Sunday, July 31, 2005


Here's a sort of game to play, if you are bored. Take two works (of literature, art, or music) that touch on the same theme or issue but do so in a different way. The idea is to create an experience of interesting contrast. So, for instance, here's my example:

Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent
G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday

Both touch on the issues of pessimism and late nineteenth-century terrorism, but each has a different approach to the issue, and they each take the discussion in rather different directions. So reading one of them right after the other would make for an interesting contrast.

Do you have any suggestions for juxtapositions?

UPDATE: In the comments, Wilson has two suggestions for cinematic juxtaposition.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Big Fish

Of these two, which came out about the same time, he says: "Both examine the roles that memory plays in personal identity, ethics, and interpersonal relationships. One comes down on the side of descriptive realism, the other on the side of prescriptive myth."

2. Citizen Kane

"Again, they're from the same era. They fight for top honors in the history of American cinema. More importantly, they both deal with altruism and alienation -- the individual's obligations to society. One depicts a crusading idealist incapable of love; the other a standoffish cynic who loves, perhaps, not widely but too well. (Pardon the pun.)"

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