By show of hands, how many of you are familiar with the coastline paradox? Put down your hands; that was a rhetorical device. For those of you who didn’t have your hands up, or who haven’t opened a new tab to Google it yet, the coastline paradox is the counterintuitive observed fact of nature that coastlines (or national borders, or any irregular boundary), having the fractal property of possessing features at any scale, tend towards infinity as their length is more accurately measured. The distance a mapper comes up with depends on the size of the “ruler” they choose, and rather than tending towards a more specific and more accurate value as the ruler gets smaller (as it would when measuring something straight or mathematically regular), it just gets bigger and bigger.
A postulate: most people who complain about the breadth of a work’s interpretations (whether they ascribe those interpretations to ignoring authorial intention, historical revisionism, cultural Marxism, “the writer must have been smoking something”, etc.) are actually recognizing a kind of narrative coastline paradox. They join the discourse expecting that it will resolve into a One, True interpretation — that the question of what a given work means has a discrete answer, and all of our frothing talk about it is an attempt to surface that answer. There’s an expectation that as the work is examined with more precision, greater accuracy, mapped in higher resolution, it will tend towards some value we can all agree on. Instead, the coastline only grows ever more involuted. If you look closely enough at anything, it will unfold to include everything.
Cats is the film version of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber sung-through musical, one of the longest-running Broadway shows of all time. The movie’s production was troubled, it came out just before the world ended and reviews were… mixed. They said it couldn’t be done, and now you get to decide whether they were right! Note: for no particular reason, REWIND would like to remind you that costumes are allowed at Tampa Theatre.