Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fiction Becoming Fact

I wish we could have spent more time in class today discussing our closing topic regarding fictional creatures and aliens. As many mentioned, few of us would truly be astounded if we discovered the existence of aliens due to the popular representations of aliens and the frequent artistic representation of potential human responses to their presence. We love fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories, and we find it increasingly difficult to surprise ourselves with such stories just as the characters in our stories find themselves less surprised by what they discover in their worlds. Harry Potter was only briefly surprised to learn he was a wizard, perhaps because anything would have been better than living his life with the Dursleys, but perhaps also because the idea was not completely unbelievable. Bella Swan took a surprisingly long time to figure out that Edward Cullen was a vampire, but once she did she could not have cared less. I know that, after such a massive streak of vampire literature and entertainment productions, I would neither be surprised by vampires nor would I know which "vampire" characteristics would actually apply at this point. The hobbits meet new creatures frequently throughout their journeys, whether in the storyline of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, and regardless of how strange a creature may be, they are swiftly accepted though perhaps observed with caution. The question, to me, becomes whether we create stories about fantastical beings we would not ourselves be surprised to find, or whether the artistic representation of these things is the reason we can so easily create stories involving them. Has modern science convinced us these things don't exist and therefore can't be taken seriously, or has their popularity simply diluted our responses? Many of the more historically present creatures have roots in our human cultural history, and were talked about to present explanations like witches causing bizarre things to happen. This certainly is not true for all of our fictional beings. Thoughts?

2 comments:

Nessa said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, but I'm not sure I'll be able to respond to all of your questions, so I will try for a few.

Firstly, I like that you included some pop culture examples in your post! I think that this idea of so quickly accepting these massive changes has been a concept that has really only been developing over the past century or so. Dr. Frankenstein took months to accept that a monster could truly be brought to life, and Mr. Scrooge too a lot of convincing to believe his own eyes. Before the nineteenth century, magic was immediately accepted more because it was truly believed by many to exist. I think that the quick belief would actually be the most realistic reaction. There are many things in this world that seem impossible (upper-class, spoiled human beings surviving in twentieth century concentration camps, for instance). However, when they come true, we can only choose either to believe or delude ourselves.

As to your question about why magic can seem so realistic, I think that there is so much in this world that is inexplicable that our minds naturally must leave room for the unexplainable. Some things, like giant spiders and trolls, may be too far outside our experience, but we have all known other people who were different or seen inexplicable behavior on the television. If we can't find an explanation in the physical world, perhaps we naturally stretch into the supernatural for an explanation.

Nessa said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, but I'm not sure I'll be able to respond to all of your questions, so I will try for a few.

Firstly, I like that you included some pop culture examples in your post! I think that this idea of so quickly accepting these massive changes has been a concept that has really only been developing over the past century or so. Dr. Frankenstein took months to accept that a monster could truly be brought to life, and Mr. Scrooge too a lot of convincing to believe his own eyes. Before the nineteenth century, magic was immediately accepted more because it was truly believed by many to exist. I think that the quick belief would actually be the most realistic reaction. There are many things in this world that seem impossible (upper-class, spoiled human beings surviving in twentieth century concentration camps, for instance). However, when they come true, we can only choose either to believe or delude ourselves.

As to your question about why magic can seem so realistic, I think that there is so much in this world that is inexplicable that our minds naturally must leave room for the unexplainable. Some things, like giant spiders and trolls, may be too far outside our experience, but we have all known other people who were different or seen inexplicable behavior on the television. If we can't find an explanation in the physical world, perhaps we naturally stretch into the supernatural for an explanation.