Sontag v. Top-down Frames

The title of Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” is misleading, and regularly confuses readers who believe her “erotics of art” precludes interpretive dot-connecting and inference. This is not the case: the piece is more accurately titled “Against Allegorization,” or “Against Ideological Readings” — those hermeneutic approaches that set out to find “encoded” and symbolic meanings in a work of literature according to the reader’s personal schema.

That essay is in concordance, not opposition, with predictive theories, since the kind of “ideology-affirming” interpretive approach that characterizes “Freudian” or “poststructuralist” readings is, when rigidly applied, merely reflective of the reader’s existing schemata. Top-down models stubbornly refuse to be updated (the reader refuses to learn), and thus the act of reading itself becomes superfluous.

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