Mighty Jalapeno wrote:I made soup without paprika. You taste paprika. There may indeed be subtle complexities of flavor that I do not pick up on, but others do, so we discuss how the taste of paprika arrived in my soup. The TASTE of paprika is certainly there, while ACTUAL paprika is not. I love those discussions, because different people experience physical and mental and emotional reality completely differently (see my son tasting sesame in EVERYTHING except food with actual sesame in it). By all means, if you eat my soup and want to discuss the paprika taste, I will discuss it with you. However, if you insist there is paprika in it, after I have explained there is not, I will become annoyed. The TASTE is there, brought about by different factors and ingredients, but I did not, in fact, actually add it.
See, that is what I'm trying to say: from a lot of interpretation standpoints (and most of the ones that are concerned with the literature itself and not, for example, your biography or the social climate around you when you wrote), what you actually added is irrelevant. They aren't trying to cook your soup over again, they're trying to talk about the experience of eating it. If the reader or critic comments on what you meant (ie, your intent, or what you added to the soup) you're well within your rights to say that they're wrong (though, because we all have those pesky subconsciouses, they'd be free to suggest that you *did* mean it and didn't know it, but that's neither here nor there). But if they comment on what the work itself means or says (ie, interpreting the text, discussing the taste) then you're not automatically any more qualified to tell them they're wrong than they are to do likewise.
Ixtellor wrote:Is a tree ever just a tree?
Yes and no. It depends on what you mean by "just a tree".
If you mean, can a tree simply be taken literally as a tree? Sure. And you'll get a different interpretation of a text with that literal interpretation in that place than you would have if you'd seen the tree as a symbol or whatever else.
However, if you mean "can 'it's just a tree' ever be the only correct interpretation" then no. Because there is no one 'correct' interpretation, so the interpretation by which it's "just a tree" is always going to be one of several.
And yes, to an english teacher, "it's just a tree" is rarely going to be an acceptable answer from a student, because that's the easiest (and therefore laziest) interpretation, the one anyone can do, and since there are always more, they want you to do some actual work.