Target practice

In a recent post, Daniel Siedell has this to say about Christian interpretation of art, which seeks to situate the work of art within the larger metanarrative of the Christian framework/worldview:

Yet art is a moving target. It fights against this urge to meta-narrate, to interpret. It exists only in its concrete specificity and presupposes no larger narrative, although its presence comes from the sense that the work could be nevertheless a part of a great order.

To jump to a Christian interpretation without sufficient attention to the autonomy and integrity of the work in its concreteness is to fall into the trap of an overrealized eschatology, to get to the eschatological End (the “not yet”) without spending time in the present. It’s an interesting question, and directly related to some of my concerns with “the spiritual in art.” In something of a reversal of my train metaphor (see last week’s post), art itself is the “moving target” which eludes our straight-shooting theological arrow. Does a theological approach to art mean failing to appreciate art on its own terms, “reading into” it an alien Christian meaning? Will a Christian reading always somehow “miss the mark”?

In other news… last week at the Transpositions blog an array of notable contributors wrote a wonderful series on different types of imagination, from the Apocalyptic to the Metaphorical to the Whimsical (the latter of which fits in quite nicely with my recent viewing of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in its discussion of Puck, the “merry wanderer” formerly known as Robin Goodfellow). I think each of these discussions are important. In the past, I have gravitated towards the apocalyptic (with its connotations of “revelation” and “vision”) as a primary category for describing imagination and creativity, especially when thinking about found-footage film (Craig Baldwin etc.). However, as these articles along with a recent trip to the Tim Burton exhibition at the Bell Lightbox have reminded me, the human imagination is a complex, multifaceted faculty which indeed comprehends all kinds of whimsy, fancy, horror, bliss, strangeness… That all these wonderful  monsters can come out of the mind of one man is a testament to the generative power of the imaginative eye, as well as the problems involved in trying to pin down a definition of human “imagination.”


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