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Against Interpretation Response

pbernal's picture

I have mixed feelings about Sontag's essay to the point where I don't know what to believe. Yes, I understand that when we spend more time trying to interpret and find meaning, we actually lose the purpose and reality of whatever it is we're interpreting, whether it be art or music. That at times we make up so much nonsense and say bullshit to something so simple that could have been expressed in a couple of words or less. And much of it is like Sontag mentions, "plucking a set of elements" bit by bit.

But interpretation can be a very helpful thing as well. Sontag says this out of spite but I find it quite inspiring; "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art and the world." Where's the fun in just listening and watching without challenging the creator? If I wouldn't challenge the ideas or creations sorrounding me, then I would go nowhere. I wouldn't learn outside of my perceptions and that quite frankly is boring.

Thinking too much burns out the bulb, I get it, but without thoughts circulating throught, there wouldn't be light to light the bulb in the first place. 

For my first trip into Play in the City take 2, I would choose to take them to The Schuylkill Center. I'd make the class sit alone, each student designated in a particular place with a journal and a pen. I'd take away their cellphones and any distracting device, including cameras and watches. I'd leave them with only two instructions. One, don't move from your designated area and two, don't talk to anyone else or try looking for anyone else. I'd give them no further information...leave them to interpret their own meaning of their solo away from distractions. We'd be alone with only our thoughts and our environment. To perceive and interpret our sorroundings far from influence.