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  • d. i. richardson

Suspension of Disbelief

There's this little thing in the fiction world that's been around for a long time, I mean, like, since the ancient Greeks, and it's called the suspension of disbelief. Our favourite philosopher, Aristotle, explored how theatre audiences tend to ignore certain aspects of unreality in fiction in order to experience enjoyment of the theatric work.

Basically, it works like this: Something unrealistic happens in a work of fiction, and our critical thinking turns off so that we can enjoy the work for what it is instead of trying to find logic in speculative fiction. Essentially, it brings us enjoyment to simply enjoy things. It's not like I sit here and watch a movie like The Avengers and think, "Oh, there's no way Thanos is real. I cannot enjoy this movie." I suspend my disbelief in the fact that superheroes and cosmic beings aren't real so that I can just enjoy the movie instead.

Anyway, I bring this up today because it has bothered me for a few years (maybe not bothered actively, but it annoys me if it ever does come up). An old friend of mine had read my book {23:59} and in this book, the story sets in motion with two people finding themselves stuck inside a mall. YA rom-com ensues. Great and fun, right? Cute little story, light reading, just a nice little "trapped in the elevator" type of story. So, Dee, what could be the problem? Well.

His issue with it? He couldn't suspend his disbelief that two people could get locked inside of a mall. And yet this same person loves fantasy movies? Loves the MCU? Watches Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings with no problems whatsoever. Not a word about how unrealistic those things are, but then because something is based slightly in the real world, it has to be 100% realistic? That line of thinking doesn't compute for me.

I think such a small and meaningless "unrealism" shouldn't be a reason as to why you can't "get into a book." If it just wasn't your thing, sure, that makes sense. But don't try to hide behind a lack of your own ability to simply enjoy things even if they're just a little bit unrealistic. Suspend your disbelief! It's all fake anyway! And you knew that going in already!

I dislike this attitude about some people. Just enjoy fiction for the fake that it is and for the simply enjoyments it can bring. In the words of my dear friend, Allison, "I made it up. I literally made it up."


So what do you think? Do you have trouble suspending your disbelief? Or can you leave your critical thinking brain at the door when you enter fictional worlds?

As always, thanks for being here.

Have a good wander, friends.

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