AS13: Poetry and Solipsism

The Road Not Taken doesn’t mean what you think it does…  Thomas discusses an interesting intellectual journey he went through and the guys apply it to art and to atheism in general.

2 thoughts on “AS13: Poetry and Solipsism”

  1. It seems that I (and many other English majors I know) strongly disagree with your stance on the intention of the author of a work. The idea that the intent of the author is important has been in decline since the New Criticism movement of the mid-20th Century.
    I suggest you check out the essay The Intentional Fallacy by William K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley.

    I do, however, think this doesn’t really apply to the bible or other religious texts that people believe to be divinely inspired. I think there would be a difference between the intentions of a human author, and the intentions of the omnipotent, all-knowing creator of the universe.
    Love the podcast! Keep it up.

  2. I was browsing today and looked on wikipedia concerning The Road Not Taken. It looks like the opinions cited and the supporting reasons align with your interpretation, as well as the criticisms of popular interpretation. An interesting bit is that, according to wikipedia, the poem was a more simple jab at his walking partner who deliberated over paths excessively; the deep meaning was ascribed later.
    Concerning interpretation, I think that there is a difference between the intention of the artist and the meaning the audience comes away with. There is a certain point where the intention of the author is no longer relevant to the meaning of the piece. Just look at the article about debating on the internet. The intention of the author may have been one way, but the resulting work was so confused and jumbled that the only meaning we come away with is confusion. Either that confusion is the actual confusion of the author or just horrible writing (not mutually exclusive).
    I would say that art like music can be judged as a means of communication (I’m not saying only as communication). A great artist, like a great author, can make the audience feel and know the emotions and experiences one is trying to communicate. The audience feels what is intended. Good job.

    Somewhat related, there is a difference between conveying your point and having people come away with your conclusion. One of the big turning points for me was reading the Screwtape Letters. During Ch1 maybe, Lewis is conveying that people don’t want to follow god’s rules, and so they don’t ask god for proof or test him. Lewis probably intended for readers to do the opposite and follow god without testing him, but I chose to evaluate the evidence from my experiences and studies. This eventually turned me atheist but was also consistent with Lewis’ message. I understood his meaning, but what I did with it is unrelated to his skill. This is why I think that Lewis was a pretty good writer but a terrible intellectual.

    Great show.
    From another CogDis devotee

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