Column: Issue 24
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The Column 024
Column is a monthly feature that explores the world
of creativity and aesthetics.
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
At its heart, art is a social phenomenon.
That is, someone makes something and it is shared,
remotely by the 'author' and a 'reader', or with
others, like a trip to the movies. The products
of our creativity might be perceived of as luxuries
by some, yet they are what defines
us as a species.
an early age
Like many parents I've had the great pleasure of reading with my son before bedtime
most every night since he was an infant. He's now seven, and it continues to
be an activity we enjoy each evening. We don't dress this time up in fancy language,
we simply share a story, or two, or three.
As I read out loud, so he reads quietly to himself or makes pictures from the
words, or laughs, or holds his breath. I've heard others say many times that
reading is a private, insular experience, but not always. Not when you find yourself
having fun as the narrative unfolds. Whether the discovery is exactly the same
as those with you is not so important, it's the act of discovery and journeying
along the path of a shared imaginative experience that we intuitively recognize
As we grow older we don't like to admit the pleasure reading with another can
bring. It's too close, a little embarrassing, too, private. We prefer to think
of ourselves as self contained, independent adults. We've grown up and gown
out of needing stories. We pretend listening to stories is for kids, yet so very
movies, and no more so than with the company of others. Stories help us make
sense of the world, they allow us to loose ourselves in pretense and imagination,
they represent our hopes, our dreams, our nightmares.
One of two aunts I was brought up by could not watch a movie without crying.
She loved films, and she lost herself in them. Whenever a moment of sadness or
happiness occurred, she felt for the characters. She would sit on the sofa, the
tears streaming down her cheeks, her
eyes bloodshot red. Every now and then she would look over to me, wipe her tears,
and smile. You could tell in
some ways she felt silly
for being so
stories she became involved in, yet at the same time, I knew as a small boy,
as everyone does in their heart, such people have a warm and generous spirit.
was the most loved person I've ever met. Some 25 years after her death she continues
to evoke strong feelings in the memory of the many her life touched upon.
Occasionally, and often despite our resistance, there are powerful spontaneous
moments when watching a movie with others, especially on a big screen.
Sure there are times when you want to strangle the person two rows down who's
munching so hard on the popcorn the ground shakes, but there are also moments
that only occur in a large gathering of people.
The combined chuckle of the audience
feeds upon itself confirming you're not the only one who enjoys the joke, and
chuckle is often as pleasurable as the joke itself. Hearing a hundred people
fun, and somehow
as we experience a common spike of emotion. More rare, and far more
affecting moments can also sometimes occur. I remember as the credits rolled
cinema spontaneously erupted in applause. After the applause died down, and
sat there, completely silent, watching the credits, dazed. Slowly they got up
and quietly left the cinema. This was a regular cinema, not an art house movie
audience. It was the cinema experience at its best.
The dreams of daytime
When video players and DVDs first appeared there were many who said the days
cinema were numbered. With the advent of streaming movies over the Internet the
The truth however is that watching a movie is a shared experience,
on our own. We are always in two places at once: the isolated island that is our
self, and the constant thirst to connect with others. This duality of being results
need for stories which either observe the world, or present a vision, an idea
of another alternative reality, that we can safely, for two short hours, place
Movies, in common with the products of all creative activity,
are all about connectivity. They are what opera aspired to be, they are the
dreams of daytime...
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de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®.
Mike has been commissioned as an artist,
composer, photographer, print and web site
designer, and author. Mike
is also a Director of 2BrightSparks
[opens new window], a software company producing
award winning backup solutions.
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