Several days ago, I suggested that there are some aspects of a film Kate is able to appreciate without understanding the plot or exactly what is going on. Until a year and a half ago, I realized that she could still have feelings for the characters and their situations. That is true, but I feel I understand it more clearly since I read The Dementia Handbook by Judy Cornish. I’ve talked about Cornish’s description of rational and intuitive thought or abilities many times and won’t repeat them here, but I think they apply beautifully with respect to Kate’s response to movies.
Her rational thought processes simply don’t work very well, but the intuitive part of her brain is still alive and in some ways is more active now than before. The power of any movie comes from its ability to touch us by what we hear, see, and feel. Like other films the Ronstadt documentary is loaded with these qualities, and Kate enjoyed the movie.
There is one other thing, however, that I believe is relevant in explaining Kate’s response: the fact that the film is a documentary. Why should that matter? Here is what I think. Although Kate’s rational abilities are virtually gone, she retains a desire to know or to understand. I think this is true for everyone. Part of our intuitive nature is to make sense of (to understand) the world around us. We see this most easily with young children. They seem to be interested in everything.
Kate was an English teacher and then a librarian. Learning and education have always been important to her. She still believes it is important to understand things, but no longer has the ability to do so. She often asks me to help, but almost as often I find it difficult. That’s because my explanations generally rely on the rational abilities she no longer has.
The nature of a typical documentary is to present information about a subject, but it “packages” that information in a way that not only appeals to our rational thought processes but also to our intuitive ones. This approach to presenting information is more appealing to a wider audience than a lecture or reading an article or book on the subject though it may fail to include many details and subtleties of a more academic format.
Documentaries like RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice are designed to reach an even wider audience than the typical documentary. They seek to be more entertaining by presenting their information with a greater emphasis on the qualities that appeal to our intuitive nature. I believe that is why Kate has enjoyed these three movies. She has a sense that she was learning while at the same time being entertained. I hasten to add that doesn’t mean that she would like every documentary designed for the mass market. We saw Pavarotti. She didn’t enjoy it, and I don’t know why. She likes opera and YouTube videos of him. I may have to see it again to figure out why.