Hermeneutics and Art: thoughts about a utopian perfection
It was probably a year ago while writing my diary one night when I realized that my interpretations of the day’s events had already changed since when they had happened. My reactions and thoughts regarding a certain incident that morning were not the same as they were that morning. The few hours that had gone by had brought about a frightening change in perspective. While the modification itself might not have been totally salubrious, the interesting fact was that my reflections alone were enough to make that happen. The metamorphosis, on the whole, was an accommodation of a broader vision — a process imbibing maturity.
When, a few days later, I was talking to my father about this, he referred to hermeneutics as a formal philosophical extension of my experience and the corresponding thoughts. Hermeneutics, for those who do not know, could be considered as a theory of interpretation. Personally, I think the word has a particularly biblical flavour, and hence I would like not to use it. Not because I hate the Bible — certainly not that — but I’d rather my thoughts remain free from such gigantic influences. Hermeneutics derives itself from the Greek God Hermes, who was the interpreter of the messages of the Gods. The way I connect it to art is as follows: The theories of art could benefit a lot from borrowing from this method of thinking: a kind of ‘reverse hermeneutics’, if I may use such a phrase! The reactions of the reader are a result of the text. It is, more often than not, instantaneous, apparently lacking any clear reasoning. Now, I would like to propose that the correct interpretations of the reasons of that reaction would be able to produce perfect art. I know perfectly well that I make no proper sense here. The works of Friedrich Shleiermacher distinguishes between grammatical interpretation and psychological interpretation. I am not sure which would be a correct method of producing perfect art. But then, since perfection is but utopia, and the beauty of art lies in the multitudes of interpretations, I would be unhappy to be sure of such an idea anyway!
© Ritwik Banerjee
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hermeneutics perspective theory philosophy art