Can there exist an objective understanding of a work of art outside of the artist’s intention? I admit, I’m befuddled by those who say “yes”.
Whenever this debate arises, I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when the characters are in line outside of a theater. Behind them, a man pontificates on the meaning behind the works of artists from Fellini to Marshall McLuhan. Exasperated, Woody Allen’s character calls him on his obnoxious behavior and produces Mr. McLuhan, who explains to the man that his insights are all wrong.
At the end of the scene, Woody Allen breaks the fourth wall and laments that life doesn’t work this way. He produced a deus ex machina moment that transcends reality, leaving the audience with the shared frustration that awkward situations often have no satisfying solution.