Episode 168 - The Art of Looking Sideways
The Thursday Thesis - 12/9/2019
I can’t remember when I first heard the phrase “a sideways look”, but I do remember that it was in a story of a wise woman facing down a villager who accused her of witchcraft. In the story that Sideways Look was all suspicion and contempt as the wise woman cowed her accuser.
And it’s such a funny idea, looking sideways, that it stuck with me. Tumbled by time and stained by my ribald life it’s acquired a new meaning for me, no longer is it haughty contempt – not in my sense of the phrase, anyway.
No, for me it’s become a look of deep curiosity, this sideways look.
Maybe it’s like the look of romantic interest, sudden curiosity and potential passion, and maybe it is charged with suspicion; but whatever it is, you know a sideways look when you get one.
Time freezes briefly when someone looks at you that way.
We feel our souls are being scrutinised by a sideways look, our very essence assayed and examined.
And it all happens in an instant.
That Sideways Look takes nothing at Face Value, it asks questions and weighs things up.
When you Look Sideways you don’t just begin to think about what was said – you begin to factor-in who said it, how they said it, the context in which it was said, and what they did not say.
Whatever the delivery media - Speech, book, video, commercial, print ad, radio or TV show - you begin to probe the speaker’s motives, their choice of words, their body language and posture, vocal nuances and rate of speech.
Looking Sideways isn’t just about face-to-face encounters with real people, and it definitely applies to advertising, marketing, mainstream media, social media, music and the Arts
A sideways look is really critical thinking, looking beyond and around, as well as into and through, the surface of events, messages, conversations. It squints at what is being shown, listens intently for what is said, hears the creaking of distortion and the sly whisper of Spin – moreover, it reaches into the dark silences of what is being left out.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2019
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