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aseidman's picture

In favor of interpretation for the sake of non-exclusion

Oh good grief. I just typed a really fantastic two page post and my computer ate it. That really hurts.

 Well, you were all there last week when I made my slightly too personal reference to how visual disability can affect one's perception of art.

 The visual impairment that I'm going to use here as an example is called "simultagnosia." Although I'm afraid I can't unpack the word etymologically, it essentially means that the individual in question has trouble putting together complex visual images. The brain cannot make sense of a series of very complex parts of the same scene.

Take a look at this picture:

What do you see? Someone with advanced simultagnosia would not be able to pick out the flower, the cup, and whatever else was in that picture.

So let's apply this to Sondtag's assertion that art is to be appreciated without recourse to referencing it's content. Someone with this particular visual impairment would be unable to truly appreciate the piece as a whole, since trying to examine it as a whole would create a visual mess for them. Their best bet, then, would be to attempt to pick out some reference point that they recognize, or to interpret the work so that it falls into a category of something they can undersatnd and appreciate.

 This, of course, does not apply solely to visual impairment. A person who is strongly hearing impaired might have trouble understanding the dialogue or hearing the music in a theatrical performance. Shoudl they then stare at the stage and take in the movements of the actors, or should they find some reference to interpret the content of the performance, create their own story from it, to use in place of the dialogue they cannot understand?


Of course I hope I haven't offended anyone with this post. Obviously these are just simple examples, and disability iteslf has all sorts of cases and exceptions. But I hope you see my point.


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