Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Imagined images

After reading some of your comments re the moorhen, I started thinking about how our imaginations work when we read.

For instance, I tried to remember what I had imagined a moor hen to be like. It's hard now that I know. But, I'm sure it was just a bird-shaped blob. It probably was brown and I might have said it looked vaguely like a quail or maybe a grouse.

I had never seen a castle before I went to Ireland. I have read lots about castles. I have seen pictures. But I wasn't prepared for the reality of the castle. The sheer bulk and size of it. Here's Castle Trim which we walked round, impressed by how long it took to get all the way around.

There's no way that a photo can prepare you for the sheer mass of the stone. The solidity and strength that is present in the building. It looms! And this is not even a very large castle. The next photo is closer and has more human orientation.

But, this isn't about castles - only my perception of them from reading. How often do we have our perceptions exploded when we meet the real thing? How many novel readers are frustrated by the casting of movie versions of the novel? Is it because there's too much detail? Or because the casting director got it all wrong?

When I was much younger, I was an avid Bobbsey Twins reader. I knew exactly what they looked like: dark, tall and slender Bert and Nan; short, plump and fair Freddie and Flossie. That was all the description I needed to make a picture in my mind. But, like the bird, it was kind of vague. I couldn't have picked the kids out from a police line up.

Is this how every one experiences imaginary images? What do you see in your mind's eye?


Rudee said...

I much prefer the physical characteristics of what my mind can conjure from reading details in a book. The one exception was Peter Jackson's movies based on Tolkien's books. He nailed them. All of them. Well, maybe not Liv Tyler, but certainly, the rest of them were just as I'd imagined.

Mimi said...

I like conjuring people, but sometimes that can be surprising too.
Trim Castle is a fine one- I'm glad that it was the first one you saw.


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