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The question is, “Do we need to read source materials?”

That is: “If a movie comes out, and you’ve read plot synopses, analyses, commentaries, reviews, from myriad angles and locations, do you need to actually see it?

And if the answer is, “No,” then what exactly has just happened? And by that I mean, “What exactly has just happened?”, from the standpoint of identifying the occurance of an event within the social organism?

It’s a question for our InterNet era.

It is related to another question, “WhatDoesItMeanToRead??”, … which I will get into later.

Traditionally speaking, it is taboo or rude or improper or rough or crude to talk about something you haven’t seen. It’s an academic sin, akin to judging a book by it’s cover, or to hopping on a bandwagon, blindly accepting hearsay. It’s not quite in the domain of plagiarism, but it’s considered (in the public eye) as going in that direction.

And yet, I increasingly find, for better or for worse, that I feel that I do not need to read or reference source materials, in order to come to feeling that I have legitimate conclusions about said source materials, and to base further claims on top of those conclusions (consider: ArgumentPyramid.)

I have a suspicion that I am not unique, and I also have a suspicion that this is actually not illegitimate. That by whatever scoring or criteria system or what have you, that this is actually perfectly fine behavior, if we really look at what’s happening.

What I am saying is that I believe that a person does not need to read or watch source materials, in order to form good informed conclusions about them. It is sufficient in a great many cases to just listen to 100 people’s recounts, thoughts, conclusions, and so on, and then form a perspective from there.

I would compare the significance of this, to the significance of the scientific organism, which can go out, do a ton of experiments, get a ton of confirmations, and you don’t need to do a single thing, except to read the established perspectives of scientists who have done these things for themselves, and judge from there.

This is some sort of social delegation process, and it’s actually okay.

It was cautioned against in TheMachineStops? [1]. Part of the caution is, “If people accept abstraction intermediaries, than people will cease to connect with the real.” E.M. Forster envisions people going into the land of air castles, and never coming back. However, that does not seem to be the case with science. If anything, we’ve found that the abstraction layers have vastly increased perceptive powers. And I believe that what is happening is – I believe I have (we have) vastly greater perceptive powers over phenomenon occuring within the social organism, by way of intermediating and relying on the outputs of others.


Stick that in your pipe, and smoke it!

“But wait, that makes no sense– the point of a movie is to enjoy it. If you’re just listening to people’s thoughts about it, then you’re not living the enjoyment. Nobody can enjoy it for you.” Well, that may the case for some people (and I suspect the number is far lower than most people would think,) but it is my firm understanding, that movies and books and other mass presentations (see also: DocumentsVsMessages), mass documents, are more like church experiences than entertainment nerve stimulators, and it is the religious experience of the MultiSensoryMessage?s that makes up the enjoyment of the document. People are essentially authentically religious (see: ThinkingGoo,) and derive great joy from attending their church, whether it be in the form of a chapel, a ShinTo? shrine, BurningMan, a corporate office, or a nudie bar.

Feeling into a movie for most people is a surface level event: They feel entertained. If you sensitize yourself, if you ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?”, or, “Why does this entertain me?”, and so on, and ask the question about others as well (“Why do they feel that way?” “Why does that entertain them?”), and delve deeper than face-value SuperFreudianism answers (“Well, they’re just stupid,”) then you can start to get another level of depth into understanding movies and our responses to them.

It’s like video game players: They know the genres more sharply than non-video players. And then there are people who really get into it, and identify the sub-genres. And then they can start to identify even deeper patterns and natures, to really pick out and identify, “What is going on here?” It is like the differences in the level of understanding, between people who believe “I just like to talk,” and people who have worked with and analyzed conversational scripts, decision trees, approaches, and see communication as something of a martial art. They can say, “You consistently adopt pattern 3-7-5B.” People don’t like to feel like robots, (and they are not,) but that doesn’t mean that the analyst is wrong.

So, going back – where was I –

Oh, right: So if your enjoyment out of movies is such that it has to do with ideas, and root patterns, and so on, – then you can dramatically increase your scope of perception by reading the analyses, synopses, and so on, of trusted / “credentialed” others – people who you know have insight to some social perception. For example: if you read the blog of a Catholic priest who has interpretive powers, and you know the kinds of things he looks for, then you can trust him to give you “a Catholic perspective” on a movie, and know that you’re going to get some pretty interesting insights on it.

Sometimes, you can get a better vision of the movie, than by just going to see it! Even though you may have good interpretive powers, will you see everything? Far better to get 100 angles on the movie from multiple dimensions.

(That said: I have yet to see a good analysis of, say, Enchanted. I saw a lot more in it, than I ever saw reviewed.)

I envision that one day, if the copyright questions can be sorted out sufficiently, or with some interesting annotation system – we will be able to get blow-by-blow “here is what this beat does” anotations to go alongside a movie. When I watched Enchanted, I felt like I was reading an essay. I can imagine a clear and perfect argument saying, “This is why this is a good movie at this time,” in almost brutally functional terms: This is a good movie because (A), (B), (C), (D), (E). The shape of the MovieEssay? is such: X, Y, Z, ….”

“Why would people do this?” Because people are religious, and as we approach Trans-Human reality (should we survive to the limit-case,) values and expressions and other higher-maslow order things will become more important than lower-order things (food, survival, lazing, …)

At any rate, … much too late to be writing. (I always thought that what sensei had to say was far more interesting at midnight, than at 2 PM.)

So here is my weirdo SpeakingEdge explanation of why we don’t need to actually read books or watch movies.

DavidCary, this obviously doesn’t apply to the Bible, if you’re a christian. In that case, you need to both read the Bible, and read what all the stars have had to say about it.

Or: If someone’s being tried for murder, and you’re on the jury, it’s really important that you actually listen to the person speaking and so on.

But whatever. Finding the border line will be left as an exercise for the reader; I just want to get the main point out there: That we don’t necessarily have to read source materials, to appropriately sense the object. It can be better not to.

Addendum: There may be some implications for copyright and book-writing and DarkTheory here.

If “word gets out” that you don’t actually have to read a book, in order to have perceived the ideas within, then books may get shorter, ideas may be (?) guarded more closely, or we may move towards the HiveMind and collectivist notions around idea construction and sharing. Either that, or be in the bizarre (and I’d wonder: untenable?) position of holding society-changing ideas, … …privately?

To prime the imagination: “Imagine if feminist realizations were held as a private treasure?

Let’s assume for a moment that feminism has basically been a force for good, (putting aside whether we actually believe that or not,) – things such as “votes for women” and “women should be able to do intellectual work” and so on. Now we generally assume, “When people were agitating for women’s rights and so on, who were they doing it for?” For example, maybe “for women the world over,” or, “for humanity,” and such.

But what if they weren’t? What if in a parallel universe, they were doing it for the benefit of their tribe, and the insights of sociologists and such, were treated as treasures for their own society only? Like, “If you told a woman in another country that they could agitate to vote, we’d have to kill you?” Treating compiled statistics about women and votes and jobs and labor and so on, as if they were high-tech secrets?

That’s the sort of bizarre territory we’d have to explore, if DarkTheory reacts against “the diminishing need to read source materials,” just talked about.

I don’t give it much credit, but I honestly don’t know what surprises we’d have to account for as living organisms approach TransHuman? space, ideally / hopefully the OmegaPoint?.

Reference point, should this ever become an article here:

…may also want to include the HyperHistory.

Everything that rises must, of course, converge. Good ol’ TeilhardDeChardin. MysticalRealism.

“do we need to read sources?” Sometimes it is impossible to read sources – in particular, when I don’t understand the original language.

"Can a translation be better than the original?"

If it is, then perhaps it would be better to read the translation even if I could understand the original language. But there is the current perception that translation always necessarily “loses something”, that a translation is an inferior crutch.

Which reminds me of something that we talked about a long time ago – picture books were printed for children who were unable to read words. There is the current perception that books with lots of pictures necessarily “lose something” compared with the unvarnished text, that a picture-book is an inferior crutch.

I do think that translations can be better than the original.

Howl's Moving Castle and El Hazard are two instances where I prefer the English to the Japanese. Billy Crystal made a great Calcifer, and his dialog for Calcifer was much better than in the original.

As for picture-books reducing the imagination or something – that seems to me like the argument that visual arts limit the imagination. For example, if I draw a cat, well, “that prohibits you from making your own cat in your mind.” Instead of pictures of cats, we should just write the text “cat” everywhere – it just doesn’t make sense to me.

That said, I was disappointed when the Harry Potter movies came out, because I could no longer access the Harry Potter world I had seen in my imagination. It is like a dream, that disappears quickly when you wake up. If I had drawn down my own images and pictures of what the characters were like, and what the buildings were like, then I could preserve them – just as we can preserve a dream, by writing it down. But who can I share my images with? The movie does give us a shared visual vocabulary.

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