In the high-frequency beat of our lives, it is normal for us to read in such a fast mode that we get parts of a story, the high moments of it; but miss the opportunity. This article, inspired by the work of Casper ter Kuile, reminds us to consider the power in certain kinds of texts - such as Harry Potter - that sets us to pause and reflect on our lives and our behavior.
Imagine these guys here, all of them reading one of the Harry Potter books as if it were some ritual, a sacred moment:
According to Casper ter Kuile (The Power of Ritual), some readings, like Harry Potter, have the power that causes you to reflect beyond the story - into your life. For example, the reading may bring up a nostalgic moment, memories about tragedies, and more.
Certain kinds of fiction reading may create an opportunity for you to reflect on who you are and your behavior too. Think of a reader who, after reading an excerpt from one of the Harry Potter episodes, thought: Am I like that villain?
Casper indicates that this phenomenon (he didn't say phenomenon) is confirmed by research too. He points to the work by Keith Oakley from the University of Toronto - check out A Feeling for Fiction.
Therefore, we may consider that certain narratives provide a chance to develop empathy for a specific character, which allows us to be open and reflect on our lives. For example, consider a reader experiencing a narrative reflexively and more slowly having the opportunity to feel like this:
Wow, poor villain. He became like that because his life wasn't easy too. And even in the second stage, the reader might think, "Oops, I also find myself in a similar situation."
Many readers of fiction books, such as Harry Potter, wrote letters to Casper revealing how some episodes made them reflect and understand more about themselves.
Now, in the high-frequency beat of our lives, it is normal for us to read in such a fast mode that we get parts of a story, the high moments of it; but miss the opportunity. Pages often pass in front of us, next to these micro screens of distractions and social media taps and rhythms. When we have a minute to rest, what do we do? We enter into a new rapid interaction and even hurried readings that don't allow us to pause and reflect - on our lives, ourselves, and behavior.
To help us this way, Casper wrote, "Reading is a path to greater awareness. To courage and commitment. To helping us see our mistakes, and to finding a better way forward. " (Kuile, 2020, p.59)
Thank you, Casper. The following is a 1-min video I made after reading the section from Casper’s book: