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IF IT'S NOT WHAT THE ARTIST INTENDED THEN IT IS AN INVALID VIEW AND IT'S WRONG AND MEANINGLESS
He does History.
They are the stongest advocates of the opposite opinon.
*maybe not all of them.
And I definately don't agree. The fact people interpret pieces differently, and the inciting of debate, is part of the splendour of the industry.
to some extent I do actually agree
Consider the diagram below:
Shakespeare -> Hamlet -> the audience(s)
When we see/read/study Shakespeare what part of the diagram are we interested in? Your buddy would say 'Shakespeare -> Hamlet' so what Shakespeare thought about say Hamlet's madness would be the 'right answer' and all the literary issues could be solved simply by resurrecting the man.
I say BALLHAIR. Absolute Ballhair. The interesting part of the diagram is 'Hamlet -> the audience'. Once the play, novel, work of art, song whatever is released it becomes interpreted in millions of different ways and as long as you can justify and back up your view, then your view is valid. Otherwise there would be no literary or artistic criticism because, let's face it, we're never going to know what Shakespeare REALLY thought about Hamlet's madness and neither should we care.
I mean if an artist really did mean something very specific than that specific meaning would be what the artist intended.
I mean if you take a song like "Tears in Heaven" for example where it is clearly written about Eric Clapton's dead kid then it'd be silly to come up with any other interpretation of the lyrics.
That said obviously its not usually that clear cut.
obviously people are going to draw different meanings from songs they listen to – whether or not they know the 'intended meaning' of the artist isn't necessarily that relevant.
like when i listen to music i do of course know that the songs weren't *actually* written about my expreiences, people i know, places i've been, and well, me. but i still take them to be valid statements for the world that i know and my life. if this is some of the reason why i appreciate that music then surely that's as valid as anything else?
consider this very dis example: people make mixtapes, compilations of other people's songs, to express how they feel about each other. if i give a mixtape to say, Jim because i'm madly in love with him, i will be aware that the songs aren't written about me or Jim and that they might in fact be carrying completely different meanings for other people who don't have the shared expreiences of Jim and myself, but that doesn't make it any less true for me/us, does it?
i don't think paul really understands what people mean by "meaning" in a song
Obviously if you wanted to give this lucky Jim fellow the mixtape and hope that he'd relate the songs to the two of you that'd be fine. And similarly of course you can relate songs to your own experience then that's all well and good.
If however you were going to write an academic essay about Tears in Heaven and try to make the argument that it can be read as a statement on the political statement in Colombia that'd be a bit silly as you're clearly just ignoring the fact the writer had already said he was writing about something else.
I suppose the distinction is whether you were talking personally about what a piece of art meant to you or trying to speculate on what the artist intended. Obviously if you talk about what it means to you nothing you say can possibly be wrong but if an artist has already said he intends one thing it'd be silly to argue he means another.
especially as academics like to pick things apart and out of context anyway. i don't believe for a second that tobe hooper meant to make some kind of feminist statement by making the texas chainsaw massacre, yet that's what i'm arguing, because that is one possible reading of the film. this is not speculating in what the artist intended, it's simply saying that it is possible to interpret it this way.
So that's fine.
what are you actually arguing here?
I've absolutely no idea what I'm arguing.
then i apologise for stressing the point too much. get well soon x
1) "I mean if an artist really did mean something very specific than that specific meaning would be what the artist intended." is entirely redundant. but i guess that was maybe on purpose?
if i listen to tears in heaven and it makes me feeling, i dunno, some yearning for the passing of winston churchill, the fact that it is "about" eric clapton's kid is entirely irrelevent. if it makes me feel uneasy and i feel like the narrative voice is glad that the object of the song is dead, then that's how i feel, whether i know that its about his dead son or not.
It depends if you're talking about personal interpretations (in which case any interpretation is acceptable) or speculating on what an artist intended (in which case there may be a right answer).
that an artist's intention is completely irrelevent to anything other than a biographical, historical account of the artist
but it's still the artist's intention. I'd maybe agree its not relevant to how I'd understand a piece of art but, if you were to speculate on what an artist intended (as acedemic theorists often do) it'd still be inaccurate to speculate they intended something if the intention is already established as something else.
i'd be interested to see any criticism from the last 50 years that seriously tries to delve into this.
but yeah, what your saying about an authors intention being the authors intention is a) too obvious to say and b) irrelevent to what this thread is about or what anyone else is saying
which might be true, but i'm glad you guys agree with me. (this debate started after he read my feminist essay about the texas chainsaw massacre, but we've had similar debated several times in the past, and i always find it so hard to find something to say because i take these things for granted)
When people write songs or do art or whatever and then they say "after I'd finished it I realised what I was meaning to say was x, y, or z".
No you fucking weren't. Fair enough if you've placed a new interpretation on it later and found a way to make sense of you've created a bit differently to how you were thinking before. But the fact you've found a new interpretation of it later just means you've fond a new interpretation of it later. It does not make it what you "intended" all along.
or just that only conscious intentions mean anything?
If they subconsciously intend something their guess is no better than anyone else's what they intended.
That's the intentional fallacy. I know that and I only did English up to AS level.
It's completely logically wrong. I don't understand how anyone can think that. :/
when reading songmeanings.net especially
i think the issue with songmeanings posters is that they (well the bad ones at least) interpret a song and then think that they're so right that everyone else has to be wrong, making their view even worse than the view that the author is the source of meaning
in more than one way.
Second, the best conversations usually arise as a result of these different viewpoints.
Third, if you do create something and people interpret it to mean something else, then be thankful anyone gives a shit at all.
"First, it takes a hell of a lot of effort to create anything which can be interpreted
in more than one way."
do you just mean that creating any art is hard work? cos it really isn't.
otherwise: do you think that there is art out there that can only be in only one way? that only makes all people feel one emotion?
But have you ever sat down and tried to write a good song? Paint a good picture? It's really not easy.
a song doesnt need to be good to be listened to and interpreted
im in an improv band. we've made some stuff that i'm pretty pleased with, and our pieces take as long to write and record as they do to listen to. theres some very talented musicians in the group and obviously for those ten minutes we're concentrating pretty hard, but i wouldn't call it hard work.
3) probably the catchiest, most liked song i've ever written (that's not saying much at all obviously) probably took about 4 hours to write. 4 hours spread over a good few months, but still 4 hours.
sounds a little strange mind, I mean how is he so sure he is second guessing the artist and knows them so well that what he thinks is the artists meaning is spot on and the way it is? Some art is going to be pretty obviouse in its intended meaning but a hell of alot is far to abstract to get just one meaning from. Does he look at some art then go and read a million books and stuff about it before he can enjoy it or something...
Does he only listen to a piece of music, watch a film or look at a painting if it comes accompanied with a fact sheet, directors commentary or an interview with the artist?
the sleeve unfolds to the size of my wall explaining the exact meaning of every song
How does he judge art then?
Does he think that something is inherently better if the artist has achieved their intention(s)?
he wouldn't use those words but it's clear to me that he can't stand modernism, postmodernism, poststructuralism, or anything that isn't as straightforward as basic realism
what can i say, he went to military school. and he listens to the chilli peppers.
you cannot entirely dismiss the intent of the artist, or rather the fear of things being interpretted entirely differently. i did a lecture on appropriation earlier this year and the potential fear of the audience applying something on the work and transforming in that way the 'opinion' of the artist. Like, take Nietzsche for instance (even though it's philosophy rather than art but still), his following going from left-wing in the late 1800s to being read as a supposed excuse for German military action shows an extreme range of interpretation that, while arguably the various readings by the audience are not 'wrong', you can't really say that Nietzsche was calling for Nazism.
Or take, oh i don't know, 'Born In The USA' by Bruce Springsteen. Its use by the Reagan administration despite being a protest against the horrors of the Vietnam war, reading the blind patriotism of the song at face value, does go against the meaning and intention of the song. So what the artist 'means' by what they do shouldn't be ignored.
i think the main argument should be whether the audience that is reacting has actually bothered to engage with any meaning at all. If an artist like, say, Marcus Harvey does his portrait of Myra Hindley out of children's hand prints and the tabloid reaction is to say "omg what a sick thing to do!" it's usually evident they've not engaged with it and not seen the hypocrisy with which they think 'iconifying' someone so evil is wrong. But if a viewer has viewed it, engaged with it and still feels that it is furthering the celebration of a serial killer rather than questioning and criticising it then it could suggest that Harvey just hasn't been good enough at making his opinion on the subject transparent enough. The problem with your friend's opinion is ultimately that it implies an artist is always going to be effective at expressing his/herself, which won't always be the case.
about jerusalem, the song that is. i recommend it.
i don't see how what you wrote before this really says this.
It is specifically aimed at debunking that argument.
i'm considering doing an MA so i'm interested
That's all I have to say, thanks.
History is wasted on him
A lot of people probably find it a lot easier to engage with works where the artist's/sculptor's/musician's intention is really obvious (say, poetry written to describe the horrors of war or something) because they feel it offers a more complete reading experience. This isn't an elitist thing, it's just that a lot of people tend to prefer things when they feel they can fully understand the thought processes behind the poem. You know out of what emotion the poem stemmed and you know what prompted the poet to write and you know what the poet is trying to tell you. You can empathise with the poet and feel confident in understanding the poem's message.
Not every piece of writing was created in this spirit though - lots of things are intentionsally oblique and skewed and so trying to apply this thought process of "Siegfried Sassoon had an obvious central message in his work and ergo that goes for everything ever written" to Every Work Ever completely fails.
I don't think it's really a case of intentional fallacy and the death of the author and literary criticism and blablabla. It's a case of whether or not you prefer stuff that challenges you and leaves you questioning, or whether you prefer loose ends to be tied up and for art to leave you feeling satisfied.
It's not as though one is more valid than the other, or that preferring challenging stuff shows you're a well massive boffin and that feeling frustrated by things like that means you're stupid. Some people prefer not to feel frustrated.
(but wouldn't ever compromise my immediate reaction to something because I later read it wasn't about x, but was in fact about y)
And I think someone's state of mind when creating something/the circumstances behind it can be hugely revealing. I think they should be seen as a (valuable) source, because I don't think you can divide a creator from their creation that easily. I don't think it's so clear-cut, or black and white.
i'm not saying that we should completely and in every case dismiss the artist/creator's meaning behind the artwork/whatever it is they've created, and i agree that it can be interesting to find out more about it. i just like to think that that's not all there's to it.
(nah, not really)
that's what it is, innit.
Whether anyone ever works out what it is or not is another matter.
I don't mind how people see my work, I just hope it's slightly suggests what I'm trying to convey. Not to say I'm that much of an artist anyways :/
it was a bizarre discussion. i felt like i was making all the right points, and he said he could see where i was coming from, he just disagrees and thinks my point of view is silly and wanky.
but it's not right that they dismiss the artists intention either. (if the artists intention is known)
that doesn't mean to say that the two different interpretations cant run parallel to each other while being aware of the other.
cause they can.
any interpretation is valid so long as they can back it up.
you don't need to dismiss the artist's intentions in order to appreciate that the piece of art (or whatever it is) can be open to different readings.
Except for whatever Pigfoot said.