PRETENSE AND REALITY

Fiction involves visualization. A fictional mind accompanies an image. The moment we hear or read a story, our mind visualizes the scene and the characters. The process continues even after the story ends. Although we can freely roam in the visual world, this world is limited. Our imagination has a limit to vision. Our neural network limits the size of our imagery. We don’t want to go far away from our comfort zone. Our reaction to fiction is almost the same as in real life. Fiction is a selective transformation of reality. The fictional world has logic. It has emotional complexity and an element of surprise. It is meant for engaging attention, achieving suspense, and exciting emotions. It is a story. If the fictional story is too complex, it loses unity, clarity, and coherence. Imagination plays a crucial role in the acquisition and growth of empirical knowledge. It is the reader who creates the meaning and bridges the gap between conception and execution. Reading fiction develops the brain. The studies indicate that fiction makes one more socially perceptive. Fictional experiences enhance our mental fitness. Our brain, unlike computers, works more efficiently when more software is loaded into it. The more the software one loads into the brain, the more internal connections are forged. Spending time in the fictional world is thus an investment. The greater the pay off in such investments when competing opportunities are lower, and adaptations less well developed. Fiction provides opportunities where adaptation-organizing experiences can occur. The more fictional stories we hear, the more circumstances we are familiar with. The best thing is that our brain can separate pretense from reality. It can store not just absolute facts but information that may be true only temporarily, or locally, or to a specific individual. It is one of the reasons for our flexibility and adaptability.