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mfradera's picture

Best bang for your buck.

In regards to free will, what is ever free? There’s always a hidden fee. For now the air we breathe is free, but this isn’t true on an air plane, where complex pumps and filtration devices work to recycle the same air. The price of your plane ticket pays for that air.

Switching gears to the issues of interpretation brought up by Sontag, I couldn’t help wishing I’d read her essay before writing my second paper. She argues that we need to “recover our senses” so that criticism can function “to show how it [art] is what it is… rather than to show what it means.” Keeping with the position I hold in my paper, I must say I think this is completely impossible. She states that interpretation is part of a “post-mythic consciousness” but, in my opinion, this is also wholly untrue. As humans we are meaning makers; it’s literally our M.O... We cannot turn it off any more that we can stop breathing without causing some serious physical and psychological damage. Its how we’ve been able to survive as a species.

As I read her essay, I couldn’t help remembering a visit I made to the Tate Modern Museum of Art in London last year while I was studying abroad. For a friend’s birthday, I and some other folks went to see an exhibit on Dadaists. Most exhibits in the museum are free, with the exception of visiting exhibits like the one we were going to see. Once inside the exhibit, we all split up, eventually meeting at the exit. To my surprise, two of the people we were with had finished circulating through the exhibit after half an hour. I’m not sure of the exact time, but I think I spend upwards of two hours exploring the whole space. The reason behind this is twofold. 1) I am a spoiled New Yorker who never pays to go to the museum. I wasn’t going to squander my 6 pounds on a brief stroll through this joint. 2) I get extremely invested in the observation of pieces of art. Especially with modern art, where it’s a lot easier for me to look at an object as a piece of art rather than an artifact, (as opposed to classical and ancient non-Western art to which I apply an anthropologist’s eye). This exhibit was my first real exposure to Dadaism and I wanted to be sure I got as much out of it as I could.

This experience came to mind because it deals directly with the issues of the point of interpretation that Sontag brings up. I get the feeling that Sontag believe that interpretation, as it stand, is somewhat selfish and altruistic. I can see why she thinks this, but like I said earlier, I’m not sure it can be helped. I guess at the Tate Modern, in more than one sense, I was trying to get the best bang for my buck.


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