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Wankers - Is it art, or poop?

13

Posts

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Drez wrote:
    Drez wrote:
    Communication is what makes it art. Conveyance. So, the artist and the perceiver are both important for something to be "art." Both intent and interpretation are important, even if the two don't match.
    I disagree with everything in this paragraph.

    I'd say more, but really, what else is there to say? I categorically disagree with the way you see art, and vice versa. I recognize that my opinion is in the minority, and that I'm not likely to convince anyone of anything. Can you recognize that you're not going to convince me of anything simply by asserting that my views are wrong?

    Besides which, this argument has completely derailed the thread.

    I am curious. Do you create art?

    Because I write. And, as a writer, I wholly disagree with your views.

    I am just curious if your views are as observer only, or if you dabble as an artist whatsoever.
    I write, or at least try to.

    Actually, that is very much part of the reason for my viewpoint. The idea of anybody taking what I write in any way other than what I mean disturbs me.

    OK, then I will simply consent that you and I will just not see eye to eye on this point.

    Unfortunately, I think your philosophy is pretty unhealthy because, like it or not, your work - if published - will be interpreted. And other than stamping your feet about it or summarizing your intentions in a foreword, there's really, literally nothing you can do about it.

    I won't begrudge you your philosophy, I just hope you don't go nuts about it in the future because it's not really compatible with the way society and art function together, PARTICULARLY in literature. I mean, if you were a painter, I'd say "oh well." But I think literature opens itself up to legitimate interpretation more so than any other art form.

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  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Drez wrote:
    Unfortunately, I think your philosophy is pretty unhealthy because, like it or not, your work - if published - will be interpreted. And other than stamping your feet about it or summarizing your intentions in a foreword, there's really, literally nothing you can do about it.
    I've resolved to take Asimov's course of action, and simply ignore it.
    Zsetrek wrote:
    What two distinct issues?
    One argument was about whether or not certain classes of objects were considered art.

    The other was about whether an object of a class that is considered art is still "art" if nobody sees it but its creator. I'm not even sure how we got into that one.

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  • Spaten OptimatorSpaten Optimator Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Worst derailed thread ever written/published?

  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    What two distinct issues?
    One argument was about whether or not certain classes of objects were considered art.

    The other was about whether an object of a class that is considered art is still "art" if nobody sees it but its creator. I'm not even sure how we got into that one.

    They aren't two distinct issues - they are the same issue.

    Your idea of "classes of objects" is completely arbitrary.

    You cannot say "art is only what the creator intends to be art" and then in the same breath say "but certain classes of objects are inherently art by their very nature." It is a logical fallacy.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    You cannot say "art is only what the creator intends to be art" and then in the same breath say "but certain classes of objects are inherently art by their very nature." It is a logical fallacy.
    I... what?

    How did you manage to get the exact opposite of what I said?

    Edit: For that matter, I said nothing about "art only being what the creator intended to be art".

    I said that the meaning of a piece of art is only what the creator intended. Could it be that your entire side of this argument has been based on misreading?

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  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Drez wrote:
    Unfortunately, I think your philosophy is pretty unhealthy because, like it or not, your work - if published - will be interpreted. And other than stamping your feet about it or summarizing your intentions in a foreword, there's really, literally nothing you can do about it.
    I've resolved to take Asimov's course of action, and simply ignore it.

    But then you might as well be writing goobledygook - because if your interpretation of the piece is all that matters, and screw everybody else - your work can still be art if no-one understands it.

    Therefore, me spilling your diet Pepsi is art - because I understand it, and if you don't that's your problem.
    How did you manage to get the exact opposite of what I said?
    No, because spilling beer isn't one of the activities recognized as art.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    Drez wrote:
    Unfortunately, I think your philosophy is pretty unhealthy because, like it or not, your work - if published - will be interpreted. And other than stamping your feet about it or summarizing your intentions in a foreword, there's really, literally nothing you can do about it.
    I've resolved to take Asimov's course of action, and simply ignore it.

    But then you might as well be writing goobledygook - because if your interpretation of the piece is all that matters, and screw everybody else - your work can still be art if no-one understands it.

    Therefore, me spilling your diet Pepsi is art - because I understand it, and if you don't that's your problem.
    How did you manage to get the exact opposite of what I said?
    No, because spilling beer isn't one of the activities recognized as art.
    Okay, now I'm resolved that you're purposely being stupid.

    Starting with the fact that you confuse the word intent with interpretation. If I write gobbeldygook, it's gobbeldygook, end of discussion. The fact that I might try to convince someone otherwise doesn't change the intent.

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  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Could it be that your entire side of this argument has been based on misreading?

    You know, I think it is.

    Shoot me in the face now, please.

    However, parts of my arguement - specifically, those based around our argument as to whether the viewer's interpretation is as important as the artist's, still stand.

    EDIT: My misreading was - when you asked if Emily Dickenson's poems were art to Drez, I assumed you were replying to me in regards to her unpublished poems.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    EDIT: My misreading was - when you asked if Emily Dickenson's poems were art to Drez, I assumed you were replying to me in regards to her unpublished poems.
    Almost all of her poems were unpublished prior to her death. That was my point when I referred to her.

    If you argue that an audience is required for created objects to be art, then you are forced to conclude that, prior to 1886, they were not art. Which is ridiculous. The poems didn't go under any qualitiative change when they were published.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    EDIT: My misreading was - when you asked if Emily Dickenson's poems were art to Drez, I assumed you were replying to me in regards to her unpublished poems.
    Almost all of her poems were unpublished prior to her death. That was my point when I referred to her.

    If you argue that an audience is required for created objects to be art, then you are forced to conclude that, prior to 1886, they were not art. Which is ridiculous. The poems didn't go under any qualitiative change when they were published.
    They weren't art until they had an audience. We call them art because we infer retrospectively that they were as good then as they are now. But we could very well have read them and found random collections of words scrawled all over the page etc. etc. - the point being, it's not art until it has an audience because only an audience can make that judgement.

    An audience however, is not necessarily limited to being someone who is not the creator.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    EDIT: My misreading was - when you asked if Emily Dickenson's poems were art to Drez, I assumed you were replying to me in regards to her unpublished poems.
    Almost all of her poems were unpublished prior to her death. That was my point when I referred to her.

    If you argue that an audience is required for created objects to be art, then you are forced to conclude that, prior to 1886, they were not art. Which is ridiculous. The poems didn't go under any qualitiative change when they were published.
    They weren't art until they had an audience. We call them art because we infer retrospectively that they were as good then as they are now. But we could very well have read them and found random collections of words scrawled all over the page etc. etc. - the point being, it's not art until it has an audience because only an audience can make that judgement.

    An audience however, is not necessarily limited to being someone who is not the creator.
    Right, and it's very possible that Dickinson didn't even consider them art herself. After all, she did not have them published, nor did she seek publication (I believe).

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  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Drez wrote:
    Zsetrek wrote:
    EDIT: My misreading was - when you asked if Emily Dickenson's poems were art to Drez, I assumed you were replying to me in regards to her unpublished poems.
    Almost all of her poems were unpublished prior to her death. That was my point when I referred to her.

    If you argue that an audience is required for created objects to be art, then you are forced to conclude that, prior to 1886, they were not art. Which is ridiculous. The poems didn't go under any qualitiative change when they were published.
    They weren't art until they had an audience. We call them art because we infer retrospectively that they were as good then as they are now. But we could very well have read them and found random collections of words scrawled all over the page etc. etc. - the point being, it's not art until it has an audience because only an audience can make that judgement.

    An audience however, is not necessarily limited to being someone who is not the creator.
    Right, and it's very possible that Dickinson didn't even consider them art herself. After all, she did not have them published, nor did she seek publication (I believe).

    Exactly.

    If no-one can appreciate them, not even the author herself (beacuse she's dead), they are not art. They are objects.

    If you want to say that "art" is only those classes of objects that are socially recognised as "art", then you are tacitly approving the notion that art requires an audience - because without a human observer an object cannot be classified.

  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Re-railing:

    I don't understand the fascination with what the intended meaning behind a piece of literature is. Because, quite frankly, I couldn't give two shits about the personal opinions of some complete stranger, much less someone who's been dead for decades/centuries. Maybe historians are interested in that angle, but for the average person I think it's irrelevant. You don't read books to receive a lesson from a dead writer with no context. In my opinion, what the author had in mind when writing the book is little more than an interesting piece of trivia, and your own personal interpretation of the morale behind the text is what gives it meaning. I would even go so far as to say that something could be called "art" without any intent on the part of the creator, if a sufficient number of people are able to interpret meaning from it in some way.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Zek wrote:
    Re-railing:

    I don't understand the fascination with what the intended meaning behind a piece of literature is. Because, quite frankly, I couldn't give two shits about the personal opinions of some complete stranger, much less someone who's been dead for decades/centuries. Maybe historians are interested in that angle, but for the average person I think it's irrelevant. You don't read books to receive a lesson from a dead writer with no context. In my opinion, what the author had in mind when writing the book is little more than an interesting piece of trivia, and your own personal interpretation of the morale behind the text is what gives it meaning. I would even go so far as to say that something could be called "art" without any intent on the part of the creator, if a sufficient number of people are able to interpret meaning from it in some way.

    The main problem, in my opinion, is that it is entirely impossible to glean the author's intention. Unless he outright says "this is what I intended" and he is telling the truth, there is absolutely no way to suss out what he meant. You cannot, for instance, assume you know what an author intended considering his life, because writers can write whatever the hell they want. You can't assume their protagonists share philosophical, political, or moral or ethical views with the author, you cannot assume they even share the same tastes as the author, if that is delved into in the book. Hell, William Gibson wrote Neuromancer on a typewriter, never having even touched a computer at that point. It's entirely possible that William Gibson is a secret Luddite. We assume he's not considering his work, and considering the interviews he's given, and considering many other factors, but it isn't really possible to know. Maybe his intentions were to scare us all at what the future of technology could portend. After all, the Bridge and Sprawl trilogies paint a very bleak future.

    This is why interpretation is the only thing that matters, to me. Because the author's intention will never truly be known. It's just...there. A good writer will convey his meaning properly to as many as can hear his message. But it is simply not possible in 99.9999999% of the cases out there to know what an author truly intended with his work or what the "correct" interpretation of it is, in accordance with what the writer meant when he wrote it.

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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I can't believe Target doesn't think the audience matters in art. That is, as you put it, TP, flabbergasting. "Art" is a concept that exists in a conscious collective. Like you said, something is art if the culture determines it to be art; that is the audience. If there's only one being left in the universe and it paints something, and he thinks it's art, then it's art, because he is the cultural collective all by himself; but if one guy out of billions shits on a canvas and no one else but him considers it art, it's not art.

    The paint sitting on the canvas is not art. Art only exists in its relationship with the audience, or between the author and the audience; it is a discourse. It's not a concrete object. If we were to burn the Mona Lisa, the Mona Lisa would still be art, because the paint and canvas itself is not what makes it art. As such, art exists in a bizarre sort of realm, especially if it's written language art. Who is the author to say what his work means? What gives him the right to determine and restrict its meaning? Why does creation automatically grant ownership? There is a whole culture interpreting his work, and he is just one person. Hell, if art exists as a discourse, then the audience is creating it just as much as the author.

    I have basically just summed up several critical articles on literature without even meaning to. Hoorah.

    I also find this interesting:
    I write, or at least try to.

    Actually, that is very much part of the reason for my viewpoint. The idea of anybody taking what I write in any way other than what I mean disturbs me.

    If you write it, and you read it, and no one else, yours is the only interpretation, and you are the only audience. You're golden.

    If someone else reads it, and they interpret it differently, what exactly is it that makes you, as the creator, more important than them in determining its meaning? Your response will likely be rolleyed and involve ideas like "self-evident" and "obvious," but I really would like you to attempt to explain it. If their interpretation is rooted in a close reading making use of evidence and observation and the linking of ideas, while yours is "well, I fucking wrote it," I think theirs would be the stronger argument, regardless of authorship.

    Obviously, any reading that is stretching to grasp something is going to be weak and fall flat. But it is perfectly possible to do an alternate reading of a text that is well supported and strong, without conforming to the author's original intended meaning at all. The very fact that it is possible to strongly support the reading makes it a good and valid reading. I think that is the only metric by which you can measure the worth of an interpretation: the strength of the argument and evidence for it.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • -SPI--SPI- Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Debating the meaning of "Art" or what is or isn't art is pretty much straight up retarded. It's stupid on a whole new level. Don't do it.

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  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    -SPI- wrote:
    Debating the meaning of "Art" or what is or isn't art is pretty much straight up retarded. It's stupid on a whole new level. Don't do it.

    We're not REALLY debating the nature of art so much as we're dancing around it and debating the importance of audience involvement in art, and whether or not interpretation is valid or not. It is important for us to define our personal concepts of art, I believe, to discuss this issue at all.

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  • AgemAgem Registered User
    edited January 2007
    I think that this issue really depends more on what school of literary criticism you fall in with than anything else.

    TP, the idea that the author's intention was irrelevant probably first became popular (at least, most recently) with New Criticism in... the 40s or around there, I think? They called the idea that the author's intention was the only important (or even most important) interpretation of a work fallacy of intention (actually, they called it intentional fallacy, but that makes it sound like it's on purpose). They also believed that it was possible, if not prevalent, for a single work to contain multiple - even contradictory - meanings based on the reading, and called that overdetermination.

    This is different from claiming the most important meaning is the one you feel after reading it (see: Zek's post). The New Critics (who are now old critics, really, but I don't know what else to call them) had a fallacy for that too. They didn't say that every interpretation was equally valid, or valid at all - the important interpretations were those with evidence not only from the plot, but from the diction and techniques the author used, such as the connotations of the words he used, or examining symbolism, or whatever else.

    A few decades later the deconstructionists popped up and said "hey, look, you can find evidence for anything if you read things in a specific way." Personally, I really, really don't like deconstructionism, because it seems (to me) to be grounded in intentionally misreading the work and then defending that interpretation with fallacious reasoning, but that's not the point. I'm going off on a tangent.

    The point is, TP, that thinking all that matters is the intention of the author is somewhat outdated. Of course, just saying "that thinking is outdated" isn't much of an argument, so I'd say you have to show that no matter what a work says, the only thing that matters is what the author says it says. Say you read a book about a megalomaniac who pushes his family and friends away as he rises to the top and subjugates others, and everything in the text itself shows the harmful effects this has on the rest of society. Now if the author tells you that the book is really about how people need to have ambition to succeed and that's the only thing the book could possibly mean, do you believe him? And what about books where we don't know the author's intention? Does the book then have no meaning, or is that an exception where we can try to find a meaning through close reading?

  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Agem wrote:
    Personally, I really, really don't like deconstructionism, because it seems (to me) to be grounded in intentionally misreading the work and then defending that interpretation with fallacious reasoning, but that's not the point. I'm going off on a tangent.

    I'd just like to say that, as an English major about to apply for my master's degree, I found that link fucking fantastic.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Agem wrote:
    A few decades later the deconstructionists popped up and said "hey, look, you can find evidence for anything if you read things in a specific way." Personally, I really, really don't like deconstructionism, because it seems (to me) to be grounded in intentionally misreading the work and then defending that interpretation with fallacious reasoning, but that's not the point. I'm going off on a tangent.
    Taking the piss out of deconstructionists gets really tired. Yes, there's been a painful amount of ink spilled in its name in proportion to the actual amount of meaning returned, but this idea that deconstruction offers nothing to our understanding of literary criticism is daft and largely informed by people's prejudice toward the (admittedly awful) writing done by most academics who engage in it. If you actually learn the jargon (which the article you linked did make light mention of -- gee, if you bother to engage it past a cursory level you can wrap your head around it more) there is some useful theorizing about language contained within.

    I've also sat in on PhD presentations and scribbled down notes of complete gibberish with the express purpose of hiding away so I can pull it out later and laugh at it, but you know what else? I've also learned a lot from the actually cogent thinkers in the field, of which -- yes -- Derrida is emphatically one, and Foucalt is emphatically one, and oh haha they're French let's mock them (sorry, that article you linked had an equally appalling bullshit:meaning ratio as the field he's choosing to engage, so it's a little annoying).

    Anyway, besides all that -- emphatically yes, the critical approach you take to the work will drastically change the various meanings you can draw from it. The major critical schools are founded on a long line of cogent reasoning to reach their assumptions, and it is emphatically justifiable to read Jane Eyre through a Marxist lens just as it is to dissect "Dover Beach" through a feminist lens just as it is to read Dave Eggers through a New Critical lens just as it is to read For Whom the Bell Tolls through a biographical lens, etc. Yes, finding these meaning does require that you write, assert, and create a critical platform upon which to stand and draw meaning. I really don't see why that makes people so uncomfortable.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Agem wrote:
    Personally, I really, really don't like deconstructionism, because it seems (to me) to be grounded in intentionally misreading the work and then defending that interpretation with fallacious reasoning, but that's not the point. I'm going off on a tangent.

    I'd just like to say that, as an English major about to apply for my master's degree, I found that link fucking fantastic.
    That's funny, I thought it sucked.

    Which reminds me, I meant to link this article as one I feel more fairly represents the negatives of the field, while still finding time to give it its appropriate credit.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • AgemAgem Registered User
    edited January 2007
    geez, celery77

    angry

  • ethicalseanethicalsean Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    tuxkamen wrote:
    Now, I've never heard about this 'Oz as gold standard' thing. Do elaborate! It sounds interesting.

    Forgive me for such a large, off topic post, but I just have to answer this question!

    The book is supposedly symbolic of the Populist movement of the late 1800s to early 1900s (very successful 3rd party movement, although the progressive presidents such as Wilson and Teddy R are the ones who pushed much of their ideas through).

    The book is clearly written to be a children's story, and I believe the comparison to populism was not "discovered" until the 50s or 60s. Although, Baum was a writer for a Chicago newspaper (and I believe at one point wrote opinion pieces). I don't think its too much to assume he wrote his political leanings, or at least opinions of the populist movement into the story. Keeping in mind the book is fairly different from the MGM movie version, heres a bit of the symbolism:

    Yellow Brick Road/The Gold Standard: the US stopped freely pressing silver into coins in the 1870s due to ore being more valuable than coinage from lack of large minable deposits... large deposits were later found in the 80s-90s making coinage more valuable again... although the government wasnt pressing it into coins for free anymore. Farmers wanted the US dollar to be backed by gold and silver to inflate the value of money so they could pay off their debts more easily. Williams Jennings Bryan, the populist's presidental candidate, delivers a powerful speech called the Cross of Gold and he becomes the man in Washington (for a time).

    Dorothy's *Silver* Slippers: Dorothy, the poor farm girl from Kansas, is waltzing around in silver slippers to represent the need for the free pressing of silver into coins.

    Cowardly Lion: Williams Jennings Bryan... the guy who can speak big but gets nothing done in the end. WJB never ends up getting elected to the Presidency, although he eventually does come back to Washington and pisses Wilson off due to WJB taking an extremely anti-war stance on WWI (how dare he argue against neutrality of the seas!). Although, most people around here would probably shit all over him since hes responsible for turning the fundamentalist movement in this country against evolution in general. Very interesting character in US history, and historians love this guy.

    Wicked Witch of the West: What is driving farmers mad? Why that bitch who goes down with just a little water.

    Flying Monkies: The ignorant black vote at the time. In the movie, they're just beholden to the witch, but in the book they're controlled by a gold thymbol (empty promises). Generally, in the time period, to get the black swing vote politicians (the populists did this as well) would make promises they would eventually reneg on when they got to office. You got three wishes from the golden thymbol before the monkies got to do their own thing (these honkies playin some jive on us!).

    Theres a lot more more symbolism in the book, and most can easily be traced to the objectives and history of the populist movement in the southern & western United States. This is the iconic American fairytale.

  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Yellow Brick Road/The Gold Standard: the US stopped freely pressing silver into coins in the 1870s due to ore being more valuable than coinage from lack of large minable deposits... large deposits were later found in the 80s-90s making coinage more valuable again... although the government wasnt pressing it into coins for free anymore.
    But the U.S. coins contained silver up until the Coinage Act of 1965. Silver coins weren't withdrawn from circulation until 1967.

  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited January 2007
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.

    Eh, you can never be too dead. See: Zombie Apocalypse thread.

    But, yeah, with regards to literature, I agree with you.

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  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.

    No, but! Deconstructionism! The death of the author! And stuff!

    I always fucking despised any over-emphasis on the validity of interpretation, personally. I write something and you interpret it in any other manner than that which I intended, whoo, I'm happy for you. I hope you get something out of this new angle from which you're taking my work to pieces. I might even think of something else to explore within the work as a result - but when you get right down to it I could never think of it in terms of your opinion being just as valid. To me it'd just mean I'd got something wrong. <shrugs>

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • Spaten OptimatorSpaten Optimator Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    celery77 wrote:
    Agem wrote:
    A few decades later the deconstructionists popped up and said "hey, look, you can find evidence for anything if you read things in a specific way." Personally, I really, really don't like deconstructionism, because it seems (to me) to be grounded in intentionally misreading the work and then defending that interpretation with fallacious reasoning, but that's not the point. I'm going off on a tangent.
    Taking the piss out of deconstructionists gets really tired. Yes, there's been a painful amount of ink spilled in its name in proportion to the actual amount of meaning returned, but this idea that deconstruction offers nothing to our understanding of literary criticism is daft and largely informed by people's prejudice toward the (admittedly awful) writing done by most academics who engage in it. If you actually learn the jargon (which the article you linked did make light mention of -- gee, if you bother to engage it past a cursory level you can wrap your head around it more) there is some useful theorizing about language contained within.

    I've also sat in on PhD presentations and scribbled down notes of complete gibberish with the express purpose of hiding away so I can pull it out later and laugh at it, but you know what else? I've also learned a lot from the actually cogent thinkers in the field, of which -- yes -- Derrida is emphatically one, and Foucalt is emphatically one, and oh haha they're French let's mock them (sorry, that article you linked had an equally appalling bullshit:meaning ratio as the field he's choosing to engage, so it's a little annoying).

    Pretty much. Not to pile on, but this article was a poorly written piece of snark. Deconstruction can be taken to silly extremes, but if you look at it as a reponse to structuralism it begins to make a lot more sense. If anything, the hubris of structuralism as literature's panacea is a lot more laughable. I got the feeling that the author learned just enough to misrepresent literary criticism and take a few shots at academia. Though those are valid targets, the arguments and supporting evidence he uses have serious flaws.


    As to the topic at hand, authorial intent is terribly overrated. I mentioned Roland Barthes earlier, but anyone who wants to see what an excellent literary analysis can do should check out S/Z. To rely upon an author assign the ultimate meaning to a book (assuming the author is alive, cares to comment, and actually knows what the uber-meaning is) really stifles discussion. The point here is to investigate why and how the written word is able to evoke. That's not to say all interpretations are equally valid, of course. Crap reasoning/evidence = crap analysis.

  • ethicalseanethicalsean Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Andrew_Jay wrote:
    Yellow Brick Road/The Gold Standard: the US stopped freely pressing silver into coins in the 1870s due to ore being more valuable than coinage from lack of large minable deposits... large deposits were later found in the 80s-90s making coinage more valuable again... although the government wasnt pressing it into coins for free anymore.
    But the U.S. coins contained silver up until the Coinage Act of 1965. Silver coins weren't withdrawn from circulation until 1967.

    Bad english on my part... what I mean is that until some date in the 1870s, you could take your mined silver/gold to a government office and they would turn it into coins freely for you. It was a good policy for a new nation attempting to circulate more currency, although not much silver was ever pressed due to the high value of mined silver. When large deposits were found soon after the removal of free silver pressing, a typical political shitstorm in this country ensued (wont somebody think of the farmers!?).

  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited January 2007
    To rely upon an author assign the ultimate meaning to a book (assuming the author is alive, cares to comment, and actually knows what the uber-meaning is) really stifles discussion. The point here is to investigate why and how the written word is able to evoke.

    That's funny, I can do that just fine without disregarding that the author might have intended their work to convey one thing over another and that if I think (hypothetical example X) I'm reading it "wrong".

    Confrontational replies aside, this is just another instance of me not getting most advanced schools of literary criticism... not so much thinking they're totally without merit but that all too many of them are vastly, vastly over-rated. But then I'm fairly resigned to not getting a first on account of neither being able to fall in line with my tutors on these things, nor possessing the eloquence to adequately explain why. It just seems too obvious to me.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.
    It's not that they "discover" meaning, it's that new social theories have been discovered or invented, depending on how exactly you want to word it, and then those social theories have been brought to bear on previous works, because as someone else in this thread pointed out (I forget who right now) things like sexism, classism, division of labor, colonial and post-colonial cultures, etc. were there while Shakespeare was writing, whether he was particularly aware of their existence or not. His writing of Othello the Moor is reflective of the society's popular perception of Africans. His gender-bending plays illuminate aspects of gender identity and sex roles in his era. Caliban is obviously meant to be a colonial subject speaking back to his masters, whether or not his masters chose to interpret the play as a "farewell to the stage" for the next 300 or so years because they were too obtuse to see the social dynamics swirling all around them.

    It's not putting meaning in the novel that isn't there, it's simply re-interpreting it with a new perspective. No one thought to comment on Desdemona's frailty and secondary role to the story until the 1960s, that doesn't mean it isn't an interesting way to explore the meaning in Shakespeare's play.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.

    No, but! Deconstructionism! The death of the author! And stuff!

    I always fucking despised any over-emphasis on the validity of interpretation, personally. I write something and you interpret it in any other manner than that which I intended, whoo, I'm happy for you. I hope you get something out of this new angle from which you're taking my work to pieces. I might even think of something else to explore within the work as a result - but when you get right down to it I could never think of it in terms of your opinion being just as valid. To me it'd just mean I'd got something wrong. <shrugs>

    That's a good way of looking at it, too, though, as a writer. Make sure you convey properly and clearly if you don't want your work misinterpreted. The threat of misinterpretation is a strong impetus to write clearly and properly. This is another reason I thoroughly detest Target Practice's philosophy: it has the potential for excusing bad writing.

    If you don't want to be misinterpreted and you are strict in how you want your writing to be read, write well. Otherwise, tough shit.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Drez wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    I've always been of the opinion that if it takes half a century to "discover" that some work is really a treatise on XXXX, and the author is too dead to actually verify this, a safe assumption is that the discovery isn't terribly valid.

    No, but! Deconstructionism! The death of the author! And stuff!

    I always fucking despised any over-emphasis on the validity of interpretation, personally. I write something and you interpret it in any other manner than that which I intended, whoo, I'm happy for you. I hope you get something out of this new angle from which you're taking my work to pieces. I might even think of something else to explore within the work as a result - but when you get right down to it I could never think of it in terms of your opinion being just as valid. To me it'd just mean I'd got something wrong. <shrugs>

    That's a good way of looking at it, too, though, as a writer. Make sure you convey properly and clearly if you don't want your work misinterpreted. The threat of misinterpretation is a strong impetus to write clearly and properly. This is another reason I thoroughly detest Target Practice's philosophy: it has the potential for excusing bad writing.

    If you don't want to be misinterpreted and you are strict in how you want your writing to be read, write well. Otherwise, tough shit.
    Not even that though. It's possible to develop a new meaning on a particular composer's work by consideration of how that composer was thinking at the time, the historical situation of the work etc. and how that might have subtly influenced them. The composer's word on the matter is hardly final in this respect, but by the same token the interpretation is only as valid as you can claim your understanding of their state of mind and how it works is.

    Which is why such interpretations gain validity after the person is dead in literature.

  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'm trying to think of a book that was thematically lightweight at publication, but that acheived a new level of significance at some later date.

    1984, possibly.

    EDIT: No, that doesn't work because the theme hasn't changed with time, just gotten more relevant.

  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    I'm trying to think of a book that was thematically lightweight at publication, but that acheived a new level of significance at some later date.

    1984, possibly.

    EDIT: No, that doesn't work because the theme hasn't changed with time, just gotten more relevant.
    There's lots of "discovered" works. Something like Kim gained completely different status in post-colonial crit, or someone like Emily Dickinson found a radically new interest and interpretation when feminist crit came to the fore. Somebody like Zora Neale Hurston has also found notoriety post-humously rather late in the game, although I don't think her work has really changed meaning.

    I dunno, the old dead white guys really took it on the chin in some circles, and lost a lot of their purported meaning and vaunted status. I'm pretty okay with that, personally. Anyway, there's lots. We could go on. I mean, look at poor little Kusu hating the shit out of the Great Gatsby.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ulysses

    What a fucking overrated book

    Book sucks

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  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Poldy wrote:
    Ulysses

    What a fucking overrated book

    Book sucks
    Ulysses would be a book that dropped rather drastically compared to the esteem it held at first publication, yes.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Possibly a little off topic but I can't stand people who are utterly dimissive of any art that isn't a literal representation. That is, people who hate poetry that isn't direct enough, or visual art that is too abstract or doesnt describe objects/people accurately enough, or music that doesn't have choruses and consists mostly of the sound of bottles smashing against a baby seals corpse (as an example).

    I've had big arguments with friends who have complained about abstract art. They'll appreciate it to a point (i think around impressionism they start to get turned off, and the saying "What is the difference between a childs painting, and one who chooses to paint like a child?!" starts to crop up), but once things start becoming difficult or emotional, the hate begins.

    I'm wondering if there's a point, especially with visual art, where some people are justified in seeing no value in art. Can it get to a point where people are justified in saying "A whale floating in a swimming pool of my urine? That's not art." I'm not completely nerded up on my art school lessons, but from what I remember in Highschool a lot of Modern art seems to be one school of artists rebelling/trying to out-do another. This tends to leave the joe-bloggs museum goer out in the cold (what the fuck is that supposed to be?), but is that exactly what art should be doing? Is art designed to impress art critics really all that worthwhile?

  • CrimsonKingCrimsonKing Registered User
    edited January 2007
    A book can mean whatever the reader wants it too.

    This sig was too tall - Elki.
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited January 2007
    A book can mean whatever the reader wants it too.
    So can a forum post. That doesn't mean I'm not retarded for saying that your post I quoted here is an attempt to seduce me for fucking.

    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
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