If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that most Friday’s I do a book review. Basically this review involves me talking about whatever I happen to have just finished reading at the time.
But lately I’ve been thinking about reviews a lot. Most people would look at a review of a book or a movie as a simple examination of the works strengths and weaknesses, a condensed rundown to give the reader some idea of whether or not they might like this particular book or movie.
But lately I’ve started to think of reviews as something else: viruses.
Okay, there’s no need to back away like that, and…whoa, where did that straight-jacket come from. Have you been carrying that with you the whole time?
I’m not crazy. Well, not with this anyway. Just hear me out.
Reviews are often tagged as being “spoiler free”. This means that the reviewer has not included any information that would “spoil” the readers enjoyment of the work being reviewed. But is any review, truly spoiler free?
Because I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I watch a movie or read a book after having read a review of that book I’m watching for the things the reviewer pointed out.
Weak third act structure? Yep.
Poorly developed characters? Check that one off the list.
Cunning use of white space? Got it.
Except those ideas aren’t my ideas. They’re not my opinions. I’ve been infected with the reviewer’s point of view.
It’s possible I might have made those same assesments on my own, but now I’ll never know for sure. Because I let myself be infected with the virus.
In truth this idea applies to far more than just movie reviews. We interact with others on a daily basis, taking recommendations, sharing opinions, transfering information. When you get right down to it none of the ideas in our heads belong to us. They’ve all come from somewhere external.
Immanuel Kant hypothesized that ideas like time and space existed “a priori” outside of external influence, because, he reasoned, thinking would be impossible without them. But with all due respect to Mr. Kant, he’s never lived in a universe without time. Simply because neither he nor any of us is capable of imagining how thought might occur in such place does not mean that such a thing is impossible.
In fact the idea for this very blog post, came from listening to someone else talking about how they tried to watch movies without any preconceptions and work out wether they liked it for themselves.
You might think that I’m leading up to saying that I’m going to discontinue the Bizzaro Book Review and let you all discover your own books without preconceptions.
But if you think that, then you obviously don’t know me that well. Because seriously? I have a chance to infect all of your brains with my ideas? Get me a ticket on that train.
Call up the CDC and tell them there’s a madman in Florida cooking up idea bugs in his garage. Make sure you scream as loudly as you can.
And don’t mind the men with the special jacket with the long sleeves. They’re only there to help.