Op-ed  

Literature and Perception

Literature and Perception
Literature and Perception

Last weekend, the world celebrates Book Day. Unfortunately, I realized the day a couple of days later. I feel bad because as a person with literature enthusiasm how can I forget that important day. To restore my feeling, I decide to punish myself to write a kind of reflection about my literature experiences. I hope in this article the reader would enjoy it.

First of all, I must confess that when I was young literature have not already on my part of life. Someday, a friend told me an interesting story. It attracts my curiosity to read the full version of the story. Then, my friend lends her novel to me. When the novel is in my hand, I check the initial author. There is a name: Pramoedya Ananta Toer. At the time that name is strange to me. But from the beginning of his work, the first sentence instead, I fell in love with the story because enabling my imagination to cultivate. It is made my reading power unleashed. I do not believe I finished five hundred pages in one day.

What is the most attractive about reading a novel is an imagined world that represents the complexity of human beings. And I think novels have magnificent persuasive power lies in their ability to bring the existence of human beings as there are. In other words, novels teach us the diversity of perceptions. Contrasted with scientific literature advocating the value-free and objectified world, novels celebrate the subjective point of view and its meaning.

Years of familiarity with literature made me know which literature is excellent, good, or adequate. I don’t want to say a literature work is bad because I realize that each of us has different values judgement. I prefer to say that literature works which are not crafted sufficiently and have no specific reader are not worth to read. As far as the pieces of literature have one of the two, I suppose it is still valuable.

But we do not deny that some authors successfully attract more readers with astonishing works. It is why the literature Nobel price announces the winner every year. Maybe one criticizes the event as a canonization of human literature. I agree with it because canonization tends to delimit the flourishing of literature. However, we still need a catalogue to list literature works that we appreciate have multiple significance and bring out novelty.

Influential literature authors such as Virginia Wolf, Volodymyr Dostoyevsky, George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Haruki Murakami certainly have different writing styles and the weight of narrations. But all of them have a similar tendency to build a kind of symbolic structure that shed light on human reality in attractive ways. Their works seem to treat complexity to be a simple way. But interestingly the author can blend the elements of reality—mental disposition; character, idea, perception, emotion, belief, morality, feeling, dignity, and context; interaction, family, culture, social structure, etc.—into a narration. This is an objectified human reality that appeals to the reader’s imagination.

In the academic field, literature has long been subject analysis. Literature is perceived could enrich our understanding of humanities. In this sense, literature is treated as a cultural product of human beings. I suppose the French structural school was the old credo followed by literature analysts. But this method, then, is criticized by the hermeneutic school that can provide multiple levels of relational analysis. I do not want to discuss it. But I must point out that the ways they understand the text and its position on society are valuable.

Recently I am on reading Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, The Old Man and The Sea. Sure, it isclassical literature, but I found many things in it. For example, this novel tries to depict a kind of human relationship (an old man and young boy) with different self-perceptions. The old man percept that his age is not a constraint on his life struggle and states his dignity. Otherwise, the boy perceives that he obligates morally to accompany the old man. This tension flows lucidly from one stage to another stage. I also identify how memory plays into the narration. However, the ways Hemingway tells the story tend to straight forward or within a linear time frame. I think it is the reason that makes his novel fascinating, simple but worthy complex.

I am pretty sure when we were reading a good novel with an interaction scheme our perception could be rich. Or at least we can accept different perceptions. It is important because it can teach us what other people say is no more than their perception with specific intention and orientation. And for ourselves, we can learn to understand others without a judgmental attitude. Sarte said, “Hell is other people.” He insisted that one of the most valuable modes of being is to focus on individual life. But I must add that because we live in a society the only way to gain meaning collectively is to share our individual experiences. It means we necessarily need diversification of perception. And I think literature is the best way to enrich our perception without actual interaction.