It takes a special kind of skill to respond to a long and thought out post without actually responding to it. I applaud your work there, verbALs. But you demonstrate in doing so the problem with ignoring outside sources. You pretend that it is a conversation between you and Hermit, that you and he talk in a vacuum with no other voices to influence you. But you're responding to most of the points that I made, misinterpreting them and twisting them to your own ends. There's a thing I teach my students called The Believing Game and it forces you to believe what the author says when you paraphrase or summarize them, no matter if you agree or disagree with their ideas. After I state several times that I cherish the individual's reaction to a movie above all else, you proceed as if I do not. And perhaps maybe this isn't what you're doing. Perhaps I'm not believing you enough. But there's something disrespectful about pretending that a third party just isn't there in a conversation. From the looks of your post you wouldn't know that I had given an equally long and developed argument about the very same subject. If we take the conversation at a cocktail party as our model, you're blocking me out. That's not fair.
So I'll respond to you directly out of respect for your place in the conversation.
I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart.
My favourite thought argument about art comes from a tv piece I saw about an exhibition at the Tate in St Ives once. The artist stood by his painting and offered explanations to the viewer. I was delighted last night to have this discussion with my partner and daughter (the architect, so her viewpoint on art is very interesting). My understanding of art is that it communicates emotion. A painting is a unique communication tool. What the artist might tell you should have been included in the painting surely? He is admitting a failing in his own work that he has to come back later and explain it. He also patronises his viewer by assuming they can't work it it for themselves. They need to be told.
Could the artist tell you about more than just the meaning of it. Later in this post you praise process. I love process. Might the artist's process have some influence on your understanding of the painting. Imagine a portrait of a sad older lady. She makes you feel sad when you look at her, so the artist has communicated and you have listened. But then the artist tells you that she is his imagined portrait of her mother who died when the artist was only 10. The artist's ability and process of transforming her vision of her mother from a youthful adult to a grandmotherly one enriches your understanding of the work, and your feeling both intellectually and emotionally deepens. Why is that bad? I'm asking you. You can always feel free to ignore what an artist says, certainly, and make up your own mind. Wouldn't you like to know their thoughts, though?
Essentially all that matters is your own understanding. Not of how you bring your kids up, or work well with colleagues or protect your friends in bad moments. But how you individually parse art. Stare at the painting for hours if it's any good. Draw meaning from it. Just you and your understanding. That open ended process. Not turning to someone else for an explanation. You. You are a unique snowflake. You really are. But you need to challenge yourself that way. Next time you see a film; sitting in the dark with no one to check your understanding and nobody whispering in your ear to tell you what just happened. Then you'll start to be equipped to understand what you are watching. You are using your tools, your ability to process, to listen and watch. You accept that lonely challenge and you must be better at it. You can go back int society when you leave the cinema. Like the song says "in this life your on your own". Well no you aren't. You have family and friends and work and play and you do it socially. A whole nother ballgame.
In this cinema though, you are on your own. Yes there are rhetorical ways of circumventing that argument. Congratulations. There's always another perspective. But then there's the truth. Your truth. If you have read a piece that has influenced your truth that's natural. Just like any film can change your life and your truth. So inculcate that influence from book or film or academic paper and tell it as part of your truth. Again that's the challenge. Verbatim readings or cut pasting whole articles? Like noff said you didn't mean the whole article you meant some piece explained your point in any argument. You surely didn't meant he whole thing. It's like dropping New York on an ant. Discussion is surgical not nuclear. And it isn't your truth and it reads as not your truth. The enthusiasm gets drained out of it. The emotion and the fire. The communication. Like I said art is communication of emotion. Your post can be a piece of art as long as the emotion...your emotion... Is there. Or you can get mr professor to come in and say what you really meant that you couldn't say yourself. And isn't he impressive.
I mean, if you're going to deny that we're socially influenced creatures I guess we can just stop right here. It's not a "rhetorical way of circumventing" any argument, it's a fact of life. You are a unique snowflake, but not because of some divine gift or anything. You're unique because all the little and big things that happened to you as you lived in a society (family, school, art, work, friends, pets, history) happened to you in a unique way. So yes, sit alone in a theater, but know that you're only in that theater in the first place because your past led you there. Form your own reaction (I again value this above all else, please stop pretending that I don't).
I think I modeled a way to bring in outside sources without destroying the conversation. I agree that a link bomb isn't helpful for the most part. You'll see in my response that I already assented to that. I don't much appreciate the across-the-board distaste for professorial interactions. I want to believe that you're just not communicating as effectively as you could be, but several times you dismiss intellectual understandings of films as lesser than your own emotional perspective. Can we perhaps agree that they're equal, a matter of taste rather than objective superiority for one or the other? I want to read about both your emotional journey and what it made you think about, they need not separate from each other.
These things are deep within people's mindset. Part of their paradigm. Who they are. It's not surprising one can't get agreement about important subjects. The disagreement merely indicates the individuality at work.
Now others may start from a different paradigm. That art is communication of emotion. It's something else. An intellectual expression? We are creatures of pure thought perhaps? Are we? We can write that way but are we? Before Sean left this place he was at a point of saying he had no interest in reading how films made the writer feel. I personally responded very poorly to that PoV. It seemed superior. I can see now that as you move forward with writing that talking about good film/bad film seems reductive. "I liked this film, it had good explosions. 7/10". Respect says let whoever wants to write whatever do so. After 6, 7, ,8 years let's talk about progress. Can we progress as writers. Should we expect progress? You should get better at it. Your knowledge expands and that learning process should feed back into what you write. I'm not talking about new guys I'm talking about people 7 years into this. I can see Sean's frustration now but respect for what people want to do must come first...and I've been terrible on that front myself; enjoying arguements too much. Mea culpa. Aunty Sandy sat me down and gave me a good talking to on the subject of respect.
I'd like to hear in this thread how people feel about progress in writing. About what fundamentally governs what they write about and how.
I know that I've become a better writer in my time here. You all have helped me grow the way that I think about movies (and art and life). I have written less here in the past year because I've been writing so much more in my job as a student and teacher. The writing here becomes necessarily less good. Certainly I think Hermit is cranking out better reviews than I am when I get around to posting them. I'd let you all look at my school writing to prove that I still got it, but I think you don't really care too much about that. That's fine.
I can remember an old argument I had here, probably the first of its kind for me, that really challenged the way that I thought about movies and wrote about them. I had just seen 300 in a theater and, being a teenager at the time, loved it. My thoughts about it were no deeper than hey, that looked cool. It did look cool and it still does. But Sean pointed out that its politics were pretty messed up. They are. Reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic. Not pretty stuff. I fought him on it so hard. None of that matters if it looks cool! If I got enjoyment out of it! If it got my blood pumping! But of course it does. If our art tells us to think of people outside our culture as literal monsters, perhaps we take that in, perhaps it melts and reforms our snowflakes a little bit. Perhaps I become more eager to get people who don't look like me out of my country. This shit matters, and my emotional response was part of that, but so was the article that Sean linked to which explained how Miller wrote 300 in response to turmoil in the middle east both from the Gulf War for the book and 9/11 for the movie. It becomes easy to see the connections there, but I didn't know until I went to an outside source. So yes, I can, have, and will continue to grow as a writer. You put the hours in, you keep an open mind, and you just might learn something
@tiny. I kept saying it was my personal position and my fault to feel that way. I think I've explained it more fully because this is a better thread to do that. But I understand how my response could be interpreted by you. You used the phrase ego trip. Yes it is an ego trip as individuality must be. The ego trip included reading critics and academics for context. If you look at my reaction to the artist standing next to the painting my family didn't agree. It's a singular view. It's a personal challenge not resorting to contextual pieces outside the work of art. I'm an engineer graduate not a humanities graduate I didn't spend 3 years in the process of reading opinions on art. My respect for it is lower than others. But if I can look at the world and work it out I'd rather do that than have someone explain what I'm seeing. Working without a safety net commits one to the process somewhat.
I am currently engaged in the process of getting my Master's degree in English. I am spending time reading things and then reading secondary articles about them. There's no overstating how useful it is to help you understand your own thoughts. I don't just take their opinions as my own, I read them, engage with them, and then form my own understanding with the help of them. Sometimes I'm just entirely against anything a critic has said and I strengthen my own opinion by opposing his. If you're not going to listen to other people's ideas about art and writing and whatever else, what are you even doing here?
I didn't spend 3 years of my life doing engineering work, but I still respect it. I can see that working it out for yourself must have some draw. It would have to. But didn't you spend a lot of time learning about the ways that things work and the ways that they don't work? I don't know if I can buy that you came to all that knowledge from mere observance. There must have been some instruction. Sure, you might not need to keep learning things, but that's only because you've built up a strong enough toolbox for understanding the way things are made, right? Some of that toolbox must have been borrowed from outside sources. If you respect it in engineering, why not respect it in the humanities?