Keith's Reviews > Against Interpretation and Other Essays

Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag
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's review
Sep 08, 2009

bookshelves: to-read

So far i've read Against Interpretation (essay) and Notes On Camp from this collection. AI poses that so-called art works--film, paintings, music, writing, performance--are interpreted in a destructive process that has stepped away from formal criticism and towards a subjectively modern approach to analysis that "presupposes a discrepency between the clear meaning of a text [work:] and the demands of later readers." Sontag argues form and content have wrongly become thought of as separate since early Greek theory asserted that art is a mimesis of reality.

Basically, interpretation used to add a nice cozy second layer of meaning to a work whereas our modern tendency is to excavate, aggressively; to dig and destroy to find the other meanings that lay underneath a work. I can't help but feel this is true. It reminds me of my academic anxieties as an undergrad when I stopped believing in anything at face value and assumed truer meaning, whatever that is, lay hidden under rigorous--and mostly french--psycho-analytic and post-structuralist interpretation. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I over-worked and missed out on the obvious.

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