Linear and Hyper Linear


Written text is linear(*). One word follows the other. One sentence follows the other. One argument follows the other. Most people think, that this is just like film. But it is not. The difference is obvious when you look at a page of written text. All the information is there at the same time (at least all the information that fits on the page). People sometimes argue that the way you take in text is nonetheless linear, but I doubt that. When I am reading, I do not take in one word after the other. I am aware of words that come later on the page, I cross-read text, and very often (especially when I read English texts, which is not my native tongue) I jump back, to read something again. When I am looking at a word I can see the word before and after, I see the words in context. But the most important difference to film is, that I am in control of the speed, I take in the information.

Film does not give me time to think, when I want it. It gives me time to think when the author wants it. If I start my own thoughts while watching a film, I miss out on the film. At least if I think thoughts that take longer than a few seconds. The flow of the film takes my thoughts away. This is why I usually do not enjoy watching linear films. I tend to get nervous, when I have a thought and I can’t follow it.

So clearly film is linear, but it is more linear than a written text. That is why I call it hyper linear.

Films are shown with more than 25 frames per second(*). Maybe one could say that a frame of a film is like a letter in a text. But nevertheless you can remember what you have seen previous you can not see the next letter, or word. And again, you can not get out of it. One letter follows the next, on word follows the other, no time for me to think, whenever I want. Intentions to think are not a strong signal, they start as weak signal somewhere in my brain. That part of my brain than has to convince other parts of my brain, that there should be focus on this particular thought. But watching a film, where all active senses are occupied with the next impression, the next scene, the next seductive thought of the author of film, my own little thought has no time to grow big and get attention. Very rarely while I watch a film a thought grows big enough that I become aware of its cry for attention. I might stop a film once or twice while watching it (and maybe I am even above average with this behavior).

Reading a text I slow down or stop while reading all the time.

(*) usually