Against Interpretation

Susan Sontag, 1966

Sontag discusses the split between form and content in art and the interrogation of content in order to produce new realities that destroys the true magical nature of art. She advocates for “formal” analysis, citing a handful of writers who have accomplished it, along with impressionistic, affective expressions inspired by the artistic object as the only two admissible modes of writing on art. A compelling case written well that offers great food for thought in light of non-representational art, she castigates Freud and Marx for displaying a recalcitrant search for meaning that literally denies immediate reality – always positing that x does not mean x but rather y (i.e. Freudian slips, the interpretation of dreams, false consciousness). The esteem she awards to sensory, subjective, phenomenal experience has many parallels with Deleuze in “The Logic of Sense”, and her critique of the Platonic and Aristotelian aesthetic understandings runs along similar lines. Thoroughly worth reading.

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