8/17/2014 – American essayist Susan Sontag once wrote that, “The urge to interpret is the compliment mediocrity pays to genius.” Are these are fighting words?
She adds that, “We approach works of art in order to interpret them. Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world-in order to set up a shadow world of meanings….Interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone.”
Of course, this falls in the face of all the analysis of subtexts and symbols I struggled through as an English major. Should we simply experience a work of art or literature as it is? Does interpretation result in distancing oneself from the work itself, as if the work had been disinfected and sliced and now lay dead on a slide under the microscope?