That's the point I don't seem to be able to get across. The author (there's no indication it was Chaucer) didn't want you to know anything. He wanted you to feel something.
You're parsing words. If the author intended the reader to feel something then he had an intent that he intended his words to accomplish. That, again, is my point. If the author's goal is for me to feel something and I felt what he wanted me to feel then he achieved his intent. Bravo! If he wanted me to feel anything and I felt something, so what? Anything that can stimulate a sensory response can do that. This is what Faulkner meant about writing not of the heart but of the glands. And again, this is counter to Eliot (my apologies for repeatedly misspelling his name previously) who said:
[good poems constitute] 'not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion
I'm going to repeat my reference from Archibald MacLeish's book, Poetry and Experience: "People often want poetry to 'mean' something that they can carry away with them as knowledge. But, as MacLeish says, what we know we know only in the poem."
Russ, I think you are misappropriating MacLeish. I strongly suspect, as he was sympathetic with Eliot and the New Critics, that what he was saying is that when you approach a poem, you approach it, to the best of your ability, without your own baggage. This is the mantra of the New Critics. The work is all. Don't psychoanalyze it or deconstruct it. And again, this speaks to my point. It is not all about reception. it is equally about intent.
Until you can grasp that point about poetry and about art in general, there's no point going on with this discussion.
That's a rather dogmatic approach to a topic as broad as "art" wouldn't you say? It sets this principle up as the rosetta stone through which art must be interpreted. Do you really believe there is any such a thing? It is also pretty much saying that if I don't look at art the way you do then we can't discuss it, no? I've already benefited from the discussion so I'm sorry you feel that way.
I'm beginning to suspect you're pulling my leg.
Why? What have I said that is not cogent? What have I said that is indefensible? You might not agree but I haven't said a single outlandish thing.
The point isn't that hard to understand.
It is quite simple to understand. It's not that I have a problem understanding it, I just reject it as too constraining and relegates art to nothing more than the eyes of the beholder. And let's put things into perspective. Your's
is the narrower view. And it is the constraint that I disagree with. Of course people react and relate to art differently. Of course time and circumstance shape that. but for you that is where it ends. I simply say there is something else and that something is that what the artist intends to say is important. If you reject this idea, you do so against the letters, writings and criticisms of many great authors. Flannery O'Conner's letters make it concretely clear that she intended to say certain things in her stories and it amazed her how wrong poorly equipped readers often got her work. Faulkner was a little more demur in this regard but it is still there. Robert Penn Warren (our second greatest critic and once poet laureate) is quite clear that artistic expression of intent is critical to a work.
But there is a larger problem with your position. It is a bit of a logic trap. If the only thing that is important in art is the viewer/reader's feelings then clearly, anything goes. And if every opinion is as valid as the next, then by definition there can be no dogma. No rule. No constraint. Which means that your criticism of the jar of piss is no more valid than my seeing it as the pinnacle of artistic expression. And if all experiences are equal, there is no room for real criticism and only popularity remains. And that is called "Pop".
We truly don't seem to be getting anywhere here and it seems like it is getting heated, which is a shame, but I have benefited from the discussion. Any time I have to think hard about and reconsider my beliefs, it is a good thing.