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Or maybe meaning is as meaning does

I know I keep getting back to this whole "what we perceive vs. what is" thing, spiritually. The meaning of meaning. I know it doesn't have significance to everyone. I know it's apples and oranges, I know it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. But it sticks there, in my head.

When I was a kid in school, literature classes often consisted of two things: one, read the required piece, and two, analyze it for meaning. Meaning, at this point in my academic career, may have been complicated to figure out but was simple in its source--the author of the piece. You could look at history to see what the world was like that the author lived in, you could look at the author's background to determine influences of the author's family, experience, personality, but at the end of the day, there almost always was an answer. An answer. And almost always, the meaning of the piece was the meaning that came from the author.

When I got into college and was taking various communication classes (this would be in the mid to late 80s), that was no longer the case. The idea that a written piece's meaning is also influenced by the reader was a new one to me, and one that made (and makes) a lot of intuitive sense. While the author's intended meaning and its influences were still important to consider, and surely have primacy in establishing a piece's meaning, the meaning we bring to what we read and hear and see has its own validity. Sometimes this is due to cultural change over time or place, sometimes to our own experiences (something LJ and DW writers acknowledge when they warn that a link or cut may lead to something "triggery"). These personal, subjective meanings are absolutely valid. But that doesn't necessarily make them correct. Particularly when you take it out of the classroom and onto the spiritual street.

I believe that meaning is something we seek, and it is something we create. Interpretation is individual, but we like our personal gnoses to be substantiated, at least by a few others.

That is the root of why I think about this stuff.


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