Why Reader Response Sucks

Ah, literary criticism. The class that single-handedly destroyed my ability to write anything. It taught me many things, much of which turns out to be, on reflection, utter bullshit.

Take reader response for example. According to this theory, the work of art should be judged according to how the viewer or reader or audience responds to it. Any intentions of the author are irrelevant and should be disregarded since they do not figure into how the viewer sees the art. I’ve dramatically over-simplified it, but tough shit. I don’t feel like being more precise right now. With me so far?

Okay, now, here is an example of why this theory can only ever be total bullshit.

Art gallery loses its head, displays plinth – Reuters

(For photos of the competing “pieces”, head over to Dvorak’s blog and take a look–pun intended, har, har):

Who here thinks anyone but a self-indulgent moron would believe that a slab of stone and a shaped dowel could possibly be the better work of art? Of course, the worst piece of art of all is this sentence from a statement from the gallery in question:

“It is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended.”

Die, Stanley Fish. Die.

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