From Anne Rice


There is a very cogent point made at the beginning of Anne Rice's spiritual confession that is borne out by another book I reviewed here recently:

from Called out of Darkness
Anne Rice

The reason I've taken so long to describe this world in detail is because it is the world I knew before I was taught to read.

The knowledge of God, His Divine Son, and His saints was entirely iconic. And as scientists tell us, what we learn through pictures or icons is strikingly different from what we learn through the written word. The brain receives this information in a unique way. Learn from books is something else altogether.

Well, not entirely correct, but close enough; that is, the what may eventually be the same, but the how (which makes all the difference) will be quite startlingly different. And if we grant that the how influences the what . . . well, you get the point.

According to John Medina (see Brain Rules, below), the brain does not treat the two differently (at one level). Iconic images and the written word are both viewed and treated by the brain as images, hence, it processes them in similar ways. However, because the iconic image is direct, it requires no further processing--the image is there. Certainly interpretation is required in the way interpretation is required when we look at a glass of water; and it does not preclude an aesthetic level of additional interpretation and appreciation. However, the written word is viewed as very much the same--images that are disassembled and stored in the same way other images are. However, the written word consists of a set of images that must be processed and interpreted before they can have any real meaning other than images. That is, there is no immediate meaning in the written word--it requires further analysis--hence when we hit upon a word we do not know, the image of the word does not tell us what the word means.

All of this is to say pretty much what Ms Rice says here--we learn from the two differently. They enter the brain and roll around in similar ways, but the end result is quite different--powerfully different. Hence, it is often easier to be affected by and learn from amazing images than it is to read about it and try to internalize it. A good icon of St. Therese (for example) is likely to bring me more immediately into her company than any amount of reading about her.

Don't know why i maunder on about this except that I found it an interesting correspondence between disparate writers with very different purposes.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 3, 2008 7:29 AM.

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