Just because once again it seems pertinent; my academic alter-ego has been blogging more over at Cyborgology about fiction and why it matters, even to people who do ostensibly non-fictional work.
Fictive writing doesn’t just allow us a deeper understanding of our past but a richer window into our present and a more vital imagining of our future. As I’ll argue extensively to anyone who has the misfortune to raise the topic with me (I am so much fun at parties), far from being merely escapism, fiction – especially speculative fiction – is a fantastically useful arena in which to do social theory, yet it’s one that most social scientists roundly ignore…Speculative fiction, among other genres, allows us to explore the full implications of our relationship with technology, of the arrangement of society, of who we are as human beings and who we might become as more-than-human creatures. It’s useful not because it’s expected to rigidly adhere to the plausible but because it’s liberated from doing exactly that: it’s free to take what-if as far as it can go.
Perhaps I don’t need to keep making this argument, given that whenever I do it seems like there’s a chorus of people who soundly agree with me. Then again, I get the sense that there’s a sizable block of older-generation sociologists who still think the internet might be kind of a passing, unimportant thing, so there you go.
Did you ever read “The Human Condition” by Hannah Arendt? Although it is merely an aside to the work (published in 1958), there’s this line in the introduction that’s always struck me: something like “Science fiction has so far been ignored as a vehicle of mass-sentiments and mass-desires.”
Alright, now I will stop making asides to your blog posts. 🙂
No, don’t stop! I actually hadn’t read that particular Arendt work, though I’ve read other things by her as part of my graduate coursework. I’ve been meaning to read more of her stuff anyway, so I’m definitely adding that to the pile. Aside or no (I also just really like her writing).