The Oxford Protocol : Modules

Fiction

Fiction is a technique for investigating reality. Fiction’s special virtue is its power to originate, to begin, to find a new direction, to attempt an experiment. While it is a mode of existence that we often associate with a genre of writing called “fiction,” it operates in many other spheres: in the notion of a “legal fiction” (e.g. confronted with hate speech, would “the average man” respond with violence?); in the hypothesis that shapes experiments in natural science since the 18th century; in politics (e.g. the Serbian martyr complex; American exceptionalism); in historical founding narratives (e.g. Rome has two: Romulus and Remus as well as Aeneas.); in religious founding narratives (e.g. the miracles associated with Moses, Jesus, Mohammad); in science fiction, where fiction serves as a vector for linking present humans to new technology. Fiction is not, as some may think, an alternative, virtual, bounded ‘unreal’ world. (Though dreams may seed fiction that investigates reality.) Rather, fiction is a distinct mode of existence (c.f. Bruno Latour). Over its 200-year history since the Enlightenment, literary science has studied the general principles and writing technologies that pertain to fiction as legend, fable, parable, and novels called ‘realistic.’ Literary science has benefited from the analogous study of techniques of verisimilitude in Renaissance painting or classic cinema.

Oxford Group, January 2014: Academy Turned Inside Out | Apotheosis | Core Technology | The Dedisciplinary Environment | Explanatory/Descriptive? | Fiction | Good Explanation | Mediation | Platform | Polemic | Portal | Problems | Protocol | Protocol (II) | Search*/Know* | Sciences/Humanities | Stuckness | Threshold Effects | Topology | Touchstones