It may not be all in the facts, but it needs to begin with the facts.
This is a general principle I want my students to follow when interpreting texts (that is, novels, plays, poems, films, etc.). If I assign them a story to read and then ask them what it signifies--what it's really about--they must know the facts of the story in order to do this. I was recently reminded by a colleague that interpretation--that nearly favorite passtime of English teachers--begins with the facts. It's a simple, obvious truth, yet one that we often forget.
I have had some remarkably random interpretations of stories and poems cast my way over the years, and I can safely say that the primary culprit is a misunderstanding of the facts. (Of course, there is that other bug-a-boo of students probing for that "hidden, deeper meaning"... the one that may or may not be where they're trying to dig.) To do interpretation we must at least know the face-value of the very basic facts of what we're interpreting. Even with an understanding of the facts, it's still possible to misinterpret, but at least we can work our way back to them and then start anew when conflicting or skewed interpretations occur.
Interestingly enough, this same principle holds true in real life as well. When we are working through problems, talking with people, interacting in and through our relationships, watching television, surfing the net, scanning Facebook posts--you name it--we need to be sure we have our facts straight, lest we fly off into non sequitur land when we begin interpreting all the words, images, sounds, smells, etc., that make up the very atmosphere of our day to day existence. On countless occassions my kids have been angered, frustrated, sad--or the opposite extremes--delighted, encouraged, happy, because of their failing to base their interpretation of things on the facts. (How many times have I as an adult done the same thing?)
So here's my thought for you today: when doing interpretation--in class or in life--be sure you know the facts first. Oh sure, we can get all philosophical about lenses of interpretation, worldviews, religious views, etc., but we still have to interpret this world in terms of the facts. Otherwise, we don't really stand a chance at making interpretations... much less, understanding each other.