Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Notes of a Nobody: Authentic Vicariousness

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on November 9, 2013

Vicarious: Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another

Thinking ManI very often ask myself the question: what is the purpose of art? And within that more specifically I ask the question, what is the purpose of literature? Many minds have applied themselves to this question and have come up with different answers. My answer to this question takes the form of two words: “Authentic Vicariousness”.  And here is what I mean by it:  From birth to death whatever we do becomes the path of our life journey. Despite our vanity and self-justification in thinking that we have exercised choice in defining our life-journey, when we look back all that remains is an immutable trajectory. It is what it is. Potentially, at each stage of our life journey there were possibilities that our journey could have forked into infinite branches. All of them are roads not travelled and will never be travelled by us.  Literature’s essential function should be to illuminate these untraveled paths in ways that is authentic and realistic. In other words it should enable me experience by proxy what I have missed out on in my life trajectory. The impact of experiencing this vicariousness can potentially have life transformative outcomes. It could take the shape of building reserves of empathy, sensitivity, edification, mellowing, restraint and an expanding inwardness in ourselves.  In other words, the possibility of flowering in us all what we broadly consider good and noble

…. and that in my view is the essential purpose of literature

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