We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.
Art in all of its forms helps us to consider the immense question of how art speaks to and reflect the human experience. Whether imagining the motivation and passion behind the great Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s wartime painting Guernica or considering the meaning of French composer Claude Debussy’s La Mer, art helps us to consider what it means to be human.
An essential aspect of the writer’s journey is this same examination of what it means to be human. Since the time of Aristotle, scholars have encouraged humans to engage with words and to search for meaning. Keith Oatley, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Human Development & Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto, decided to test this theory of Aristotle’s: Do humans find that they are better able to understand and experience life through their reading, particularly by reading fiction?
The results were clear: participants who read fiction were better able to relate to their peers and to engage in social interaction. Also significant was the participants’ abilities to show increased empathy, which was attributed to their increased understanding of human nature as found through their reading. Through their work, writers can reap the same rewards. By writing about the world around us, we are better able to empathise and to understand the intricacies of life.
One word for mastery: Consistency.