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The Struggle for Reality

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 21, 2020
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What is real, really?

Can we trust our senses that what information they are giving us is objective? There are many thinkers and philosophers that posit we cannot. That as long as the messages get to our brains, it feels real even if it isn't.

If we can't trust our senses, what can we trust?

And if we can't trust what is right before our eyes or right in our hands, how can we trust what intangible concept is truly, objectively, real?

Is there good or evil, is there morality at all, is there love or hate- or is it all just in our heads, the result of random meaningless chemical reactions taking place in our skulls?

Several narrative works, from books to movies to webcomics have dealt with this conundrum. And how could they not? Playing with reality is part of the game- from asking readers or audiences to suspend their disbelief to actually constructing a plot revolving around a bunch of machines creating a virtual world for us to writing a play about how to brainwash a person to believe what she is told is true even if her eyes are informing her differently.

So what is the struggle with reality?

Depending on the approach of each person, that can vary. For me, reality is defined by hard evidence and logic- and whether it is all in my head while I'm suspended in a cocoon or not is irrelevant. For others, it is not.

But that said, no matter what we might think about what it means that our brain is processing stimuli, we do all live within a society. So, in real life, the struggle with reality is about objectivity. How to separate fact from fiction, how to restrain our own selves from believing what we want to believe rather than what there truly is based on the facts laid before us- and that applies to daily issues, not abstract or existential concepts and systems like faith or dogma.

In the world of art and creating art, the struggle with reality is one that transfers to our characters. The creator is the reality, the creator is the one that has the answers the characters are seeking. In art, we provide what is objective.

Our characters may struggle with their faith, but we know if their god exists. Our character may struggle with what is right or wrong, but we know if they are making the right calls or not, and whether they are morally sound.

In art, especially in narrative art, we are fate, and karma. And so… we need to be consistent.

For the reality in our story to be something worth dealing with- both for the characters and the audience- it has to be consistent and indifferent, like nature is for us. Sometimes that is hard to enforce, especially if we are not yet clear about what reality is within our story, or if this reality is going to be unhospitable to our characters.

Or even other times we want to provide the answers too fast- if their god exists, he/she manifests too easily or too soon, especially if the type of god/divine is described as being so cryptic people doubt he/she exists.

Crafting the reality of our story, the taste and feel of existing in the world of our characters is a balancing act that goes beyond simple consistency. It's a feeling of reliability, in a sense, that the reality that the characters in the story build on is actually justifiably reflected in their societies and their behaviors.

And to do that we need to consider this reality in our heads, as if it does exist in some other parallel dimension, or as if it would be real if our brain processed other stimuli.

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comment

anonymous?

bravo1102 at 4:10AM, Nov. 22, 2020

In fiction the creator defines the reality and can make it do whatever is wished. A horde of flesh and demons demons can be released or it could all be superstition. It is the creator's reality and they wish to share it with you. They define height, width, clarity or a soft blur, outer limits or twilight zone and if successful you will believe and be affected by it. As for philosophy of what is real when you come away from the fiction? That's your problem. They're only telling stories and it's up to you to define a reality that is both quite real and healthy. You can test your perception against what is real and you will find that your interpretation of your senses is quite false but the reality Remains and it was not quite what you thought it was.

cdmalcolm1 at 7:34PM, Nov. 21, 2020

In a Word....Relative. In 3 words, Point of View. Creators must think of many aspects of each actor in a story. If we witness the tree fall and it made a sound, others that didn't see it fall or heard the crashing sound, can both agree and disagree the tree fell or made a sound. As weird as this sounds, everyone can be right and wrong. It just comes down to what we think is a standard agreement of whats real or not. Television, VR, Video games, and countless other media do this all the time. TV's: What we are watching, technically, is not real. its just a bunch of lights flicking on and off and vibrations of magnets shaking paper or plastics for sounds. As comic creators, we are doing the same thing by using tools to display our version of reality for others to see. Real for Us is when all our senses are stimulated. Watching Vids: Only sight and Sound are stimulated. Video games: Sight, Sound and Touch only. Radio: only Sound. Taste and smells are very important to our Reality.

hushicho at 4:18PM, Nov. 21, 2020

Well-written, though I think there is a need to mention something many creators confuse, and that is the difference between "realism" and "verisimilitude". Consistency, as you mention, is truly important, and it's difficult to establish objective perspective because, even in this world, it doesn't really exist, most of the time. Consistency and the appearance of reality that is consistent with itself are often the most crucial aspects of establishing a setting. It's like serving a look: it's an illusion, but it's a compelling one that makes the viewer want to believe in it, rather than to question it or have no real reason to take it at face value.


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