Susan Sontag · 312 pages
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“Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.
Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.' It is to turn the world into this world. ('This world'! As if there were any other.)
The world, our world, is depleted, impoverished enough. Away with all duplicates of it, until we again experience more immediately what we have. ”
“The ideal or the dream would be to arrive at a language that heals as much as it separates.”
“It was from a weekly visit to the cinema that you learned (or tried to learn) how to strut, to smoke, to kiss, to fight, to grieve. Movies gave you tips about how to be attractive (...). But whatever you took home from the movies was only part of the larger experience of losing yourself in faces, in lives that were not yours - which is the more inclusive form of desire embodied in the movie experience. The strongest experience was simply to surrender to, to be transported by, what was on the screen”
“The best criticism, and it is uncommon, is of this sort that dissolves considerations of content into those of form.”
“نویسندگان بزرگ یا شوهرند یا معشوق. برخی نویسندگان فضایل استوار یک شوهر را به ما عرضه میکنند: قابل اتکا، فهیم، سخی، برازنده. در سوی دیگر نویسندگانی قرار دارند که در آنها قابلیتهای یک معشوق را ستایش میکنیم، قابلیتهایی که از طبیعت و مزاج برمیآیند تا فضیلت اخلاقی. زنها به شکلی عجیب ویژگیهایی چون بیثباتی، خودخواهی، غیرقابلاتکا بودن، و خشونت را که در مورد شوهر هرگز با آنها کنار نمیآیند در معشوق خود میپذیرند، به شرط آنکه در عوض نوعی هیجان و فوران احساسی شدید را تجربه کنند. به همین سیاق، خوانندگان نیز با فهمناپذیری، وسواسی بودن، حقایق دردناک، دروغ، یا دستور زبان بد کنار میآیند-اگر در عوض نویسنده امکان چشیدن عواطفی کمیاب و احساساتی خطرناک را در اختیارشان قرار دهد. و همانطور که در زندگی وجود شوهر و معشوق هر دو ضروری است، در هنر نیز چنین است. باعث تاسف است که ناگزیر باشیم میان آنها دست به انتخاب بزنیم
“The culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilisation are ant-liberal and ant-bourgeois . . .”
“Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness—that of the seemliness of religious symbols—had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.”
“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. OSCAR WILDE, in a letter”
“We live in a time in which tragedy is not an art form but a form of history.”
“For the modern consciousness, the artist (replacing the saint) is the exemplary sufferer.”
“Interpretation must itself be
evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts,
interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping
the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly,
“Jerking off the universe is perhaps what all philosophy, all abstract thought is about: an intense, and not very sociable pleasure, which has to be repeated again and again.”
“In good films, there is always a directness that entirely frees us from the itch to interpret.”
“None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art.”
“In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.”
“In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.”
“Interpretation, based on the highly dubious theory that a work of art is composed of items of content, violates art.”
“To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world—in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.”
“Today the combat takes a different shape; instead of wishing to put man in a prison, woman endeavors to escape from one; she no longer seeks to drag him into the realms of immanence but to emerge, herself, into the light of transcendence. Now the attitude of the males creates a new conflict: it is with a bad grace that the man lets her go.”
“Then give your auntie a kiss.” What else could I do? I put a light kiss upon those lips, and she slipped her arm through mine, patting my hand as if we were the best of friends. “Come, Meredith, let us go slay our enemies.” I”
“My least favorite thing was a man who had severe white-man's ass, where the jeans just bagged over the butt. I wanted something to hold on to, something to sink my teeth into. When I said I liked meat on my men I didn't just mean one thing.”
“Not the kind of unconsciousness that torments the dead, but the kind that kills the living.”
“In her, ignorance and stupidity formed a perfect shield against the world: this, I suppose, is innocence. It”
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