watch a film or read a novel?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger observes that watching a film, compared to reading a novel, seems to deliver similar goods at less cost:

Given my utter inability to keep up with all the work and general interest material I’d like to read, I find it very satisfying to be able to enjoy a film in a couple of hours or so, as opposed to the many hours it would take me to read a novel.

I realize how different films and novels are, the latter usually being able to deal with characters and stories in significantly more depth than the former. But I still wonder if there is something about the visual and multimedia nature of films that permits them to tell a story in a couple of hours that would take significantly longer to read. Could it be that one of the reasons for the relative compactness of films is the fact that they are reaching our brains through a variety of channels, including the broader visual ones?

The traditional concept of sensory channels tends to obscure cross-sensory and forward stimulation effects. But this is a good example of how one sensory form can tell stories more efficiently than another sensory form.

In an analysis of a different sensory effect, I’ve estimated the ratio of personal photographs to words of telephone conversation over the past century. These estimates suggest that a picture is worth about twelve thousand words. Keep that in mind when you’re blogging!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current month ye@r day *