I’ve spent a lot of my time reading/writing/analyzing analyses. From my very first day in my freshman English class reading To Kill a Mockingbird to doing literally anything in the humanities, I’ve learned to automatically ask, “What was the author’s intent?” I’ve analyzed literature, music, film, and theatre (as well as analytical essays in all of those disciplines) pretending to know why Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Abbas Kiarostami did what they did. Makes you wonder if analysis is just a grown up way to play pretend.
So when I had to choose an Origin Piece for the Gateway experiments, it was no surprise that most of my college writing was analyzing someone else’s work. After scrolling through analyses on analyses, I found an essay that I wrote my freshman year for a course on Iranian Cinema. (Side note: I don’t know how that class ended up in my schedule, either.) The analysis was on a very touching film directed by Majid Majidi called The Color of Paradise. I was quite moved when I first watched it – and then I realized I had to analyze it.
Analysis can be engaging but it can also feel very dry, as if the process of asking “why?” is actually sucking the life out of the very thing you’re exploring. This was how I felt when analyzing The Color of Paradise. I felt pretentious when the film itself felt modest and unassuming. It felt as though Majid Majidi did not create this film to be taken apart, but to be taken in its experience. I can’t explain it, but I didn’t feel quite right. Who was I to pretend to know why he made the choices he did? And why did it matter? Why couldn’t I analyze the film for the meaning that I took on my own?
Fast forward a year later to Experiment #3. These questions hadn’t left me in that year, so I decided to poke fun at analysis as a process:
Step 1. I would “interview” the director of a movie that was really just myself pretending to have the answers.
Step 2. My construction of Majid Majidi wouldn’t be able to confirm nor deny my analysis because he is speaking only as a construction.
Step 3. I challenge the analytical film world and suggest that one can still derive meaning as an individual without having to pretend to know the creator’s intent.
Step 4. The world still turns.
And that is my Fully-Realized Experiment: poking fun at how we dress our personal findings in a pretend game of knowing the creator’s intent. Go ahead – analyze it if you like.