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Lesson Plans


Re: MEANING: intention?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Henry Taylor (taylorh)
Sat, 20 Feb 1999 17:00:14 -0700


Mailbox tidy day!

things I've meant to respond to...

-----Original Message-----
From: brenda jones

>...because the work was done in the early 1800's, we cannot go to the maker
>and determine intention. We have to depend on ourselves. Are there people
>who have more "weight" when it comes to determining meaning?

There are people we "lend" more "weight," more authority, to. If we want to
sell an old piece an appraiser is just the person to turn to. If we have to
rely on an appraiser to, in some way, allow us to enjoy a piece then that's
a very different thing. If we won't take time to critically or aesthetically
appreciate a piece until the appraiser/expert tells us its's worth the
effort maybe we are missing something somewhere.

>Was the original meaning not entirely clear?

Once, it may have been clear (or may not--we can't really tell--perhaps it
survived because it WASN"T "loved to death")

Then there is the distinction between the meaning intended originally and
the meaning metamorphosed out of the work.

Saint McGyver taught us that a paperclip has many uses (meanings) and only
one of them intended. Even the uses-cum-meanings we haven't yet discovered
EXIST in some way -- potential use or meaning--.

Something sits before us loaded with potential meaning potential FOR
meaning. Some of that may be intended, most of it isn't, all of it is for
our use. A problem is that much of this potential is likely to be
contradictory. We could choose a reality where there was only one correct
solution. Historically that's the popular choice. Increasingly we are
realizing we can have our cake and eat it too but only if we can manage that
inherent contradiction in some way. Contexting is one solution.

"X" works here but not there. You can bite your thumb in public in Topeka,
Kansas but not in Palermo, Sicily. Context. The thing to learn is that the
rules are different here from what they are there.

>Does it not "stand the test of time" for everyone?

If it can remain with in a single context tho, odds are it will stand..at
least for a long, long time. BUT EVERYONE? It might not survive for 10
minutes there.

>Does intention change over time?

Hmmm. How strict do you want to be? In the strictest sense I can imagine NO
it cannot. Life being what it is I can also manage to imagine many
exceptions. The most obvious one is the artist who begins with one intention
but, after reading the analysis of the work of a professional critic
"realizes" that the critic recognized something she didn't or hadn't and
acknowledges that the critical analysis better suits her intentions. Did the
artist simply like the critic's interpretation better and make it her own.
No way of telling. Maybe not even important. But, anyone she shared her
original intention with could notice, I suppose, that the artists original
intentions had changed, developed, or evolved in some way.

Intention is not implicitly inherent or fixed upon manifestation of an
object. It nevertheless can be very real, even obvious, at a moment in time.

take care
-henry