[Speeches] were addressed, moreover, to an audience that knew how to listen. A large proportion of the Athenian public was non-literate. Reading and writing were not, as for us, the fundamentals of education. Public speaking was. (75)
There was also a prejudice towards writing in the ancient Grecian society, where Homer judges writing to be an arcane art, tainted with the possibilities of evil (Arnott 75). Writing was also thought to be secret, sinister, and fraught with dangers. [Whereas] the spoken word is clear and honest as Arnott once again aids us in understanding the historical contexts of that era (76). Yet, Sophocles turns this glorification of speech on its head in Oedipus the King, in his bid to represent life on stage. If Oedipus had kept the investigation to himself and not declared it to all of his subjects, or not have said anything at all, would he have enjoyed a happier ending than in the play Oedipus boasts of his altruism when Creon comes back with word from the Oracle at Delphi, choosing to let all know of the Oracle??™s words when Creon had hinted to speak him in private, near the start of the play:
Creon. If thou wouldst hear my message publicly, I??™ll tell thee straight, or with thee pass within.
Oedipus. Speak before all; the burden that I bear is more for these my subjects than for myself. (Storr 3)
If Homer condemned writing as dangerous, and seeing how speech was not infallible, what are we left with to objectify our subjectivities Akira Kurosawa would like to suggest that images are added by the modern man to view his subjective reality rather than solely hearing it like the ancient Greeks did. The modern man of today has the advantage of technology on his side. An ancient Greek did not possess cameras, photographs, television or film. Television and film being the penultimate in entertainment and learning because it engages both the eyes and the ears, in order of that importance nowadays. The subjectivity one experiences now is no longer solely the mind??™s ear listening to Oedipus, but also includes the mind??™s eye as well. Pictures are certainly easier to retain in one??™s mind as compared to a speech being expounded in today??™s context; a picture is worth a thousand words after all, goes the popular saying. From a sound room in one??™s mind, the modern man has developed a mindscape, where a picture of his or her life comes in a montage, and at times, episodic in this new manifestation of one??™s subjectivity. In the film Dreams by Kurosawa, he portrays one??™s subjective reality through Expressionism, in which dreams, memory, fantasy and hallucination can or will be convoluted together to represent the reality inside our minds. The images adding to further objectify one??™s subjectivity.
Similar to Oedipus the King, Dreams also involves minimal acting on the actor??™s part. However, that is also where the similarities end. Dreams is more focused on displaying images for the audience to follow, as the protagonist, here on referred to as the painter, wanders through backdrops and sets that are paintings of van Gogh in his pursuit of Vincent van Gogh. The images can be seen as a bid by Kurosawa to try to objectify subjectivity, via his own vision of his subjective reality. Through his art of making films, he is trying to represent the mindscape of the modern man, where we live in both the physical Reality and our own subjective reality. The speech element of the film, when the painter finally meets van Gogh, is not to be disregarded completely though. I believe that the spiel that van Gogh goes into adds to the convolution of dreams, memory, fantasy and hallucination present in our mindscape. Imagine having van Gogh inviting you to paint with him, and him telling you this seems beyond belief; Imagine able to hear his methodology straight from his lips, and the best part of it all is that you can imagine it in your own subjectivity, and Kurosawa??™s film objectifies it for you, sets a framework to pursue after an artist, writer, poet or even a celebrity you wish to meet. Seen in this excerpt:
Painter. Aren??™t you Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh. Why aren??™t you painting
To me this seems beyond belief.
A scene that looks like a painting does not make a painting.
If you take the time and look closely, all of Nature has its own beauty.
When that natural beauty is there, I just lose myself.
And then, as if in a dream, the scene just paints itself for me.
Yes, I consume this natural setting, I devour it complete and whole.
And then when I am through,
The picture appears before me, complete.
But it??™s so difficult to hold it inside.
Painter. Then, what [do] you do
Vincent van Gogh. I work, I slave, I drive myself like a locomotive.
As the credits roll on this essay, let us gather our thoughts on how speech and images have objectified subjectivities in Oedipus the King, and Dreams. Speech objectified the subjectivity of ancient Greeks due to their prejudice to writing, and convenience of public speaking in that era. However, due to leaps of technological progress, television and film have added the mind??™s eye to the mind??™s ear experienced by the ancient Greeks, adding a whole new dimension to one??™s subjective reality. Kurosawa in his film Dreams, focuses more on images to objectify the subjectivity of the modern man. One??™s subjective reality is represented by speech and images in Dreams, as theatre and film both continue to strive to try to represent Life, be it the physical Reality or subjective mindscape onto the stage or silver screen. Objectifying one??™s subjective reality is, and always will be, a pursuit that all the members of Literature strive for to put on paper, on stage, or even on the silver screen of cinema.