I think that pushback against literary analysis is an expression of contempt for art in general. "It's not that deep" is a way of saying art is not worth understanding, which is another way of saying that it is not worth spending any time on. People who say this very often do spend time engaging with art, but they internalise an ideology which is opposed to art functioning as anything other than a commodity

@garfiald I agree!! I naturally tend to analyze art, and while not everything has a symbolic message, I think it's more fun to look at it that way. I had been reading Finnegans Wake recently, and it's a bit difficult to penetrate.

@garfiald was there a particular piece of literature that prompted this?

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@DeltaFlood @garfiald video games are so important to me that i base my entire personality around them, but also they have no meaning whatsoever.

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@DeltaFlood this jacked my blood pressure up to unsafe levels for just one moment, I lost a month of my life

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@DeltaFlood @garfiald Speaking as someone that does a lot of worldbuilding this takes makes me physically repulsed. Like I absolutely bake in things in a story to MAKE THE AUDIENCE THINK, its not necessarily a strong political statement but there's definitely social statements at the very least being made.

Fiction isn't an escape from reality there's no such thing outside of death itself. Even a casual low stress video game like Animal Crossing has things to say about reality.

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@DeltaFlood Literally what the fuck

How do you reach this point

What the fuuuuuuck

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@DeltaFlood I actively don't know how to respond to this shit

@DeltaFlood This idiot probably hates speedruns because it doesn't respect the work the devs put in to play the game as fast as possible, you should take your time and enjoy it

le contrarian face 

@witchfynder_finder @DeltaFlood
>hates speedruns because it doesn't respect the work the devs put in to play the game as fast as possible, you should take your time and enjoy it
this but unironically

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@DeltaFlood @garfiald

How do you get to the point of saying that SF/F must be escapist? That's like being someone who insists that art must be beautiful (with the implication that artists have a moral duty to produce only beautiful art)

Intentionally escapist and social commentary and moral message speculative fiction all exist. What would drive someone to say that only one of those categories is the real one?

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@DeltaFlood @garfiald Nooo not that guy again XD
Painting FFVII as apolitical is just a proof how someone considers "political" things they don't feel at home with.

@garfiald I agree but also I often read cultural analysis and it genuinely is obscurantist bullshit, analysis is great but a lot of the actual academic culture around it is awful. Like, every time some critical theorist starts name-dropping Lacan I start to foam at the mouth.


The big problem I have with literary theory is the type I encountered in college which was: you can only analyze the text--what is actually written down, not anything outside it. It was like constitutional originalism but for literature. I thought it just a very dishonest way to go about understanding a work of literature.

@Catsandcatsandcats @garfiald basically about until the mid 1900s the dominant strand of literary criticism was completely biographically focused: everything was interpreted in light of the author's life. the death of the author thing where authorial intent is completely excluded is sort of the counter-reaction to that

@Catsandcatsandcats @garfiald
That's called 'formalism' and now we only make undergrads do it, hopefully.

@TeethTeethTeeth @garfiald

I hated it. It's like, how can you understand a tale of two cities without understanding the British industrial revolution? It just seemed hopeless to me.

Yes! That and formalists are usually obsessed with the unity of the text. A lot of notable formalists (Cleanth Brooks, Maynard Mack) tend to start by reading for paradox, inconsistency but only up to a point.

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Image 1:
2 Recommended


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Throughout the lifespan of the earth, which could be estimated
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Being born in the age where this game exists has truly been a
blessing beyond my own fragile mind. A true god would
understand the capacity of goodness this is.

Image 2:
I truly believe that everyone that has not bought this game has
only refrained from doing so because they don't believe they
deserve such a virtuous product... No, describing this entity with
a crude and unmannerly word such as “product” would be an
insult to this prodigious and marvelous creation.

This is truly the peak of humanity.

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anti-intellectualism a strong current ("popularism")

also, i blame capitalism for all things becoming commodities

thank you for those evocative comments


I think art functioning as a commodity is part of a deeper rooted ideal making everything a commodity.

"I'm going to take in a forest."
"To increase my fit-bit step count."

The tie between action and function are rooted in modern Western ideology.

I'm happy to just walk in the forest. There is no why.

Ditto for art. I don't need a why; whatever pleasure it gives can't be commodified or quantified. It just is.

@garfiald "But", whereas understanding is necessary to solve, for instance, a scientific problem, it is not to enjoy or be move/affected, for instance, for a piece of music, cinematography or poetry/literature...

@garfiald Another aspect: whereas we -maybe- could agree in the correct understanding of a mathematical function, probably could not in the understanding of "the correct" emotional response to a music...

@rival it is disingenuous to set literary analysis up against maths and physical sciences, when a more apt point of comparison would be the human sciences. It is obviously not necessary to understand the political and economic organisations of one's society at an academic level to participate in said society. This does not make it useless to seek such an understanding out. And, while I don't know much about maths, I am surprised by the suggestion that mathematicians never disagree.

@garfiald Let's set apart the issue of human as sciences - that could explain its nearness with literary analysis...
When you say 'understanding' (not interpreting) you're talking science. I think it's necessary to understand politic/economy.
Mathematicians disagree, of course.

@garfiald imo art is really cool and i dont like ppl who dont think they are the arbitrator on what counts as art. like u can not respond to a piece and still accept that other people love it. why are people so fucked up garf i dont get it wtf

@laurie I think it all comes back to one thing: society

@garfiald predicting a lot of dumbass replies to this one cheif

@dankwraith have you seen the guy saying "is everyone on the fediverse a communist"

@garfiald agreed, but the flipside to this is deep analysis of art as a class signifier. people who can’t afford higher education resent those who can as “elites”.

@garfiald y’know, especially when they go on long essays making fun of the uneducated.

@zensaiyuki Yes, but artistic criticism which actually takes this form is always transparently reactionary. Truly rigorous analysis cannot function as a class signifier because it necessarily unveils the contradictions of such practices

@garfiald as long as the target audience is other highly educated people, and written with that background as the minimal expectation, the message will always be “haha ur too dumb for this” regardless of how rigorous the analysis is.

@garfiald today i learned “documentation” is a word a lot of people on mastodon don’t understand.

@zensaiyuki Honestly that's simply not been my experience. Of course academic writing isn't written in ordinary language, because it's not dealing with ordinary ideas. Like any field of knowledge, the more complex the ideas get, the more knowledge is assumed of the reader. That's not to say that obscurity is always justified, but sometimes it is necessary. Like any field of knowledge, there are places of introduction. School ought to be one, but it is increasingly deficient.

@garfiald you seem to be missing my basic point: any academic language is a class signifier. ordinary people don’t get to go to literary analysis classes. check your privilege.

@zensaiyuki So "vulgarisers" such as pop culture commentators, who were once journalists and TV presenters, but are now increasingly YouTubers and other "content creators", serve as points of entry. People who encounter video essays on YouTube and find the ideas intriguing, can then naturally start reading increasingly complicated things on their topic of interest. You know, like every other field of knowledge.

@garfiald for those who are interested in such things, and can look past the class signifiers, designed specifically in many cases, to broadcast to plebs “this is not for you”. i didn’t believe in such things until I heard the stories of people going to school in rural australia explicitly being told this by their art teachers.

@garfiald the art appreciation culture in australia is some next level classism at work. of course i believe this stuff should be for anyone and everyone. but here elitism is not a fantasy, it’s a real thing that has crushed a lot of people’s interest in art.

@zensaiyuki I encounter clichés about complex ideas being inherently counterrevolutionary all the time. The truth is, nowadays, if there's a bit of political theory I don't understand, the first few people I go to come from working class families, some of them haven't been to university, and many have some kind of learning disability. Accessibility does not mean "getting rid of inaccessible things", it means "making things accessible".

@garfiald i don’t believe that complex ideas are inherently counterrevolutionary like in your cliches. what i believe is that people can be a bit ignorant about the implications of their language in cultural contexts outside of their bubble of close friends.

@garfiald to pull an example out of the air, you and I know what “toxic masculinity” is. there may be other people outside of the feminist culture who would fully agree with the *concept* of toxic masculinity. but the specific phrase is like a gang sign that shuts down any possibility of conversation with someone who has been told that “toxic masculinity means men are toxic”

@zensaiyuki I mean that's just misinformation. The answer to such a problem is pretty clearly to spread knowledge about what "toxic masculinity" means rather than to adopt a different term. Adopting a different term would make all the previous writing about "toxic masculinity" harder to understand, since you'd have to learn 2 different terms then

@garfiald i am not arguing to use a different term. I am arguing the concept of cultural cognition. words aren’t pure crystals of meaning, they’re more like tofu, taking on the flavor of whatever soup they’re swimming in, and most communication is signalling group membership, not actual communication, and persuasion happens largely by hearing things from trusted sources, not by logical argument.

@garfiald in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to try talking about toxic masculinity without using the specific phrase. that doesn’t require coming up with a new name. but this is getting off the track a bit. my real point is just being aware that, mayyybe, your deep analysis isn’t as accessible as you think it is, and we should really be trying much harder to make it so.

@garfiald understanding this, it starts to make sense why, once, i found that a coworker was so sure that anita sarkeesian was “crazy” despite admitting that he’s never watched one of her videos. he’s taking the word of a trusted youtuber.

@garfiald the usual response from a lot of lefty twitter would be to mock his gullibility, but i think that’s squandering opportunities in bulk.

@zensaiyuki I appreciate the advice, but I am familiar with this idea

@garfiald meh
often enough interpretations not really a product of the work being interpreted, but the interpreter themselves. as in: the author totally didn't intend that (as in: it's not that deep).
they can still be totally awesome, though.

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