Episode 052: A Fictional Pair of Ducks

Have you ever been sitting in a horror movie and right after that moment when the bad guy leaps out and you spring about four inches off your seat, turned to yourself and gone “Why did I do that? I know this isn’t real.” If so, then you’ve most definitely experienced the Paradox of Fiction. The Texas Tech Philosophy Department‘s own visiting professor Dr. Darren Hick recently joined us on BF to discuss this crazy conundrum in the world of aesthetics. The indomitable Kevin Saunders also dropped by to pitch in his two cents on the subject. So please, suspend your disbelief, go irrational, and remember that Batman is most certainly not Clark Kent as you enjoy this episode of BF…
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This week’s post-show song pimpage: “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors” by Moxy Fruvous

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5 Comments on "Episode 052: A Fictional Pair of Ducks"

  1. cyberdraco
    29/12/2009 at 8:39 pm Permalink

    Another factor that I did not see/hear mentions was people’s own background of experiences. What we have learned and experienced will influence how we view cinema.

    A person who thinks they have seen a ghost in real life will most likely be more scared (or duped,I would say) at the movie Paranormal Activity than I would.

    My wife and I enjoy a good scary movie, but for me that is difficult, my deep and beloved skepticism makes it difficult to be blindly afraid as I should be. I sometimes ruin a movie by pointing out that certain things could never happen in our know world. Still, if the movie is superbly written I will suspend my disbelief and skepticism so I can enjoy it the same way as my neighbors do.

    Also, some movies do not work trans-culturally. I love British humor but some of my friends don’t get it and by explaining it, it kinda gets ruined.
    Japanese horror movies are most successful in Japan because they are based off of the beliefs and fears that country holds. Same is true for India, France, Canada etc.

    A true paradox will happen when a movie causes a great emotional reaction to all people all across the globe, that will be an interesting thing to dissect.

  2. Taz
    18/01/2010 at 8:49 am Permalink

    Wow, and I mean serious wow. I can’t remember the last time I was so stumped by a question. I can see this one is going to take up some not inconsiderable brain time over the next few weeks/ months because at the moment I literally have next to nothing.Concepts and abstractions are truly abound with this one.

    However, I think I’m going to start at trying to reconcile the difference (if any) between the investments we make in fictional and non fictional characters and or circumstance. With only a brief moment’s thought it occurs that there is little difference in how rapt we may become over the fictional or non fictional item, which suggests that looking at characters, events, lore or circumstance alone may be reductionist, that what truly matters is the story in toto.
    I also can’t help but think about the potential similarity in our responses to stories, be they fiction or not. But a thought occurs in that if we become excited or chilled during the unfalsified and unexaggerated regailing of a true story, does that make said responses and more or less real/ rational than the counterpart reactions to a tall tale?

    I apologise, this is literally just a bit of off the cuff cognitive splat. In amongst any real thought I’m getting conceptual interference, by which I mean concepts like “escapism,” “subjective universes,” and “imagination traits” and other crap keep jumping up, asking to be looked at.

    Any, I apologise for being about 6 weeks late to the game on this one; work’s been insane, but I’ll promise to get to catching up. In the meantime thanks for this f*#!ing amazing episode; I fully expect to lose some sleep across the next few nights.

    Taz

  3. StephenTorrence
    18/01/2010 at 12:02 pm Permalink

    Good to have you back, Taz. 😉

  4. MossyQuartz
    04/02/2010 at 12:29 am Permalink

    Emotions can be described. There is a researcher, Dr. Paul Ekman, who has done some amazing research related to emotions including cross-cultural physical reactions caused by emotions. Emotional reactions exist. Emotions exist.

    Is it irrational to react to fiction? With fiction so common, these reactions must be normal, but is this normal thing irrational?

    People flock to fictions via libraries, theaters, dreams, and even businesses work out what-if scenarios when they decide where to put the security cameras and write up business policy. This business example seems to use fiction as a tool in preparing for an uncertain future. What about my friend’s addiction to romance paperback novels? She’s a widow, so how is that a tool?

    I think we have the habit of surrounding ourselves with fiction because we like to feel the emotional reactions. I think emotions are to feelings as paintings are to eyesight or music is to hearing or food is to hunger. I think we like to choose our feelings the same way trick-or-treating children sift through their candy hoard seeking favorite flavors. Fictional actions give us emotional reactions. We don’t need fiction to feel emotions, but if we want to feel emotions more forcefully or more frequently than they normally unfold in a normal average day then what’re we going to do about that?

    I’ll say it is possible to use self-control or mental tricks to engage in the feeling of an emotion at will. I’ll say it isn’t something that I learned quickly. I think it’s simpler to watch a favorite show or read a favorite story or remember a favorite thought at such times I hunger for a particular flavor of emotion. It is primarily my preference for feeling emotions that keep me from liking Buddhism. I’m not ready to get off the wheel; I like to feel.

  5. HHErebus
    09/04/2010 at 9:43 am Permalink

    Kinda late on this one xD

    in my opinion what happens is that we get a mixed response for a stimulus from our consciousness and our unconscius. We consciously know that films
    and books are fiction, but what actually happens inside our mind,albeit unconsciously, is “oh hey I can create an image of this in my head, so it must have the same degree of reality as the images I get from the people I phisically meet everyday, whom I know are real”. Thus we react to fictional images the same way we react to the real images of the world we get from our eyes in everyday life.
    The difference we have in reacting to book fiction and to film fiction resides, in my opinion, in the presence of other people in the context. Since we value a lot more rationality over irrationality, in a place where we know other people are present our conscious part gets ‘stronger’ and we try not to behave in a way we’re not supposed to (read: taught to). Meanwhile when we’re alone there is no point in hiding anything, and we tend to space out of the story a lot less than when viewing a film if left alone. I hope this makes sense, in my head it does xD To corroborate the point I’m trying to make I want to’ take as an example the 13th (if I remember correctly) century: back then it was perfectly natural to burn witches, and not many thought it wrong, mainly because of a radicated way of seeing reality. Today that kind of behavior would be labeled irrational and crazy, just because we’re not supposed to believe in witches and to like burning women alive.

    Ipod’s spelling suggestions are making my eyes bleed curses so I’m stopping now, I hope I was able to channel through my words the meaning of this
    comment 🙂 A wonderful episode by the way, one of my favourites so far! Keep on the good work, you’re absolutely wonderful!
    And have a nice day 🙂

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