Not All Themes Are Equal
“When you begin with a strong, thought provoking theme, you’re already close to success.”
A powerful theme makes you want more. Its success centres around its ability to make you enquire what lies behind it. A quality that all strong themes have is that they provoke thinking. We can all keep trying to improve our work, and a strong theme is one way which we can do this.
The author of the book “Interpretation- Making a Difference on Purpose” by Sam H. Ham starts Chapter 7- Not All Themes Are Equal, with a thought provoking theme muttered by a Spanish student of his that goes “With every sip of this wine, the toil and blood of our ancestors become part of you.” A clever way to introduce the importance of themes, is to start with a thought provoking one.
This article delves into the idea that not all themes are equal, identifying the qualities that distinguishes a strong and weak theme. The conclusion is that themes are strong when they promote thinking, curiosity and development. Rather than just telling us how to identify a strong theme, the author then delves into the ingredients of a strong theme. The analysis is incredibly in depth, covering a multi-faceted analysis of themes. This eventuates with some practical guidelines and tips which allows the reader to both strengthen and add interest to a theme. While the article has an in depth analysis, the main take home messages on how to create a good theme are as follows:
· Always add a dose of “Vitamin R”. In the case of themes, a theme loaded with vitamin R invokes universal concepts. These universal concepts are symbolic connections to things that have always been important to human beings for example extreme emotions or biological imperatives like love, hunger or death
· Make the theme easier to process. For a theme to provoke thoughts, it must be understood. There are several ways to make it easier for the author to make connections to their life including using analogies, keeping the theme short and using easily accessible language
· Adding interest to difficult themes attracts people’s attention. The “Knockan Theory for Exploring Creative Connection” is explored here as a way to add interest to less interesting things, thereby creating a stronger theme. Essentially, a method to strengthen a theme of low inherent interest is to connect it to something of higher inherent interest. A way to do this is by connecting a more boring theme to something provocative, for example dangerous, surprising or sexual topics.
I really enjoyed this article, and was able to take lessons from it that I could implement in my own work. It was especially helpful that the author used tangible ways to make a theme more interesting. I had not heard of The “Knockan Theory for Exploring Creative Connection” before. I think this is a clever way to improve themes and it warrants further discussion. It is in our human nature to enjoy things that disturb us or excite us. Its why shows featuring grotesque, horrific or violent things provide us so much entertainment. For example, we love horror movies or shows like embarrassing bodies which expose us to out of the ordinary ideas. Even though we sometimes don’t want to watch, we are intrigued. Thus, weaving a shocking idea into a more boring one is a good way to get the message of a theme across. I think that the development of the “Knockan Theory” is something that could be used in more than just the creation of themes, it definitely has a place in advertising, entertainment, photography and many other avenues.
The author stresses that in his mind the ultimate purpose of interpretation is to provoke audiences to think and draw their own conclusions and morals of the story- in essence, extracting their own personal themes from an interpretive encounter.
At the end of the reading, we are left with something to consider. Is provoking any kind of thought sufficient? Or are some kinds of thoughts more important and thus we should be aiming to provoke these as the main goal. This question is covered in the next chapter of the book. This question raises a questions in my mind about themes. Is it possible for one theme to provoke the same thoughts in the entire audience? It seems that since we all have different experiences, beliefs and thought processes that it may be impossible for a theme to provoke a singular thought from everyone who encounters it. A singular theme may mean something different to different people. What do you think?
For further information about how to apply the “Knockan Theory”, go to this link https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=EBmpDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT286&lpg=PT286&dq=knockan+theory&source=bl&ots=4ipAXV0ade&sig=3-DgxvUOuYODNTUCxEzdlykFqzI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwix5rGarcPdAhUKfLwKHQsxAbAQ6AEwCXoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=knockan%20theory&f=false.