Monday, November 16, 2009

The Magic of Words

When we read, we enter into a meditative state, in which a private communication transpires between the written words put together by the author and the images, and stories that we create in our mind as a result.

How many times have we been disappointed when a book that we enjoyed reading is made into a movie? Why? Because as we read, we pictured the person described by the author, and that may look nothing like the actor selected to play that part.

Another thing that can happen is that a subtle sequence of events that leads to some important plot twist in the book might be left out of the movie altogether in favor of some scene that lends itself to easier graphic depiction.

Then, of course, when actors, directors, script writers and cinematographers are busy doing what they do, they may invent things that were not in the book, or even shift the emphasis from what the author intended.

When we find a quiet spot in our schedule and in our living space, spending a little time with a book and savoring the printed word is like a mini-retreat, engaged in slowly watching a movie that plays in our mind.

Our favorite authors are also mentors to us, when we are reading them to learn something. When we study a subject through their eyes, we learn from their point of view, and if they have communicated with us effectively, we find ourselves taking their books off the shelves for advice.

This is obviously true of non-fiction books particularly how-to books, but works of fiction have their value in another perspective. For one, a novel can help us see the world through the eyes of another, which can help us to understand people and events that we know nothing of first hand. Fiction can also help us journey through time and imagine what the world was like for our ancestors, as well as helping us envision possible futures.

It is magical when you think about it, that one person can write something and those who read it can share the experience individually, yet different readers can find different understandings from reading the same book. The magic of the quiet moments of reading and writing parts the curtains between worlds.

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