Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted August 1, 2014


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commentary on graphics used in stories

Progress or Contamination?

by Spiritual Echo

Those of us over the age of sixty, have an ingrained relationship with books. Our first diversion from the library came about the day our first television set arrived at our home. Its bulbous picture tube and an assortment of light-bulb style tubes would burn out and be replaced by the TV repairman that came to our house. Until that time, we went to the movies occasionally, but our primary source of adventure and entertainment was found between the covers of a book.

Books ignited our imagination, and through the authors' words, pictures were created in our minds. Our imagination was fuelled. Although the same book was read by thousands of people, the experience was decidedly different for each of us. The escapism, the disconnect I experienced while reading a good novel, was the best antidote I knew to a stress-filled life.

I was reluctantly dragged into the electronic age. Believing that I could escape hands-on participation, I resisted--at work and at home. I refused to use ATMs and although I had a mobile phone, it was mounted on my console--a car phone. When cell phones became the norm, I hated the idea. The very thing that made it attractive to the public horrified me. I simply didn't want to be available on demand.

I've adjusted. When the electricity went out recently, my first irritation was the lack of Internet. My PC has replaced my typewriter. I panic if I misplace my debit card and this Christmas (probably a decade late,) I did my shopping on-line, and it was delivered to my doorstep. Most of my reading is now done on the computer, primarily because with some eye problems, I can instantly increase the font so that I can read without having to curse my deteriorating vision.

I've received several books from authors who posted chapters on line as their book was being written. Nothing compares to holding those books in my hand. I've snuggled in to reread a story I already know, but something about holding the book and turning pages is sacred.

Recently there has been a lot of chatter about melding multi-media elements into stories being posted on FanStory. Some of the comments have inferred that the inclusion of sound effects and moving graphics identifies the authors and that casts an unfair tactic into the competition of blind contests.

While essentially a purist, I believe we all put effort into presenting our poetry and stories in the best light possible, and to me, this is no different. Choosing FanArt, colour and font can influence how a story is received. But that has become the norm, accepted by all. If we are to criticize innovation, and find this creative addition offensive, then perhaps we should disallow all props and demand that everyone work in the same font without colour or artwork of any kind.

Some time ago, I was in the middle of an excellent story. The author had me hooked, hair raising tension, when all of a sudden a wolf growled in the background. I jumped out of my skin. But what was new, no longer has that same effect, anymore than musical greeting cards seize my imagination now as they did when first introduced.

If the majority of stories began to use these elements, I'd soon turn to another source for reading material. I want my imagination to be engaged and graphics don't match what I envision from the words. I want to do my reading my way, but I'm hardly offended by this new form of presentation.

And while I can appreciate the extra effort to add these special effects, the writing is still my benchmark for excellence, as I believe it is with most writers and readers. After all, in today's world we now have a zillion video diversions if that is what turns our crank.

I often wonder for old fossils like me, whether there are stages of adjustment to the electronic age that will one day be measured. From indifference, followed by rebellion--refusal to participate, I have drifted past acceptance, utilization and have grown roots in a bemused wonder. It's all good.






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