Saturday, April 6, 2013

So, for my friend's college English class they have to give a speech on "Something I believe but cannot prove." And they ca't do any of the big topics like global warming or abortion. My friend was stuck on what to do and we started discussing possibilities. One of the things that came up was "I believe but cannot prove that a lot of the symbolism in books is unintentional and created by critics."
Now, I'm not denying that some symbolism is on purpose (when birds are repeatedly used in novels that generally symbolizes something). But, for example, I read a short story about this male predator named Arnold Friend and they had this whole thing about how he walked weird in his shoes (supposedly because he stuffed him shoes to make himself seem taller). But then some critics argue that its actually hooves in the shoes and he's the devil. (I still don't understand how they managed to jump to this conclusion. That's like - how can we make this interesting? Oh  yeah. He's the devil!)
But in some cases, I think critics read too much into colors. I mean, when I look at Beloved, I can see that there's a lot of use of color (color being used in the quilt as well as color as a part of race. I get it.) But sometimes, when critics start to analyze the meaning behind the color scheme I just want to say "Maybe the author just liked that color!"
From my own experience, I wrote this long ere a story where at one point there was this dream where a girl was running around in a red dress (don't ask me why, it was a dream) and some one who read it said, "Oh! I can't wait to find out the meaning behind the red dress!" Yeah... there was no meaning. Red just happens to be my favorite color.
I think this is where the idea that once the story goes public, it no longer belongs to the artist comes into play.  If people want to see symbolism where it isn't there, it's not like the artist can stop them. I mean, I'm not kidding. For the Harry Potter series, some crazy people wrote a petition to J.K. Rowling telling her to stop trolling and write the seventh book right where Harry ends up with Hermione. I'm sorry - what? Anyway, the artist only creates the piece and then after that it's for the audience's taking.

1 comment:

Cassidy George said...

I think this extends to all art forms, not simply literature. There are so many times that I've been looking at art and trying to decipher all of the important symbols, messages and codes within the piece... and then I catch myself and think why am I making this more complicated than it needs to be? I feel this way especially with modern art. A part of me always considers that the art is simply a big "F you" to the viewer, and especially to those who try to conjure up some sort of existential or metaphysical meaning behind it. Sometimes the beauty in life and art comes from simplicity and acceptance rather than scrutinizing the details.