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When Interpretation Goes Too Far

By Crashnbur in Op-Ed
Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:21:16 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

Recently I read a response from Flannery O'Connor, a short story fiction writer, to one of her own stories as interpreted by three Literature professors and their classes. This response is below; my comments are bracketed:

Your interpretation "is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be. If it were a legitimate interpretation, the story would be little more than a trick, and its interest would be simply for abnormal psychology. I am not interested in abnormal psychology." [I laughed out loud at that.] ...yadda, yadda, yadda... "If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it."


That's for all you bastard English teachers telling kids that they've interpreted the story wrong. There can be no wrong interpretation! You can tell them what you want them to know for a test, but don't tell them that they're wrong!

So Flannery O'Connor is my new favorite author. Not because of her fiction, but because she stated exactly why she wrote and told the teachers, more or less, not to put their students through such a burden in reading. The above italicized statement(s) are her [nearly] exact words (I paraphrased and skipped around a tiny bit - if it's in quotation marks then it's quoted exactly) in response to the aforementioned English classes. Apparently they had analyzed and interpreted the story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" out the ying-yang, and decided that they couldn't decide on any interpretation and had to write the author. Miss O'Connor certainly surprised them, I would think, when she stated that her intentions were only "to write good fiction," and not to complicate the story by filling it full of symbolism and hidden meanings.

This not only supports my theory that most authors (poetry aside) tend to write for the story, not the underlying meanings, but also that English and Literature teachers make the stuff up! I believe that most of the parallels drawn from one story to another are just creations of the teachers' minds because they can see the relationship. And who knows? Perhaps that previous story provided some sort of influence - that doesn't mean anything though.

In short, I would like to thank Flannery O'Connor, a semi-classic fiction writer from Georgia, for stating her true intentions in her writing. I hope that this could reach more English and Literature teachers around the country (and world?), but I'm not sure that can be accomplished.

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Poll
What do you think?
o Literature should be burned. 2%
o Literature should not be analyzed, but simply read. 22%
o I couldn't care less. 14%
o Literature should be analyzed, but not overly done. 50%
o Analyze it till it bleeds! Show me the meaning! 9%

Votes: 102
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When Interpretation Goes Too Far | 47 comments (41 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Literature and work (3.27 / 11) (#2)
by Flavio on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 12:59:31 PM EST

What would be of most literature professors if they couldn't spend entire lectures overanalyzing the simplest and most straightforward themes?

Literature is only as complex as it's meant to be. Some authors purposely write complex novels in a simple form. Others write simple novels in a simple form. Humanities professors are notorious for diving into the depths of postmodernism in an attempt to make their work sound much more sophisticated than it actually is.

Most people don't catch on to this and actually rate such "intellectuals" as geniuses.

Flavio

complexity! (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by Maniac_Dervish on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:35:40 PM EST

Humanities professors are notorious for diving into the depths of postmodernism in an attempt to make their work sound much more sophisticated than it actually is. Most people don't catch on to this and actually rate such "intellectuals" as geniuses.

hehe. i've learned over time that the truly brilliant minds are the ones who can take something EXTREMELY complex and make it look like its gerber baby food. easily read, easily digestible, nicely placed in its own context and also placed in relation to other things that students or fellow faculty care about.

unfortunately that's a hell of a lot of work that almost no one cares to do.

Maniac_Dervish

[ Parent ]

The one correct interpretation (2.91 / 12) (#3)
by butchhoward on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:00:44 PM EST

The only correct interpretation is that of the author. If the author does not publish a commentary on the story, then all else is speculative and not actual interpretation.

Hypothesis: NO correct interpretation (4.00 / 4) (#8)
by MAXOMENOS on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:45:56 PM EST

The only correct interpretation is that of the author. If the author does not publish a commentary on the story, then all else is speculative and not actual interpretation.

OK, so let me throw this out: there is no sensible criterion for correctness of a literary interpretation, and therefore, no such thing as a correct interpretation. Kinda like how you can't take the square root of a sonnet.

The whole point of interpretation is seeing a story and finding meaning in a story through one's own lens. Different people are going to find different meaning in the work, and learn different lessons from the work. And yeah, the author is entitled to have a completely different interpretation, and even may be to say, "wait a minute, I didn't mean that, and you're full of shit." And that's fine. But assigning correctness is impossible.

Comment?


We need an ODMG implementation that's open source. ObJectBridge is one candidate, and it needs volunteers.
[ Parent ]

Interpretation (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by spaceghoti on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:55:41 PM EST

One of my favorite sayings is that "reality is best defined as a matter of opinion."

I fully agree with the above sentiment, and I approach it both from the point of view of a reader and a writer. It really doesn't matter what anyone else got out of the story. If they choose to share their viewpoint, it might make sense to you or it might not. The question is what you got out of the piece, if anything at all. If I have a specific purpose in mind for a story, then I satisfy that purpose by writing the story. That purpose may or may not come across to you; it can depend on how blatant I was. I've had people read deeply religious meanings into my stories when, in fact I had nothing of the sort in mind. But if that meaning helps them to enjoy the story, then I shan't complain.

The mark of a good teacher is always not in that they teach you how they think, but they teach you how to think for yourself. I believe that's the fundamental point of this entire rant.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
What I learned in my Semantics of Art Class... (4.00 / 11) (#4)
by Electric Angst on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:03:08 PM EST

I'd like to make a couple of brief points...

First of all, there are many fiction authors who choose or have choosen to imbue their work with symbolism, who choose to give their work meaning beyond the literal. Camus and Steinbeck are the first two names that come to mind. Assuming there is no greater symbolic meaning is just as bad as assuming meanings without any basis in the text.

Second, interpritation is basically in the eye of the beholder. That doesn't mean that you can just come up with whatever bullshit you want, however. The chairman of my theatre department once gave me this piece of advice "When interpriting, you can basically say anything you want, as long as you give examples from the work." Art is a very subjective field, and provided the artist is effective at comminicating the message behind his or her work, then a similar message should be recieved by whomever observes the work. The only type of false interpritation is one that has no basis in the work of which it is supposed to be.

So, don't go lambasting all English teachers because a few over-zealous ones did not understand how to interprit art. Many understand the ways, and when testing are generally trying to get the students to come up with a meaning that is based in the text.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
Read Timequake. (3.57 / 7) (#6)
by regeya on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:29:49 PM EST

It's really the only Kurt Vonnegut I could get into. The name refers to this event tha takes place at the beginning of the millenium, where everyone is forced to re-live 1990-2000 again, and the ramifications of that event. However, that's just the back-story. The real story is the semi-autobiographical writing of a somewhat fictional Kurt Vonnegut, obsessed with the work of Kilgore Trout. Vonnegut seems to hang on the every word of Trout, and sees deep meaning in every utterance and action of Trout. I came away from the book feeling that Vonnegut was the true genius, and that he saw a lunatic as a genius, and was projecting his own genius onto Trout. Then again, I'm probably interpreting it wrong ;-) and overanalyzing the work (which is arguably what the book is about.)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

The validity of interpretation... (3.87 / 8) (#7)
by _Quinn on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:44:47 PM EST

   ... is not limited by the author's intent. There is a subset of literature similar to modern art, in that the unitiated reader doesn't have a chance of figuring out what makes it art. Most (good) writing, however, is the opposite: the emphasis is on the clarity of expression, the believability of character, and the consistency of plot. That is, the author's intent is not something that requires very much analysis. (Certain works, mostly historical, would require a fair amount of background knowledge. Consider someone trying to make sense of 'Amish Paradise' or 'Primary Colors' a hundred years from now.) And to my dismay, most literature classes are not about learning good writing by dissecting good writing. (Although it seems like the only way to become a good writer is to practice /alot/, certain mechanical and tecnical aspects of the art may be better learned by example than explanation.)

   Which leaves the 'bullshit' category. (Incidentally: if any of you happen to know of a literate analysis of Harry Potter, could you post a link to it here? Thanks.) What can you say about a story the author claims is, let's say, only a boy-meets-girl-under-moon-which-explodes story? (With all due respect to Douglas Adams, of course :)) Well... I think it's pretty clear that they're not from around here, as our archetypical story ends with 'girl'; you can deduce that the author's species has at least two, and probably only two, sexes; you can conclude that the species doesn't live in space, and probably evolved on a world with a large supply of fairly hefty but unstable moons; and so on. Making inferences about literature closer to home is more difficult.

   I guess I'm saying that you can legitimately draw inferences from a text which the author did not conciously intend to include. However, I think there are very few 'interpretations' that can be justified in a similar way: there is a limit to the historical justifiability of allegory, and once you've identified the `genre' (boy-meets-girl, man-against-nature, etc) of the literature, there never seemed to me to be much further that you could go. The literature classes I've taken have mostly been like art/music appreciation classes than classes about writing, history, psychology, antropology, or sociology.

   Something else that bothers me is the author's assumption that one must 'learn to enjoy' fiction. (Hence, my assertion about appreciation classes.) Quite frankly, if you can't tell a good story (and almost everyone enjoys a good story), what are you doing writing?

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
They make it up (3.00 / 6) (#9)
by LordHunter317 on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:05:43 PM EST

This not only supports my theory that most authors (poetry aside) tend to write for the story, not the underlying meanings, but also that English and Literature teachers make the stuff up! I believe that most of the parallels drawn from one story to another are just creations of the teachers' minds because they can see the relationship. And who knows? Perhaps that previous story provided some sort of influence - that doesn't mean anything though

I tend to agree on this point here. I just finished my 11th Grade English, and our teacher was a "symbol monger" (her own words.) Most of the parallels and theories she "taught" us none of the class saw in our discussions. Either wae are not well read or just blind, you tell me.

I personally think the golden rule of intereptation applies no matter what you are reading. In short, take everything literally unless evidence suggests otherwise.

Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend

Any interpretation of symbolism... (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by Tatarigami on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:16:10 PM EST

... only symbolises what's in the interpreter's head, doesn't it?

My highschool english classes were fairly odd. The teacher was dedicated to dissecting every book, poem or film brought into the class, rendering them down to the very atoms of meaning -- which always seemed to somehow be related to death.

"The snake represents... death."

"The crushed apple represents... death."

"The encroaching darkness represents the protagonist's approaching death."

"This whole scene is just loaded with symbolism. The power pole represents a cross, we are looking down on the building from above, literally Heaven's perspective, and the barn itself is painted red, all of which represents..."
"Death, right?"
"Very good! You're finally starting to look for the deeper meaning."

[ Parent ]
where to begin with this one? (3.62 / 8) (#10)
by xah on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:14:14 PM EST

I have a different perspective. I'll try to interject my comments.

O'Connnor: Your interpretation "is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get

As anyone who has studied psychology knows, people don't intend everything that they end up doing. Or end up writing. There is no way of determining what O'Connor really meant in her work. She shouldn't criticize alternative interpretations of her work just because they are in variance with her own understanding. For an author's claim that there is only one legitimate interpretation of her work, hers, is rather ignorant, isn't it? In fact, it tends to remind one of tyranny in that it attempts to stifle discourse as to alternative interpretations.

O'Connnor: "I am not interested in abnormal psychology"

Strange. Anyone who thinks would seem to be rather involved in psychology. As to whether her psychology is abnormal, are we to take her at her word?

O'Connnor: "Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it."

I guess her point is something like "Why do we spend so much time on interpretation? Why don't we just enjoy the story?" The rational justification behind her suggestion is simple. Why be critical? Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the world. Quit complaining. Quit whining. Quit thinking. Just bend over and take your medicine. Real simple.

Crashnbur: There can be no wrong interpretation!

I absolutely agree with Crashnbur, but why is Crashnbur defending O'Connor's attack on alternative interprations?

Crashnbur: [that] supports my theory that most authors (poetry aside) tend to write for the story, not the underlying meanings, but also that English and Literature teachers make the stuff up!

An interesting statement. But why would Crashnbur exclude poetry from literature meant to tell a story? All good poems have stories. A few examples include The Illiad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Ozymandias, and Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

Crashnbur's theory does have merit. I agree that most (good) authors, and poets, tend to write for the story, not the underlying meanings. Nevertheless, it is also true that most good literature is read by the author out of his subconscious mind, and transmitted to the written page with little conscious intention as to anything. As the concepts begin to gel together, the author can see the connections form in his conscious mind, sew up any broken links into the whole, and at last create a finished product that in a sense is a whole work.

Taking the above as true, why should we limit ourselves to scraping the surface of the author's conscious motivations? It seems that we must dig deeper, much deeper. For that is where the gold and silver lie.

hmm. (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by Maniac_Dervish on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:30:15 PM EST

An interesting statement. But why would Crashnbur exclude poetry from literature meant to tell a story? All good poems have stories. A few examples include The Illiad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Ozymandias, and Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

so how about some poems that aren't epic or narrative poems? how about some emmy dickinson or some poems by lalla? you just named the classics of dead-white-male poetry.

[ Parent ]

I like you already. :-) (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by Crashnbur on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:55:04 PM EST

I like the perspective you've taken here. I'm glad that someone thought to look at it psychologically - it had not occurred to me. As a result, I cannot disregard the arguments you make. Good call. :-)

I absolutely agree with Crashnbur, but why is Crashnbur defending O'Connor's attack on alternative interprations?

I wouldn't call it an attack, but more of a defensive stand to some rather unusual comments (to her, anyway) about one of her stories. Also, I have firmly believed the points that O'Connor's words have helped me to illustrate in this article for many years. Her words have only now provided the proper means of illustrating that point. This is why I defend her "attack." It could very easily have been someone else's words, or my own, had little twists of fate been slightly different.

An interesting statement. But why would Crashnbur exclude poetry from literature meant to tell a story? All good poems have stories. I don't mean to exclude poems from having good stories. I mean to exclude poetry from the "unintentionally symbollic" category. To some degree, a degree much greater than prose, poetry is written to be analyzed. Poetry involves more plays on words and is much like music ... without the music ... and so it seems that there is much more to be gained from analyzing poetry - and much more is intentionally planted in the words as well. I have nothing to back this argument at the current moment, but that is my stance.

And as for digging deeper where the gold and silver lie, why should that be necessary? As I have stated in another post, I feel as though that is a waste of intellectual resources that could be used in so many better ways. To dig into the conscious, subconcious and unconscious of the author is to try to understand why he or she wrote just a few lines. This might provide a better understanding of that author and mental well-being, but it promotes very little otherwise, in my opinion. (Maybe some good conversation.)

I am not going to go into the several "better things" to be done with our time, for I am sure that anyone can find individual reasons why they wouldn't be better. However, on the whole, I believe that what I am saying is true...

It makes for good conversation... so... there!

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
Interpretation is the Lesson, Not J.D. Salinger (3.90 / 10) (#12)
by eskimo on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:19:25 PM EST

First of all, symbolism is not an option. To assume that is to tear some of the soul away from fiction. Whether writers want to admit it or not, there are reasons why some horses are white, or why the climax is in a bell tower.

That said, there can be no correct interpretation, because even the writer himself cannot be objective at this level. To interpret is to utilize hindsight, which alters perception, even and perhaps very importantly, on a subconscious level. Literature is a strict adherent to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Observation invariably and irreversibly changes.

Secondly, while it is important to be able to recognize literature, and appreciate it, it is also important to be able to draw conclusions and make assumptions. It not only makes for a cooperative, willing reader, but a similarly useful person.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto

Thank you. (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by Crashnbur on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:43:12 PM EST

While I don't agree totally, I do agree that no interpretation can be right, and by the same principle, neither can any interpretation be wrong. The author may not intend such parallels, but the author will also not doubt that they are there if the influences could have been there when the story was written.

Thanks for your comments.

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
Don't dismiss literary analysis (4.69 / 13) (#13)
by jrh on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:23:09 PM EST

This not only supports my theory that most authors (poetry aside) tend to write for the story, not the underlying meanings, but also that English and Literature teachers make the stuff up! I believe that most of the parallels drawn from one story to another are just creations of the teachers' minds because they can see the relationship.

I think your problem may be that you've read too many high school lit-style novels. Novels like 1984 or Catcher in the Rye are, frankly, not that interesting to analyze for hidden meanings. And I don't think Flannery O'Conner's stories are overwhelmingly rich in that respect either. Not many English professors would spend their time constructing analyses of these kinds of novels. (Don't overlook that there are very interesting things to find in works that don't have complex layers of meaning--what they say about the times of the author, how the author achieved his or her effect, the use of language, etc. Someone wanting to understand our own time will look to pop culture more than Toni Morrison.)

But read the Divine Commedy, or King Lear, or Dostoevsky, or Joyce, or (god forbid) Proust. Good luck reading Ulysses just for the story. These are the sorts of works that are the most interesting for literature professors.

Your problem may also be that you had some bad teachers who insisted that their students regurgitate their interpretations and nothing else. Any reasonable teacher or professor will welcome intelligent readings contrary to his or her viewpoint. In any decent college lit class, if you simply parrot the professor's lectures, you will get marked down harshly.

Moving back to your point, it may indeed be true that "most" authors (e.g. Danielle Steel, John Grisham) write for the story alone. But Dumas tells a lot more exciting stories than Dante--so why don't we read Dumas in literature classes instead?

I think that Faulker said, with respect to A Rose For Emily, that he hadn't written it as a parable as the North against the South, but that didn't mean it's not in the story. We can't even ask authors long dead (e.g. Shakespeare) what they meant. If literary analysis were restricted to divining the true intentions of the author, it wouldn't be very interesting or enlightening. A writer can reflect the ideas of his time, or other writers who influenced him, without consciously intending to; studying Shakespeare through a modern lens will naturally put him in a different context than analyses from the 18th century. And some authors are so deliberately obscure (e.g. Joyce) that we could never find every hidden meaning they explicitly intended--and if the authors had tried, they would have missed more than a few themselves.

If you want a modern, unstuffy example of a writer who writes for much more than the story, read the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. Allusions and symbolism galore, all in a nice science fiction package.

It's often said that literary analysis is useless. I suppose it is, in the larger scheme of things. But I'm not sure that shrinking transistors by another tenth of a micron is that earthshattering either. At its best, literary analysis can greatly enhance your understanding of a great work, and be a kind of masterwork in its own right. I, at least, find value in that.

Wolfe (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by B'Trey on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:50:15 PM EST

A hearty second to the advice to read Book of the New Sun. Don't miss the Latro series as well. I wasn't as impressed with the Book of the Long Sun, however. (The two Sun series are unrelated, despite their simularity in titles. The first series takes place in the distant future when the sun nears the end of its lifespan. The New Sun has both a literal and a figurative meaning in the series. The Long Sun takes place in a spaceship with a central lighting source that runs the length of the ship, ie a "long sun." I understand that Wolfe is currently working on The Book of the Short Sun, a sequel series to the Long Sun.)

For other modern sci-fi authors rich in symbolism, check out Stephen R. Donaldson, Guy Gavriel Kay, and (some of) Roger Zelazny.

[ Parent ]

Minor point... (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by bgalehouse on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:22:49 PM EST

The two series mentioned aren't entirely unrelated. But it isn't untill third series (The book of the Short Sun, finished very recently) that this is entirely explicit.

For anothe cool series, check out the Gormonghast Novels. Somewhere between Tolkein and Dickens, his story has much of the mystery, and much of the poetry, of fantasy, but without a lot of reliance on the unambiguously supernatural.

[ Parent ]

Your comment describes the ideal (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by Flavio on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:52:10 PM EST

In my world teachers insist that "students regurgitate their interpretations and nothing else". Any addition you make to such a paper is considered off-topic or wrong simply for defying a standard.

Your point that authors reflect ideas of their time, experience and selves is beautiful but ignored by most. The subjectively accepted interpretation is, for them, the right interpretation. Most literature teachers believe that uncommon interpretations are bound to be wrong because they're too unique to have been derived from the source in question.

"And some authors are so deliberately obscure (e.g. Joyce) that we could never find every hidden meaning they explicitly intended--and if the authors had tried, they would have missed more than a few themselves."

Richard Feynman proclaimed he disliked humanities. I unfortunately don't have my copy of "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! -- Adventures of a curious character" around to quote from, but here's an anecdote.

Feynman once attended to a lecture on a random philosophical topic and was asked to make an analogy of the discussed ideas in quantum physics terms. Feynman made one and for that he was complimented by his fellow students, teachers and by the speaker. He then added "of course, any analogy would've also been correct and there's no point to comment on the subject".

I don't approve Feynman's disregard for all things subjective but I believe he does have a point.

There is a threshold that separates correct and absurd interpretations. That's what makes the "there's no wrong interpretation!" assertion absurd. On the other hand, real world teachers fail to stablish the threshold and only accept a handful of interpretations THEY find logical, regardless of them being correct or not.

To further complicate matters, stablishing a threshold on interpretations of Joyce's works is harder than predicting the weather. This exact problem bothered Feynman a lot, to the point of making him ignore all non-science courses for the rest of his academic life.

Flavio

[ Parent ]
Science and Art, Artist and observer (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by bgalehouse on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:36:20 PM EST

I've read things in my own work that I did not intend to put there. People are complicated inside, good artists visibly so. I've seen it acknowledged in writing that once written and published words are out of the control of the author. If nothing else, they can pop up it strange places, in different contexts, well after the original citation has been forgotten.

Salvidor Dali, what did you mean? And why does this painting draw the eye? Why does it make me ask the question? Or is that the point?

There is science in art. Some meanings are more or less obvious in more or less obvious contexts. It is possible the catagorize imagery the way we catagorize flora and fauna. It generally works, but there are allways entities which are not clearly flora, or clearly fauna. The author might be an authority on the subject. But she might not even read her own work. A poem is only written once.

But science isn't nearly as absolute as everybody thinks. We have great faith in various theories. But every theory has a domain. General Relativity covers the macro scale. Quantum Mechanics the micro. Within their respective domains they reign supreme. But put them on the same piece of paper and contradictions apear in the space between. The no-interaction theorm shows that if you put them together in the most obvious and reasonable fashon, no two particles can interact. Strings, Symmetry, Quantum Geodesics (my Dad's study), and lord knows what else are attempts to avoid this result by being less obvious.

And so science contains contradiction, and where there is contradiction, creativity is required. But even without contradiction, there is creativity in science. Consider that true science isn't about being lectured on laws of nature. It is about finding laws of nature. It is about devising laws of nature and interpreting them.

And so science involves interpretation. It involves comparison with reality, and reality is never as well behaved as the textbooks - whether this is perversity of the part of the universe, or because we don't have the right textbook is still an open question. There is art in the writing of textbooks.

But even when experiment and observation are not limiting factors, there is art in science. In America, once or twice in grade school, and then sometimes once or twice again in college, a typical American will try to do a few proofs and the urging of some instructor. Unfortunatly, proofing requires a very creative mindset, and it sometimes seems to me that the American educational system does it's best to excise such tendancies. And so it is often misunderstood that the central core of mathematics, the dividing line between it and anything else, is a creative art, is something that you can make up a game about.

[ Parent ]

Okay, the parallels are there. I didn't deny that. (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by Crashnbur on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:41:30 PM EST

I've read King Lear and one Dostoeyvsky (sp?) novel, don't remember which currently, as well as 1984. That doesn't change my view on such things a bit.

On to your point about Faulkner; you've reminded me of an important detail that I must have left out of my article. At one point (either in that article or on my web page a couple days ago) I mentioned that the parallels we draw could very well mean external influence, such as the North vs. South that you mention in "A Rose For Emily" (which I read just last week). This does not mean, as you pointed out, that the author intentionally tied such parallels in. It is up to the English teacher(s) to draw such things out.

I agree that many relationships can be drawn, whether intentionally or not, and I don't see the point (in most cases) of doing so. It seems like a waste of intellectual resources that could be used in so many better ways.

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
the futility of the humanities (4.50 / 4) (#39)
by jrh on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:38:55 AM EST

I agree that many relationships can be drawn, whether intentionally or not, and I don't see the point (in most cases) of doing so. It seems like a waste of intellectual resources that could be used in so many better ways.

Picking up on that...

Humanities professors tend to get very defensive these days about their profession. After all, why spend your life studying dead white guys? This isn't something that would have been questioned a century ago, but we live in a very materialistic society, and English professors and the like feel the need to justify their cushy tenured jobs.

They usually argue that great a artist tells us something about ourselves. Or that great literature serves a didactic purpose, informing our behavior in life. Or that when we read a great novel, we take part in the shared experiences of another, if far more eloquent, human being. One professor of mine argued that, even if we groan now, decades down the road we'll be glad we were forcefed Dante (this is probably the worst argument you can make to a student, even if it's accurate).

These all may be very good justifications, but I don't really buy them myself. I'm an engineering major--why should I care about this humanities horseshit that they make me learn? I'm going to be doing the real important things in life, designing SCREAMINGLY fast chips that dominate my competitors for several whole product cycles! If I successfully start my own company, I could make BILLIONS! And then I'll donate a few hundred million to my alma mater--on the explicit condition that it NOT go to the worthless as fuck humanities departments!

This was, a couple years ago, pretty much how I looked at things. These days, I think of it differently: Maybe the question to ask is not Why should literature (or art generally) exist? but rather What would the world be like if it didn't?

I'm not sure how best to argue the point, except to say that I think that my life would be far poorer if it weren't for literature and classical music. (Visual art and theater, by contrast, have never excited me nearly as much. But I know many others who feel exactly the opposite.) Many works of literature and music practically beg to be analyzed--and I've gotten more out of them for reading the criticism.

If you don't feel similarly, I'd suggest you try to discover art for yourself. Read some books of literary merit that sound interesting to you on your own time, rather than for classwork. Go to the symphony, or even the opera, and pick up a few Beethoven CDs and give them a listen. Go to the theater to see a play that sounds interesting and the art museum for a new exhibit. It might not be how you want to spend all your free time, but I think you're far more likely to enjoy "culture" if it's not rammed down your throat because a mediocre teacher deems it good for you.

Give literature a chance. After all, the western tradition has been around for a couple millennia--it's produced a few things of marginal interest.

(Incidentally, a wonderful novel on the topic of literary analysis is Possession by A. S. Byatt. The protagonists are literary critics, and the author invents convincing 19th century poetry and literary criticism of it. And there's an exploration of how academics spend their lives analyzing the works of long-dead masters, and the mindset that arises from that.)

[ Parent ]

present and unintended vs contrary to intent (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by ajf on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:37:55 AM EST

I think that Faulker said, with respect to A Rose For Emily , that he hadn't written it as a parable as the North against the South, but that didn't mean it's not in the story. We can't even ask authors long dead (e.g. Shakespeare) what they meant. If literary analysis were restricted to divining the true intentions of the author, it wouldn't be very interesting or enlightening. A writer can reflect the ideas of his time, or other writers who influenced him, without consciously intending to; studying Shakespeare through a modern lens will naturally put him in a different context than analyses from the 18th century. And some authors are so deliberately obscure (e.g. Joyce) that we could never find every hidden meaning they explicitly intended--and if the authors had tried, they would have missed more than a few themselves.

"fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be" - the O'Connor quote suggests to me not that the interpretations revealed something she hadn't explicitly considered when she wrote the story, as in the A Rose For Emily example, but that their conclusions were actually contrary to what she did intend.

And if I may pick nits (and this isn't necessarily in reply to the message I'm, err, replying to), the "no interpretation is incorrect" line falls down when the interpreter says "the author intended [...]" and the author says "no I didn't".

Unfortunately we don't have any links to the interpretations O'Connor is talking about, so this may be an utterly irrelevant point. I'm frustratingly good at making those.

Interpreting a piece of writing is mostly subjective, true, but asserting that an author had a certain intention is something which can in fact be right or wrong.

Yes, it's true that we can't ask dead authors whether it's right or not. That doesn't mean it can't be wrong, merely that we can't know whether or not it is correct.

Of course, my interpretation of her remarks could be entirely wrong, but I don't think I want to go there. :-)



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
Author is no authority (none / 0) (#49)
by driptray on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:46:04 PM EST

the "no interpretation is incorrect" line falls down when the interpreter says "the author intended [...]" and the author says "no I didn't".

This is true for the conscious intentions of the author, but it's the unconscious intentions that are more interesting.

I don't really care what Flannery O'Connor was consciously intending when she wrote a story. My understanding of the way people write is that the metaphors and imagery they use are largely unconscious, at least in better works. It's the consciously used metaphors that seem forced and uninspiring.

In short - the author has no more authority over the text than the reader, and no better standpoint for analysing its meaning.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
My interpretation: you are wrong. (4.50 / 10) (#14)
by elenchos on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:41:50 PM EST

"There can be no wrong interpretation!" If only it were so, wouldn't life be easy?

There might be more than one correct interpretation of a work or art, and there might be no reliable means of choosing the most correct interpretation. But there are definitely an infinite number of wrong interpretations. The Iliad might be a story about war, or justice, or truth. It might be a morality tale or an adventure tale. It is most definitely not a story about chimpanzees. There are no chimps in that book, and you can even say that it is not about democracy, or feminism, or technology. You could even prove to any halfway reasonable person that it is not about these things.

So maybe you disagree with what someone said about your favorite author, but you'll get nowhere with solipsism. Instead gather your evidence and build an argument that demonstrates that your opinion has more weight. It is not easy, and it is certainly not engineering, but it isn't random either.

Adequacy.org

No, I am not. (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by Crashnbur on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:36:10 PM EST

Interpretation is never wrong. Interpretation is based on previous conditions, knowledge, etc. Interpretation, while it may not be what the author intended, can never be wrong. Interpretation is a direct result of individuality. The farther you are from the norm, the farther from the norm your interpretation will be. Don't consider the fact that this means some interpretations will be extremely bizarre; this still does not make them wrong.

That's like saying my opinion that Microsoft has done nothing wrong is wrong. Sure, everyone in the world can be against me on such an argument, but when it all comes down to it, interpretation is nothing more than opinion. Right and wrong are nothing more than ideas that we use to judge ourselves, which is a paradox in itself: we cannot simply use ideas to decide right and wrong...

Okay, too many tangents, and I'll never relate this back to the original argument. Productive conversation, though. :)

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
What, indeed, is productive? (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by elenchos on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:16:00 AM EST

What use is it for us to uncritically accept just any old thing a person says about art? What purpose is served in listening to a person who somehow reads chimpanzees into The Iliad?

I suppose if I were trying to psychoanalyze the interpreter I would be interested in why they are seeing things that aren't there. But the question then would be "Why is this person so wrong about The Iliad?" not "What is a valid interpretation of The Iliad?"

If my goal were just to build up the self-esteem of somebody, I could give them lots of positive feedback about anything and everything they said about their favorite author, but wouldn't you feel patronized if your English teachers treated you like that? When someone told you that what you said was good, or that it was right, wouldn't you want it to mean something? It is entirely possible for literary analysis to stand on solid empirical ground. Words are not assigned values like numbers, but they do refer to a bounded space of possible meanings. Sentences built from those words also have a bounded space of meaning. There can be infinite shades and gradiations, but beyond a certain point, you are outside of the meaning of the sentence. A full work of art can be interpreted similarly, within boundaries that matter, and that can be defined to an arbitrary level of precision.

You can say, "The Iliad itself is not about democracy, but it does contain and make reference to issues related to democracy" (see The Iliad, 2.246). This statement helps to move closer to and to define the boundary between what the meaning of the book is, and what it is not. You simply cannot make the claim that "it really says a lot about what it means to be a chimp." It ain't there, just as there simply does not exist enough evidence to claim that democracy is the central issue of The Iliad, no matter how much you personally want to have it be about that.

You will find some latter-day Marxist theorists who will read dialectic theory into every damn thing they read, or some even more uneducated Libertarians (K5 is lousy with them) who can't look at anything without finding proof for their pet beliefs about individualism and liberty. Post-modernists of course have a field day with these competing ideas, and like you, want to declare them all equally valid.

I have no idea if your English teachers know what they are talking about with respect to their opinions about Flannery O'Connor, or if they are giving your work a fair reading. But if they are making judgements about quality, and assesing the truth-value of your assertions based on the validity of the evidence you provide, they are doing their jobs, at least in that respect. Even in art, the disciplined use of your critical faculties is the deciding factor in whether or not you are doing anything worth while, or just spewing out useless opinion and personal reactions.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

If any interpretation is valid, what's the point? (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by ajf on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:44:56 AM EST

For no particular reason, I'm going to throw in a (mis?)interpretation of a bit of classical economics, Ricardo's theory of rent. (If there's art in science, why not throw some economics into art? As long as nobody argues that economics is a science we'll all be OK.)

If no possible interpretations of a particular work can be wrong, are they all equally "right"? Or can some interpretations be "better" than others. I ask because if they're all equally valid, they're all equally worthless. Or are there some worthless interpretations, and others (not necessarily identical or consistent) which are worthy of merit?



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
This is precisely why I became a scientist. (4.53 / 13) (#18)
by iGrrrl on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:24:36 PM EST

When I started my undergraduate years, I intended to double major in English and Languages (one picked three additional). I intended to go on to law school and international corporate law. Very far from research science.

In English classes we had to do the typical papers -- interpretations of novels and short stories, analyses of poems, & etc.. Finding symbols and suchlike came very easily to me. I just made them up. Most of what I wrote for class was bullshit, but I enjoyed the game of figuring out what would get the grade from the professor.

Then, just once, I wrote something I actually believed. The thought wasn't original (and I cited the source), but I defended the proposition that T. S. Elliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was a piece of black comedy. The professor trashed the paper. My writing and other aspects of my style were not different; she simply did not agree with the premise.

At the same time I was taking introductory Biology courses. The college was small enough that there were no watered-down versions of the sciences for liberal arts majors to take in order to satisfy their science requirements. We were thrown in with the Biology majors, and expected to keep up. I kept up swimmingly. I did better there than in a certain English class. I also made a realization.

In science, you can't just make it up.

All the intellectual wrangling one enges in with literary criticism is there in science, and one relies on observation and intuition and deduction just as much as does any good literature professor. The difference is this: In science, one can do the experiment. This is even better than asking the author, because the results are objective. A writer may not be.

As has been appropriately noted, writers may be unaware of how they load their works. Also, examining a work in terms of the culture and time in which it was produced can bring new insights for a reader. On the other hand, to cite an egregious example, an analysis of Madonna's song Material Girl as a metaphor for toilet training (saving and spending pennies) is, in my unsoftened opinion, masturbatory horseshit.

Anything taken to extremes become ridiculous, but the fringe does not invalidate the middle ground. Statistical theory allows for throwing out outliers. I can engage that premise when I encounter certain post-modernist, over-feminist, or excessively Freudian literary interperetation.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

Making stuff up in science (none / 0) (#47)
by Erf on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:28:14 PM EST

Actually, it can be done. A friend of mine gave a talk last year on a group of subatomic physicists who claim they've discovered a new particle. Unfortunately, (a) their "evidence" looks like nothing more than a statistical hiccup, (b) nobody's been able to reproduce their results (even looking for them explicitly), and (c) given their description of their new particle it should have shown up decades ago.

As another example, I've heard a story that Johannes Kepler (I think) fudged his data to make it consistent with his theory of planetary orbits. (I believe the modern belief is that his theory was right and the data was wrong, but he still fudged his data...) That may just be a rumour, of course.

It is possible to make stuff up in science, though. But it's difficult, and rare, to do so. Which, I agree, is one of the great things about science. (On the other hand, it makes writing your thesis a lot harder... :-)

(Note: I said writing your thesis is harder if you can't make up your science. I'm not saying science is harder than arts. Please don't flame me.)

-Erf.
...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

I think that was the original point. (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by a clockwork llama on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:03:07 PM EST

You can't successfully make things up in science. If you try, your results will get trashed, sooner or later. Peer review is there to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

You can, of course, unsuccessfully make things up, hey it's a free country. Of course, at this point you'll have left the realm of science and to go stand in the corner with the perpetual motion machine vendors.



[ Parent ]
I don't follow your logic at all... (3.71 / 7) (#21)
by B'Trey on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:31:29 PM EST

You quote O'Connor as saying that a specific interpretation is "...is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be..." From that, you somehow draw the conclusion that "There can be no wrong interpretation!" Sorry but you're going to have to expound a bit on that train of thought.

Additionally, strange as it is to say it, an author is not necessarily an expert on their own work. Robert Frost, for one example, often denied the dark streak that is readily apparent in some of his works. I'll agree that some of the interpretations and analyses are a stretch at best. But symbolism is inherent in literature. A story (or poem) is a thing; it's a creation that stands apart from its author or its author's intentions. I have no idea what O'Connor's intentions were when she wrote "A Good Man is Hard to Find." I do know that the story says several profound things about human nature. If O'Connor denies that she put those observations in the story, fine. That doesn't take them out of the story.

What you bring with you (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by Tatarigami on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:14:15 PM EST

I think it's fair to say that what you experience in reading a piece of fiction is partly the author's vision and partly your own. Everyone gets something different out of reading the same piece of prose, because everyone brings something different to the process in the form of their own past experiences, personality and opinions.

So in a sense, if you interpret a story, what you are interpreting is a version of the story filtered through your own perception.

The creative work I think comes closest to representing all things to all people is the movie Bladerunner. To some fans, it's an action flick. To others, it's a sci-fi detective movie. Others see it as a morality tale. Everyone seems to have their own interpretation.

[ Parent ]
Actually, you're wrong. (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by Crashnbur on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:31:03 PM EST

No, I did not draw my conclusion that "there can be no wrong interpretation" from O'Connor saying that a specific interpretation is "...is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be..."

I also included the following words by O'Connor in the same quote, long before I drew my conclusion: "Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it."

Why don't you go back and read it again? Saying that I drew my conclusion only from the first half of the quotation is the same as saying that you also drew your conclusion only from that first half. Did you not bother to read the rest? Tisk, tisk.

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry.... (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:28:40 AM EST

I guess I'm just a little slow. Let's look at what we have here:

"[The professor's interpretation is] ...about as far from my intentions as it could get to be..."

"Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it."

So, some interpretations are very far from the author's intent. It's possible to over-interpret a story. Theory (and interpretation) will not supply feeling if the reader has no feeling for the story in the first place. I still don't see where in the heck you're getting that there can be no wrong interpretation. Everything O'Connor says seems to flat out contradict that notion. So how's about you explain it for us poor, simply-minded folk who can't follow your logic?

[ Parent ]

Exactally! (3.80 / 10) (#26)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:51:33 PM EST

I hated having to interpret stories, and listen to how the teacher interpreted it. It always sounded so fake. There usually is a message in a story, yes, but it seems that at least 75% of what the teacher talks about is made up.

For instance, I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school. My english teacher constatly brought up this scene where Gatsby reaches out to a green light on Daisy's dock. She kept saying that it symbolized Daisy, jealousy, etc. She couldn't even acknowlege that maybe Gatsby is reaching tward the light because he is in love with Daisy, and it marks were Daisy is. No symbolism necessary.

All but one of my english teachers would ask questions like, "Think fast, what does XXX in story YYY symbolize, there is only one answer," I hated every minute of it.

Gatsby (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by grifter17 on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:45:12 PM EST

Check out this interpetation of Gatsby - Was Gatsby black? After reading The Great Gatsby with this in mind I've come to share the interpetation of "Gatsby as a pale black individual passing as white". It serves as a good counterexample to the fake sounding interpetations that sometimes come up in English courses.

[ Parent ]
truisms... (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by chuqui on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:25:45 AM EST

Those who can, do. those who can't, teach.

I've been blessed with many good teachers in my life, and a number of real boneheads. Unfortunately, I also think it's true the lower in the food chain you go, the less likely you'll find one with a clue.

I suppose it should go without saying that you shouldn't take a writing class some someone who's not a published writer But we do.

there are a lot of teachers out there who's analysis of works says a lot more about the teacher than the work.

If there's a basic truism, it's that a work means exactly what it says to you -- and to every person it says something different. Teachers can help you to a deeper understanding and new meanings, but they can't force-feed it on you. They can, however, distort it -- or convince you that all you really want nothing to do with it again. And fi they do, that's a pity.

I went through high school and college hating history. Loathing it. Wisdom teeth, root canal. that much fun. which is amusing, since today, a good part of my leisure reading is historical non-fiction, especially military history. I just wish I'd found a history teacher who had been able to open up history when I was young the way I was blessed with good english teachers -- because history rocks. but the way most history is TAUGHT sucks.


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Biased Educators (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by jabber on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:30:00 AM EST

MY English teacher told me that The Great Gatsby is really about the Life and Times of Jesus Christ. All the symbolism is there, can't you see it? The predominant colors are those of Royalty, a primary theme is the rise of a nobody to power. And the coup de grace is that Gatsby is a bootlegger - he made his fame and fortune by turning water into wine. It's so obvious!

The thing about great literature is that it CAN be interpreted in many ways. It adds value to the experience of reading a good book, when you can impose some personal meaning onto the plot, to make it a more intimate experience. Great literature can be enjoyed on many levels, just like great cinema. The imagery is good, the characters are well developed, the plot is intricate and complex and the themes open up the work to personal meaning. These are good things.

Conversely, stock literature leaves little room for interpretation. It's simply a story, and beyond the plot, it means nothing. Romance novels, pulp fiction and soap operas can't be interpreted, even though they may employ some deeper theme or allusion to other works.

The problem isn't with the multiple interpretations of great literature. It's in being instructed that there is a single correct hidden interpretation. This is something that small-minded teachers do in all fields of study - especially in the 'soft' ones. They have a flash of brilliance where they conjure up some novel interpretation (no pun int), and they latch on to this moment of grace with no consideration of other people's thoughts. They are the teacher after all, so they know better.

English teachers do this aplenty, the "Gospel according to Gatsby" being one example. Philosophy professors seem to do this consistently. They have a favorite interpretation of Plato, and should your interpretation differ from theirs, you obviously didn't put enough effort into your readings. (The greatest lesson Aristotle taught me was that it is alright to question your teacher, even if you do arrive at similar conclusions - you do so by yourself). History teachers bring personal bias into the classroom as well. I've studied U.S. History with different teachers - according to one, the Civil War was fought over Civil Rights, according to another, it was fought over State's Rights, according to a third, it was about economics. It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

I've even had biased teachers in physics and math, if you can believe that! My first Calc professor denied the contribution of Liebnitz to the field of Calculus - claiming that it was all an invention of Newton. The names of Riemann, l'Hospital and even Taylor seemed very inconvenient to him - he was the head of the department and the author of the textbook for Calc I - Calc IV... Conversely, I had a physics professor who took a whole week of lectures to drive home the existence of Tesla.

Point being, teachers are only human. Some are enlightened and some are closed minded. Teachers (IME) tend to be very egotistical. They are 'teachers' after all, how can they possibly be wrong?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Interpretation of art (4.00 / 4) (#40)
by Beorn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:15:09 AM EST

My uneducated opinion is that the mind is large and complex, like a multi-dimensional puzzle. Creativity is the process of focusing some of this chaos through a medium, and is partly subconscious. Works of art are pieces which may or may not fit in your particular puzzle. When they do fit, an enjoyable reaction follows.

Interpretation of art is the science of analyzing these pieces, and analyzing the human mind based on ones reaction when puzzle and piece meets. All humans have parts of their puzzle in common, and pieces that fit here are what would be called immortal works of art. The basic love story affects almost everyone, (usually in a positive way), which says a lot about human psychology.

The problem with interpretation is separating universal archetypes from your own peculiarities. If I am the only one who sees the story of the Garden of Eden as a parable for puberty, then this says more about me than about you. This doesn't mean the interpretation is invalid, it's just valid for fewer people.

On the other hand, interpretation shouldn't be democratic. Understanding oneself is very difficult, so the popular interpretation of a work of art may be inaccurate. If somebody claims Titanic is "just a story, it doesn't mean anything" -- but has seen it five times, then that is not a good interpretation.

I haven't read O'Connor, but she is propably not the right person to analyze her own work. If a work is popular, then it has a deeper meaning, no matter what the author thinks. The problem is not over-analysis, but over-generalization.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Whose interpretation counts? (4.66 / 3) (#46)
by clarioke on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:37:14 PM EST

Yours.

I love O'Connor's comment; I will send it to a particular individual who insists on asking me what every line of my poetry represents.

I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world who often writes poetry simply because some words sound good with other words and then the whole line reminds you of another word and... look! The poem is written.

So much of what is written is simply a matter of what a particular situation makes a connection in one's brain and is recorded. Sometimes these connections mean something. Sometimes they don't.

I had one English professor who concentrated on phrases that "work." In essence, looking at what particular parts of the poem sound good in relation to what they mean. Simply enjoying the way the poet wrote.

As for people who ask me, "What does line 12 of this poem mean?" I respond, "What do you think? Isn't that more important, anyway?" Writers write for the people, for the world, for anyone who cares to listen. Writers often try to make someone else think, to show a new perspective. So, think, dammit and stop wondering "what the author meant." :)

peace,
.c.

When Interpretation Goes Too Far | 47 comments (41 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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