Little squiggles

If written language did not exist, and somebody asked you to explain what a novel was, I doubt your explanation would satisfy them.

“Let me get this straight,” I imagine your friend saying, “I look at these little squiggles on paper, and I am supposed supposed to imagine I am learning about people who don’t even exist. Why would I care about that?”

You try to explain. “Because you care about their struggles, their journey, the challenges they face and the obstacles they overcome.”

“Um, OK. But what do they even look like, these people who don’t exist? All I see are little black squiggles. Do they look like little black squiggles?”

Around this point you begin to realize that it is hopeless. “Yes,” you concede, “the whole idea is ridiculous. Forget I ever said anything.”

I think we might want to keep this in mind when we are faced with similar questions about any currently new medium, such as storytelling in immersive multi-participant mixed reality.

“How,” people might ask, “could you ever use such a thing to tell compelling stories about people who don’t even exist? I mean, won’t everyone realize that the whole thing is fake?”

Yes it’s fake. It’s all fake. That’s why they call it literature.

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