On Thu, 24 Feb 1994, Gloria Monti (GD 1995) wrote:
> What are we interpreting then, if not the author's intention? The
> *text.* I guess the difference lies in the fact that the second
> interpretation opens up a multiple array of meanings, all equally valid.
> The first imposes one meaning--the author's on the text you are looking
> at. I always tell my students that if they see it, it's there. I think
> the text becomes more interesting this way, it becomes all the texts that
> all the different readers make it.
> My question to you is, should I, because he [the author] says so?
> Does my reading cease to exist because it does not conform to that of
> the author? What I told me students, who were there with me, instead
> was, who cares what the author thinks? I care what we--as readers think.
> How's the Iowa sky?
> Gloria Monti
The Iowa sky is vast and clear; the GROUND, however, is covered in a foot
high blanket of snow.
in regards to your post: i never wanted to imply any sort of Romantic
STATUS to the author nor give him/her a privileged position in
interpretation. i am merely suggesting that ANY strategy of
interpretation of a text MUST assume an agency that originally bestowed a
signified onto the signifier in order for there to be a text at all.
ignoring the concept of an original authorial intent places ontology
somehow INTO the text itself and implies that signifiers have some
essential meaning in themselves. intent does not DETERMINE
interpretation, but it does determine meaning, which is what
interpretation is supposed to discover.
the various "readings" produced out of interpretations of the text are
texts themselves, each with its own intended meaning ("i intend to get at
the meaning of a film..."). this does not imply that there's ANY way
(even by appealing to the author/intentional agent) to ever OBJECTIVELY
know the meaning of a text--but, inversely, there's no way to objectively
prove that one has NOT hit upon the meaning. all a critic can do is
believe he/she has interpreted the meaning; and if that's indeed all,
then for all intents and purposes (sic) that belief IS Truth.
i guess if you see it, then it IS there. one always must assume, however,
that someone put IT there in the first place.