The Payoff

That's an answer, but still not a final answer. We can push it to a deeper level—to its limit, to its emotional extreme—to where we need to go always. We become the characters. We feel what they feel. OK, but if we're going to understand this story stuff, this story process, fully, we need to know why we are drawn to that. What does it do for us? What are we getting out of it?

We go to stories for this emotional connection, but why? Don't we have enough emotions of our own? Is there something missing in us? Are we deficient or incomplete? Why can't we just sit at home and experience our own emotions without going through all the effort it takes to see a movie? Wouldn't staying home with your emotions be easier than getting in the car, driving to the theater, paying to park, waiting in line for a ticket, waiting to be seated—just so that you can go in and sit in a room with a bunch of other people and feel the emotions of characters who never existed and never will, acting out a story that never happened? Make-believe! Is that anything for responsible adults to be doing? Indulging in fantasy—what good is that going to do us? What does that have to do with reality?

Yes, what does it have to do with reality? What relevance does it have to the real world? What do we get out of it that we couldn't get if we stayed home alone with our feelings? First, we need to answer a question I raised earlier: are we incomplete, lacking, deficient? I'll answer that with another question: Do you have yourself all figured out? Do you know yourself so well that you'll never do anything stupid or make a fool of yourself again? Is your self-knowledge so complete? When it comes to knowing ourselves, we are incomplete, lacking, deficient. Each of us is our own ongoing problem until the day we die.

When we go to a movie and experience the emotions of the characters (identify), we're experiencing ourselves in a way we couldn't if we stayed at home. Experiencing their emotions puts us in touch with ourselves, expands us, in a way we can't achieve on our own. When we feel what the characters feel, we feel more of ourselves. In becoming them, we become more of who we are. So the complete story fulfills us, gives us a sense of closure—completes us, for the moment.

0 0

Post a comment