Sontag feels she is writing at a time when critics tend to discuss content, reducing works of art to their messages or themes. What art says is less important than how the art expresses itself, Sontag insists. In her view, to treat art as simply a conveyer of content is to negate the idea of art itself. To Sontag, this definition makes art beholden to standards outside itself.
I posted a follow-up to this post, here. Obviously, whatever interpretation is, Sontag seems against it. Does she mean any and all interpretation, as my fellow contributor Chris Higgs recently argued? Or something else, something more specific?
Sontag means something very specific indeed. We get our first indication of this at the end of section 2, where Sontag writes: Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony.
I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation.
And, conversely, Against interpretation is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art. Here we have the start of a few arguments that Sontag will maintain throughout the essay: Still, what does she mean by interpretation?
Sontag immediately addresses this, clarifying her use of the term at the start of section 3: Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth from the whole work.
The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. That Y is really B? That Z is really C? Interpretation, we can see, consists of two actions: From here, Sontag proceeds to examine where that impulse to translate or transform came from.
Since the ancient texts e. She gives the following example: Sontag goes on to say that Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of later readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy.
Two points are clear from this: Along these lines she states: Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning.
This is a minor point, but we should note that Sontag may not be entirely opposed to this kind of interpretation, but objects rather to the claims its practitioners make.
|Find a copy in the library||Summary[ edit ] "Against Interpretation" is Sontag's influential essay within Against Interpretation and Other Essays that discusses the divisions between two different kinds of art criticism and theory:|
|Navigate Guide||The dress is new, true enough, and the images strange.|
|Against interpretation, and other essays. (Book, ) [barnweddingvt.com]||Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony.|
Interpretation assumes that an artwork has content. It then selects one or two elements of the artwork. It then attaches allegorical meaning to those elements and therefore to the artwork. This meaning is different from the meaning that the artwork really has and which is clear.
Sontag is entirely opposed to that approach to criticism. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning — the latent content — beneath.
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.
According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.
Note also how Sontag has been arguing throughout the essay that we should take appearances seriously.Jul 20, · Permanent literary value, though, is another story. A clue as to why that is missing from James's criticism can be found in his defense of Wilson's: ''If he could only have managed to dream up an.
Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation,” the most famous example of the “Against ” formula, exemplifies the appeal of this type of essay. making beautiful websites and more. or +49 30 Impressum: against interpretation Bojarowski & Bojarowski GbR, Brunnenstraße , Berlin-Mitte, Deutschland.
Against Interpretation and Other Essays Quotes (showing of 19) “Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion .
Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag's first collection of essays and is a modern classic. Originally published in , it has never gone out of print and has influenced generations of .
Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it.