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Monday, January 6, 2014

Basking In Fantasy

In these cold winter days, up here in the northern hemisphere of the Earth, I find myself spending more hours reading books of fiction. Well, I say reading, but I enjoy more audio-books than paper books or ebooks, really.

It is enjoyable to imagine different worlds, full of unexplored wonders with tales of thrilling adventures. Whether these worlds are either strongly or loosely based on our own reality, matters little.

The Elder Scrolls Online
Is it all just a pretense?

The careful mixture of emotions and ideas that is displayed in stories, represents a reality that is not quite our own, but more so how we feel about it.

In other words, stories feel more real, while representing reality in an impossible way. After all, stories can describe events and objects that clearly have no evidence for, in our own lives, while still feeling true and eminent.

Sort of like living a lie?

No. Our perception of reality does not change, when we pretend. A pretense is only a layer that we put over our perception of reality, just like putting sunglasses over our eyes. It does not change our notion what is real.

Still, to pretend that a story, or even a game, has real meaning, requires from us a justification. We justify the pretense, by setting out rules of conduct in a defined setting. This is the same as actors, when they play a character on stage or in front of the camera. Pretending to be a character outside of that setting, would only then truly be lying.

Is the purpose of pretense to generate beneficial behavior?

Dreams are a pretense. We experience dreams, in order to improve the functionality of the brain, and thus generate beneficial behavior, when we are awake again.

We also have many popular games, from card & board games to sports and social entertainment games, that encourage action and thought, where idleness and atrophy would have been the default. Even if on rare occassion conflict or injury may result, those are still generally considered beneficial.

Never the less, there are many instances of pretense that neglect to consider our well-being. False marketing, militarism, nationalism, religious fanaticism & extreme hierarchies are some examples that we are all familiar with.

Behold, how this monstrosity turns into an
 innocent little girl, in front of your eyes!
Does pretense enhance our sense of reality?

It sounds like a contradiction, right? Imagining things in order to enhance our sense, or understanding, of reality. Almost laughable.

All cultures, from the wildest tribes to the most technologically sophisticated nations, bask in fantasy. More often than not, it is those most impossible ideas and stories that persist, when a culture makes the transition from tribe to nation: The belief in deities, and superstitious behavior.

It is the need of living things to grow that encourages pretense, wherever and whenever life is little more than subsistence. Boredom, tediousness, disinterest, and even apathy, are all urgent signals for us to find entertainment in pretenses that rejuvenate our faculties.

So, I must conclude that yes, pretense enhances our sense of reality. Pretense brings us to life, when we would have become dull and detached, from our own needs and abilities.

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