February 11, 2005

On Fiction

I recently saw a movie, Alex & Emma, the sort of movie which is fun to see once. It’s about a writer, Alex, who can’t start writing his next novel. He is in debt, and needs to finish it in a month or so. He hires a stenographer, Emma, to dictate his novel to.

The fun part of the movie was to see (even if it was not real) an author creating his book — in this case entirely out of his personal experiences. The one moment in the movie I really liked was near the start, when Alex is describing the fictional (made up) setting of the book. He mentions that the place was discovered by some real-life explorer — to which Emma replies something like this: ‘You can’t do that. You’re taking a real-life person and making him discover a made-up place. There should be a rule against that or something.’ I’ve not had as big a laugh for a while.

Most of the people I know don’t get fiction. How can you spend so much time reading books people ask me. Fiction is not turning your back on reality, and not wishful thinking. Its just a way of expression, and at times a way to lose yourself. Religion and fiction are the same as far as I can tell — both immerse you into worlds other than the one you are in. (As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.) But with religion, you get to pretend what you are imagining is real, far more unhealthy IMO.

Don’t start getting psychological on me — if everyone went around with their eyes wide open seeing everything that’s in front of them — why, we’d all be crazy then.

Ok, that turned out to be way off the mark… But I like the paragraph, so I’ll let it stay. Just a summation — people not getting why I like to read are OK, the peolpe who ask me are not.

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