Interpretation and the artist.
Interpretation which is sensitive to the creative past can be given a justifying foundation by
extensive description of ways in which we employ perceptions of the artist's significance.
Such a justification, based only on description, can be measured for success against an ideal
where justification and explanation would issue from a strong, independent artist-artwork
tie. The ideal is approached, but is itself impossible: connections between interpretation
and the creative past are heterogeneous and the sensitivity of interpretation to variations
in creative history fails to show that interpretation follows any general principle.
Interpretation creates a past that is part fictional in several ways for expressive purposes,
and a part fictional artist again undermines a general, strict connection between true
meaning and the real past. When interpreters hold theoretical beliefs to the contrary,
interpretation suffers distortion. Neither can a strong tie be uncovered through ontological
proposals. Apparent strong ties turn out to be justified stipulations for practical,
imaginative, interpretative use of the creative past. Justified interpretation must support
principal organising ideas. Otherwise, however, interpreters exploit the creative past; they
are not held in its grip.
As dermed, the ideal justification would: (1) press the justified practice upon interpreters,
and (2) ensure that meaning is objective. A foundation based on description dilutes but
approaches this ideal. Taking each of the two features in turn:
First, rather than mandate the practice, connections between the practice and its
environment create, as a minimum, a defensible case against arbitrariness. This
"environment" includes an address made to artworks which is akin to an address to mind.
Non-arbitrariness is reinforced when any ideological attack on the artist must fail in
principle to promise ideologically acceptable alternatives.
Second, a descriptive justification rejects oruy objectivity of the wrong kind. This leads to a
particular view of alleged constraints on interpretative practice