We can easily view fictions as an unreal, non-existent part of reality, when in many ways it is an integral part of our experience and consumption of almost everything in reality and in life. Fictions can mean more to our human existence than we can value, as it brings an almost supernatural sense of beauty over everything in our lives. In this Magic of Human Nature article, I attempt to explore depths of fiction and its value to our reality.
Expanse of Fictions -
All human civilizations have always been and may always be dependent on religions, political ideologies, myths, art, legends, moralistic frameworks, deterministic structures for comforting answers to greater questions, shiny concepts and objects to obsess over, ideals and standards, mutually shared beliefs, and things greater than ourselves and even a grandiose sense of self importance. All these things, regardless of our opinions of them, are part of our reality and our lives.
While we can argue endlessly about these fictions being the subjective opinions of people, so too are our opinions about them. All opinions, thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions, and understandings of things from each of us are subjective. This is because logic and objectivity goes against the fabric of our human nature, no matter how much we glorify those two unemotional virtues. In a twisted way, this might be for a good reason. We humans are biologically an emotional creature, much more than most creatures, though we constantly fail at hiding this. Some humans, including myself, can constantly view the problems of this fact and wish for a reality of logic and rational objectivity, despite knowing that it is inhuman beyond measure.
Our experience of reality will always be muddled by our subjective bias, our emotions, our perspectives, our beliefs, and all the other fictions that we subscribe to without conscious control. This is how we understand and comprehend everything we know; through our perspective tuned by our fictions. So, in a way, we humans use fictions to give meaning to our reality, and that includes these words that I’m now writing, which you’re currently reading. Language, like any other human concept, is created from the imagination of humans and exists only within the human mind. Words, like any other non-physical human creation in the universe, have meaning because of our common acceptance of specific meanings to them, which exist only within our human imagination, and amounts to fictions.
Reality without Fictions -
No matter how much we complain against biased, subjective fictions, nobody willingly escapes it. Imagine if a news network shows the events without any bias towards any community/ideology and without putting down any particular community/ideology in order to glorify another group of people and their beliefs. That never happens as nobody would watch/consume it despite the unbiased, truthful, and moral merit to it. We crave excitement, no matter the cost. We are always looking for surrogate forms of wish fulfillment through forms of entertainment which may not always be presented as such. That’s the essence of all marketing and commercial media.
Would anyone you know, including yourself, want to live in a world devoid of lies(including white lies), devoid of anything presented in a narrative that grips your emotions, in a world with complete scientific rationality, logic, and realism? Nope. That’s the place for robots and AI systems, but even they are configured to be emotionally reactive in the real world as they interact with real, emotionally driven human beings.
Realism, no matter how much it’s openly craved by people(in their consumption and experience of things, interaction, content, and media), is never their true primal wish. Everything in our presentation, through the clothes we wear, the words we use, the accent/voice/tone we use, our body language, our behavior, our personalities, and everything else is in its own way a disguise, that is, fictions, used to make ourselves understandable to the other human to communicate meaning in a mutual reality defined by shared fictions and a shared experience which brings context.
True realism is in the simpler aspects of our day to day, mundane and domestic lives where we interact with people we may not like, co-operate and co-exist for a mutual benefit by finding a common ground despite our differences, suffer long periods of boredom and desperately try to fill the void by pouncing onto any vices we can find, try to keep ourselves occupied with mostly necessary work along with many distractions which we may not really like, and face unexpected variables and problems every day which we never expect. That’s life, and everything else is in our hopes, dreams, and imagination. Maybe that’s exactly why we need fiction to survive and more.
Beauty through Fictions -
Everything good and bad in life, and life itself, is given value through fiction. Humans, nature, the world, art, technology, and objects are all beautified through fictional narratives which is a powerful thing, as the absence of fiction can leave behind an empty and boring entirety of existence which is stripped out of all its emotions and its understandable and mutually shared lies.
When we study an objective, scientific and real topic with the fine seasoning of fictional references peppered onto it to make it fun and to make the concepts exciting and memorable, we end up genuinely understanding it as opposed to trying to learn a bland and unemotional stream of data that’ll leave a person mindless. Even in ancient times, anthropologically speaking, humans learned their values, morals, culture, and even everything there is about being human and perceiving the world through our stories. Stories that are consumed by a civilization always end up forming the culture of their people. The technicalities behind the medium keeps changing, but the very basis of forming, creating, and weaving fiction does not.
All languages are tools used by humans to rationalize everything. Maybe they were never intended to be a medium of rational and logical thinking, but as a means to rationalize and make sense of anything a human mind would face. In a way, fictions always were and will always be our channel of constructing meaning and assigning an emotional value to everything in our reality. There’s no escaping it, but only a constant ride in trying to wield this power that differentiates our species from others in nature. Many animals have been observed to have their shared fictions, values, and culture within their pack, but none have reached the heights in this power that we humans have achieved through our creative spirit, an ever lunatic sense of imagination, and our almost mystical command on language to constantly bend meaning to our will.
(I know that this power of ours is dangerous, polarizing, and constantly leads to heavy conflicts through misuse. But, everything that can be misused will be. This whole article was a philosophical exploration of the concept of meaning, language; the role of fiction and myths and their value in our lives.)
And . . .