16 March 2012

Visual Aids

Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann, 1921, Excerpts

Photographs have the kind of authority over imagination today, which the printed word had yesterday, and the spoken word before that. They are the most effortless food for the mind conceivable. Any description in words requires an effort of memory before a picture exists in the mind. But on the screen the whole process of observing, describing, reporting, and then imagining, has been accomplished for you.

Pictures have always been the surest way of conveying an idea, and next in order, words that call up pictures in memory. When public affairs are popularized in speeches, headlines, plays, moving pictures, cartoons, novels, statues or paintings, their transformation into a human interest requires first abstraction for the original, and then animation of what has been abstracted. We find gifted men who can visualize for us, for people are not all endowed to the same degree with the pictorial faculty. We paint pictures, stage dramas, and draw cartoons out of the abstractions.

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