Media: are they apples and oranges, or are they feathers of the same bird?
A curmudgeon told me some days ago that, if I remember correctly, my blog was idiotic (I wonder if that was the right term, but I am pretty sure the word had vitriol in its veins) because I often involved and alluded to literature. Personally, I do not think my posts are idiotic even if I do ever so often seem to act so online. It is because of a belief that paragons of both media perform quite similarly. This may be a crude categorization, but I believe that among many things, good examples of media (be the medium literature or anime, or even theatre) simultaneously possess three cardinal qualities viz 1) a power to entertain, 2) a power to instigate thinking, and 3) a power to change lives or creeds.
With maturity as well as with learning more about the ways of the world, I have finally realized that literature is not the apex of media: it was merely just another form. I have mentioned in a previous post (pardon for the repeated plug, but I deemed it was necessary to this discussion) that it was only when I was distressed and disquieted did I learn the value of other media around me. (Let us admit, literature is one of the most time-consuming media there exist today.) It was only when I had finally fallen through the nadir of my own existence that I awakened to the different beauties of the different media around me. When time flitted through my fingers as smoothly as sand, I did not have the leisure of pondering what the subtexts were with regard to Raskolnikov (of Crime and Punishment). Thought culled from reading those classics of which I was once very fond of was no longer entertaining; on the contrary, it was tiring. The mental calisthenics which I once got from the classics became an agonizing tetany.
I was disillusioned. The feeling was akin to a fondness that one day just instantaneously disappeared from one, and it was very alienating. My fondness for anime escalated from that day forth, simply because it was the only medium that could entertain me yet still allowed time for me to do whatsoever was required for me to do. I did not have an answer as to why I no longer fancied dissecting literary classics, or why I favored watching anime more since that time of disengagement.
I was stumped until I came upon an old copy of a Nancy Drew two-novel book. I once abhorred people who still read Nancy Drew even when they were already past the age of adolescence, but now I read and enjoyed it as well as realized another thing: in the end, it does not really matter. Whatever fulfills the three cardinal qualities of good media will often suffice for the normal person.
A lot of people, when ranking media, put literature at the very top. I have no formal answer to this, but I am assuming that the reason for this is because literature is one of the most abstract media, if not the most abstract medium itself. I believe it is the only medium that defamiliarizes man, that draws man away from himself, so that he can look upon himself disjointedly. The etymology of the term ‘abstract’ came from the Latin abstrahere, which meant a drawing away. This medium allows man to disconnect himself with his humanity, and the tool that allows this medium to do that is its alphabet, which are its words.
No other medium does this with such asepsis. It is because no other media rely solely on words. Drama relies on both words but more importantly on the subtle action of its characters, and even then, its characters act like a centrifuge, drawing the viewer closer to knowing himself or herself. Anime relies on caricatures, which are simplified complexes of human beings, and this, also, draws us to ourselves. Only literature, because it solely relies on words, draws us away from ourselves that we can look at ourselves more clinically. Words are toys of the mind, made to cater to a need. They are unlike emotions, which are inherent to every single human being. I guess this is the reason why it is placed on such a high pedestal as compared to other media.
I watched For Whom the Bell Tolls some hours ago, and it only used up three hours of my time. Before viewing the movie, I read the novel by Hemingway. The movie, however, essentially told the same story without skimping much of the details. I realized that very same thing happened to me regarding my growing disillusion on classical literature vis-a-vis my growing love for anime. Time is a treasure to everyone, and I was really surreptitiously asking myself: why spend more time for something one can achieve in less? I guess, in the end, convenience remains to be the answer.