Infinite Doorways

Reading, viewing and listening involve constant focus-changing, as we sometimes swoop in on a stray particular and sometimes pull back to pan the whole.

Some readings or viewings approach a work head-on, while others sidle shyly up to it. Some cling to its gradual unfolding as a process in time, while others aim for a snapshot or spatial fix. Some slice it sideways, while others peer up at it from ground level.

None of these approaches is correct. There is no correctness or incorrectness about it.

At their most useful, critical concepts are what allow us access to works of art, not what block them off from us. They are ways of getting a handle on them.

A critical concept [...] is a way of trying to do things with [the work of art], some of which work and some of which do not. At its best, it picks out certain features of the work so that we can situate it within a significant context [...] different concepts will disclose different features.

Theorists are pluralists in this respect: there could be no set of concepts which opened up the work for us in its entirety.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory, p.93-5

Image: Momus' 'Unreliable Tour Guide'. See here.

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
The Creation of Meaning
Fiction from Fiction
Entertaining Ideas
Make It Personal
You laugh at my back, and I'll laugh at yours
Solid Ground
The Colour Wheel
Walk a Straight Line
Testing new opinions and courting new impressions
Boxed Off
Don't Commit to It
Hold it still 
Shades of gray
The Perils of Radical Subjectivity
The Dangers of Dogmatism
Postmodern Soup
Solid Ground 
 

1 comment:

  1. "His criticism had been largely based on canonical authors, but his approach to Hardy or Lawrence or the Brontës - dealt with in the light of new theories - suggested new ways of looking at canonical texts, which have been followed through by other people. For instance, he'll take marginalised figures from books, push them to the foreground and re-shape the way in which we look at them. He takes very familiar texts and roughs them up. He calls it 'reading against the grain'.

    Article on Terry Eagleton, see here.

    ReplyDelete