/�_7]o��w�/d��_��h�N���D�&��'!R��ń��$Y@�$�AT,Ċ�p�.,;0��3� 8�DR$�ʼn���k����I0������a���Oh���Q�i������:N�1�%�U4D�zCa'�͛��M����W/�l,�xR�bD�dv��5�}+�t��� %61q1��T~������� ����FS�qy����K'���=�R�JC�r�F�����^�M����T$/��G���{^ߋ#XKڳ��>;2�M��n[L�S�����b�6|��2@n�`�y��K�|�‘3� Ǚ%�9O�la��X^ڿt���7q���۷A4�R��_��I�=�`2A��(�b[�\����4�#[���HFOu��. A friend of mine recently argued that Django Unchained isn’t really a western. And I think Barthes is consistent with Russian Formalism. If I wanted to talk about the aesthetic dimensions of their essay, I would talk about syntax, prosody etc. Obviously it differs from what Sontag is railing against, in that DiCrescenzo is not arguing that Kid A really “means” that particular image. I only hope I’m living up to the standards laid down by this website’s original authors. And things can later change. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. You should be able to back up a claim. I won’t disagree that his larger argument is problematic. I had a vision of a critic about to miss a deadline, who makes something up which is then published and studied by well-intentioned researchers looking for historical context (now polluted) on which to base their estimation of the meaning of an artwork. ourselves with meaning, an artwork is an object that gives us the France-Italy, black & white, 94min. A very satisfying response all around. write a love story”). I’ve arranged them such that they refer to other texts. I think it is inconsistent to maintain an admiration for Michaels and McHale on their formalist credentials. But I think he’ll have trouble with a lot of Sontag’s arguments, such as this one: Think of the sheer multiplication of works of art available to every one of us, superadded to the conflicting tastes and odors and sights of the urban environment that bombard our senses. Allusion to other texts, or the employment of traditional images/structures, is another. Dismantle the NEA! 5. Whether you (or I, or Chris) like it or not, Wimsatt and Beardsley are taken very seriously by a great many people, and were hardly doofuses—I mean, you can’t just dismiss them that way and have any effect. The most recent hilarious example was when he analyzed a series of ironic images Jameson posted, concluded the images were racist, and deleted the post within minutes of its posting–all this a few hours after denying the veracity of analysis itself and proposing a method of inquiry that encouraged the kind of post Jameson posted. I don’t pose seeing an image of a tank in a street against a perfect understanding of that image; I agree that normative understanding stands over against particular understandings (even as they have their own priority). as well as what the book reminds him of: No front matter. Most pages have a smatter of words in the center. And if that is so, then there is nothing wrong with the critic pointing out the presence of those aspects—indeed, a thorough critical description of the artwork’s appearance (such as Sontag is calling for) will demand that observation. As for whether those approaches can be reconciled, I’m inclined to think not, but that would demand a careful reading of the Barthes. ), therefore the flipside feely criticism seems to me like a strokes-for-folks kind of thing. Second, what I’m trying to say by pointing out that you are being inconsistent if you include Michaels and McHale on your list of formalists that do what Sontag calls for is that formalist reading is just as apt to be put to use to support the kind of criticism Sontag inveighs against. It includes some of Sontag's best-known works, including "On Style," and the eponymous essay "Against Interpretation." Which is to say he’s wrong about the social or even aesthetic significance of those texts? The critic’s task is to describe the artwork itself—to deal with its appearance, its form. forming experience. Collection of sourced quotations from Against Interpretation (1966) by Susan Sontag. 11. Analysis Of In Plato's Cave By Susan Sontag In her essay, “In Plato’s Cave,” published in 1977, Susan Sontag reflects on photography and looks at the meaning behind taking a photograph. [I typed and then clicked something other than ‘post’ and then it was over. Any way you skin it, Chris’s writing has provoked you to think and read and write A LOT. Sontag, thus, is arguing directly against Chris when he states: This form of criticism is creative and affirmative, more than destructive and negative. (I guess there must be.) . I can see the tradition(s) it’s operating in. In fact, if you think about it, in their opposition to intentional fallacy, the New Critics were not arguing against intention at all, more than they were arguing against cheapened or simplistic versions that viewed a text as nothing more than a thinly veiled biography of the writer’s life, or an aspect of the writer’s life, rather than an artifact with formal qualities that, when arranged a certain way, create meaning. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. Obviously one can’t look at just the film itself to determine that. The possibility of meaning is in fact infinite, but it’s a smaller infinity, like Natural numbers is a smaller set than the Real numbers, or a ray is a smaller infinity than the plane it’s contained on. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. 3. If authorial intention truly doesn’t matter, then it shouldn’t matter whether or not the artist puts obvious symbols into his or her work, or whether or not he or she makes abstract work that discourages symbolic interpretation. Once we start talking about it, we of course start differing from it. (Maybe I need to elaborate on this, but I just don’t care much about Higgs). One current trend in lit studies is the use of formalist approaches to inform the investigation of social, cultural, and/or historical topics. He hasn’t responded yet. In that case, my sensing a joke (or whatever) is not “subjective”; Fellini put that sense in the movie. But it’s harder to make up formalist/descriptive stuff like “the tank’s noisy entrance into the square prompts a shift away from the quiet yet intense domestic drama the film has until then preoccupied itself with.” Others can watch the film, see whether I’m being accurate or not. & not “what Wimsatt meant”. (Social constructivism), 3. And maybe I’ll try my hand at writing some more subjective / less objectively analytical stuff! An artwork is autotelic, and that’s why it’s unnecessary to inquire about it’s intentions. (I thought you could get an email from disqus whenever someone replied to one of your comments, no matter how far back in the master-thread that blogicle is. In Against Interpretation and Other Essays, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, pp. Sorry to take so long to reply to this. About “Against Interpretation 6-10” “Against Interpretation” is an essay written by American critic Susan Sontag. . so difficult to reconstruct that he concludes it formally goes beyond the epistemological confusion in modernist novels to an ontological confusion. He’s so blatantly dishonest that it’s hard to respect him or his mind. Not sure I’m really any good at it. THE IMAGINATION OF DISASTER 43 (4) Further atrocities. by structuralist semiotics makes the most sense to me. As far as I can see, Ashton is right that the Intentional Fallacy was never really the intentional fallacy, but the causal fallacy (which remains a fallacy). (And if the tank is supposed to be taken as a symbol of something, we should be able to read it as such formally—”objectively”—normatively.). It does not rewrite the text, but instead produces a companion for the text. When I talked about what Wimsatt meant, I was talking about his academic persona. Among her many identities — novelist, playwright, film director and human-rights activist — Susan Sontag was perhaps most widely known as a searing intellectual. Interpretation, we can see, consists of two actions: From here, Sontag proceeds to examine where that impulse to translate or transform came from. The companion problem is, why have art at all? Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. In the final analysis, style is art. Against Interpretation closes with the platitude: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.” (Sontag, p.14) This is one of Sontag’s statements that promises more than it delivers. That said, it remains incorrect for critics to approach artworks with the a priori assumption that they are symbolic or allegorical. Jesus. He found one passage (Did Pökler have sex with his own daughter?) He engages in the cut-and-paste variety of interpretation Sontag rails against. You and I should continue talking! As Sontag wrote a decade earlier, “Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling… interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.” 4 From Sontag’s 1964 context, film becomes the one art still largely untouched by interpretative zealots. Maybe others will disagree, but from what I’ve observed, lit crit is enjoying a more relaxed, open-minded, and flexible status within academia. I added a link to an informative website about ice cream; maybe they thought I was spamming. Against Interpretation. And can you believe I still haven’t finished reading Bowstring? Does one actually see (or “read”) an artwork–or anything–without doing this translation and metaphoric figuration?? To be cognizant at even the most basic level is already to be translating. DB and KT and VS are all worth knowing. I WENT AND READ ME SOME I WENT AND SAW ME SOME SPIDER-MAN AND LOL’ED ALONG THE WAY, ESP: “(not to be confused with the imaginary black rice magnate)” LOL. Though there are other ways of approaching it. To be fair, Chris does include a few sentences along those lines. and for the next month. ), So that’s how, Sontag claims, metaphorical interpretation got started. (Guess who provided just such a vocabulary?). So how about it, Chris? When one thinks tank, one has already translated the pure image into something it’s not–a metaphor for it. I don’t think it was just about allegorical reading. (It’s debatable how strongly he endorsed this position, though, since his own writing contradicts it at times. I hope no one thinks otherwise. For one thing, a formalist reading helps us see more thoroughly what’s happening in an artwork, and allow us to speak more fluently about it. –the utility of that distinction of intent just doesn’t seem to me to go far. This website, and the indy-lit scene in general, is full of this kind of criticism—just read the blurbs on the backs of most small press books. I like how in your first paragraph, you followed these sentences: Okay, what I meant when I wrote “Authorial Intention” is that a specific human being (Author) had a specific purpose (intention) with the artifact he made. She argues that interpretation has its root in. It’s a book-length essay, and what I value most in Sontag is her work as an essayist, especially her first three collections of essays: Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will, and Under the Sign of Saturn. Sontag’s argument for “surface” is an argument for a movie without any ‘tank’ — a movie of objects which are undifferentiable smears on the screen, representing nothing, meaning nothing, just… being. I haven’t heard her full argument, but it seems a formalist reading that is based on what the western is. It may be my personal inclination, but I generally find metaphor boring, and have always resisted the impulse to metaphorically interpret art. Form for Sontag is synonymous with appearance. of earlier schools of criticism, they maintained that Literature is an Seems to me that Chris wants to embrace that, and that he’s more interested in imaginative and artful responses to art in lieu of precise and rigorous responses. But I think that’s also pretty incidental to my reading of Sontag. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from innumerable sources of culture’”. Not every apple in every artwork is an intertextual reference to Genesis. Extreme A poet might perceive herself to be utterly radical in her artistic project (that’s her authorial intention), while the worldview presented in the formal qualities of the text could be good ol’ conservative humanism in a fancy dress. 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