Why is it then, that we see our emotional responses to fictions as rational, when in ordinary life if we are emotional about anything that is not real it is seen as irrational?
P1. We have rational emotional responses to The Blair Witch Project.
P2. We believe that The Blair Witch Project is purely fictional.
P3. To have rational emotional responses to something, we must not believe that it is purely fictional.
C. Emotional responses to The Blair Witch Project are irrational.
The way out of a paradox is to reject at least one of the premises. I follow Kendall Walton’s idea in rejecting P2 by suggesting that we engage in games of make-believe when we react to fictions. The stories become make-believedly real to the audience.
Though Walton believes this is achieved by the audience make-believedly co-existing alongside the fiction (as extra characters so to speak), I propose that the audience is actually make-believedly an extension of the characters already present.
This piece was originally published for Helicon Magazine’s weekly Features column