There is one truth in the universe we cannot escape. Everything comes to an end. Death is inevitable. Life is finite. These are realities we must face as living creatures self aware of our own mortality.
I am a writer. I have been writing my entire life. I started with journals and essays in school. My parents got me a typewriter at age 12 followed by a computer around the time I turned 18. I have made a living as a writer. I have written as a college student and, yes, as a hobby. My writing comes from the heart. I have a passion for writing. But I have one issue with the modern philosophy of writers, the reader.
You see I have no interest whatsoever in how the reader will receive my writing. I do not concern myself with how the reader will respond. Will my words offend them? Not my problem. Will the stories I tell hurt them in some way? Not why I write the things I do. I write for one person, me. Writing for the audience is a fallacy. An artist creates art for themselves. Art is about expressing your feelings.
I recently mentioned how I was trained in rhetoric. I believe rhetoric is, at it’s simplest form, itself the art of using words. Story-telling is an art. Reviews are an art. News articles, yes objective, facts-based journalism is a form of art. It is creative writing even if it is based on reality. And therein lies the root of my premise. All writing is based in reality. We cannot write things we do not know, not effectively anyways.
When I talk about a movie, a book or even a TV show I have seen I feel no obligations to preface said discussion with a warning to the audience. It is none of my business which readers have read the book. Likewise when I write a news article on the complexities of the economy I make no assumption the reader has a basic understanding of economics. I do not begin with the foundations of Econ 101. I write the facts as presented, based on my then understanding using the information available. Should I make a mistake I shall correct it. But I will not preface my article on the economy with before you read this article take Econ 305 at your local community college. I have no obligation to do so. I expect the reader to be informed by my writing. If I am reviewing a film, as in a work of art, it behoove me and is in the best interest of the reader I share my full insight. I cannot do this if I cripple myself going in by tying my hand being my back. It is well understood a review is an analysis of a work of art. If one is reading a review expecting it to be “spoiler free” they do a disservice to themselves. If one is writing a review and leaves out how the film made the author, as in the artist crafting said review, feel, they not only discredit their readers, they essentially forfeit their own freedom of speech.
Take for example the Mona Lisa. It is a painting that is open to interpretation. It matters not if an art teacher explained to you the significance the painting meant to them. Upon viewing it yourself, even with foreknowledge of what it said to others, will in no way change how it speaks to you. A middle class art student might see it as a masterpiece of legendary painter. A lower class Native American might view it as a reminder of European Colonialism at its height. Either way nobody can tell you how to feel about a work of art. That includes a film.
When I played Final Fantasy 7 for the first time, when it was fairly new mind you and still current gen, I played it along side the strategy guide. Was the impact of Aeris’s death lessened by my going in knowing? God no, when the sword lunged into her back, her lifeless body limp before my tear-drenched eyes, I felt the same powerful emotions someone would have going in blindly. Why? Because we’re conditioned from birth to expect death. We are conditioned from the moment we open our eyes to know the world around us will disappoint us in ways we cannot fathom. We cannot expect every reader to have shared in every experience as yourself. That defeats the purpose of sharing stories, making art, in the first place. If we all had the same experience, there would be no need to share our experiences. You get nothing from hearing a story that is identical to your own. Not if it is the same as everyone around you. There is value in hearing a similar story as yours from a stranger who’s upbringing is vastly different than yours. There is no value in telling your own mother about the day you were born.