I have a question about “society” and how it plays a role in visual culture and understanding. In class Jeff gave an example that if he were in class wearing leather pants that we would all laugh because of how not “normal” it would be for him to wear leather pants while teaching. Granted, I think that it would have been normal (as probably a lot of you) considering how we know Jeff. But! Society would have said, “No that is not normal.”

What is the role of society in all this? We have talked and read a lot about the individual, but I’m curious about the community as a whole and would it be possible for a group of individuals to jointly decide on what is or is not art and the effects that might have on understanding. In class we talked about how hermeneutics emphasizes on the individual and his/her activity (i think?) and that structuralism is that an understanding is an effect that is caused, but from class seemed also focused on the individual…. what about community, society, groups of people, etc?

I feel more confused now than I was before writing all of this down so I will add more questions..

Society and time seem to play some sort of role here. We are born and raised within society and therefore there are “societal norms” that are around us and in our environment. If understanding is based on interpretation, configuration of thoughts and feelings, and the other two meanings, then can our “understanding” actually be genuine or has it been “brainwashed” by how we are raised? How much of our own thoughts and interpretation can we really call “ours”? Therefore, can we actually have an understanding based on our own free will or is our understanding “given” to us based on how we were brought up?

Rather, how much of our interpretation is influenced by society and is that a bad thing? (I think it is.)