Msnowe's Blog

Fiction as Anticipation for the State of Not Reading

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on November 12, 2009
alice-in-wonderland

"Curiouser and curiouser!"

“Dreams are so rich and have such an authentic feeling that scientists have long assumed they must have a crucial psychological purpose. To Freud, dreaming provided a playground for the unconscious mind; to Jung, it was a stage where the psyche’s archetypes acted out primal themes. Newer theories hold that dreams help the brain to consolidate emotional memories or to work though current problems, like divorce and work frustrations.

Yet what if the primary purpose of dreaming isn’t psychological at all?…Drawing on work of his own and others, Dr. Hobson argues that dreaming is a parallel state of consciousness that is continually running but normally suppressed during waking.

Nov. 9, NYTimes

Isn’t fiction, by this loose definition, like a dream, then? Doesn’t fiction (usually, at least the realistic kind) have to be a string of somewhat plausible events that are a “crude test run” for life? Or perhaps, more accurately, a test run with limitless possibilities and artistic flourish that we think on even when we are not reading? Surely, you can’t live out fictional stories, just like you can’t live out dreams during wakefulness. They are random smatterings, but also taken from aspects of real life. They may or may not have psychological applications. But they can be consuming, absorbing. And how many times do we reference novels in real life, as if an invocation of their dream-like hopefulness, or lack thereof?

So, what if fictional characters “woke up” and everything was just blasé? What if fiction was the fun house mirror we look at ourselves through?