[ilds] real emotions and unreal figures

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Mon Oct 19 08:37:17 PDT 2009

Surely they are "caricatures". The question is how 
far a caricature is based on reality?

Bruce Redwine a écrit :
> Bill,
> Back from a lecture on Tutankhamun's medicine cabinet and all the 
> speculations Egyptologists like to indulge in.  I love it for that; it's 
> another kind of imaginative thinking.  Never let anyone fool you that 
> archaeology is a science — it ain't.  Along this line, I have absolutely 
> never thought of Shakespeare's characters as "real" and seriously doubt, 
> if you questioned your students closely, any of them really think they 
> are.  Better question, what did Shakespeare think?  I think Prospero's 
> stuff-of-dream speech /(//Tempest, /IV, 1, 156ff) gives you the probably 
> answer.  Who thinks Sherlock is real?  You gotta be kidding me.  And the 
> Soaps — they're pure late afternoon escapism, mainly for housewives, I 
> bet, bored with their lot.  No, the world would be a far worse place 
> without Hamlet and Holmes.  They give hope and deliverance from the real 
> world.  Remember, God is a humorist.
> Bruce
> On Oct 18, 2009, at 3:16 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:
>> Bruce,
>> You and Norm may not be that far asunder. Let me read the book and let 
>> you know.
>> About the reality of fictional characters, I can report that my 
>> students always (maybe not always, but often) talk about Shakespeare's 
>> characters as if they are real -- same as the ladies in the grocery 
>> talk about the soaps as if they are real.
>> Everyone thinks Sherlock Holmes is a real dective -- don't they?
>> Would the world be a better place if Hamlet and Holmes had never been 
>> written?
>> Bill
>> W. L. Godshalk *
>> Department of English    *           *
>> University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
>> OH 45221-0069 *  *
>> ________________________________________
>> From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca> 
>> [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine 
>> [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
>> Sent: Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:44 PM
>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> Cc: Bruce Redwine
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] real emotions and unreal figures
>> Bill,
>> Deep question.  I guess everything people perceive (very broadly), in 
>> a scientific sense, can be reduced to neurons in the brain.  Off hand, 
>> however, testing my own feelings, I don't think of literature as 
>> "unreal people whom we think of as real."  I know I'm going into 
>> another dimension, the author's Imagination, whatever that is and 
>> whatever that is in tuned to, and great authors make this transition 
>> more enjoyable than others.  I happened yesterday to take up Emily 
>> Brontë's poetry once again, and her receptivity to "the Invisible" 
>> struck me as very similar to Durrell's.  Does anyone think of 
>> Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw as "real?"  Or Justine and Darley?  I 
>> doubt it.  They're a part of Emily's and Durrell's worlds, which we 
>> readers want to inhabit, however momentarily.  I'm arguing for 
>> something mystical, which is the best way I can express it right now, 
>> and against something in Holland's line of inquiry, if I understand it 
>> correctly.
>> Bruce
>> On Oct 18, 2009, at 12:56 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:
>>          " All my life, I've been fascinated by the way people relate 
>> to literature and the arts. As a result, I have been teaching and 
>> writing about psychoanalytic psychology. cognitive science, and what 
>> they tell us about the responses of readers to literary texts, movies, 
>> and occasionally the other arts.
>>          " Recently, I've gotten intensely interested in what 
>> neuropsychology has to say about the literary process. My most recent 
>> book, Literature and the Brain tells how our brains function in 
>> special ways when we are transported by a story, a poem, a play, or a 
>> movie. We no longer sense our bodies or our environment. We do not 
>> disbelieve the most imporbable things, and we feel real emotions 
>> towards people and situations that we know are quite unreal. 
>> Literature and the Brain explains that our brains behave in this 
>> special way because we know that we cannot act to change the work of 
>> art. The book goes on to address some basic questions about 
>> literature. What makes us sense some language as literary? What does 
>> it mean when we say a literary work is good or great or awful? What 
>> brain states account for literary creativity? Why have all cultures in 
>> all times, so far as we know, had some form of language art?"
>> So writes Norman Holland about his newest book, Literature and the 
>> Brain. I have not read the book, but I hope it gives us a way (another 
>> way) of dealing with the problem of unreal people whom we think of as 
>> real. I think of women checking out at a grocery store and talking 
>> about the soaps.
>> Bill
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