25 Points: Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation”

"The Silence" (still), directed by Ingmar Bergman (1963)

“The Silence” (still), directed by Ingmar Bergman (1963)

[Update: I posted a follow-up to this post, here.]


Susan Sontag’s seminal mid-60s essay has come up several times at this site. I’ve been busy rereading it since Xmas, and want to take this chance to set down some thoughts regarding it.


Obviously, whatever interpretation is, Sontag seems against it.


What, then, does Sontag mean by “interpretation”? Does she mean any and all interpretation, as my fellow contributor Chris Higgs recently argued? Or something else, something more specific?


Vicarious MFA / 79 Comments
March 18th, 2013 / 8:01 am

Did I call it or did I call it? Pitchfork’s People’s List

The People Hath Spokeneth:

I predicted:

5. Dismemberment Plan: Emergency & I
4. Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Under the Sea
3. Radiohead: OK Computer
2. Arcade Fire: Funeral
1. Radiohead: Kid A

Turns out I was way off regarding Emergency & I, which ranked only 103rd. But otherwise—not too bad, eh? (Shoulda just gone with more Radiohead!)

Joan of Arc, unsurprisingly, did not crack the Top 200. Also unsurprising, Kanye West is the only black musician in the Top 20! (Outkast adds yet more “diversity” to the list at #35.) And wouldn’t you just love to see a breakdown by color/sex? (Someone get on that!)

In total, 27,981 people voted. Why, that’s almost the number of hipsters who live in Logan Square, Chicago!



Music / 50 Comments
August 22nd, 2012 / 10:13 pm

Pitchfork’s Les Misérables List

Kid Cosette

Have you seen that Pitchfork Media finally wants input from their readers, asking folks to vote for their favorite albums 1996–2012? (That’s years 1–16 Anno Pitchfork.) Between this and The Dark Knight Rises, 2012 sure has been good for the proletariat: rise up, ye 99%, and go watch a movie, and vote online! When you’re finished, you can share your list with friends via Facebook and Twitter. If you like, you can even write a little something about your #1 pick for possible inclusion in the final feature!

You can also check a box to enter a Sweepstakes to win a Trip to the Pitchfork Paris Music Festival, but make sure you READ CAREFULLY the Official Contest Rules

Me, I can’t wait to share my commoner’s thoughts, little though they are. Off the top of my head:

1. Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves
2. They Might Be Giants: Mink Car
3. R.E.M.: Up
4. The Strokes: First Impressions of Earth
5. Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist


Music / 26 Comments
August 10th, 2012 / 10:55 am


Richard Beck: “5.4: Pitchfork, 1995–present,” in the forthcoming n+1.

You know what Pitchfork has always most reminded me of? Ain’t It Cool News.

Massive People / 8 Comments
January 27th, 2012 / 11:34 am

Music / 7 Comments
April 12th, 2011 / 2:42 pm

1. 1st issue of adjnoun comes in a ltd ed of 200, letterpressed and wild with Ohle, Markus, Lopez, myself, some other freaks.
2. Pitchfork runs an article I actually liked reading, on “drag”.
3. Heather Christle be tweeting for the month of June for @harriet_poetry.

Reviews & Technology

Pick it up. Pick it up. Pick it up. Pick it up.


Hey do you remember ska?  I do!  It was SO GOOD.  My parents were all like ‘don’t listen to that razzamatazz!’ and I was like ‘but mom there are HORNS in there!’ and she’s like ‘well, can’t argue with a good horn section…’ and then this gave her the opportunity to make me listen to Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and then I saw the album cover and my eyes were all like ‘boinnnnng!’

I started listening to ska because Melissa Napoleon (happy Bastille Day btw) had a patch on her Jansport that covered up the Jansport that said ‘SKA’ on it!  At first I thought it meant SKATE or POLSKA but nope!  So I went to the Princeton Record Exchange and bought three albums!  Skankin’ Pickle – The Green Album!  Fugazi – Repeater +3 Songs!  Gorilla Biscuits – Start Today!  Two of them changed my life!  One of them did not!

Either way, we can all laugh about it now!  (Literary Ska-Band Names:  David Foster Skalas, The National Books Critic’s Circle Skaward, One Hundred Years of Ska-litude)

Except for SOMEONE WE KNOW.  Yes, Pitchfork Media, the Internet equivalent to that one friend who is kind of a douche but sometimes suggests decent stuff except when they went on that art-noise kick (ew!) had a layout change a few months ago.  In this giant html htmlgiant-like facelift, they did a little bit of housekeeping, including eliminating the 9.5 review they gave of Save Ferris’ debut album ‘It Means Everything’.  A 9.5!  Wha!  You remember those guys!  They were famous for being mis-identified as No Doubt when you downloaded their feel-good cover of ‘Come On Eileen’ off of Napster!  They had a song called ‘Spam’ that was about ‘Spam’ the meat not ‘Spam’ the email!  9.5!

Seriously…the review exists (it was one of the super short ones way back when) and is absolutely nowhere to be found on the Interwebs; a link from Wikipedia is dead.  We at Le Giant are no stranger to unpublishing and the risks of publication online, but this is a conspiracy like that conspiracy movie!  If you can find this review it needs to be saved 4ever!  SAVE SAVE FERRIS

July 14th, 2009 / 7:47 pm