In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode ‘Once Upon an Ed’, the title named trio got trapped in a wall of an acquaintance’s room, and they told very different stories of how did they got stuck in the first place: Eddy’s tale has him as a very popular fellow who runs a Jawbreaker bank & his pals work there with the neighborhood kids nearly worshiping him like a god; Edd’s is more sensible and in the real world as well, with the trio running a ‘bank’ & Ed and Eddy scaring their first customer, while Ed’s is the most fictional (with their worst nightmare the Kanker Sisters turning into giantesses from eating radioactive-dosed mashed potatoes and chasing after them) and yet explains how did they got stuck there in the first place. Sounds familiar?
This is a case of the Rashomon effect: named after the Japanese film Rashomon which was discussed a few Literary Theory entries ago. This will also involve with the use & application of Hermeneutics & the film in applying concepts there.
Remember Stanley Fish & Wolfgang Iser. Their concepts will explain how these interpretation can go in this previous entry: Rashomon Analysis with Fish & Iser. Now to the basic parts: According to them, there are different interpretations people gained from looking at certain literary work (or in this case, a cartoon TV show). They also talked about interpretative communities as integral in analyzing any work of art. Fish also note that one will get different interpretations from reading different works, while many will have the same look at reading at the same work.
Kurosawa‘s Rashomon is the finest example of Hermeneutics: the witnesses & the people have different views of the incident (rape & murder) with them being the ‘innocent one’ & the others guilty, yet all of these (as well as the viewers’ own interpretations) are neither right or wrong. It’s possible that any can be correct, regardless of how one explains in so many ways. Surprisingly, that episode is an ode to the film itself.
Let’s have these unlikely teachers’ tales being the examples. All of them have different looks of how they got stuck into the wall. All of these can be correct, but these stories are not right, nor are they right. Fish is also right that the readers play an important role in making meaning to a text, instead of the author. In this analogy, the Eds are the Readers, regardless of their education per se; the hole incident is the text; their strange stories are THEIR interpretation. Yet, these are open-ended and anyone can guess what happened or happens next after these are told.
Needless to say, Once Upon an Ed is a critical application of how does the reader look at anything can affect how the audience should see the work or event as what it should be see or told. As the first lines in Rashomon once explain, ‘I don’t understand…’
* Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.