Tag Archives: Fiction

Love for Fiction

Fiction- An exploration of it’s meaning in life.

Every Man is a probability the Universe was striving for.

What is the true meaning of fiction in life? Fiction literally means a story that is created with imaginary characters and events. Something that is invented or untrue. Is it untrue? Why do we care about it so much then? If human species developed active imagination for survival, why did he invest so much energy in creating fiction? It’s hard to believe that Man would use that imagination purely for amusement. There should be a reward for it. Imagination does not undermine reality, nor is it a mere tool to escape from reality. Imagination is a tool to explore other possibilities of life, which has existential purpose and relevance for Man. Our eyes send a pair of two dimensional image to the brain and from which our brain constructs a three dimensional space. Similarly imagination helps us to overcome the gaps and lack of information by filling in that space, to make a fuller picture. Let’s consider various instances in life when we assume about people, objects and situations. Why do we assume? We are limited in our sense, perceptions and our limitation forces us to assume. We imagine with the limited cues we have, connect the dots through our own ideas, apply our rationality to make it coherent and arrive at a conclusion. Fiction is also created in a similar way. We are constantly creating and living inside a world made by us. Hence I think fiction is very much essential part of our existence. Through fiction we arrive at subjective truth. Is it scientific as well? Absolutely no. But then truth cannot be claimed to be associated with scientific (objective) method alone. And the scope, application of scientific method is limited when it comes to matters related to human perception.

Lets look at the first lines of Walt Whitman’s poem “A child said, What is the grass?”

“A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.”

We do not know what truly grass or any object is. What we know through empirical knowledge, we apply it to abstract, mathematical ideas and arrive at a conclusion. Marcus Aurelius suggests us to ask, “This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material?” He suggests that the very essence of the things could be understood through meditating upon its substance. But even then we cannot know the essence fully.

An eastern mystic named Sadhguru tells us that we do not know even an atom in its entirety. How are we ever going to know anything at all?

Let’s look at few lines from Leo Tolstoy’s novella “The death of Ivan Ilych”

“In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it. The syllogism he had learnt from Kieswetter’s Logic: ‘Caius is man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,’ has always seem correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius-man in the abstract-was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite separate from all others.”

As we can see, Tolstoy’s hero is struggling to come to terms with reality. Logic and reason does not bring him comfort in his hour of peril. We could say Tolstoy himself is grappling with the reality of ‘death’. By creating fictional world and character, by throwing his own ideas and questions outward, Tolstoy is trying to understand the reality, as we readers are.

Neuroscientists have found that when a person is watching tennis, neurons are lighted up in a certain area of his brain, which is lit up when he is playing tennis physically. The same happened when a person imagined himself playing tennis. For our brain, anything we do intensely becomes reality. What we perceive in our mind is real for us. Even imagination is an extended reality of our existence. The reality as we perceive is a psychological or a mental one. Reality is formed inside our mind.

The boundary between fiction and nonfiction is quite blurred at times, because the raw material for the fictional world is taken from the non-fictional world. Man needs subjective truth. He cannot live in a void. He cannot go forward without convincing himself about the reality he is experiencing to be true. He has to see, even if his vision is foggy or blurry. With experience the foggy vision clears up gradually and he finds himself in a more predictable environment. If experience is unenforceable then chaos will reign in and his sense of reality will be shattered. For our reality is built, and rebuilt upon assumptions. Every piece of fiction hence has a deep, profound meaning to our existence and our quest to unravel reality.

While tied down to one physical existence, man longs for diverse experiences. What is it to be this and that? Fiction calls for a parallel existence.

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