How Fiction makes us into a better human being?

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

So much compulsion and necessity nowadays reader has to go through reading books that he either loves or feels this deep urge in his genes to read as much as he could, maybe read a whole bunch of books lying on or beyond his shelves.


Be it on Philosophy, Literature, Psychology, or it could be on Physics, Science, History, he makes a mess out of his interest as if compiling books on the other hand has been his passion for the hobby. Given enough practice, and discipline at work, one can indeed get through 100 books a year, as there are already gimmicks and strategies; for it can be done as common wisdom dictates it: if you do it like a monkey, you can do it; It's all a matter of willpower.


However, I encourage readers to think there's got to be other reasons why reading especially fiction is essential today. The reader first has to sort of derive the reason why he is reading. It's the intellectual conundrum I think that deserves a lot of attention and thought. Do we just wanna sound smarter!? Why do we read Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austin? Or is it just we want to stuff in as much info as we could in our head?


There is a part of literature, a part of fiction that is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. It's a journey that takes you to unexpected routes which is the main idea behind everyone being in love with reading commercial fiction, to be more specific. In the end, it's less of how many books we can read in a year.


There's also another certain part of fiction which can drive us bonkers while making sense of the world around us; which we have not given second thought while handling fiction; that part of reading fiction is morally instructive - sympathizing or building empathetic feelings for multiple characters simultaneously, which is the harder part of reading fiction. But once we have made sense of this part, we are no longer just bound to our worldview.


We all have a basic idea of reading for pleasure. But to get to the morally instructive part and know how it operates, one must go through lots of tricks. Fiction essentially serves sort of more than just self-help; fiction is a sort of subconscious way of doing self-help, that helps define our identity(sense of self). Since as we grow up, we undergo a metamorphosis of identities, which is either a reaction against certain identities out there or a conscious effort to emulate other identities that we find attractive. In fiction there is always some higher goal to shoot for that has the potentiality to transform us. And this requires in-depth scanning of characters when we come across in fiction to understand as to how they interact with the world.


In our everyday lives, we all tend to reject the worldviews other people hold. We are so trapped in our selfishness and our little bubble that alternative reflections and views from other dimensions of other characters are restricted in our window of perception. So there's this lack of curiosity to penetrate other people's lives; instead, we are trapped in our daily cycle of routines. Otherwise, part of us growing out of our bubble is becoming a more holistic person. And characters in fiction can break us out of our little bubble.


Literary fiction does the job of providing the opportunity to experience characters constructed in it, and avoid skewed, distorted view from our current basic identity. It is only through other identities out there we start connecting humanly. How does it feel to have ambitions crushed, to lose a job, or mourn over the loss of near or dear ones, live life from other perspectives, as such? To unravel these emotional enigmas, to begin to get perspectives and experiences of others, we readers temporarily have to suspend our own identity and dive into the lives of imaginary characters in fictional work.


We can experience so many characters from fiction, its not necessary that we go out there, but we can relate our own life experiences with those of imaginary characters. Looking at other people's perspectives makes us more human. Breaking out of our reality or our sense of self can make us a wholesome being; also makes us feel morally redeemed; calms us down and gears us up to face life with all the complexities in life; opens up a new realm, and teaches us how to deal with certain situations; how to respond wisely to certain conflicts.


So the function of good fiction is to show us many people that we can web through what we wanna be and what we don't. We come into contact with people in relatively huge no in fiction. We see once twice and seldom see the same people passing by, let alone 50 people a day. But if we read high-quality literary fiction, that has masterfully constructed characters, we can meet 40-50 people in a span of a week. While it takes years just in real life, take years to figure out what we want, who we are, what our motivation is in life.


Fiction essentially is sort of more than self-help books; fiction is sort of some subconscious way of doing self-help, so to emphasize. Which helps define our identity, our sense of self. Since as we grow up, there's this gradual metamorphism of identities amongst us, which is a reaction against certain identities out there or conscious striving to other identities that we find attractive. These people will then begin to define a web of what are some of the personality traits we react against or wanna embody even more. It's showing us what we could be or what we don't wanna be.


The more we read, the better our moral judgment gets in the course of action, and the deeper we begin to sympathize with characters then. Our thinking sharpens to a new edge. Since our inner conscious mind is listening to so many arguments from various characters, it becomes receptive to them all and finds it difficult to take sides. And when we read enough fiction, we reach the point where we don't wanna take sides anymore. We have reached the apex point from where we can see all perspectives with a sort of elevated view; we can see the dynamics of how everything is playing out.

Dipes B.C is the BIBLIONEPAL Blog writer who has a keen interest in philosophy and fiction. You can contact him at contact@biblionepal.com.

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