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Connecting through Fiction

Now we all live in some kind of a social and cultural circle. We all do. We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink; our hearts might dwindle, and our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons.

There are so many wonderful pieces to Elif Shafak’s TED talk: experiencing new cultures, expressing oneself in a foreign language, grappling with identity politics. She challenges the idea that authors — especially non-Western authors — have to write about their own identity and culture. Instead, she encourages us to see fiction as a place for imagination, a place for feelings, a place for us to escape our limited social circles and connect across identities and cultures.

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1 Comment so far

  1. That was a very good talk. I liked her conversational style…comfortable. I agree that our circles help us feel connected with others within our circles. But, they also work to ward off and shun those in other circles. This has been around forever. I think it comes from our very basic instinct of survival long ago. We needed the protection of those near us.

    Today, it is a big problem. The circles we inhabit are large and varied. They are offered to us very quickly and easily through our electronics 24/7. We imagine they are safe and valid. Yet, they can be the opposite.

    We see in politics how belonging to circles is a tribal marker, like paint and tattoos. They both brings people within the circles together and separate us from the others. It is us against them mentality. Very destructive.

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