On interpreting Richard Armitage

Since it’s come up, I’ll say a little about this theme. I didn’t feel the need to speak about this before, but perhaps it’s time. Readers should not understand this as me drawing a line in the sand. I’m still eager to hear everyone’s opinions, positive and negative. It seems, though, that I need to reiterate and expand upon my assumptions so that feelings don’t get hurt.

As a historian, I am a poststructuralist manqué. I have already stated in introducing myself that the main sources for this blog (me, Richard Armitage) are sources only of indeterminacy as far as I am concerned. I am not an extreme epistemological skeptic, so I will go only so far as to say that I assume that while Mr. Armitage and I may both exist, I believe that I can know nothing “real” about his existence. I accept the poststructuralist maxim that we cannot abstract ourselves from the world of signs in which we live, signs that determine both Mr. Armitage’s appearance and my interpretation of it.

What does this mean in practice?

I am writing this blog for me, and those people who want to talk to me as I am. I am not going to change my interpretive stance. I am not writing for money, publicity, or approval, though of course the latter is always gratifying! I may also be writing for Mr. Armitage, though I don’t pass on any of this stuff to him via his agents, don’t assume he is reading, and wouldn’t change what I write if I knew he were. If he is a system of signification in the sense that I believe him to be, that status would not change if I were to somehow meet him or be in contact with him in “real life”–it would only influence the properties of the system, not destroy it.

The blog title stands and readers should take it seriously, particularly the order of the names, which is explained in “About” on the sidebar. The reason for that title choice is that this blog offers my interpretation of information I receive and process about Richard Armitage. I am also very interested in others’ perspectives on my interpretations. Readers are invited to disagree but they should be civil and they should keep in mind that I have reasons for doing what I am doing that may not be susceptible to their criticisms.

I am not a historicist, here. I do not aim to aggregate all of the information disseminated about him in the media or provide a complete archive of his career. Many great sites already do that, and as I am a professional historicist, I respect the meticulous, hard work that goes into it and am grateful for those people’s efforts–I couldn’t do what I do if they didn’t do what they do–, but that is not my task. Neither will I discuss every moment of his career or everything about his life that makes it into the public domain. I only am interested in the things that interest me, from the perspectives that interest me. (There are also things about his life and career that interest me that I will not discuss on this blog. I don’t know what all of them are yet, but at least one is clear to me.) The sole purpose of this blog is to interpret Mr. Armitage in light of my own perspectives. Hence my frequent statement that this blog is only tangentially about Mr. Armitage. My primary stance is one of (drooling) fascination. My primary technique is critical textual and visual analysis. I am a skilled textual interpreter; I am learning about analyzing film and pictures.

Readers should be aware that I do not assume that anything Mr. Armitage says can be taken at face value. Some of his statements seem more plausible to me than others. At the same time, we should assume that he is not telling us everything that might be true about himself or his career. I assume that he has been learning over the years what it behooves him to say in particular situations, that in a publicity situation he has been advised what he can/can’t, or should/shouldn’t say, and that anything he says may or may not be true on the face of it. He may even have reasons to wish to mislead us. Similarly, I assume that interpretations of his career, his acting or his actions that are not articulated by him may also be plausible, depending on context. Moreover, I assume that in situations where we as consumers do not have all of the information about the context in which he was speaking, multiple misunderstandings occur that may or may not be susceptible to analysis.

Furthermore, I do not assume that Mr. Armitage is the sole authority on the meaning of his career or the interpretation of his roles. I have offered and will offer criticisms of his statements on his own acting.

Finally, I do not assume that Mr. Armitage or his work are perfect. I will offer criticisms as I see fit, and they will be respectful in line with my definition of respectfulness.

I may add to this from time to time if the need arises.

~ by Servetus on May 18, 2010.

20 Responses to “On interpreting Richard Armitage”

  1. Isn’t that the particular attraction of blogs, that the reader is getting the blogger’s own perspective on aspects of life they are fascinated by? I have a small selection of blogs on RA that I visit and I appreciate the differences between them. There’s a blog for every mood and occasion, the tongue-in-cheek, the thought-provoking, the out-and-out drool and sometimes a combination of all these. Perhaps yours is the blog that has been most intellectually challenging for me, especially with your historian’s background.
    But so glad you mentioned drooling as one of your stances. This is an aspect of Richard we can’t avoid, surely, no disrepect intended!


  2. Like you, the #1 reason I blog is for myself. It’s not a job, just a hobby we enjoy, and if others like it… great! (If not, that’s a bummer, but they don’t have to visit.)


  3. So the net of it is that you determine the rules here. Love it!

    I absolutely blog for myself. Well, that and to keep from driving SO crazy.

    As to post-structuralist manque, it seems a redundant title, and I chuckled at the idea of post-structuralists resisting a label.


    • Yeah. I could have titled the blog “me,” except that it would have failed to attract the people who are interested in Richard Armitage and convinced that he actually exists. 🙂

      Historians have had a hard time with poststructuralism, since there are historical artefacts that appear to exist independently (not just as discourses). I see myself as stuck in a triangle between historicism, structuralism, and poststructuralism (hence the “manqué” remark — also redundant as the sign of a failure of a discourse), but I realize that for most people who are likely to read this blog my stance must be frighteningly poststructural.


  4. It is the blogger’s prerogative and responsibility to determine the intent and tone of the blog. It is done admirably at this site. The title, does indeed, state intent and the site allows an exchange of views/perspectives, which is enlightening. We may disagree violently (not!) with utmost politesse :).


  5. Like MillyMe there are several different “RA” blogs that I visit and it fascinates me and keeps me coming back for more! If they were all the same – why would I bother? I can just google and get pics and read interviews.
    I have discovered books, movies, art, humour, fanfic, interviews, and yes even discovered things about myself through reading the various blogs. Heck – I’ve even wrote poetry! LOL
    I want to thank you and the other bloggers/commenters who are respectful in their posts.


    • Isn’t poetry writing fun? Especially when the object is so delightful?


      • Well to be honest…I’m really not a poet and do not read much poetry. But with RA as my muse – how can I go wrong!! (insert happy sighing here).

        There once was an actor named Richard
        Whose presence made us all richer
        A gangly lad he is not
        We all think he’s hot
        Regardless of what he is wearing in his pictures

        (don’t worry – keeping my day job!)


  6. Or what he’s NOT wearing in his pictures. Thanks for making me giggle, tyme4t! 🙂


  7. Why do you feel you have to defend yourself? You´re a blogger, you set the rules for your own blog. And your edge is that you blog about RA with an intelligent twist. That leaves me to not do the same 😦 LOL! I´ve set up my blog, because with all the different blogs around, I wanted to read something I would like to read myself even if I don´t completely agree with my current carried away-state. I´ve been missing it and want to be original between all the other blogs around. I keep reading the serious blogs, the critical blogs, funny blogs etc. and I´m glad that they differ.
    We don´t differ on analysing the drool over RA and analysing the source: the man, the information given through the press and the acted portrayals.


  8. […] If you're inclined to attack me, though, please just stop reading; I'm done writing apologias for my interpretive strategies. As a consequence of heavy exposure to debates in philosophy of language as they apply to the […]


  9. Interpretive methods are always subject to criticism, which is a shame (as devotee of interpretive sociology myself!). I guess criticism is more likely to be offered when the interpretation steers into (what we sociologists call) ‘sympathetic introspection’, which is prone to be misunderstood by critics as ‘speaking for’ the subject rather than ‘an interpretation’ of the subject. When the subject is not accessible and therefore is unable to provide the insight that one seeks, what other method is there? Via la interpretive!


    • I’m pretty much convinced that everything is interpretation, although I haven’t resolved the conflict that that raises either for my ethics or my own disciplinary activities like research.


  10. […] just a narcissistic way to out-fangrrrrrrrrrrrl my fellow fangrrrls. And, of course, as a poststructuralist manqué, I reveal a great deal of my own positions in the attempt to be self-reflexive, though a true […]


  11. […] interested to hear what you think. (By “approaching the discursive limits,” we poststructuralists mean that the vehicles established for the conveyance of particular content are starting to strain […]


  12. […] moments of fiction into the course narrative. That probably strikes you as a weird decision, given my poststructuralist creed, but that’s a stance I’ve worked out for myself after weighing all kinds of evidence […]


  13. […] so I’m naturally going to be skeptical of any non-contextual claims about human nature; as a poststructuralist manqué, I also tend to see evolution as a discourse, a representation of reality, which is at best […]


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