Against Interpretation

Susan Sontag
Vintage, 1961, 2001
[ Extraits ]

I Against Interpretation

pp 3-4
    The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.
    [It] is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call "form" is separated off from something we have learned to call "content," and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

2, p 5
    Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

3, p 5
    Of course, I don't mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, "There are no facts, only interpretations." By interpretation, I mean here a conspicuous act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain "rules" of interpretation.

    Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look don't you see that X is really—or, really means—A?

L'art en soi, Forme et contenu