I love Nora Ephron movies: You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, etc. I can’t explain why I’ve watched them over and over again, except they give me a buzz. Is it because they’re romantic comedies, you ask? Perhaps, but then, I don’t watch other Rom Coms over and over again. Ms Ephron’s movies evoke a feeling in me, they’re my go-to’s when I’m all alone, and I want to feel warm and fuzzy— hopeful even.
I’d like to think I’m not a lazy movie-goer. I’m mostly cognizant of decent cinematography, I’m aware of the difference between good scripts and bad scripts — sloppy dialogue is noticeable, and I always pay attention to the score. I am what I would call an intermediate consumer with regards to movie watching.
I suspect every human operates creatively in some way, even if they don’t seem to produce anything ‘creative’. Creative labour though is different from simply being creative. This field of work, The Arts as it’s often known, does not come naturally to everyone. I can finger paint a flower, but I sure as hell can’t paint a landscape. I can sing wonderfully in the shower, but I steer clear of karaoke bars.
Dancing, composing, sculpting, all the creative work that goes into making our world beautiful and palatable, we all consume it at different levels. In an arts economy, the intermediate consumer is the person who has not studied an art but is consciously aware of a piece’s superiority in comparison to lesser works in the same field.
For instance, the intermediate could kitchen dance (you know what that is, right?) to a poppy Justin Bieber tune, but also appreciate a Brahms symphony. They can go either way; enjoyment is not contingent on expertise for these consumers.
After the intermediates come the Scholars, the Proficients and the Masters of any given field. These consumers of creative labours are self-explanatory, and almost always are creators themselves. They are the movie-makers, the composers, the writers.
The first time I experienced a beautiful sentence (yes, sentences have become an experience for me), I was reading in a Starbucks.
This was the sentence that captured my imagination:
And so it happened that at the age of eleven, walking into the city of Mandalay, Rajkumar saw, for the first time, a straight road. ~ The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh.
I stood up and looked around me. “Did you hear that?” I wanted to ask the other coffee shop patrons. “DID. YOU. HEAR THAT?”
I was shocked to realise that something so perfect, so genius was going completely unnoticed by the rest of the world.
I’m not going into the details of why this sentence is so beautiful (it has to do with contextualising experience in a few simple words, it has to do with showing and not telling). I only want to mark the turning point for me. Finding that sentence was the moment when I started treasure hunting while I read.
I am now past the point of intermediate consumption when it comes to writing. I’m a scholar of the written word. I’ve found it has become increasingly difficult for me to read casually. Beach reads? Forget it. I can’t do it anymore.
I feel like the guy who tears his hair out when Taylor Swift comes out on stage and drops it like it’s hot. He rolls his eyes and turns up his experimental jazz. I get that guy now— I can’t share his enthusiasm, but I understand his frustration. He knows better.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back and simply nibble on a good book. I miss the taste of the cotton-candied confectionary of light reading. However, given a choice between bubble gum and Creme Brulee, I’m going Brulee every time.
Keep your eye out for beautiful sentences, folks, they can take your reading experience to a whole new level.