[Overanalysis Over Analysis was my original title, but it makes no sense. Neither does the current one, but dagnabbit I'm putting that over in somehow.]
What is overanalysis? Why do people hate it so?
To answer that, we’ll first need to figure out what we’re really talking about: literary analysis, which isn’t really quite ‘analysis’. Then, we’ll try to bridge the gap between analyses and opinions, which really aren’t too far apart. Finally, we’ll see if said hate actually exists, and then if it’s warranted, which really something really. Finally (part two), we’ll move into the realm of the ~IMAGINARY~ so I can stop saying really imaginary really imaginary really. Seriously.
I recently wrote several scathing posts on overanalysis being a BAD thing because it was over analysis, I was analysis, and I didn’t like having things be over me. Those posts are devoid of content because they’re me blowing off steam after reading some dumb analyses (being too cowardly to directly reply).
Then, syncoroll made me realize just what ‘analysis’ is: that is to say, I didn’t actually KNOW what analysis was.
To the Dictionary.com!
1. the separating of any material or abstract entity into its constituent elements
2. this process as a method of studying the nature of something or of determining its essential features and their relations
In other words, completely unlike my (by extension, ‘our’, assuming you’re also an uneducated boor) conception of literary analysis. When we talk about ‘overanalysis’, we’re talking about splitting a holistic piece into too many pieces, which are like whole pieces except 1. they’re different definitions of ‘piece’ and 2. it’s unholistic, which means it’s ETERNALLY DAMNED
Maybe we’ll talk about actual analysis later. My wrongful understanding of literary analysis seems to have a different word for it:
1. to give or provide the meaning of; explain; explicate; elucidate
2. to construe or understand in a particular way
That’s it! When we talk about analyses, we’re generally talking about INTERPRETATIONS! Maybe I’ll analyse analyses later but interpretations is what we want to focus on. (Or maybe my lack of recent literary participation has backwatered me.)
Meaning is different to each of us. We were all born and raised (or born and lowered, if for example you were born on the peak of a howling mountain and your maturation occurred alongside a eighteen-year trek to the bottom) in different environments, and our perspectives are all incomparable.
How can we tell?
We look at our opinions—the thoughts we think when we experience something (LOVE IS JUST AN OPINI-), such as watching a movie. People have different opinions on its quality (or its QUALITY), for different reasons—many which only make sense to one person’s unique mindset. Case in point: I really liked watching The Sacred Star of Milos (even though I’ve never watched Brotherhood) because the background faces were too QUALITY and all dialogue scenes were still frames with hilariously wide-open mouths. OK, THEY WERE HILARIOUS TO ME I’M ENTITLED TO MY OWN OPINION SECOND AMENDMENT BLAH BLAH BLAH. also i have a gun
What happens when you try to explain your opinion to someone else? Well, you show them your reasons and hope they understand. Usually, they won’t accept your entire argument—because certain reasons are only valid to some people!—but they might understand some of it.
What happens when you write down your explanation to show someone else?
Well, don’t we now have an interpretation? In fact, everything from the beginning was an interpretation—ALL YOUR OPINIONS are simply your UNIQUE WAY of INTERPRETING external data, and tautologically, ALL INTERPRETATIONS are simply the author’s OPINION.
Many people hate ‘overanalysis’ because it’s TOO analysis for them (that’s what over- means). How can something be too analysis for someone? Why has my grammar degraded faster than a slope being flattened by a steamroller? The joke is that before flattening, said slope had a grade, but post-flattening, it doesn’t; thus the grade was removed and the slope DEGRADED and now you just made me RUIN my OWN JOKE!!! Now it’s SUPERFLAT!!!!11!1 sorry
Analyses are just interpretations, which are just opinions, right? (Right.) Can an opinion be ‘too much’?
Yes, they can. Consider a staunch individualist Republican presented with three alternative economies: laissez-faire capitalism, the welfare state, and flat-out communism. Laissez-faire capitalism is acceptable, because he agrees with the OPINION; a welfare state is pretty bad, because he disagrees; flat-out communism is TOO bad because he REAAAAAAAAAAALLY disagrees. No imaginary disagreeing here.
Now (we’re gradually sliding closer to disagreeing about analyses), consider a not-deaf/not-dead Beethoven presented with three different interpretations of his 9th symphony: one by the Cityville Philharmonic Orchestra (no, don’t search that up), one arranged by Liszt for solo piano, and one sung by Justin Bieber over loud dubstep. The Cityville Philharmonic Orchestra is acceptable, because Beethoven agrees with their INTERPRETATION (which is his own); Liszt’s is probably alright, because he doesn’t disagree; Justin Bieber’s dubstepmix is TOO bad because he REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLY disagrees. Hopefully.
So opinions can be too much and interpretations can be too much.
Now consider a Guilty Crown fanatic surfing cross the ‘sphere presented with three different analyses: one praising Guilty Crown’s awesomeness, one praising Guilty Crown’s QUALITY, and one denouncing Guilty Crown’s lack of quality. The first is acceptable because he agrees with their analysis, which is just an interpretation, which is just their OPINION. The second is pretty bad, because he disagrees that Guilty Crown had QUALITY, and the last is TOO bad because he REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLY disagrees.
Gosh that was long and unnecessary.
tl;dr: the reason anyone thinks something is ‘overanalysing’ is because they DISAGREE with the author’s OPINION. In fact, all analyses are interpretations, which are just opinion; we don’t like analyses that don’t fit our own opinions.
I hope that clears things up, especially with the whole debate about ‘objective’ reviewing. At heart, all artistic commentary is pure opinion. Perhaps ALL communication is opinion, save truths by definition. Next up, we’ll publish up something about finding meaning in art through—that’s right—differing interpretations. That’s right, welcome to ~epistemology month~!