It just occurred to me that the reasoning behind my decision to do ‘Reflections’ instead of reviews on Kakera Complex could maybe do with some better explaining. So let’s get into it.
First, no, I’m not just trying to sound cool by being different. That may be the case for some other terminology I use on the blog, but the choice of Reflections over Reviews is the result of some careful consideration. The main reason is to address a problem I have with the typical view of the critic. That is, the idea that every creative work is either good or bad, and can be measured on a scale of 1 to 10 (or whichever scale you prefer). I don’t believe all critics hold this view as I worded it, but using this system really feels like I’m submitting to that mentality. I wish to present my own view of creative media. I’ll be focusing on stories though, as it’s my medium of choice.
Every story has a unique merit, a “heart” which must sought to he understood.
I’m still young, and trying to understand my view of creative media, but the above is one thing I fully believe. But it poses a lot more questions too, and leaves much room for debate. But let me make it clear. When I read a story, I actively search for what I call the heart, the merit, the reason the story exists, the message it’s trying to tell. I don’t doubt there’s an infinite number of messages and meanings different people can gain from reading a story, as many interpretations as there are people in the world. But this cat box of interpretations is only possible because we aren’t the writer. But the only messages of a story that I hold onto are those that I believe the writer was trying to convey. This way, every story is a relationship between the reader and the unseen author behind the pages. Like a relationship, my job as reader is to try and understand the author, and what they really want to tell me. Like we try to become closer to and understand the heart of somebody we love, so too do I seek to understand the heart of a good story. That is the heart I seek. Maybe the only heart I can find is a shallow heart where the only truth that can be gained from the story is somebody wanting to cash in on heaps of action scenes. In which case I would have no choice to conclude that it’s a bad story. However, I don’t believe there is an objectively good story. What a person gains from a story is reflective as much of the author’s talent and vision as it is the worldview of the reader. As such, a story can only be good as the reader determines it to be.
I acknowledge that a lot of women love fifty shades of gray. I have yet to hear any convincing argument that there is any merit to the story outside eliciting girl boners in the reader, therefore I have determined that this is a shallow (aka bad) story. If somebody can convince me that this story has a deeper merit, I will concede and acknowledge it as a story with merit. Understand, I don’t like this story nor have any interest in it, but if I can believe a heart exists, I will acknowledge it as such. Good is only a matter of perspective, bad is a much more tangible concept.
So then, why reflections? Because I’m not seeking to prove how good this story is. I’m here to find the heart, or any number of hearts I can accept as truths the author was trying to convey through her writing. To me, Little Busters is all but perfect, but that’s just my view, and impossible to share with others. A person who cannot relate to the themes and accept the story will conclude that it’s 6/10 and move on. Conversely, there will be others who love Little Busters just as much as me, maybe more, but explain a much different reason for enjoying it, a different heart to the one I have reached. Were I to complete my Little Busters reflection (which I will), I won’t rate it 10/10, even if I think it deserves it. Instead I will try to explain in words the truths I’ve reached about what this story is all about. My reflections seek to explore the heart that I have reached through reading the story, not tell you how good it is. Unless there is no perceivable substance to the story, then I’ll let you know how crap it is. This is how I approach my reflections.
Don’t you think this style of literary review much more rich and interesting though?