About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On over- interpretation

I'm not sure why a bit of traffic has been coming in for this post from last year - but anyway, I had a look and corrected a typo. It raises issues about "correct" interpretation of, in this case, a cinematic work. The question of whether there are objectively binding interpretations of such things parallels such questions as whether, or when, evaluations are objectively binding. Probably something I'll return to.


James Sweet said...

I don't have much to say about overinterpretation, except what I am about to say: I don't think the artist gets to decide what their works means. They don't even really get to decide what it's intended to mean, except to the extent that they can enumerate what their conscious intentions are.

I already sort of thought this, but the message was driven home for me when my wife pointed out some really quite clever (if I say so myself) symbolism in some of the songs I've written for my band, which I was not conscious of whatsoever. From an objective standpoint, I didn't feel I could make an argument even the slightest bit convincing that the songwriter had not intended those other meanings -- except for the fact that I hadn't.

No reason to diminish your appreciation of a piece of work just because the artist was too thick to properly interpret his own work! ;)

Ray said...

Woah. I originally read that as a question of whether the correction of typos was objectively binding, but now I find myself questioning whether you intended to follow that tangent. Literary interpretation indeed.