Two in One

I’ve been thinking more about how art mingles with an attentive audience’s sense of perspective, specifically the differences to this equation posed by various mediums.

The three art forms under consideration: cinema, theater, and literature.

Though it might sound like an over-generalization, I find that the first two provide more external perspectives, whereas books submerge readers in interiority. 

Which probably seems like an obvious observation: novels describe their worlds, whereas movies and shows depict those worlds, while also offering filtered commentary on the proceedings. On stage and screen, even stories like A Strange Loop, set inside a character’s brain, still need to present corporeal manifestations of internal existence.

How does this fundamental difference affect the ways that these mediums engage with our own perspectives on our lives?

Personally, books tend to worm their way into my cranium to such a degree that I begin to view my world through the prism of the book’s perspective. A book’s narrator — AKA: its primary perspective — acts as a running inner monologue, a voice that clings to my cognition away from the page. Another perspective lodges into my headspace, creating a shared, mingled perspective on, well, everything. 

Yes, movies and shows put forth ideas that alter my perception and conception, but more often than not, they’re rooted in aesthetic insights. Both mediums are, intrinsically, studies of the visual world, centered around the human body, coloring my everyday analysis of the relationship between physical behavior and the truth such outward appearances may (or may not) represent.

Literature, on the other hand, resides in the realm of the mind, bridging the consciousness of narrator and reader in an ever-evolving conversation. Even when I’m not actively reading, a book’s perspective reorients how I process daily understanding, reflecting my own perspective against another.

If movies and shows lend us their eyes, then a book operates on our psyches, a more intimate merging of perspectives.

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