To see inside
“Writers aren’t alchemists who transmute words into the aurous essence of the human experience. No, they are glassmakers. They create a work of art that enables us to see inside to help us understand. And if they are really good, we can see our own reflections staring back at us.” ― Kamand Kojouri
Whether virtues, faults or neutral traits, most of us are able to see such characteristics more easily in others than we can see them in ourselves. Perhaps the clarity afforded by physical, psychological or emotional distance is one reason why fiction is so good at communicating truth. Storytelling can break through the defensive walls we build within, where it’s all too easy to rationalize our own behaviors and deceive ourselves about who we really are. King David is among many in history who learned this firsthand.
Think of some of your favorite stories. Don’t you identify, at least a little, with one or more of the characters? Do you find yourself rooting for a protagonist in difficult circumstances, no matter that person’s flaws or mistakes? Have you ever finished a novel feeling as if you understand your own family member or friend better, because the author was able to help you get inside the mind of an imaginary person?
The more polarized and conflicted the world becomes, the more important it is that we find effective ways to cut through misunderstanding and prejudice. Luckily, the world of literature knows no borders or boundaries. Through reading about all sorts of people– people in different eras or countries, people who are much older or much younger than we are, people of different backgrounds, whose attitudes and beliefs are not the same as ours– we can look through the walls rendered transparent by a skilled author. And best of all, when we see ourselves staring back, we realize maybe the differences aren’t as great as we though they were.