Writing to Know Ourselves

Karen Russell’s 2015 keynote address was published in the December issue of “The Writer’s Chronicle”. I decided to read it because the title lead me to believe it was going to be about “Play,” a concept I’ve done a lot of research on in the past year (primarily about how play can be used in Writing Centers to more successfully aid students). Despite the fact that this wasn’t at all with Russell’s address entailed, I pulled a lot of quotations from it that spoke to me:

“The novelist Porochista Kharkpour has written that great literature, “merges escape and confrontation.” When we read, we are fugitives from our everyday anxieties; we are liberated from the droning of our own voices.” We simulate other mind’s experience of reality.

“Inside the “safe” world of a book, we can move dangerously, thinking and feeling beyond the boundaries set by our self-preserving instincts.

“Lost in a book, I often find myself facing over-whelming truths that I might otherwise flee, or that would be invisible to me from my perch in ordinary time.”

“Under the spell of our own names, I think we often go numb. Blind, deaf, dumb to the reality of others–I speak for myself here, but often what I’m fighting at my writing desk is my own paralysis.”

“Humans are extraordinary virtual reality simulators. Our brains are always predicting and simulating the actions of others.”

I was reminded of these a few days ago while scrolling through my Facebook feed. A friend of mine had shared, “Explaining My Depression to my Mother: A Conversation,” a spoken word piece by Sabrina Benaim.

I wanted to share these, because I connected to both of them–they speak to the way writing, reading and creative expression allows us to tap into the inexplicable parts of ourselves.

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