Don’t Be Cruel: Lesson One _____ Maggie Boyd

Excerpt From: Criticism as Blunt Force Trauma _____ Steffanie Ling

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I plug into a Google search bar: “after interpretation” because I want to ask the Internet what kind of criticism is theorized after Against Interpretation(1966). “After Interpretation” seems like a reasonable set of keywords. Will my findings reinforce Sontag by further bemoaning the dulling of our sensory faculties? Or will they present a renewed outlook on the role of the critic as anti-interpreter? The first result is a scholarly article entitled The Swerve Around P: Literary Theory after Interpretation by Jeffrey T. Nealon, a professor of English and Philosophy at Penn State University. This text is hosted on Project Muse. Though everything about this initial result screams promising, I opt to scroll further down and see what the breadth of relevant results might be.

Nothing jumps out at me until five results down: The Meaning of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Fate in the Dark Knight. This text is hosted on Forbes.com: Information for the World’s Business Leaders.[i] I am curious. What forms of criticism manifest in mainstream culture about mainstream films? In Sontag’s essay, she cites film as the medium most resistant to the dubious forces of interpretation.[ii] I feel that this article might amuse me or enhance my research with a colloquial edge. Upon following this link, I encounter Mark. [photo above] This Forbes contributor, Mark Hughes, is a screenwriter who writes “about films, especially superhero films, & Hollywood.” I find the informal simplicity of his bio refreshing. Now with more curiosity than my initial Google search, I wonder if I am embarking on a productive trip away from the house of intellect. My optimism betrays me. Upon encountering Hughes, I confront what Sontag warned of if interpretation successfully possesses, and eventually usurps, its subject with the meanings, content and voices which are fixed upon them.

 


[i]  Huges, Mark “The Meaning Of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Fate In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ – SPOILERS, UPDATED” Forbes Magazine. 26 July 2012. Accessed 3 Febuary 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2012/07/26/the-meaning-of-joseph-gordon-levitts-fate-in-the-dark-knight-rises-spoilers/>.

[ii] Cinema was a relatively new medium at the time Sontag was writing. Sontag, Susan. “Against Interpretation.” Against Interpretation: And Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1966. p.11

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