Erin Lausten

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Is it just Me? Or is it Truly Bigger on the Inside?

Posted by erinlausten on August 7, 2013

I hit another milestone recently.

My son and I are reading the Chronicles of Narnia together. Now beyond the fact that he has the taken so well to listening to stories without pictures, I couldn’t be happier that he has learned to love a world which for so long been an influence on my life and philosophy. I do believe I may have an adventurer on my hands. We are in for a wonderful ride.

But I discovered something even more intriguing than usual, which with a boy of five, is quite a feat. This weekend we watched the three Narnia movies released since 2005. My son and I had made a pact that we would not watch the movies until we finished reading the first three movies. But we have only finished the first half of the third story. And yet, I could not wait—what can I say, I’m a sucker. It was a fabulous adventure, watching all three in two days, seeing this world in pictures through the eyes of a five year old. And then something miraculous happened. That night, my son hands me the book and asks for us to finish it.

There is no either/ or in this equation. The ability to shift from a visual/external medium to an audio/internal medium is natural and not rife with the qualitative question of better or worse. My son didn’t even think about which medium was better, but enjoys both. He seems to enjoy the way they create an experience in their own unique way.

So why then do we have this disconnect as we age? Why do we ask whether the book was better than the movie? Do we change how we see the book and imagine the characters if we have seen another’s vision of them before hand?

I have thought of this at times, not necessarily in a strict or specific sense, but quietly and without much care. But now I am. When I read a story, an author paints me a picture, but I see that world as my experience and desires lead. They may tell me the main character has blonde hair, but if I want them to have dark hair… then then will have dark hair. It’s my world. It is what I want it to be. But when I watch a film, the vision is presented to me, but the internal thoughts of those characters are silent. I get to fill in the motivation, the emotion, the meaning.

Film and television has often been described as a non-interactive passive experience. However, I think we have seen that it is hardly that. With fandoms exploding around the worlds which are created only in that medium, how can we ever think of it as a static experience?

And yet, we endeavor to create a competition between the mediums, arguing the merits and shortcomings of both. But I think I finally see that the true worlds don’t exist in the film or the pages of a book. They belong in the minds of the readers. And each world is different, built through the vision of the page and the pictures but completed in the eyes of the beholder.

What a beautiful world where our minds can hold so many unique stories and share the pieces with those we meet. And then they make their own. And the story goes on. I can’t even imagine what you see when you read my stories. But I hope it is wonderful.

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One Response to “Is it just Me? Or is it Truly Bigger on the Inside?”

  1. It’s been quite awhile since I read the Narnia books.

    I agree with you about the truth of the story being in the mind of the reader.

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