An Open Notebook

The Reality of Fiction


Fiction often utilizes concepts and materials incredibly foreign to our current circumstances. Magic and faeries, elves and dwarves, dragons and dinosaurs, serve as examples of just some of the endless possibilities. 

Yet, all fiction, by nature, will be read and compared to our real world, our historical present. One would not ‘get’ much literature, if you were reading it apart from reference to our world. And thus, this facet of fiction points to a broader metaphysical claim: fiction is contingent on reality. 

Should this sound a lot like Thomism, it is. Just like our world depends on God, its creator (‘the one who was, and is, and is to come’), fiction depends on the real world. Fiction simply wouldn’t be as fascinating if it weren’t tethered to reality.

Made-up stories which act as an endless collection of possibilities eventually drown the reader in uncertainty, failing to shimmer like fiction that points backwards to our real world, even if through concepts we will never experience, taste, or touch. In fact, we could say such the first kind of fiction might be far more shallow. 

But even then, we will probably find that even the poorest, most-deprived, dullest fiction tries to tell us about life in the now. The medium does not particularly matter: animé, novella, song, myth, legend, drama, skit, comedy, or television, all fiction, we find, depends upon the real world, and thus can tell us about the real world. 

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