Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Literature and Meaning



Most people, almost all normal ones, live their lives by the stories they tell about themselves and those others tell about them. As psychologist Gerald Corey says, “These stories actually shape reality in that they construct and constitute what we see, feel, and do.”
Your personality is not a static entity which took shape at your birth once and for all. As you grew up physically, you encountered a lot of other people, situations, and forces that contributed into the ongoing shaping of your personality even if you didn’t want all that shaping. Your life is a story that continues to be written till your death. You are the ultimate writer of your own story though a whole lot of others make significant contributions which you can’t ignore. Every Othello has to meet his Iago. But the plot need not necessitate the murder of Desdemona. Every Hamlet has to deal with the demons of fraudulence. Mark Antony has a choice to not “let Rome in Tiber melt” and thus rewrite his story.
Your life is a story that unfolds as you go on your way to your grave. Other people add colours and thrills to the plot. They determine the plot to a great extent too. It is like a game of cards, if I may borrow the analogy from Jawaharlal Nehru. The hand you are dealt is your fate; the way you play is your choice, your skill, and your responsibility. Your story depends only partly on you.
You have to play your part; there’s no escape from that. Literature helps you to see how others do that. The flaw in Othello’s character, his refusal or inability to see beyond what Iago egged on him to see, will teach you vital lessons in the game of life. Every character in good literature can teach you such lessons. The skills required to play your cards can be learnt from literature better than anywhere else.
Literature reveals life’s inevitable struggles and subsequent conquests or losses. It places before us life’s agonies and ecstasies. How do other people play their destined cards? What could they do to make their games better? We learn the strategies of life from their stories which literature brings to us.
When you are faced with a serious problem of life, it is always worthwhile to imagine a story around that problem. Create a character similar to you and give him/her that problem. This helps to externalise the problem and see it from a different angle. Your perspectives widen and you begin to understand the problem, its causes, and possible solutions more clearly. The stories you’ve read may help in the process.
Literature helps add meaning to life at least in two ways: other people stories can inspire you, and you can create your own narratives which will help you understand yourself better.

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa

This post is the 5th in a series on Meaning of Life.
6th will be Meaning of Meaninglessness

70 comments:

  1. I agree that we all have our own journey and unique experience. The people we have met, the experiences all add to unique us. Enjoyed reading this write up!

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    1. I think each experience in life makes our story a little richer!

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    2. Of course, every experience is a lesson. Some experiences can be very painful, however.

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  2. Enjoyed reading your blog. Everyone has their own story !

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  3. Wow!That is a new idea. Using literature as a substrate for living life. You are right. Just like real people in our lives influence our lives literary characters though fictional can also influence us in our decision making process

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    1. There is a psychotherapy called Narrative Therapy which effectively employs story telling to help clients solve problems. My own memoir was partly inspired by therapy.

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  4. Literature opens a window on a scene that so many times the person cannot physically transcend. Completely agree with you!

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  5. Loved your method to problem solving. And I have often found when I am struggling with life, its meaning, or trying to understand something that's happening to me - I have found many answers between the pages of a book, or inside someone else's story.

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    1. It's not my method. Psychology uses this method in counselling.

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  6. My favorite learning today - Literature helps add meaning to life at least in two ways: other people stories can inspire you, and you can create your own narratives which will help you understand yourself better

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  7. Even literature meld life and reform in most beautiful way. #millennialscribbler #myfriendalexa

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  8. Speechless at your writing skills.Learning from you. Great post.

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  9. Your blog is indeed a find. The series is a treat to read.

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  10. I remember I Often used to think that my each and every action of every moment is shaping my life. That is what is making my story. Really loved your style of correlating.Meaning of life is so very complex but yet so simple. If we live for others then we get true meaning.

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    1. Living for others is marvelous and magnanimous. What better meaning can there be for life??

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  11. "The skills required to play your cards can be learnt from literature better than anywhere else." - totally agree with this thought and kudos to you for writing a wonderful article on literature and its meaning in life.
    #ReadByPRB

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    1. Life is an interesting game if we learn how to play it.

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  12. A very nice post. Enjoyed reading this one and will surely be reading the series.

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    1. Will be delighted to read your views on the series.

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  13. It's true that to some extent we can shape our life. It's way we think and behave in a particular situation.

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  14. I really like the way you have connected literature with life. It is the truth, literature does reflect our lives...

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    1. ... and it can teach more than any scriptures, science or politics.

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  15. what a nice way to get a solution to any problem, very practical indeed

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    1. Hmm. More practical than religion and politics, i think.

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  16. Literature is lifeline for me, loved reading this

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  17. As much as we're concerned about our story, how much do we care of our role in other's story?
    A very thought provoking post!

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    1. A very valid question, Aadhira. But others are also like ourselves, writing their own stories 😃

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  18. The topics, concepts presentation every thing is so different. The topics chosen by you are very sensitive and sensible.
    -Mywordsmywisdom

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  19. I am loving the way you are sharing views on much needed topics ..yes..it's true that everybody has their own story..loved reading this!!

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  20. So true! Literature helps to widen our perspective and learn a lot. 😊 Amazing content.

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  21. That’s great write up,I was completely unaware of this much role of literature in real life, yes very well said it helps us to view the situation in two way and in more crystal clear way.

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  22. I agree literature can help a great role in our life, it can inspire us and can enrich us with so much knowledge. great post, #Surbhireads #Myfriendalexa

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  23. Keep writing..go along as it leads you...As the story goes....Let the readers script around it..Circumvent it or ignore it...Or rescript it as it usually happens cut copy paste ...That's Life

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  24. Literature is healing for me, as I sink deep in the ocean of words. Nice post!!

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    1. Words have magic in them. Nice to know you've discovered that magic.

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  25. I loved reading your thoughts and can see your passion in your words.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, I'm passionate about reading and writing.

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  26. "We wear a mask for so long, we forget who we were beneath it": V
    We find something as best in literature it is something we can relate to. To understand someone you need to walk a mile in his shoes. Often to understand ourselves we need to take a different perspective, one of an outsider. Stories and tales are so within humanity. It can be also boon or a curse. Stories we cook up are regards as lies, which is, in fact, the dirtiest side of human beings.

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    1. Maybe, we need to ignore certain people and go on with our stories.

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  27. That's a great piece if advice. Often when we think from a different perspective, we will be able to find solutions to the most pressing problems!

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    1. Indeed. Psychology makes use of that effectively in therapy.

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  28. Very meaningful and thought-provoking post.

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  29. Very thoughtful article... I have a strong belief in that literature is one thing which can teach you life lessons without even experiencing them...

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    1. For those who love to read, literature is the best source of wisdom.

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  30. Literature plays a great role in our lives. Keep writing such inspiring blogs.

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  31. This is such a nice post. For me, literature/books are my go to everytime I am upset or want time out from the real world - books are my escape.

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    1. Books have the magic to heal us provided we care to be healed.

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  32. Yes I too agree in distancing from the problem and thinking from other person point of view, then the situation lies right in front of us.

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  33. I enjoyed reading this post,and how you mentioned the characters.

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