Hermeneutics means the study of interpretation:
- How and why do people interpret things in the ways that they do?
- What makes for a productive interpretation?
Years ago I attended a mystifying piece of modern theatre (Romeo Castellucci’s Genesi) with various members of my family. At half time, my wife, my mum, and myself came out with white faces, wide eyes, and startled bewilderment: “What on earth?! What’s with all the nakedness? What language were they speaking? Did anyone understand any of that?!” Then my dad calmly piped up: “Wasn’t it interesting how the man realised that he needed to leave everything he valued behind in order to make progress and enter?” We whipped our heads around to look at him with shocked incredulity: “What man?! How did you work that out? How on earth did you come to that understanding?!” As he explained, I realised that there were indeed ways of appreciating the work which I had entirely missed. And although they weren’t scientifically “objective,” neither were they random or unsophisticated.
So how does one interpret a piece of art in a sensitive and productive way, whether theatre, visual arts, or music? Stay tuned…