I keep ending up in conversations with people who don’t want their art (usually writing, but we’ll go with “art”) to mean.
“Well, here’s what I got out of your story,” I say. “What did you WANT me to get out of it?”
“Oh, nothing. In fact, I aimed to confuse you,” or “I wanted you to get that it was banal and shallow,” or “I wanted you to feel bored, experience tedium, understand monotony etc.,” or “I wanted you to be unsure of exactly what took place, plot-wise.”
I am to the point where I hate this shit. I mean, I can see the point of trying to create productive doubt in the reader. Maybe. By my definition of productive doubt, anyway, which is more like meditating on things we think are real and true that upon reflection aren’t, or oughtn’t be. There are artworks that thematize doubt in a way I can get behind (Borges’ The Aleph, although that’s a hella simplistic reading of that text…am trying to avoid using the word “ontology,” shudder).
But I seriously don’t get making any of these problems the endgame of your art. I see how by trying to not make a point, that then becomes the point–you can’t get outside the problem; art can’t NOT mean. But because this is the case, I’m sick of people who seem intent on ONLY thematizing this problem, as if the desire to not mean–or even just mean something boring, or mean something so confusing you can’t follow it–were somehow therefore interesting.