A Science of Novels

I think it’s plausible to say that ‘fiction’ and ‘narrative’ as I defined them offer a kind of quantum theory for the novel. In fiction we might imagine the particles of memory travelling in wave form with unpredictable appearances and consequences. Indeed, to quote Brian Cox, in fiction, anything that can happen does happen. It is the peculiar nature of fiction to happen unbidden like dreams. As soon as authorship is applied however, just as in the case of the detected particle, the observed memory takes a teleological path and suddenly arranges itself with a beginning, middle and end. This is similar to the action of particles once detected, which immediately behave not as waves but as linear beams. We can take this conceit further if we allow the sea of imagination to pass through two moral gates of good and evil (or in fact any other two opposite concepts). Under authorial observation there are only two possible outcomes, which oppose each other. Left to its own devices however the memory behaves in wave form, producing multiple outcomes irrespective and quite independent  of moral judgement or observation. Like particles in quantum physics, these two states of storytelling coexist and are in fact the same, and are distinguished only by detection. Schroedingers cat is both living and dead in exactly the same way – it is either alive or dead only once observed. This peculiar characteristic of dualities under observation parallels the duality in stories. And if our selves are similarly stories, then we ourselves are in turn subject to the same dual existence. This then offers us the interesting proposition that characters and authors are at once living and dead in storytelling – and so in ‘reality’.

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