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Points on Criticism

Points on Criticism

  1. The author's intention is not of primary or even specific interest, whether it's a producer, a director, a writer and so on. I care less about what they think they are doing than what I think they are doing. Mostly, actually, I attempt to forget altogether that there is such a thing as an author (refers also to directors, screenwriters etc.) and treat the text as if its origins are unknowable. For me the phrase 'the author is dead' is only a disclaimer of methodology instead of anything coming near to an actual truth statement. I do appreciate the post-structuralist ideas behind the declaration, but it does not serve as a prescriptive method but rather as a descriptive notion. This is simply how I do this thing and you can choose to proceed otherwise. It's the road “less traveled by”, picked simply since I could not take both the roads.

  2. Relating to the last remark, and partly emerging from the overall point, there are no correct interpretations of the text. Interpretations may be sound or unsound according to their structure and they may be weak or strong according to the facts that they refer to. According to their soundness and strength, but not these alone, they may be appealing or unappealing to subjective evaluation. And regardless of any of the mentioned qualities, they may correspond or conflict with your interpretations (every viewer creates interpretations albeit they rarely transport them into language).

  3. My reference to the film in its entirety as a text is analogous. I do not attempt to argue for an ultimately linguistic analysis of cinema, but rather invoke the discursive connectedness of the object that is here constructed as somewhat bigger than the actual runtime. It encompasses some information about the process, about the context and so on, with no clear borders per se. A text, like textile, is woven of various strings and gains its meanings in connection to other texts. There are often a number of related media clips and flashes of images that cannot be disregarded in interpreting the film. When the film is an adaptation, the original novel and previous work on the material often affect how the audience receives the narrative. Genres are also texts ('meta-texts' if you will) and they are a crucial part of understanding what goes on on the screen. Ignoring these and treating the film in complete isolation, however enticing that may be, is likely to produce interpretations that are less relevant, less engaging, less appealing.

  4. Criticism, here referring to the classical denotation of a dissective analysis rather than the presently common meaning of negative remarks, may have many functions. The variety of possible functions is all the more blooming when there is no authoritative 'truth' to pursue. Texts can reveal surprising things about the audience and the context itself and often it is the more analytic interpreter that can sniff out these intriguing tracks for a multitude of readers to examine. Often critics can point out trends and offer explanations on why we find certain narratives and tropes so appealing, which can in turn be used to explain cultural phenomena or for you to find more stuff that you like. Sometimes criticism is just fun for no apparent reason.

  5. In art, subjectivity is a phenomenon to celebrate. In analysing texts, I do not attempt to bring my subjective experience into objectivity but rather to explain it. I do occasionally refer to audiences and their reception in the same way I refer to filmmakers and their motivations because these are interesting things to consider. These speculations do not lead to objective conclusions. Rather, they serve to reinforce the point that the criticism at hand is subjective and limited and to remind us all of a reality that is important to forget while watching a film and remember afterwards: the film was not made for you alone; it was made to make money by exploiting dreams and desires of large groups. Your potential enjoyment is only a by-product.

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