From: James Cole (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 29 2009 - 06:47:34 PDT
Well, as I've tried to make clear, shock isn't the only thing the film
does, and there's a lot I like about the film. Remember, this whole
thing started with a discussion of the title, and I just wanted to
suggest that the title CHRISTMAS ON EARTH worked well as kind of a
funny nod to the film's content.
On 3/28/09, David Tetzlaff <email suppressed> wrote:
>> Barbara Rubin says "Chirstmas on Earth is about the life of Abraham
> Wow. I always wondered what the top hats meant. Now I know. Thanks!!
>> To suggest that the viewer must totally ignore what the artist
>> says is unreasonable.
> Of course. Where the Old Criticism may have fetishized the artist's
> (presumed) intent, the problem with New Criticism is that it
> fetishizes an abstract concept of 'the work', and does discount
> everything outside of 'the work.' Like the societies and cultures in
> which the work is created and received. A caution against the
> intentional fallacy may be part of the New Critical attitude, but the
> two are not equivalent. Simply observing that artists may be
> unreliable sources about the meanings and effects of their work, does
> not mean that their public statements have no concrete influence on
> how various audiences experience or interpret that work. The
> reception of creative work is rarely a monologue. Art enters complex
> 'conversations', we talk about it with friends, read stuff about it,
> makes comparisons with other things we've seen or experienced.
> Insight that enriches a work, or raises questions about it, can come
> from lots of places, even posts on FRAMEWORKS, and certainly things
> we may know about artists' biographies or statements of their goals
> is one of those places. It's just not the only one, or the definitive
> For example, how I read Hollis Frampton films is influenced by
> certain things I know about him that are not directly evident in the
> films themselves. (I think there's a lot of wry humor in HF that most
> people don't get). Were I to assert categorically that my readings
> were more accurate than yours because I know these things and you do
> not, I would be partaking of the intentional fallacy. However, since
> interpretation is itself a creative act, I might make an argument
> that my interpretation is qualitatively 'better' than yours: more
> interesting, more enriching, whatever -- which is a different
> question entirely than it's accuracy. And in support of that, I might
> urge a wider distribution of those intertextual or contextual
> elements that work in line with my interpretation - I might want more
> people to know about the Snow/Frampton in jokes, or "Studies in
> Vegtable Locomotion" etc. etc. Even in this, I'm not making an
> assertion about intent. Frampton may have been meaning to be as sober
> a hyperformalist as some folks think. In the last analysis I don't
> care. Whatever I may find that helps me construct interpretations of
> the _films_ that are more enjoyable/enlightening/thought-provoking to
> me is all good.
> I think there are two main functions of criticism. One is descriptive/
> evaluative. It attempts to discern what the work does --
> aesthetically, culturally, whatever -- and make judgments about it.
> For example, a feminist critic might read Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as
> a rewriting and reinforcement of patriarchy due the many analogies it
> contains between women and property, and decry it for subtly
> perpetuating these evils within the public seeking comic
> entertainment. Another function of criticism is prescriptive/
> evaluative. It attempts to intervene in the conversation and
> encourage audiences to interpret/experience works in ways that are
> productive -- aesthetically, culturally, whatever. For example, a
> feminist critic might celebrate Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the
> textual elements that open the work to alternative feminist, even
> lesbian-feminist readings.
> In the last analysis, my problem with James Cole is far less that his
> insistence that the film must have been intended to shock people just
> doesn't fit the facts (dude, about the only place she showed the film
> back in the day was The Factory...), and far more that it's just a
> lame frame of mind through which to view the film.
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.