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Against interpretation susan sontag essay


  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag (1966).
  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays.
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By reducing the work of art to Its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comfortable sic. A work of art encountered as a work of art is an experience, not a statement or an answer to a question.

Art is not only about something; It Is something. A work of art is a thing in the world, not just a text or commentary on the world. There is nothing new here. No intelligent person asks "What does it mean?

This Week’s Special: Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” – The Electric Agora

Meaning provides a serious critic with the motivation for analysis. When he sees a movie or reads a book it moves him, it gives him an idea--it means something to him, emotionally or intellectually. The real problem is "Why and how does it mean what is does? Meaning is whatever makes a book worth reading; Miss Sontag, true to form, finds few books worth her time. There are twenty-six essays in Against Interpretation, and only three of them are about something Miss Sontag liked.

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Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Recently finished this collection of essays by Susan Sontag published in My description is far from exhaustive but I believe that it is accurate and illuminating. The image would not be evoked, or properly spoken of, by a more extensively physical account….

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It is necessary to reflect on what the gestures mean and where they come from. Films like this are made on the premise that audiences can see the implications of the acts, words and silences of movie characters.

Against interpretation, and other essays

We must be alert to both the wish and the hostility if we are not to be baffled by the twenty seconds without interaction that the film holds before the image dissolves. No neat disjunction can be drawn between the meanings that Leonora offers to Smith Ohlrig, that Barbara Bel Geddes offers to the camera and that the film offers to its audience. An appreciation of this sequence should encompass all three.

The front door is locked so he breaks in through the basement window. Once there he looks into a shed and finds a pod in the image of Betty. He leaves the basement and quietly makes his way through the kitchen, up to the second floor where Betty and her alien-possessed father sleep.


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Unable to wake Betty from her slumber, he picks her up and carries her out to safety. In this particular shot from this scene Miles is in the kitchen area about to walk up the stairs to the second floor. Miles is tentatively walking up the narrow staircase. The center focus of this shot is Miles on the staircase, but also prominent is a picture of a plant on the wall on the left edge of the frame, and a large grandfather clock on the right edge of the frame.

What are we to make of these two objects so strategically placed on the extreme edges of the frame?

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Hence the painting on the house wall can be seen not only as a simple visual reference to the alien pods, but a comment on how the alien invasion has infiltrated into the very home of America. The clock, which symbolizes time and sleep, becomes relevant because the alien takeover occurs during sleep time.

To underscore the importance of clocks and sleep time, the first time we see a pod come to life, the pod-body-in-waiting is lying in profile on a billiard table in the extreme foreground, with a cuckoo clock visible in the upper right background of the frame. In the left background asleep against the basement bar is the human body about to be replicated Jack, played by King Donovan , and his wife Theodora Carolyn Jones. Hence two important narrative elements in the alien takeover are represented in the painting plants and the clock sleep, time.

However, it does demonstrate that Siegel and his crew paid great attention to every aspect of the film, and added story nuance in every possible detail. Perkins expresses this Sontagian spirit in the following passage which is extracted from the same piece as above:.