Great art with a powerful message isn’t created with the message in mind. That is backwards.
The most powerful lessons we learn are not learned through words, but through experiences. My parents told me many wise things as a child, but it was only after I experienced these lessons in the real world that I came to understand just how right they were.
It is the same with great art. The focus is not on telling the message as clearly as possible, rather it is on creating the clearest experience that brings you to the message. If the situation is captured as vividly as possible, the viewer can’t help but learn the same lesson that the person in the movie or book learned.
That is a beautiful thing. I just watched Dunkirk a few weeks ago, and it perfectly captured an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness. Day after day, waiting for someone to come rescue you trapped on a beach while you are being picked off by bombers overhead. These soldiers endured weeks of that tense, meaningless torture until one day salvation arrived.
The sight of civilians risking their lives to rescue those trapped soldiers brought tears to my eyes. At once I understood the beauty of courage and self-sacrifice.
To risk your life willingly (and often for no purpose) to save another is a beautiful thing. After watching Dunkirk, I will have a completely different perspective on Medal of Honor recipients and stories of bravery in war. Heroes are real.
This is just one example of hundreds of movies and books that have changed my perspective on the world. The best ones don’t attempt to preach a message. They put you through an experience and let you grow with the characters in the story. This is what happens when you experience loss of a loved one, this is how it feels to be at the edge of science, this is how it feels when you risk everything you know to save the world.
That is true influence and communication. Create the experience, not the message.
I mostly felt compelled to write that piece about art today. That will likely be refined at published to Medium at some point.
I also fixed my mis-colored sprites and it’s on to the book’s speech options tomorrow.