I don't have the answers to life's most persistent questions. But I have been thinking about Art lately. Specifically, I've been thinking about the connections between Asthetics and Religion. One commonality between the two aparently disparate subjects is the presence of Tension (by the way, a habit I've picked up in the long months since my last post is to capitalize those key and important Concepts).
In art as well as hermeneutics there is a fundamental tension between the artist's/author's intent/emotional expression and the audience's reception. In the philosophy of art this tension is expressed in the writings of Veron and Tolstoy. Veron tells us that the only meaning art can have is found in the personality of the artist. Art is the expression of the artist's emotion. Art must be viewed in the context of the author to have meaning. Tolstoy modifies this theory to say that in addition to expressing the emotions of the artist, Art, in order to meet the definition, must also connect with the audience. Tolstoy places much more emphasis on the role of the audience in the interpretation of art.
The same debate rages in the field of Biblical Hermeneutics. Much of evangelical hermeneutics these days is based on the idea that the author's intent is the thing to be grasped and understood as a basis for "making the interpretive journey" accross the cultural chasm which lies between the original Biblical authors and contemporary readers. It's logical, it's comforting, it makes sense. The only problem is that Jesus and His disciples did not interpret scripture that way, nor did the Church Fathers. Their hermeneuitic is far more subjective? prophetic? The historio-critical (for that is what I will call it) Hermeneuitc emerged slowly from the Enlightenment and especially from 19th century scholarship. So is the normative example of Biblical hermeneutics Jesus, or is it some stogidy German university professor (19th century), or some Fuller Seminary Ph.D. (21st century)?
To further "complexify" the issue, consider that the same debate can be had in Constitutional hermeneutics. Should the Constitution be interpreted according to the intent and context of the the Framers (a la Sculia), or should it interpreted based on the needs and context of contemporary America.
Apparently (maybe obviously), the Tension between Author/Audience is one implicit in any interpretative venture. Well, it seemed profound when I thought it, but now that I write it down I feel like a bonehead. More on this later (here's the beauty of ambiguous authoral intent: did I mean more on the connections between Art and Religion, more on the Tensions of Hermeneutics, or more on me being a bonehead?).
Anyway, I present to you one of my new favorite artists: Giorgio Morandi (he was kind of in to still lifes).