Tractatus-Aesthetico-Pseudo-Philosophicus

(EPISTEMOLOGICAL STATUS: HAR HAR HAR!)

Take note, that, as with the establishment of International Law, this merely serves as a personal waypoint or direction, and not an absolute. In Law we find countless examples of abuse. Likewise in criticism we find countless shades and directed methods of attack, and inquiry, all of which can have equally valid or invalid purposes. Everyone has their own writing style and critical method, but this aims to be an inclusive account, rather than an exclusive account (a ‘what-can’ rather than a ‘how-to’). Furthermore, because I hate straight-forwardness and transparency, I plan to write it in the style of a mix between Spinoza’s Ethics and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, and I plan to completely flout both styles because I’m not rigorous enough to do all that stupid shit with P1 Q.E.D. etc… WHO CARES, LIVE AND DIE HAPPY.

 

DEFINITIONS

D1: By that which is criticized, we refer to as the Object.

D1-1: We refer to it as the Object to signify its separation from both Artist and Critic.

D2: By that which creates the Object, we refer to as the Artist.

D2-1: I proclaim to have not read at all any tracts concerning the so-called ‘Death of the Author’, and thus, I presume, as an axiom, that the Artist exists.

D3: By that which experiences the Object, and creates Criticism, we refer to as the Critic.

D3-1: Everyone who comes in contact with experiencing the Object is a Critic. It is only whether he decides to express his Criticism openly or not.

D4: By an Object which criticizes another Object, we refer to as the Criticism

D4-1: Thus, the Criticism is only an Object that is one step removed from the original Object criticized, and so, is itself subject to Criticism.

Aggregation: From here we can see that, every Critic is an Artist, and every Criticism is an Object.

 

D5: By the content of an Object, we refer to as the Substance.

D5-1: By the different aspects of the content analyzable into distinct proportions, we refer to as the Attributes

D5-1-1: Every Attribute is split into Expression and Trajectory, where Expression is the method, and Trajectory is the goal of the method. Take note that Trajectories can be multi-fold

D5-1-1 (Example): To exemplify this, suppose I write “The curtains are blue”. The Expression is description, the Trajectory can be to express verisimilitude of location, to symbolize an internal state of character, to achieve rhythmic cadence within a poem, or even to express misguided cynicism towards the enterprise of Criticism itself in the form of a stupid meme.

 

D5-2: By different Attributes combined together, we refer to as the Style.

D5-2-1: The Style can also be divided into Overall Expression and Overall Trajectory

D5-2-1(Example): To exemplify this, let us look at the Old Man and the Sea. The minimalism, itself an attribute, has its Expression in terse sentences with an explicit Trajectory (of many other Trajectories) of conveying the momentum of the Sea-Struggle. This, combined with everything else, such as the Symbols, and Characterization and whatnot, coheres together to reach the Overall Trajectory (once again, out of many), of elucidating the struggle of Man’s Smallness in relation to Nature. This analysis is highly simplistic, but it serves the case.

 

D5-3: The Trajectory of an Attribute or Style emerges only in contact with an Artist or Critic. The Expression exists solely within the Object, from its creation.

D5-3-1: This distinction was written to try and come up with a cohesive idea as to what is on the burden of outside-the-text, and what is on the burden of inside-the-text.

D5-3-2: The number of Trajectories is not infinite. Even Borges’ Library is not infinite. Expression limits the number of Trajectories. Common sense limits the rest. I presume Trajectories to aggregate together like a Bell-Curve. Even though you can have the most outré interpretation out there, certain other ones will stand out. This does not mean you can’t commentate on outré interpretations, must merely that you must do so with the slight risk that people who read your interpretation will forever never invite you to parties.

D5-3-3: Furthermore, I accept Authorial Intention, even though speculating on the intention may be wrong. As a writer myself, I know that Authorial Intention exists. I also accept the Reader’s Intention. A reader may read Lolita because he is really a pedophile. Nabokov may have wrote Lolita because he was a pedophile, but he also wrote it for a larger number of more likely reasons. I accept all of these as possible risks: for example, that writing a Criticism of Lolita saying that you were turned on may get you barred from all schooling districts, and writing a Criticism of Lolita saying that Nabokov is a pedophile may lead to the ghost of a very angry Russian writer knocking on your door.

 

D5-4: Substance is the unification of all Styles, which is the unification of all Attributes.

D5-4-1: I split it this way purely to help better segregate the components of a text. To experience Substance is to experience the large sigh at the end of a book. To experience Style is to experience a tingly graduation when a cluster of sentences merges together into a cohesive scene. To experience Attribute is when the heart quickens at the sight of a certain turn of phrase.

Aggregation: Authorial Intentions and Reader Interpretations both exist as Trajectories. That is, the unity of what an Author wants to achieve in a work of Art, and what a reader perceives the Author is achieving in a Work of Art. Criticism, being an Object itself, can contain Substance, Style and Attribute as well, and can be subject to AI and RI as well.

 

THESES

T1: A Critic is an Artist, and thus has his own aesthetic, moral, and personal goals. When he writes a Criticism, it may have very very diverging Trajectories from a lot of other kinds of Criticism.

Question: Does this mean the Criticism can completely not commentate on the work of Art itself?

Answer: Taking our loose definitions, yes, it can, but at the very least it must be titled as such (I don’t think it would make sense to call a story of Edgar Allen Poe a critique of Homer’s Illiad, for example). But a person who clicks on a link that proclaims to review a certain work, and then finds a short-story instead completely unrelated to the work, is going to be very very displeased, and, unless the goal of the Critic was purposeful anarchy, a meta-fictive switcheroo as such would most likely alienate readers from some of the personal goals of the Artist.

Answer(Extension): Different shades of this can be seen in tim rogers’ Video Game Criticism, which has been derided for being highly digressional, despite tim rogers’ himself being a good writer (and thus I don’t really care whether he digresses or not) and despite him having the most lucid insights as to how a person experiences the act of gaming itself. The exact point where a person delineates the line between Artistry and Criticism is quite divergent for everyone in the world.

Answer(Extension): Pale Fire can be seen as an entire book about this, but I myself personally view it as a failed experiment. This is because, unlike the writing of tim rogers’, Kinbote hardly ever does a proper formal analysis of the fake poem, and merely links the line he’s commenting on to some distant memory. In other words, if Nabokov had really tried a Sokal Scandal on the Literary establishment, and wrote Criticism as Fiction, he would not have succeeded, and so, despite being a very good book & poem on it’s own, I do not think Pale Fire functions well at its purported goal of critiquing the Literary Criticism enterprise.

Answer (Aggregation): So, generally, it seems that it is highly favorable to the Critic to, at least, have some well-defined connection to the work in question, even if he’s trying to pull off a Criticism-Literature experiment. A work that I think is somewhat successful at this is Borges’ Pierre Menard, which, at the very least, interprets the text of the Don Quixote.

Question: Does this make you a believer in Aesthetic Relativism? Is this a doctrine of Aesthetic Relativism?

Answer: More like an Aesthetic Pragmatist. A person can do anything, when it comes to Criticism, but it is definitely beneficial to one’s own enterprises to do certain things. I do formal analyses because I want to understand how texts work, so that I can support my own creations. I criticize a work negatively in order to work out a mnemonic so that I know that a certain device does not achieve the best type of effect that it could achieve. I do fictional criticism-experiments to test my own writing skill. I do personal confessionary style criticism sometimes to help elucidate certain parts of my own life, and to show the kinds of biases that can make a person enjoy one work, and not the other. I do historical analyses to use the Object as a jumping off point to explore a moment in the past. I do comparative analyses to show other works that may do the device better. I also write Aesthetic essays that draws from a lot of texts, but does not commentate exclusively on any single one of them. I do not believe that Reason is completely excluded from the equation, and everything is taste, at least when it comes to a purely formal analysis.

Answer(Extension): Alex Sheremet and Dan Schneider are those that are willing to conduct a full nosology of Criticism and Critical failures. I sometimes sympathize with their enterprise, but I do not want to conduct myself as that kind of Critic all the time.

Question: Does this mean that a Critic must still put Art above Criticism?

Answer: Not necessarily, since sometimes a stiff style can be better at conveying information. But to the extent that I am more an Artist than an Academic or Formal Critic, I try to go beyond a plain elucidation of Substance. I write always to be primary, and always to perform a coup d’etat on the work in question.

Question: Can a Critic say anything?

Answer: As a rule, as shown by the countless dissections of Woody Allen critics done by Alex Sheremet, if you purport to be an ‘objective critic’, that is, a person with a large enough culture base who proclaims himself as a ‘trusted source’ of how the work in question fits in with every other work in the history of the medium, and the whole World, then you better argue your points clearly, with evidence, counter-reference, and try to be as emotionally clean and transparent as possible (not emotionless, just open about how things make you feel, and that you may be biased).

 

T2: A Criticism can never (or only barely) convey the full heft of the work itself. It cannot contain the Substance of the Object, although it can contain its Attributes, or even Styles.

Question: Can a Criticism ever surpass a work?

Answer: It can, but it can’t (or it is very hard to) do so in the way the work aims to do so. If I want to write a Criticism of Sylvia Plath by writing it in a style of a poem by Sylvia Plath, I have to be a set containing the poetic style of Sylvia Plath and the Criticism itself. What I did, instead, though, was write a poem about Sylvia Plath based on the biography of Sylvia Plath. This is a poem no one can read because it is unpublished, but I still wrote it ‘in-contra’ to reading Plath, and thus it may possibly count as a Criticism. But writing a review of Moby Dick in the style of Moby Dick is quite like being Pierre Menard.

Question: Should a Criticism try to convey the heft of the work at all?

Answer: I should think so. At least a good criticism, in my opinion (though not in the opinion of the nosologers), does not just commentate on the work, but tries to become the work itself. This is the method of co-resemblence sometimes pulled off by Sarah Horrocks in her confessional reviews. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is probably one of the greatest examples of Criticism that functions as exemplification of the works as well. Co-resemblence is the best method to bring out the intrinsic plusses of a work, and yet it is also quite hard to pull off for works that you did not grasp heartfully. At least, if the purpose of the Criticism is to convince a person to experience the work from outside, then it should contain a kernel of the work itself, in more than just quotations.

 

T3: A Criticism does not have to encompass all the Trajectories within the Substance, but it should try to take as much into account.

Question: Should a work be criticized on its own terms?

Answer: I believe that it should, firstly, be done so, on its own terms, before spreading outwards. Sarah Horrocks purely critiques Trash Cinema and Trash-Art on their own terms, while the nosology of Schneider and Sheremet purports to do a proper critique in reference to the whole of human rationality and human culture. Personally I find it strange, for example, to critique a Mystery Novel for its prose (unless the prose gets in the way of the Mystery). And I find it strange to critique an SF work from someone like Egan for anything other than his ideas. Same for Borges. A lot of Anime has its own terms, whether it be Melodrama, Slice of Life Comedy, or Shounen battle sequences. These have to be considered primarily. But after acknowledging these terms, a second level of analysis can be formed. Of course, though, every work of Art enters into the arena of Eternity, so it’s best to take the highest reference eventually.

Question: Must the Criticism follow a strict Evidence-Argument format?

Answer: Of course not. But if one aims for a complete formal analysis then this is still the best method of attack. On the other hand, sometimes an elliptical approach that talks about everything other than the work in question, forming a circle around the edges of the work, can be as informative as a direct enquiry. Which is also why I do not feel attacking a person who reviews in a digressionary manner is fair, if he is attacked solely because of the digressions. An example of the ‘empty circle’ approach is this Criticism of a Visual Novel here.

Question: How shall the Critic approach his own Trajectories deriving from himself?

Answer: I feel the confessional format works best here. If watching Yakitate Japan causes great disgust within you because of an intrinsic trauma related to bread, then you better flag it up if you’re going to give it a bad review. But these kinds of things must be taken into account as being one of many trajectories. A work like Evangelion has the habit of attracting confessionalists widespread, which is nothing wrong with that, but as Alex Sheremet’s grandiose breakdown of the whole show shows us, this is only a single aspect that tends to exclude all other Trajectories, which is where you have a violent and enclosed fanbase. The quality of a criticism probably comes from the most amount of possible Interpretations it can encompass, cohesively. (Remember that the Criticism is an Object itself, and that it itself will be open to attack)

ATTRIBUTES, STYLES, AND SUBSTANCE

This is going to be an expose on what I believe are common methods of attack within Criticism.

 

  1. Thesis – Evidence – Argument

“That said, the show’s symbolism, while quite overt, at times, can’t really be called ham-fisted in the usual sense, and has a few interesting qualities that bring us back to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. This is because for all of Evangelion’s over-the-top elements — Lilith nailed to a cross, allusions to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish and Christian folklore, the 3 ‘Magi’ computer systems — they are not, nor are they intended to be, a religious comment, but an odd combination of myth, science, and pure happenstance that is more reminiscent of works like Salvador Dali’s “Corpus Hypercubus,” i.e., a curious side-step, rather than a truly new way of looking at things. In Persona, as Dan Schneider argues, much of the film is ‘looking out’ at the viewer, but while Evangelion does not have the technical brilliance of the former, it still casts a damn wide net at the critics who’d inevitably line up to argue over those symbols, not realizing how much of it is hollow and silly, especially in the face of its deeper and less talked about strengths. In a way, then, while Persona helped nail a generation of critics, Evangelion highlights so many of the illusions of its own fan-base, in the detritus of 1995 and even two decades later. It helps, too, that so much of this symbolism has an allure that escapes mere phrasing, such as Ramiel (an Angel in the form of an octahedron), whose shape reminded me of The Prisoner’s white ball, an object that frightens precisely because it so well fits into the ways our brains might image the idea of ‘unknowns’ — which, in Evangelion’s octahedron, feels quite sinister, and above our ability to control. No, the show’s choices don’t really plumb the depths of 2000+ years of human image-making, in any real sense, but they do take a particular world-view, from a particular group of people in search of this depth, and position their and the show’s illusions at the fore. This is not a condemnation, merely an admission of the fact that anime, as a whole, and Evangelion, in particular, probably work on levels that only another couple of decades’ time will make obvious, after which their techniques can be more wisely applied to other art-forms.”

Although not exactly structured so clearly as such, this example of Sheremet’s Evangelion review fits quite nicely

Thesis: Evangelion’s over-refential nature is not really ham-fisted, as many detractors claim, but neither is it overtly commentating on something, as many within its fanbase are keen to search after. Rather, it’s creating a sort of aesthetic mix that was pulled off long ago by Surrealists, and, rather than being just ornamentation, has its own strengths.

Evidence: Raising up some Evidence within Eva in the form of “Lilith nailed to a cross, allusions to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish and Christian folklore, the 3 ‘Magi’ computer systems” and comparing it to Dali’s Corpus Hypercubus. Also bringing up the battle with Ramiel in reference to another work, The Prisoner.

Argumentation: This kind of Aesthetic, being not particularly new, is definitely not an original dense and overt allusiveness. But, people who claim the style to be an empty sign, are also side-stepping how it works in some areas of the Anime, like accentuating the horror of some Angels. Both the fans and the detractors are completely missing what is within the work itself.

As seen, this is the best form for a direct attack onto a certain thesis. Yet, as seen from many people’s reactions to Sheremet, writing nothing but these sort of analyses tend to piss people off, who have a more personal stake in the work in question. Yet Nosologers will always proclaim the pedagogical high-ground and fight for a kind of Platonism in Art that can be reached, only if people thought properly about what they were seeing. Generally, with the large amount of people out there who dismiss the possibility of achieving a greater kind of work, I find myself sympathizing with these ‘Stop-Having-Fun’ guys. I also think they’ve outlined the best methodology in their Criticism as to how to approach Objective Attack properly. But somewhere in my mind, something tells me that experience also plays into account, and there’s nothing (too) wrong with feeding one’s Ego, and if I wanted pure Objective Aesthetics, I would do like Maths or something, or read Mystery Novels. The stupid thrillingness of Steins;Gate makes me happy, and the banter gives me a deep sense of comfortness, and despite knowing my biases, something warm fuzzles out when I watch the Melodramatic Surreal stuff of Charlie Kaufmann. Generally I wish to have the high-minded kind of Aesthetic appreciation that comes out from Borges when you read his countless reviews and essays, a general light and detached curiosity towards everything. So, whilst structured attack in such a form remains within my repartee, I’m not always keen on brandishing it (unless I read something that gets me really mad, of course).

(Edit: Alex has posted in the comments below to clear up this definition, and I’m quite thankful for that. I can thing of a metaphorical analogue of his idea to Information Theory, regarding the Shannon-Weaver model of Communication. Aesthetics and taste, the extraneous parts, in the model, functions as noise, difficult to counteract. What he wishes to do with his enterprise is to tailor the content itself instead (or the speed of decoding the content), to allow for the highest form of communication to the highest values.)

  1. Confessional

The opposite manifesto comes from Sarah Horrocks:

“Evangelion was one of these works that I experienced and it just made me hungrier for art, I wanted to find the thing that made me experience that rush and connection again, or hopefully in an even more severe way.  From 17-22 this was mostly through movies and hiphop and some comics.  So when I read Asano I would have been…25ish I think.  Which I came out at 23 two years after a suicide attempt which put me in a mental health ward.  An attempt which lost me most of my close friends that I had at the time–and being hurt and alone and responsible for only myself, I couldn’t bear to live another second also having to deal with being in the closet about who I was.  One life was hard enough to fuck up.  I wasn’t about that get to 50 with the wife and kids, and be like “guess what?” life.  I’ve never been able to see much of a future for myself, but I think coming out was the first time I ever made an attempt at at least living in the present.  There’s this moment in Nijigahara Holograph where Amahiko has collapsed in the snow and ash of the terrible world around him, and Khota is suddenly in front of him and he says, “And yet you still live”.  That’s those mornings waking up with terrible headaches unable to really move, with your arm more a twisting ribbon of scarring flesh than anything resembling a human appendage, “And yet you still live”. “

But besides being confessional, she also has very striking Formal Analyses

“I thought I would focus mainly on this three page section because it shows both how Asano is showing the physical passion of sex, while then stripping out the emotional side of it.  The two pages just showing Isobe and Sato having sex are notable because they are mostly just a procession of dissociated body parts from two people coming in contact with one another.  This isn’t hot sweaty fluids everywhere sex—it is a kind of by the numbers performance of physical duty—and what’s interesting is through the entire thing Asano never once shows us a character’s eyes or face in any kind of way to show us how they are processing these sensations.  So even though we are reading sex, we aren’t engaging with the characters emotionally through the sex—in fact, the sex feels distanced, and maybe like reading a textbook.”

And it’s this balance of Confession and Formal Analysis in relation to those Confessions that drives much of her Criticism. This is her Trajectory, of Criticism as self-exploration. Something I’ve been learning to do, but it still takes a certain level of guts to reveal certain things within yourself.

Even Dan Schneider drags it in when he defends It’s a Wonderful Life from being more than just a cheesy Christmas movie.

“Yet, at its center, the film works because we all have wondered what would the world be like if we were never born. Have we had an impact? After all, whether it’s leaving behind descendants, works of art, discoveries, or just our name, we all want some recognition, that we mattered, or at least were here. It helps define our sojourn, and allow us to extrapolate meaning from a cosmos which is random, indifferent, and so large and eternal as to defy the meager human ability to fully comprehend. With that as a base desire, the film then goes nearly two hours showing us a life that has many tangents with ours- be you an American, Mongolian, or Zulu. We see the effect George has had, even if he does not, and know what can only await him when Clarence pulls out his life’s rug from under his feet- if not the particulars, certainly the general effects, which can only be negative. Yes, George may be more involved with others than the typical person, but we are all connected, however peripherally. This film does a better job than any other film in espousing the notion of The Butterfly Effect, even more so than the recent film of that name. We all see ourselves in George Bailey, for the film does not focus on George’s mere home nor business lives, but all the important moments they bound, and even fail to contain. We can easily extrapolate ourselves into his position, especially at his moment of crisis, when he literally, as Potter taunts, is worth more dead than alive- at least on a material level.

I see myself as a George Bailey. I did not grow up in the relative comfort of his small town, but I could not go to college, due to circumstances beyond my control, and ended up financing my sister’s college education. I, too, have been stuck in jobs I loathed, and which abused me, unable to support myself solely by my best talent- my writing. I have spent years caring for an ill parent, supporting my wife, caring for my pets, encouraging poets at my now defunct poetry group, and helping many others with advice on poems and other works of art- even promoting many arts events. I have also struggled hard to help others with my website, Cosmoetica– to engage people to think for themselves, not become unthinking zombies for the Henry Potters of Academia, the Christian Right, nor Political Correctness. I have weathered lies, viruses sent, hateful emails, threats of violence, and phony lawsuits. I have championed the lesser known writers and works of quality, with no reward for myself, save knowing I was doing the right thing, in a sphere of human endeavor where I am not only outnumbered almost infinitely, but in a sphere filled with hatred, bigotry, small-mindedness, and fear. Yet, I have perdured, so has my website, and like George- although I’m an agnostic, I’m looking for that one break that will turn my life around- at least on a material level, which is what happens to George. Fortunately, I have a leg up on him in realizing the goodness of my station as it is, and that the proffering of good deeds and great works of art is its own reward, even as I long for that break that will pull me out of the financial rat race, and help with the establishment of a global currency of accomplishment rather than pelf.”

When pulled off to a whole Novel length, this style could easily be a true Literary Auto-Biography. One thinks of How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields.

 

  1. Experiential or Descriptive

Equivalent to Ekphrasis. Pure description hopefully to convey the subjective experience during the game. tim rogers does one here for a scene in Mother 2:

“When the final boss is defeated, Mother 2 riffs on the original Dragon Quest one last, long time. In that game, when you defeated the Dragon Lord, you had to walk all the way back to the first castle. Normally, walking any distance in a Dragon Quest game is a kind of chore. You’re going to get into battles, and that’s going to deplete your hit points, no matter how strong you are. If you’re strong enough, of course, you’ll be able to conquer your main goal with no trouble. So the battles on the way to a goal take on a feeling much unlike the battles you fight in order to gain levels. However, at the end of the game, none of this is relevant. On your final walk to the first castle, all of the poison marshes have been replaced with flowers, and all of the enemies are gone. Mother 2 repeats this kind of device in its ending, only it lets you walk literally anywhere in the game world in your journey back to your mother’s house, where the credit sequence begins; all of the places you visit provide interesting experiences, and every townsperson says something new. Should you so choose, you can walk all the way from the town of Scaraba and into the Deep Darkness Jungle. Around this time, you might remember that you have a bicycle somewhere. And you might also, finally, realize that your three partners have gone back to their respective homes. You’re free to ride the bike. You might have put it away, into storage, so you’ll have to call your sister from a payphone. You probably don’t have any money, so you have to use your cash card to withdraw some from an ATM before you can call your sister. She’ll send the bicycle via the curious courier service she runs out of her bedroom, and you can then ride your bike through the desert and into the waters of the rainforest. The sound of the bike pedaling through the water is eerie. It’s something you’ve never heard in the game before. Not only that, it’s something you could have very well played the whole game without ever having heard.“

For the parts within a work that are hard to classify, like the Pictoral Aesthetics, or the Kinesthetics within a game (read tim rogers’ Sticky Friction article), this is probably the best way to really get at the core of these aspects, besides full-on Fiction Writing of course.

Horrocks does this quite well for Cartooning Description:

“Hiramoto draws these characters with a kind of perverse paranoia. With malevolent stress lines around the eyes, sweating shifty glances the game Hiramoto is playing aesthetically is largely a comedy of textures with a dark erotic undertone played straight up.  This comes across through Hiramoto’s choice of composition. Characters don’t really pop out of frames like you would expect in these kind of comics.  There is very little winking to the camera.  And generally speaking, the art style mirrors Japanese slice of life comic rules.  This is interesting because the actual story is straight trash exploitation genre–but it’s done with a level of rigidity(which isn’t to say there aren’t jokes here, there are, there are a lot of prison movie references and visual quotes) that almost demands shock and recoil at some of its most perverse moments.”

Sheremet would probably argue that all these, without content backing, becomes merely stylistic emptiness, or masturbatory in-joke references to other styles with no purpose other than the recognition, but he too can appreciate the nuance of aesthetics:

“Another sequence shows a bomb getting dropped on the Angel Sachiel, wherein the eye must climb ‘down’ the screen, as the image itself flows up, to get the scene’s full import. It is a technique that few films ever do well, belonging, as it does, to animation, and although it’s a mere stylistic flourish, these touches add up over time”

 

  1. Interpretative or Theoretical

The thing that everyone gasps at. Freudian Analysis. Marxist Analysis. Deconstruction. Abuse of terminology. Abuse of speculation. “The curtain is blue”. “Everyone is Jesus in Purgatory”.

The general rule of this, is simply, firstly, one must never have a narrow interpretation based on a frequently applied framework, and secondly, if one wants to be a symbol-chaser, like how people treat Eva, Utena, and Lynch, then the mere recognition of the symbol must never be the end result.

How this differs from Evidence-Argument is that it’s generally looser, and focused more on meanings than execution. People argue that Evangelion is about Loneliness, Alienation, and the will to carry on in a world where one is separated from his own relationships. Sheremet argues, with evidence, that all this is, firstly, though true, not new in the history of Art, and has been done better everywhere else, secondly, that writing it with Otaku clichés does not make it a good work of Art, even though it may function as good Otaku Therapy, and thirdly, that the characterization is quite flimsily done, although most people handwave that because it appeals to the broadest of our natures in an adolescent way.

Saying all that makes it seem like Interpretation is a lesser and more fallacious subset of Evidence-Argumentation, but I believe that it has a vastly different aesthetic purpose, especially when used in what we love to call ‘self-referential post-modern works’. In Aristotle’s terms of rhetoric, it would be the difference between a Syllogism and an Enthymeme. If the foundations of the interpretation is correct, then it is a shortening to help a person understand the core meaning of a work, or to enjoin the work to other core meanings. The Sakura no Uta review as linked above is an example of that, and, actually, Evangelion itself has many quick interpretations that serve as purely aesthetic purposes (the quick explanation of Homeostatis and Transistasis).

Borges, of course, writes whole essays full of these sorts of Interpretations.

 

  1. Parodical

Mostly negative, a double of the Literary-Fictional construct, but done to poke fun at the Object. A very good method to showcase its flaws directly.

The Editing Room’s Abridged Scripts is entirely this. A lot of what people call ‘riffing’ or a lot of Internet Video Critics also follow this style. A flaw, though, is that it still makes it subservient to the work, since all you’re doing is changing the Trajectory of the original to cheap laughter, while trying to retain the Expression.

Sokal and Company do this all the time for Academic Criticism.

 

  1. Literary-Fictional

“It seems, intellectually, you haven’t done anything significant here.”

The End-Of-The-Essay (EotE) looked at me straight in the face and said this.

“In fact, this turn of affairs seems to be completely predictable.”

I looked over the precipice. All I saw was void. The EotE looked over as well, and whistled.

“When everything is quite said and done, the only possibility is to jump.”

“Well. I think it’s quite thorough. An excursus of styles. A few didactisms here and there. Jokes, parodies, and self-referentially. When you think about it, I have to be in the Criticism big-leagues now.” I replied.

“Oh please. This ending achieves nothing other than a fleeting novelty. And the fact that I’m critiquing it myself merely turns it into a marginally witty infinite regression. A strange-loop.”

“So you don’t like it?”

“I think it’s horrible. It goes all over the place, is nothing but novelty, and it has no precise argumentation.”

The EotE paced back and forth. He tapped his foot, clearly expectant of something.

“What happens after I jump?”

“You wake up back in Kansas.”

“I don’t want to die.”

“Then you have to criticize more things.”

“Is that my life from now on? One endless Criticism?”

“Oh don’t be so existential about it. This isn’t an Absurdist play.”

“Well I guess I could jump, but firstly, I have to know whether I’ve answered the question.”

“The question?”

“What Criticism is… or what Art is… and all that other rubbish.”

“Nope. Not at all. You haven’t even dealt with Historical-Contextual Analyses.”

“Ah I knew I forgot something!”

“Wait… wait a moment. You’re just using this as an elaborate clean-up for all the stuff you missed up there so that you don’t have to continue this blarking 5000+ word essay already! Aren’t you?!”

A swift kick in the pants sent me flying over the precipice. The EotE shouted after me.

“Get off your ass with the stupid Aesthetic Essays and go write more reviews already!”

THE END

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