First, I want to point you to an interview (yes, another one!) with Drew Bittner over at SFRevu for your perusal. There is also a glowing review at selfsame site also written by Mister Bittner, (WARNING: this is a little spoilery, so, if you have NOT read Factotum head over there at you own peril.)
Now, the following was caused by but has only some connection with the comments previous about art being work or reaction. On I go...
Dare I admit I actually have very little truck for the whole post-modern, "It's all the the eye of the beholder/ reader interpretation is supreme" thing.
Reader reaction/participation is vital: I write very much to create a particular set of reactions in you all - of brand new vistas, of wonder, of adventure on an adult scale, of (I hope and strive) some small portion of the life-changing wonder I had when first reading LotR as a 12 year old.
As an illustrator it always struck me that the intent of the creator and the reaction they are looking to provoke was/is the primary point. Heck, half the time I was just filling the requirements of a brief, but then would have folks insisting to me all these wondrous "artistic" notions in my work that I never meant, nor knowingly put in.
The counter to this is, obviously, the "Freudian" one, that I could not help put deeper elements into my work. While this may be - and is probably - true, the alchemy of my "stuff" with theirs seems to also bring about an element of fiction within my viewers reaction too, an attributing to me things not necessarily so. Yet who am I to deny such response?! Without the reader/viewer what is the point? What is MBT without your participation? A bunch of ideas rolling about my head. For years I tried to show people H-c stuff, to which the common response was bemusement or boredom. Though i might have been making stuff up for the fun of it - for myself - I was clearly looking for an audience, for participation, reaction, validation.
So I suppose we find ourselves with a synthesis. Creations are made to be participated in, reader/viewer response is vital (unavoidable, indeed, sought after!), yet the creator's intent surely has a place, surely what I wanted to make deserves some respect, some consideration?
Oftentimes I have not (and I quote from Amazon):
"that was the worst book i have ever read. dm cornish is a hack. never read this book. " (the author's punctuation/capitalisation)
"Someone please tell me how anyone (ANYONE!) can get past the truly awful title. And after you achieve that monumental goal, how can you navigate the vinegar seas and bleeble blabble names that are intended to justify this as a truly unique creation and world? I, for one, couldn't manage the feat."
So who is right here?
The post-modern response would go something along the lines of, "well, for these readers that is what MBT is..." i.e. rubbish. But IS MBT rubbish just because they say it is. Again, p-m thought will assert that for these too folk it is. Indeed, my stories are not perfect (despite the flarings of my ego insisting otherwise) and I can understand how they might not be everyone's cup o' tea, but surely my intent in penning rates some contemplation and even merit from even the harshest critic?
So who is right?
There seems to me to be another factor at play here, one very hard to fix down, even dangerous to do so: the notion of something having merit in and of itself regardless of opinion. Yet what/who(!) arbitrates such a reckoning? Are not humans the deciders of such things? Yet - for example - as we see with the Amazon quotes, there are those who revile MBT, though many of you here think it worthy. Who is correct? Is it the majority voice? Is it that if we get enough saying it is "good" then it is, and the few who did/do not like it are free to their opinion? In a way this works, but what if the majority say that something bad is good, as in the citizens of the Haacobin empire holding all monsters as bad? There are only a few who dare to acknowledge otherwise, yet we find that the majority are not in line with what is actually the case, but the minority.
So what happens then?
Our majority model has collapsed.
Who arbitrates what is so here?
The issue maybe, in the end, is that we in this age of pluralism, dare not say another's sentiment or notion is wrong for genuine fear that we ourselves might be subject to such a charge; that in some close held idea, we too might be wrong, and this is intolerable (I sure don't like holding the thought for too long!). So rather than let this dread event occur we say instead everyone is right, formulate theories to maintain the same, and remain in our cocoon of "rightness"...
There seems to me something going on here that is beyond neat theories.
My word I bake my own noodle sometimes... :\
(I have probably made no sense at all... ACK!)