I may make you feel, but I can’t make you think.
What is the difference between feeling something and thinking about something?
When we experience an emotion, it clearly makes us think. And when we think about something that is triggering an emotion, it certainly makes us feel. Are these two the same thing?
When you think, you are logically processing whatever information you have been given access to, presuming of course, you are a logically-thinking human being.
But if we take that as a basic precept, then it is logical to presume that anything that is thought, processes through reason, logic, and and presumably will result in some form of conclusion.
Whereas when we feel something, it triggers instantly, and summons whichever of our emotions are appropriate to experience such a feeling.
Even though there is a clear shade of gray between the two, they are inextricably linked, especially when you were thinking about something that has any kind of a trigger, giving you cause or pause to really contemplate that which you have been thinking about.
If we are able to make someone feel, we are able to trigger a specific emotion. As a crafter of fiction, triggering that emotion is the ultimate goal, in order that you might give somebody cause to feel a specific way at a specific moment in your music, story, film, television show, theatrical play, game, art, or similar.
But even if you are able to make somebody feel a specific emotion, are you always able to make them think specifically about it? In Ian Anderson’s (from Jethro Tull) iconic statement, his music is always designed to make us feel. But in many cases, lyrics to a song or a segment from a book or a moment from a movie, does not always give another person a reason to think, even if the creator of the subject matter believes that it will.
Somewhere in that experience, there has to be an allowance for the passive viewer to experience that which they are going to experience and feel that which they are going to feel, but as a creator you cannot ever 100% assuredly know you’re going to make your audience think.
An audience is, for the most part, looking to have our entertainment, without the trepidation of being weighed down by the moral responsibility to fully contemplate every aspect of what the artist was hoping they may give us as a reason to consider.
If you are an artist, and you are working to generate an emotional response combined with some form of a specific user-generated outcome or user-stimulated outcome, then you must go an extra distance to ensure that there is reason and opportunity for that viewer, reader, or listener, to find the impetus to go from passive to active, and thereby really contemplate the depth of the message you are hoping to evoke.