Monday, December 3, 2012
The other day I heard a piece on the radio about the concept of purposeful ignorance; or the decision to ignore wrongdoing. The phrase, and discussion that followed caught my attention because it's possible to draw parallels between that concept and the one of suspended disbelief.
Suspension of disbelief is something all fiction writers require from the people who consume their work. Vampires and werewolves aren't real. We know that. And yet, millions of people suspended their disbelief long enough to whip through thousands of pages about Edward and Bella and write countless more pages of fanfiction.
Maybe fiction isn't as safe as we think it is.
Is the enjoyment of a novel that describes all kinds of wrongdoing based, in part, on the author's experiences, repurposed and packaged in the guise of fiction, another kind of purposeful ignorance?
If so, it gives a whole new layer to the phrase 'guilty pleasure'. That being said, I'm pretty sure our societal duty not to ignore wrongdoing (murderers, shoplifters, those inconsiderate people who speed through crosswalks) isn't imposed when we pick up a work of fiction.
In fact, it's the one place where we get to enjoy all that bad behavior without any personal consequence...at least that's how I'm rationalizing my love of detective novels and twisted family sagas. What do you think?