Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Empathy, Harry Potter and the Necessity of Fiction

28 Days


The sun is bright this morning and the birds seem louder, as if relieved by a day that promises to be both warm and bright. There is no wind, and the trees below the balcony do not stir. The distant roar of cars along the highway fades easily into the background.

It has been a while since I have found myself so involved with the characters of a novel. (one of my own) It is a strange and compelling experience, in that I am continually forced to view life through a different lens. I can't help but think that such an experience is a good thing. That said, you do not have to be a writer to experience other lives. You experience it when you read as well. I've often reflected on books like the Harry Potter series, on those who grew up with the novels and shared the lives of those characters. What a wonderful gift from J.K. Rowling, to give her work such depth that readers became lost in the story, to the point where they assumed ownership of it. I am certainly no Rowling, but I believe that this is the experience all writers are trying to give their readers. Something magical happens when we find ourselves in a new story, even if it is only borrowed for a time. It enlarges us somehow, and helps us see the blind spots in both our beliefs and ourselves. People sometimes ask me why I love fiction so much, or why I would write something that isn't 'true.' What I usually tell them is that fiction – story – is the only way people ever truly understand one another, because it is only through story that we are ever given a window into other people's experiences and what it means to walk in another person's footsteps. Without that understanding, without empathy, love is impossible. And without love, life really isn't worth that much.



One of those days when the thought of any thoughts is beyond exhaustion. Will post tomorrow.