How to Bring Up The Rashomon Effect At Your Next Party

Simply put, The Rashomon Effect is contradictory interpretations of the same event by different people. The next time you’re at a party and you’re stumped for a conversation topic, try finding a way to bring up The Rashomon Effect.  The conversation can lead in so many different directions, it’s sure to be an interesting and clever dialogue.

Recently, a reader pointed out that the differences between Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and my Hunt for Jack Reacher series produces The Rashomon Effect. So true, right?

Many of my readers start out like FBI Agents Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar because they Don’t Know Jack.

But if you were a Jack Reacher fan when you first met Otto and Gaspar, you probably noticed The Rashomon Effect, too, didn’t you? Hunting Jack Reacher becomes a totally new experience when we are looking at him through the eyes of two FBI agents who know nothing about Reacher at all.

More on that later. First…

Here are a few types of people you might find at your next social event, and how The Rashomon Effect might spark terrific conversation between you:

Film Buffs
The Usual Suspects is a prime example of The Rashomon Effect at work. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you in case you haven’t seen it, but if you say The Usual Suspects is an example of The Rashomon Effect flawlessly executed, they’ll instantly be on the same page. Proceed to discuss cinematography or more of your favorite crime thriller films.


Avid TV Watchers
TV shows have applied The Rashomon Effect in a 30 minutes or 1 hour plot. Here are a few of them:

  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the episode called “Rashomama”
  • Dick van Dyke, the episode called “The Night the Roof Fell In”
  • Grey’s Anatomy, the episode called “I Saw What I Saw”
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode called “A Matter of Perspective”

Trial Followers & Anyone in the Legal Profession
As a recovering lawyer, I can say for sure that eye witness accounts are among the least reliable. Why? Yep. The Rashomon Effect is the culprit. People see and hear different things, even when witnessing the very same events. Often, the most fascinating legal cases to watch are the ones that present contradictory accounts of what happened. The more contradictory, the more compelling. This is one of the reasons for the wild success of Serial the podcast. Where was Adnan Syed at 2:36 pm on January 13, 1999? Where was Jay Wilds? Why are there so many contradicting accounts?

History Buffs
You’ve heard the tale of The blind men and an elephant, I’ll bet. A group of blind men each touch a different part of an elephant, and report varying accounts of what an elephant feels like. The story’s origin is traced back to Asia. Historians say the tale spread to Europe and became well known there, and in the 19th century the American poet John Godfrey Saxe wrote a poem based on the story. The tale is part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi, and Hindu lore. This angle of The Rashomon Effect also works well for speaking with religion and anthropology scholars, as well as poets.

Can all subjective experiences be true? Is this possible? Hmmm…
This is where you turn the conversation over to the philosopher and let him or her run with it. Or, if you’re brave enough, play devil’s advocate. 🙂

Bookworms and Mystery Lovers
Has your new friend read Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books? How about any of my Hunt for Jack Reacher Series? The Rashomon Effect is exactly what Lee Child and I were going for. More on that topic next time!

Until then, I challenge you to bring up The Rashomon Effect in conversation, and let me know how it goes!

Meanwhile —

Caffeinate and Carry On!

Diane Capri

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2 Responses to How to Bring Up The Rashomon Effect At Your Next Party

  1. Bill Wright August 13, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    Well..if you think about it from one perspective (which is really what we are discussing…) PERSUADER was completely built on the The Rashomon Effect. The kid saw Reacher kill a cop and drive like a maniac, steal a car just to save him. That got Reacher into the kid’s father’s circle.

    Gaspar and Kim are YOUR Rashomon, Diane. Lee Childs, when talking about the casting of 5’6′ Tom Cruise for the 6’5″ Jack Reacher made a comment to this effect (I am using quotes, but this is really more of a paraphrase..”Jack Reacher symbolizes unstoppability. Tom Cruise brings his own type of unstoppability to the role.”

    Kim is small and has an acid stomach. Gaspar is tall and is in pain…always. Even at first glance, together, there is nothing to build a picture of indominability. Yet synergy happens. They can not and will not be stopped. Roshomon effect. They are the measure of Reacher.

    I got work to do and DB made some outstanding coffee…see ya…

    • Diane Capri August 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

      Good thinking, Bill. You are exactly right. One reader said Otto and Gaspar are unlikely heroes for the reasons you describe. They are courageous because they never give up — even when they should. 🙂 As for Persuader, well, stay tuned for a lot more about that! Thanks for stopping by and for the thoughtful comments.

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