10:23 Challenge 1984 Aesthetics Alastair Reynolds Alban Berg Albert Uderzo Alexander Nehamas Antikythera Arrugas Art Asterios Polyp Asterix Babylon 5 Bernd and Hilla Becher Bible Bill Viola Brad DeLong Bruce Sterling Buddhism Carl Sagan Center for Inquiry Charles and Ray Eames Charles Burns Charles Yu Cheryl Morgan Chris Mooney Chris Ware Círculo Escéptico Clarkesworld Comics Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Cristóbal Vila Cyberpunk Dan Nadel Darick Robertson Dario Robleto Darryl Cunningham David Mazzucchelli David O'Reilly Dmitri Shostakovich Ed Docx Einstein on the Beach Engaget Eric Brown Errol Morris Etérea Studios Fantasy Fractals Frank Stockton Frankenstein Free Will Gary Wolfe Greece Hans Rosling Harry Frankfurt Hergé Hiraki Sawa Hiroshi Sugimoto Humor Ian Bertram Iliad Jaq Chartier Jason Yungbluth Jennifer Bartlett John Baldessari John Martz John Scalzi John Sculley Jorge Luis Borges Jose Pérez Joseph Lambert Joyce Carol Oates Jules Feiffer Julia Galef Justin Whitaker Karl Stevens Kasimir Malevich Ken Dahl Komar & Melamid Language Lord of the Rings Luis Alfonso Gámez Macintosh Marcel Duchamp Margaret Atwood Mary Shelley Massimo Pigliucci Math Maurizio Cattelan Michael Benson MoCCA Modern Times Museums Nancy Fulda Nancy Kress Neil Gaiman Neil Tyson NK Jemisin NYRSF Optical Illusion Orson Scott Card Paco Roca Pascal Girard Paul Hornschemeier Paul Kurtz Pepo Pérez Phil Moriarty Philip Glass Philosophy physics Plato Podcast Post-modernism Quay Brothers Rage Comics Ray Bradbury Realism Religion Rene Goscinny Richard Dawkins Richard Feynman Robert Rauschenberg Robert Wilson Roger Ebert Sam Sykes Samuel R. Delany Science Science Fiction Sean Carroll Secular Buddhist Association Shaun Tan Sixty Simbols Skepticism SMBC Star Wars Statistics Steampunk Steve Jobs Steven Pinker subBlue Tara Donovan Tatiana Plakhova The New Yorker Theodore Sturgeon Tim Minchin Timothy Callahan Tintin Tom Gauld Tomas Saraceno Transmetropolitan Ursula K. Le Guin Video Vija Celmins Warren Ellis Watchmen Wikileaks Will Eisner William Gibson Wine Writing X'ed Out XKCD

Entries in Realism (2)



A few weeks back Ted Meissner (a/k/a The Secular Buddhist) interviewed me for his podcast, topic being my recent paper at the JOCBS. It's up now at the website:

Episode 245: Was the Buddha an Anti-Realist?


Realism vs. SF

Damien Walter has an interesting article up on the Guardian website about the role of fiction and fantasy in the modern world. His claim is that SF and Fantasy are better genres for getting at the fantasy that surrounds us in the form of marketing and advertising.

I think there's something to that. The conceit of realist fiction is that it's an accurate window onto reality in a way that Fantasy is not.  In contrast to realism, says Walter, SF and Fantasy are often typecast as "escapist nonsense".

To be fair, ninety percent of everything is crud anyway, so of course much SF and Fantasy is as well. But at least it holds its fictional elements on its sleeve, so to speak. It beckons us out of our normal, everyday world and asks us to imagine something different for a time: to dream.

Dreaming isn't necessarily escaping; it can also allow us to get the distance we need to look at the world in a new way. Much of our understanding of the world, even of such basic things as our own identity, or the role of free will in action, are conditioned by ill-conceived or poorly considered tropes.

As Walter notes, one approach to mind-bending is to go in for the easy fix of post-modern relativism, where nothing counts because everything does. That's a dead end, a recipe for boredom. Although they superficially appear allied, unlike post-modern relativism Fantasy must have its own rules, its own internal realism if you will, to function well in a narrative context.

It's in the skew of those rules from our own daily reality that SF and Fantasy can allow us to see the world anew, without becoming unmoored.