I’ve been thinking a lot about the sense, as you’re experiencing something, that you’re simultaneously outside of the experience, observing details, judging your own reactions and those of the people around you.
I’d always thought of it as being particular to writers, that quality of being an observer, and I’ve often found myself grateful for the distance it creates.
But I happened to catch, a couple weeks back, a theater professor from Northern Illinois University on NPR, talking about his reaction to that tragedy; how he began to conceptualize it as though it were theater. And I thought, oh. It’s not just writers.
What a paradox, though. One of the goals of art is to bring experiences closer, to remove the distance between the viewer, reader, listener and the experience being conveyed. And yet in order to create the art, we need the distance.