Hello, this is my first time using this forum. I apologize as I don't have the actual assignment sheet on me, lost it before the first essay submission.
I just finished typing up my essay and was looking for some feedback on it. If I could get some review of the grammar, idea flow and what not that'd be fantastic.
Thanks in advance.
Do you recall the last time you read a book? Was it for entertainment or because the book was a required for your studies? Does the reasoning behind reading even matter? Perhaps a reader's perspective and mindset and can change with their purpose. Like the media, literature too is a method for a person or people to show their ideas to the masses. As such, there is always the possibility for literature to affect our perspectives. The question we must consider is exactly how literature influences an individual's perspective and to what degree? Does literature hold any influence on the public's mind that is constantly exposed to messages and ideas? If so is there something innate about literature such as an aspect of literature that makes reading it effective in conveying its message to its audience.
To look at the differences between literature and media is very important. It shows how literature can affect the audience's perspective in ways that, perhaps a movie, could not. First and most obviously, pieces of literature require a more personal commitment than many forms of media. A video game or interactive work might require action from the audience, but rarely in the form of a commitment. Media can pull their audiences in with dazzling special effects or an immersive sound track, but literature cannot. Literature only has the writing to pull in and engage their audience. It relies on the audience for the effects, on the reader to paint out a landscape and setting based off the author's writing. If the writing is not engaging or immersive, the piece of literature is junk.
Now quality of writing is subjective, hence why Twilight is an immense success, but literature requires quality to succeed. Twilight does indeed have quality, in that it is fabulous at pandering to the wishes and dreams of Stephanie Meyers' audience. As the New York Times review mentioned,
The premise of "Twilight" is attractive and compelling - who hasn't fantasized about unearthly love with a beautiful stranger? - but the book suffers at times from overearnest, amateurish writing. A little more "showing" and a lot less "telling" might have been a good thing, especially some pruning to eliminate the constant references to Edward's shattering beauty and Bella's undying love. (Spires, New York Time)
Like the review states, Twilight is far from not a masterful book. It has a flat story and an even flatter main character. The power Twilight is that with such a flat main character as Bella, it becomes easy for the reader to insert themselves as the main character. Literature allows the reader to construct the story's world in their mind as they read whilst adding in their own elements and that is one of its strong points. A movie shows you the world as it is; through reading the reader constructs an image of their own.
From personal experience if I cannot read a book, be it from boredom or dislike, I will not. There are many other ways I can find information about the book such as from the Internet of my peers. On the other hand, if a book interests me, it can hold my attention just as well as the most amazing game or the flashiest movie, if only longer. Hence I believe that one strength literature has over most forms of media is the time one must dedicate to receive a full experience. Readers have a choice to go at their own pace, taking in ideas, thoughts and perspectives put forth by the author at their own leisure, rather than being bombarded by information when experiencing media. With the longer duration a reader can be ensnared and revealed different perspectives that may change their own.
Despite the differences between literature and media or perhaps because of them, literature has lost much of its influence over the coming generations. In this fast paced society, time is of the essence, yet literature is a time consuming hobby to pursue. Much like stated in The Writer's Responsibility,
We live in a society in which the main consensus seems to be that the artist's duty is to entertain and divert, nothing more. Occasionally our critics get a little heavy and start talking about the human condition, but on the whole the audience prefers art not to be a mirror held up to life but a Disneyland of the soul (Atwood 330).
This goes to show how fickle we value modern works of art. The majority of literature and media is held up to the spotlight not because of their cultural importance, insight into the human nature or their hidden meanings, but rather because they are entertaining and serve as a method to escape reality. Twilight certainly comes to mind. Certainly there are pieces that dive deeper, Inception or Gran Torino for the media inclined and The Lord of Flies or 1984 for literature, but the majority seem to be looked on as little more than entertainment as compared to thought provoking pieces of art.
What defines the boundary between entertainment and thought provoking though? This is where the matter becomes very subjective though, as evidenced in the colloquies during English. Many people had differing opinions on what made literature powerful to them. Some people talked about the perspectives shown by the author while others like me talked about the description and how authors used it in their works. Hence I believe that there is no objective answer to this question. For myself, I found my ISU novel There is No Dog to be quite thought provoking. While the writing was not fantastic, it was bearable and conveyed the author's ideas and intent quite clearly. I was very interested in Rosoff's view on God as it was illustrated here,
With the purest clarity he realizes that Bob is not the God to whom the multitudes direct their entreaties. ... It is the other, the one who has struggled day after day... who has suffered along with his planet... No Bob is not God. He is. (Rosoff 222).
As an agnostic, my thoughts often stray to the philosophical debate of God's existence. Reading about Rosoff's view and how she put forth this idea of a static deity being a failed deity was very interesting for me to read about and consider. Upon realizing this, I also came to realize that literature becomes more than simple entertainment when the reader connects and relates to the topics that the author has written about.
In the end it is up to the individual to take away meaning from the any piece of literature. For further proof on this there is a quote from One of Us,
What indeed? Come to think of it, what did Lord Jim have to do with me? I had read the novel carefully, several times, underlining and annotating. I had committed to memory Stein's great speech... But the truth of the matter was that Lord Jim had never meant anything to me (Maynard 163).
Having read the book several times, the unnamed character never questions the meaning Lord Jim holds for her. Not until an outside source prompts her, like how this essay prompts me to reflect upon the influence various readings have had on me. However when media and society bombard us with messages, it becomes hard to sort through what's important and what's trash. Buried under a mountain of ideas it is easy to simply let everything, even the important ones, simply slip away. Hence these "prompts" are important in making sure one is able to understand and analyze the changes literature or the media has had on their perspective. As a result maintaining the proper mindset when reading literature or watching media is a significant factor in how much influence the piece may have on the individual.
The mindset of an audience is why media holds such an influence over our society. Take the riots in Libya that resulted in the deaths of Americans. It should be a well-known fact that media will omit certain truths from a story for certain reasons, to spark a reaction or to hide the details. Nevertheless the media made a big fuss over the American deaths while ignoring the Libyans that died trying to help and Al-Qaeda's involvement. In our class discussions, the focus seemed to be mainly on the American deaths and it could be said that the reason is the media coverage of that specific information. It only goes to show how easily our perspectives can be established for us by the media. The mindset society approaches a lot of news is a grab and go ideology. With literature one has to sit down and take time to read which can lead to questions and doubts, in the fast paced society of today it is simple to accept what one hears and leave it at that. Hence I believe that media is a more effective at a establishing a primary perspective for individuals.
As such, reflecting on all the discussions and literary pieces throughout this course, I find literature is a weaker influence on my perspective, on a variety of ideas such as the meaning of life, compared to media. The Alchemist can teach me that life's meaning is found close at home, but media has already established and continues to reinforce the idea of materialistic wealth being important. Any message that can be taken away from literature can be found through a movie, television series or even a video game in this day and age. Literature is far from dead, but the sheer number of alternatives that exist serves to make it less appealing to the upcoming generations. With the advancement of technology, literature's influence is dulled and weakened. Why read a book when you can play out the same story, watching and affecting how it unfurls? Why bother relying on one's imagination when CGI can conjure up images beyond your most colourful dreams?
Atwood, Margaret. "A Writer's Responsibility." The Broadview Readers. Ed Jane Flick and Herbert Rosengarten. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1998. Print
Maynard Fredelle B. "One of us." Raisins and Almonds. Markham: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1985. Print.
Rosoff, Meg. "Chapter 44." There Is No Dog. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2012. 222. Print.
Spires, Elizabeth. "'Enthusiasm,' by Polly Shulman and 'Twilight,' by Stephenie Meyer." The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2006. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.