Oct 01, 2023
Oct 01, 2023
by R. D. Ashby
Fiction seems flawed from the outset because it is, after all, make-believe. But that fiction is perceived as reality is essential for its effect. The evoking of fiction as reality is what grips the reader. That a reader can read fiction as reality knowing it is not real indicates that fiction works on real principles of character, thought and action, and that it is these latter that constitute the reality of fiction.
Principles of thought and action include love, honesty, faithfulness, duty and their corresponding negation in hate, dishonesty, disloyalty and waywardness. A writer of fiction deals with these realities in a fictional form, but which exalt the fiction thereby to a depiction of reality. The reader can be truly convinced of the fiction on the basis of the reality of the principles manifested in the characters. Not merely principles in the characters, but through detailed description, evocation of time and place, beauty and squalor, whose principles and the negation are of the form of the reality.
Examples of fiction need no citing, and to the extent that it is principles that uphold the reality, we attribute the credibility even of science fiction and animated cartoons. It is the story line that manifests principles of love and the rest. The good and the evil are represented in characters and plot, no matter how fantastic, where it is the resolution of conflict of principles that is the theme of the story.
Given the reality, therefore, of principles in fiction, and the bequeathing of reality to fiction thereby, we find we do not waste our time, and can actually enjoy fiction. It is quite another thing, however, on the basis of the reality of the principles upholding fiction, to count fiction as the reality. This happens most evidently, and accounts for the sustained interest in modern day TV soap productions whose endless story line is based on principles of behaviour manifested in the characters that become identified by viewers as real people enacting real events.
When such an audience views an episode, it would be a cynic who would then retort ‘It’s all make-believe!’ At once, the dedicated viewer would be offended, as if made out to be a fool. ‘Of course, it’s make-believe, but it contains insights into human character that are real.’ Point vindicated.
Not quite. The fact remains that fiction is not reality. The characters, places, events and outcome in a fictional story are made up: providential reality is not contrived but happens as determined by a vaster unity of comprehension in the Divine as the manifestation of ‘what is’ in a process to the manifestation of the Divine principle of this nature in truth and righteousness.
It might yet be argued that fiction is within the realm of providence and serves a providential role as it must appear in the vindication of principle. That people who listen to stories, watch TV soaps, are attuned to principles of action as played out by the characters as a form of moral guidance by providence. Many viewers indeed consciously think along these lines; as indeed, authors may set out with this in mind. Christ preached in parables, short forms of fiction illustrating moral principles.
Providential reality, on whose principles fiction usurps the narrative, thus integrates fiction as an instrument. But it would be mistaken to then do what many contemporary writers and readers of fiction do and that is to attribute the lack of comprehension of the providential whole as proof of the latter’s absence. That, inversely, reality is delineated in fiction, to the effect the latter’s characters are more real than living people for being within an understood plot. In fact, one tends to match real people to their fictional counterpart.
This is clearly in error, since we overlook the fact that fiction is based on principle that governs providential reality even to fiction’s own existence as an instrument. In reality, every occurrence, every form as identified, occurs as a manifestation of principle, one of contextual rightness of form that defines ‘what is’ whose source is the Absolute and whose process is towards fulfilment of ‘what is’ in Diovine manifestation.
The implication from Divine providence that includes the instructive role fiction plays, is that reality is fully set out from start to finish; that the end is known for the beginning to occur. Nothing is contrived but all reality is a manifestation of 'what is' that has an absolute character. It is a matter of astonishment that knowing this we cannot defer to the Divine absolute comprehension of events, and obtain consolation, peace, and joy in trust in Divine providence; yet fulfil the latter’s terms even in our bewilderment and anxiety; even to our subsequent perception of fiction as the reality.
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