Feeling for the Fictional


J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    I agree that fictional characters arouse an emphatic response, and I think there’s something to their being possibly real that elicits our empathy. We’re creatures of imagination and expectation, and we expect the imaginary to be real. Writers and other artists do just that: they create something imaginary that takes on a kind of real existence. To my mind, the crew of the Pequod are real, just real in a difference sense. “Possibly real” works, but I think it may be even more than that.

    Branching off my narrative theory, I observe another a similarity between real and fictional people in that in encountering each, I am in a sense encountering an idea of who each person, real or fictional, is. My emotional responses to people have a lot to do with my ideas about them, and sometimes, when my ideas are inaccurate, my emotions are unwarranted but nonetheless present because I have an idea that arouses particular emotions. So whether I’m responding to real people of fictional characters, I’m responding to my ideas of who they are.

    Thanks for the link!Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Of course we can have feelings for fictional characters. I can be quite upset about the fictional version of myself who got eaten by a tiger because he was wandering around outside the cave at night. I can be very happy for the fictional version of myself who looked in a different place than usual and found a new berry bush.Report