I’m rereading some of George Lazenby’s (not that one) essays in Infinity To Dine:
You know that thing in a cartoon where the characters are watching a cartoon on television? And how the cartoon they’re watching is always drawn in a simpler or more abstract style than the animated world in which they watch it? Or how a painter who paints somebody painting a picture has to make the painting-in-the-painting a little vague and not as sharp as the other things in the picture? Imagine the opposite of this: imagine a cartoon where the characters watch regular, real-life HDvideo; or imagine a painting where the person in the painting is holding a real photograph, not a painting of a photograph. Now imagine that it were possible to drag this relationship into real life: imagine that we were the cartoon characters and that it were possible to make a painting that would be to us what the photograph was to the painted person, to watch video that was actually sharper, more detailed, and less abstract than the real life you perceive with your own eyes. This is not possible with a photograph or a video, but this is exactly what a novel is.