Reading as Virtual Reality
martes, 5 de junio de 2012
The notion of fiction as virtual reality avant la lettre, through the experience of the reader’s immersion and absorption, is a fascinating one, and might be traced throughout the history of literary theory. Hillis Miller’s "On Literature" (2002) placed a strong emphasis on reading literature as an experience of virtual reality. One might also recall Georges Poulet’s account of the experience of reading as a kind of invasion from another mind, providing an alien experience of another’s world, or C.S. Lewis’s "Experiment in Criticism" (1961) conception of literature as a way of losing oneself temporarily in the experience of another. Going way back further, I found this reflection by Polybius on the reading of history (not fiction, mind):
From Polybius’ standpoint it would seem that it is reading that provides the experience of virtual reality. And of course it is also a defense of history (or perhaps realism) over fiction (and fantasy).
(This is a commentary on "Fiction Addiction" in The Storytelling Animal. The Polybius quotation is from Book I.35 of The Histories ).