Schrödinger's Author

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Schrödinger's Author

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Postby Arcadia's legacy » Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:39 pm

Recently, I've been facing a dilemma of sorts. On the one hand, I have been taught that art is inherently subjective, the Author is metaphorically dead as soon as the work's published, and what one sees in the work is just as valid as what someone else sees. (you can disagree with and challenge someone's view of course, but that's its own discussion) On the other hand though, many recent discussions, notably Reichu's analysis of NTE, often hearken back to Anno's previous work in an effort to understand the overall picture, which requires the Author to be alive. So is the Author actually dead, or not?
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""Trolling the audience" is the same thing as "challenging the audience" (to an audience that doesn't want to be challenged)." -Reichu

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Re: Schrödinger's Author

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Postby Reichu » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:04 pm

I think you're doing the right thing by questioning what you've been taught. :thumbsup:

My experience with DotA is pretty bad and I never accepted that particular dogma. It feels like it's mostly used in Internet arguments as an excuse for people to impose whatever they want onto somebody else's work, while screaming all ideas are equally valid. It's postmodernist nonsense. Dead authors can't make anything. Art that comes from the heart and soul deserves to be considered seriously. All these "HURR DURR NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING" types should stick to making their own art which they can proudly declare is completely meaningless.

I don't think DotA as it's traditionally formulated is valid. Places like this can't exist if the idea has merit. It'd just be a cacophony of idiots terrified of analysis and critical thinking screaming about what gives them the nicest feels. Death to DotA. DotA is a big "fuck you" to art as communication between storyteller and audience.

Amazingly, a work of art containing authorial intent on a deep and powerful level does not remove the potential for personal interpretation. The two can coexist. It's not either-or.

I'm here to learn about art and its creation and construction. I respect Anno and I care about what he wants to say with his work. If by some amazing chance I ever got my own following, I would want people to care about what I'm saying, too. There's little point in revealing oneself so intimately though a story if nobody is reading the story with an interest in what the story was written to say. Why bother with anyone else's fiction at all if one cares about nothing but the contents of their own mind? It's completely inane.
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Re: Schrödinger's Author

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Postby glitz2hard » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:59 pm

this is the perfect time to post something i've said before
View Original Postglitz2hard wrote:eva is really unique and powerful because anno really painted a vivid picture of himself, his depression, and the people around him in an easily accessible format, and in a non-pretentious but still artful way. and if you can look into that, you can be personally affected, especially when dissecting the themes here. it distances itself from a lot of tv tropes in how it doesn't try to resolve itself like it's a tv show or a movie. it tries to just put the place he and others ended up emotionally into a visual format we can understand, so the ending resonates on a mental level rather than a plot level. that's why it's so important. you can tell he didn't sit down and write a show, he sat down and structured a short of vent.

this doesn't just apply to eva. this applies to all art, and anything that art is portraying.
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Re: Schrödinger's Author

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Postby Arcadia's legacy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:47 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:I respect Anno and I care about what he wants to say with his work.

So what happens when you encounter an author you don't respect, but the work itself is still enjoyable?
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""Trolling the audience" is the same thing as "challenging the audience" (to an audience that doesn't want to be challenged)." -Reichu

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Re: Schrödinger's Author

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Postby Shun » Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:27 am

Reichu wrote:It feels like it's mostly used in Internet arguments as an excuse for people to impose whatever they want onto somebody else's work, while screaming all ideas are equally valid. It's postmodernist nonsense. Dead authors can't make anything. Art that comes from the heart and soul deserves to be considered seriously.

Amazingly, a work of art containing authorial intent on a deep and powerful level does not remove the potential for personal interpretation. The two can coexist. It's not either-or.


I fully agree with you, Reichu. I think the same way. The author is fundamental, otherwise the risk is subjective mental onanism, according to which all personal interpretations are valid. The burden of proof becomes only the text of the story but the author's declarations are missing, so I can interpret the story and things either by placing the constraint of logical coherence, or even in a totally free way. Obviously it is postmodern nonsense, which was also observed by Hiroki Azuma, just to call into question a Japanese philosopher.
On the other hand, it is almost impossible to know all the thought of an author, all that he thinks, the reasons why he did something in certain ways. So even relying solely on the author is not possible. I would say that a lot of caution is needed in both directions. Even when an author like Anno says that his work is like a puzzle and that the viewer is free to interpret, this doesn't mean exaggerating with a thousand interpretations.
There are always some dark spots where it is better not to force our hand with the interpretation. It can be said that a certain consideration seems to be more probable than another because it is supported by the text and some statements of the author, and it is the approach I usually use, and it is a probabilistic field halfway between the subjective reading and the objective one. More burden of proof is considered, the closer our get to an objective approach, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will achieve it.
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Postby Blockio » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:31 pm

I believe that DotA has some degree of validity to it in very specific and limited contexts; I've seen people trying to infer all sorts of strange things about completely unrelated stuff based on something the author may or may not have said, at that point I feel like reminder of "hey, maybe not everything has to have a deeper meaning" is not only appropriate, but necessary
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Mon Aug 31, 2020 6:59 am

As someone who's worked on a few flicks and deeply loves watching movies, I personally think that the Author's intent should ideally clear in the work itself, and that the art should still have some sort of appeal noticeably linked to the author's sensibilities long after the artist is actually dead. (I know that's not what DotA refers to, but hang with me here.) While the author's perspective on his own work is valuable, it doesn't usually have the luxury of having as much publicity as the work itself. (In fact, it's naturally short life is partially what makes it valuable in the first place.) But if the author isn't that good at conveying his intentions or his feelings in the work, then keeping the metaphorical author alive doesn't have that much value, does it?

So I've always held both Auteur Theory and Death of the Author (those two ideological counterpoints) loosely. Because, while Author's intent and his perspective on his own work is short lived, we actually don't know to which extent each of his works will be taken without the context of the Authors broader works or of his own perspective thereof in the future. Take William Shakespeare, for example. We know almost nothing about him outside of the plays he's written and the legal contracts surrounding those plays. This has lead to other authors recreating Shakespeare in whatever image they feel like. Roland Emmerich even went so far to make the film Anonymous, which speculate that Shakespeare didn't even write Shakespeare, and that theory arose partially due to the fact that so little is known about the man Shakespeare that people today can think of him however they want. Compare that to D. W. Griffin, where we know so much about his ideologies and agendas that not interpreting his work based on the historical context we have available to us is borderline denialism, and sounds like a clear attempt to justify a racist.

It also gets dicey to apply DotA too strictly to account for "future-proofing" of a lack of available context in the future. Say all that exists of Neon Genesis Evangelion 100 years from now is only one episode. (Think of something like Episode 10, 15, or 25.) The audience would clearly need the context of at least Anno's work on the surrounding episodes in order to fully interpret the episode in good faith, as that is what the director has intended. (Literally author's intent!) But the lack of other episodes means that this context is unavailable to him. The same is true with NTE. Imagine if only Eva Q only survived withstanding the sands of time. The Author intended that work to be interpreted in context of the surrounding films, but that context is unavailable to him. Basically, to insist that each individual work of the author should stand entirely on its own isn't really all that realistic to the way we consume media under normal circumstances. Humans are too pattern-loving with their brains, so someone attempting to dig up other works related to the author is almost inevitable. People who love Shin Godzilla will probably dig up other Godzilla movies, and maybe even other Hideaki Anno movies. I know I wasn't interested in watching Neon Genesis Evangelion despite its major popularity in Japan until I saw The Secret of Blue Water and decided to watch all of the other works by these filmmakers.

However, Auteur Theory isn't really all that great either. There's too much gatekeeping with the theory as taken in its purest form, and often achieves this in hypocritical ways. It was created in an attempt to separate "real art" from the Hollywood cash cows that were being made at the time of the theory's proposal, including films like Citizen Kane. (The film at the top of the AFI's 100 films list wasn't thought to be artistically viable by many film buffs at the time of its release!) According to Auteur Theory, a movie can only have an author via the director, and a director isn't considered to be a genuine Auteur unless the director of the film 1. is technically competent, 2. have a signature style, and 3. must have the director's interior meaning. (The filmmaker's perspective must be seen through the film.) Weirdly enough, a lot of what is considered "Hollywood dribble" the Auteur Theory was meant to gatekeeper against actually follows that to the letter. By the standards of Auteur Theory, Michael Bay is totally an Auteur! I mean, his technical competency in the films he directs that carry his signature style, conveying his blatant misogyny and love of dynamic movement and editing isn't necessarily subtle. He is bluntly an auteur.

Also, I've considered films to have Auteurs that weren't the director. I credit the emotional success of The Princess Bride entirely to the author of the book, who chose a director almost as though he were doing a casting call for actors. He would interview multiple directors until he landed on the one he thought could do his work justice, and he was right. And any director that works with Jeff Goldblum is at the very least going toe-to-toe with a creative genius within terms of the significant impact of the collaborators working on the film.

So I feel as though both theories need to be held loosely. I relate to a filmmaker's works knowing that I (or the people around me) may not have seen his whole filmography or know his personal perspective on his own works, but that if people are truly interested then they'll do the legwork themselves and let their pattern-loving brains discover the rest of the films that director has made. Having all of these extra rules about it is just someone being needlessly dramatic, and ultimately inhibits freedom of both creativity and discovery.

If I hardline on anything that's been tossed around on the forums, it's that deleted scenes aren't to be viewed as a significant tool in interpreting a film, simply on the basis that the scene is question wasn't in the film being discussed to begin with. They're fun and interesting, sure, and can even be somewhat insightful in certain regards, but shouldn't be seriously considered to interpret a film. But I'm to anyone's dad, so they can do whatever.

View Original PostArcadia's legacy wrote:So what happens when you encounter an author you don't respect, but the work itself is still enjoyable?

I recently watched The Blues Brothers, not initially knowing that murderous director and literal demon-spawner John Landis helmed the film as director. Despite that, I completely fell in love with the film, and was disappointed to find out that piece of shit human being John Landis had a significant role in the creation of this masterpiece. I think experiences like that simply highlight that films are a collaborative effort, and that many times are greater than the sum of their parts. I love The Cosby Show, despite knowing that Bill Cosby is a piece of shit. A lot of times you realize that many of what makes the film or TV show enjoyable to watch and internalize doesn't really rest on the shoulders of one man. Granted, it took me a while to feel comfortable watching The Cosby Show again after all of those allegations came out, but I still recognized at the time that the show was greater than the sum of its parts, and that included Bill Cosby himself. And certainly technical competencies can be a source of inspiration without whole-heartily being a stan for someone awful. How you want to navigate that conundrum is completely up to you, though.
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