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The Problem of Practicality

tflurry's picture

I rather enjoyed Sontag’s essay; her argument was an interesting one, a point of view that I had thought in passing but never considered in depth. That said, I found her somewhat frustrating, simply because while her argument is all well and good, she offers no practical advice for how to put it into action. Particularly among traditionally educated people and in the North American school system, students are taught little else but how to interpret everything they see. It is incredibly rare for me to look at anything and not start automatically dissecting it for ‘deeper meaning’, and on those rare occasions I experience a piece without analyzing it, its purity remains unsullied for the length of time for me to realize what I’ve experienced before I go back to the begin and analyze it then. What seemed to me to be one of the interesting parts of her argument, and the part that she least touched on, is how to incorporate her ideas into practical use. How does one use this ‘vocabulary of form’ she discusses, without making comparisons of some sort? How can one discuss anything without comparisons? And how, among a group of people taught to interpret, taught to make connections that are not inherent to the piece, how can one make comparisons without connections, and through those interpretation?