Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Fictional and the Possible.


The category of the Possible eclipses, to some extent, the importance of the real/ fictional distinction. There is a famous scene in Bunuel’s Phantom of Liberty, where people sit on toilets round a table, laughing and making conversation, occasionally excusing themselves to go the dining room and eat. Excretion is public, eating is private - the customary order is inverted. This is of course  a particular fictional world. But suppose we came across some cultural community that actually did arrange eating and excretion in this way? In terms of how it makes us reflect on our own assumptions, what difference would it make? Not much it seems to me. Whether it’s in the fictional world of Bunuel or an actual cultural practice, it stands before us as a Possible. For us, the real and the fictional examples are, equally, possible worlds. They are able to disclose, unsettle or reconfigure our existing world. And so whether something is a fictional or real world is to this extent unimoprtant. 

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