[ilds] real emotions and unreal figures

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 19 12:15:52 PDT 2009

Bill can explain his own position, but I think he's asking a question  
something like this (although maybe not), "Can you imagine a  
'gkawnzk?'"  The answer is no because the word has no reference in the  
real world.  So, if words only make sense with real references, then  
fiction can only be understood in terms of reality.  This argument is  
fine for showing how semantics works, but it doesn't prove those  
references exist.  I understand what the term "flying saucer" refers  
to, but this doesn't prove one exists.  Seems to me Bill's believers  
in Sherlock Holmes are confusing things.  Bill's next question might  
be, "Why are they confusing things?" My reply, "They're just young and  
childish, or they're old and childish."


On Oct 19, 2009, at 8:37 AM, Marc Piel wrote:

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