How Remote Are Fictional Worlds from the Real World?

Kendall L. Walton addresses the question can “real people interact with fictional characters? ” Walton claims that the barriers of fictional world are not “airtight”, there are “epistemological holes in it” [1]. Aside from the emotional connections to the characters (which I began to explore in my last post ‘the paradox of fiction’) there is also the physical connection to them that Walton explores. He uses the example of a damsel in a play that is about to be hit by a train. An audience member called Henry knows the play is fictional but he feels a very strong connection to the character, he does not wish any harm to come to the damsel and desperately wants the play to turn out differently. So much so that when the curtains close and the damsel is supposed to be run over by a train, rather than a scream and the train noise coming from the speakers he cuts the sound and there is instead silence. Henry has created such a commotion that the play has been cancelled all together. Does this mean the damsel is saved? If the scene from the play is being acted from a script then you could argue that the damsel still belongs to the written world of the screen play therefore still dies despite the ending of the physical play. However if Henry instead got hold of the script and saved the damsel by altering the words technically then the damsel would be saved. But what about the intension of the author? Say the production was a small show only 3 showings a week for 3 weeks. The author of the play is sick and a substitute director comes in, Henry changes the script and the director teaches this to the actors, they then perform this to the audience. No one know that Henry changed the script or the real intentions for the characters from the screen writer. Is the damsel then saved?

[1] Walton, K. (2013) Available at: Metaphor, Fictionalism, Make-Believe (p.g.12) (Accessed: 04/08/17)



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