That verse came to my mind when I read a movie review on an arts and faith blog I sometimes check out. The reviewer was preparing to write his piece at a coffee shop, and when the waitress asked him what he was working on, he told her a movie review. A bit more chat, and she asked him a question: "Did you like it?"
The movie reviewer couldn't answer (He includes a lot of smug snark about how painful it was to be asked that question, but that's the gist). Instead he told her how the movie deeply explored aspects of life's meaning, and the questions prompted by human suffering, and how it all ties in with the amazing story of the creation of the universe. All of those things are probably true; I haven't seen the movie in question yet but that's the way this particular moviemaker tends to operate. But he couldn't offer a simple "Yes" or "No" to the question "Did you like it?" And it's not that hard of a question.
For example, I didn't like Schindler's List. It was an amazing movie. It stunned in its unflinching confrontation of the evil humans can do, and in what kind of people may be moved to confront the evil and how they might fight it. It moved me and made me think. I would recommend it if people want to see some of those things for themselves. But I didn't like the experience of seeing it. I've seen it four times and I might see it again if I need some reminder about those things, although the chance of that isn't great. The flip side of that is that I have liked the experience of seeing any number of movies that said absolutely nothing worth remembering, but were funny or rousing or entertaining. I'd watch them again because of that.
Is "I liked it" or "I didn't like it" an oversimplification of how we respond to art or movies or music or other experiences? Sure. But even if it's an inadequate response, it's still a legitimate one. "There's a lot more to it, but yeah, I liked it" is OK. "Well, it made me think about some things I hadn't before, but I really didn't enjoy the experience" is OK too.
At what point do you get so wrapped up in your own analysis that you can't give a simple answer to a waitress's polite small-talk about what you're working on? Is it when you always say "film" or "film critic" instead of "movie reviewer?" When you quote with a straight face Roger Ebert's classic obfuscation “A film is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it?” Funny thing is, most of the time I read this guy's reviews -- which I did when he used to write reviews more often -- I agreed with his opinions a lot of the time.
President Calvin Coolidge was well-known for not saying much. A story, probably not true according to Coolidge himself, suggests that when asked by his wife what a preacher had talked about in a Sunday sermon, he answered, "Sin." When Mrs. Coolidge asked, "Well, what did he say?" the president responded, "He's against it." Did the preacher say many more things than that? Judging by the example with whom I am most familiar (the one in my mirror), I would say he certainly did. But his basic message made it through.
Complex creatures like human beings have complex reactions, and they can't be fully described with simple statements. No matter what we say, there's almost always more to be said. Nuance is real, and it matters, but the simple starts the journey while complex describes it. The review of a thousand words begins with a "yes" or a "no."