"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", or is it?

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In reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor what struck me was in chapter 2 pg. 7 the quote "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".  This statement stopped me from reading and began thinking that this is so true, that people's interpretations are formed by their own beliefs, customs, culture and thoughts.  This causes things to be taken, or made more of then they really are.  Perception plays a huge role in this and can persuade anyone to lean one direction or another to interpret something they wish, or believe it to be.  Things may be more than what they seem to be, but who is to really say it is or isn't?  They could be simply what it is and no more, or it could be so much more.  We all in class may pick a line to respond to but it is interesting to see how many different responses or thoughts that may result from analyzing it.  We each will form our own opinions and believe them to be true and dear to our own heart, right, wrong, indifferent or the same.  We are our own judge in this area, and even if someone was to tell you that you are wrong, you will still believe it to be true because you have faith in your emotional or unemotional response to it.

1 Comments

I'm glad to see you are opening your mind up to the pleasure of seeking multiple possible interpretations.

There are many "possible" or "plausible" or even "useful" interpretations of any given work, but some of those will have more evidence in their favor, and part of intellectual pleasure of doing a literary interpretation is looking for which of many possible readings is backed up by more evidence.

If person A has a strong emotional response to a text, but person B identifies specific passages in the text that work against A's emotional interpretation, in a college literature class we will tend to favor the textual evidence over the faith/emotional response.

When we can explain our responses by pointing to specific passages in the text, we are more persuasive. And discussing our diverse responses to the same texts is a big part of what we'll be doing in class.

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