Books, movies and music

I graduated out of high school an idiot. I hadn’t read anything, seen anything or heard anything (Everybody anyone?). Now that I’m becoming moderately literate in such things, I think I can make a generalization — the information content (sorry Dr. Shannon, I’m going to abuse that term here) of an art form is inversely proportional to the effect it has on me.

Contrast a book with a movie, for instance. The information a book contains is certainly more abstract than the information a movie rams into my head. I don’t know how Naoko in Norwegian Wood looked like but Martha always conjures up the image of Helena Bontham Carter in a hat, smoking a freshly lit cigarette. Naoko‘s image is malleable and ethereal but Martha will always be a dark girl with curly hair (this is not to criticize Fight Club, I loved the movie).

I think this makes books more relatable, and a well written text hits me at a very base level. Since the written word is so flexible and abstract, my mind can lift it up to a concrete representation that is very close to my sense of self. A book can drive me to insanity, a movie cannot.

I think the same applies to music too — I’ve always found solos by Pink Floyd their most interesting work. When a rapper talks about how he scored last night, there is only so much information my mind can add, there is only so much I can misinterpret. When I hear the crazy slide-guitar in Shine on you crazy diamond, VI-IX, my mind is forced to conjure up something using the only tools it has at its disposal, my imagination and my experience. And it always comes up with something sinister.

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1 Response to Books, movies and music

  1. I think you missed a crucial difference between books and movies. With movies you’re forced to watch and understand at the pace it lets you whereas with a book you can take your time to get what’s going on.

    For example, the big chase sequence in “The Dark Knight” (if you’ve seen it), looks tense and exciting but you don’t really know what’s going on. I think if you were reading a text narrative, you could read slowly and get the physics of it.

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