Friday, June 1, 2012

Rick Santorum's It Takes a Family 11

In my latest reading of It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Rick Santorum criticizes the violence and illicit sex (without consequences) in the stories that come out of the entertainment media, and he urges conservatives to enter the media to create stories that are more realistic.  Santorum also talks about meeting Fred Rogers, whom he says (like many say) was "the same in person as he was on TV."  What I particularly liked was Santorum's discussion of art on page 327:

"I cannot pretend to fathom the mind of a true artist.  I cannot play an instrument; I can barely draw a circle; I don't even take good photos.  How cultural artifacts are created is a great mystery to me.  And from what I understand, it is often a mystery to the artists as well.  I have often been told that the layers of meaning in a particular artwork such as a song or a film often are revealed to the artist himself only long after the work is complete.  Its shaping and forming influence is often subliminal, and therefore all the more powerful in the long run."

This may be relevant to a question in biblical studies and interpretation: Should we just go with what the original author meant when writing a passage, or can the passage have a life of its own, conveying meanings that were not apparent to the original author?  And, if the latter is the case, what are the controls against eisegesis----people reading into passages whatever they want?

But Santorum appears to acknowledge the artist's intention even behind things that were not apparent to the artist when he was crafting his work.  What is the subliminal influence that Santorum mentions?  Is it something in the artist's sub-conscious that comes out in the artist's creation, yet is not immediately apparent to the artist?

Or can the artist see different ways to interpret his work after its completion, even ways that he did not envision when creating it?  These ways may not do violence to the work, but they are legitimate ways to make sense of the work of art that's there.

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