Monday, August 30, 2010

Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag

Summary: Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag; 1964

Against Interpretation specifically talks about the history of interpretation and how it is problematic within the arts. Susan Sontag starts by defining interpretation as literally translating one thing to another. She compares interpretation to pollution, and states, “interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.” Sontag argues that interpreting the content of art falsely separates form from content and tames art into something more manageable and understandable. She continues to write about painting, poetry, literature, and film, and how each has been affected by and combated against interpretation throughout the separate histories. Sontag finishes by stating that commentary on art should be less about it’s meaning and more about what it is.

Discussion questions: Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag; 1964

Is Susan Sontag suggesting that art should be without meaning, or that the meaning should not be interpreted and made public by a critic?
Why do we talk about art in school like this essay does not exist?
Why is content valued over form?

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