In his essay, Fish addresses the reasons behind why the same reader will interpret different texts in different ways, and also why different readers will interpret the same text in a similar way if each reader interprets a text independently. In order to give an explanation on the one hand of the stability of interpretation and on the other of the orderly variety of interpretation, Fish proposes the theory of “ interpretive community”. According to Fish, the interpretive community is “made up of those who share interpretive strategies not for reading (in the conventional sense) but for writing texts, for constituting their properties and assigning their intentions”. (219). Each interpretive community share its own reading methodology and therefore depending to which interpretive community the readers belong, they make certain shared assumptions prior to the process of reading that influence their interpretation of the texts. This is the explanation for the stability of interpretation among different readers in the same interpretive community and why there are disagreements between different communities.
In my opinion, Fish is saying that the readers hold all the power in determining the interpretation, and both authorial intention and formal features are produced by their interpretive assumptions and procedures the readers bring to the text (basing on their personal experiences, cultural background and knowledge, rather than on the formal elements of the texts themselves to determine the way a work is interpreted, and what it means). The reader’s interpretive perceptions and the skills that one uses to interpret works are individually learned, and developed as they are traits that are not inherently with us; and depend on the assumptions shared by the interpretative community that the reader belongs, which explains why some of us interpret things a different way than others.
I understand and agree with Fish that certain nuances in meaning are subjective and projected onto the text by the reader, but are we to completely ignore authorial intention?