Journal of Value Inquiry 56 (2):303-311 (2022)

Are the emotions elicited by real-life occurrences in analogous with those which occur in fictions? The position that Jonathan Gilmore stakes in Apt Imaginings: Feelings for Fictions and Other Creatures of the Mind is that our emotions are not governed by the same standards of appropriateness or rationality across life and art—there is a kind of separation, barrier or “quarantine” (to borrow Gilmore’s parlance). For instance, we may admire or root for Tony Soprano when watching The Sopranos but would abhor such a person in real life; similarly, we may take great pleasure in the wanton destruction in a film such as Lars von Trier’s Melancholia but would be horrified by this were it to occur. Gilmore queries us to examine this discrepancy and departure, drawing attention to the consideration that, if fictions are simply extensions of our imagination why often times when we imagination something do we respond to what we imagine as if it were to really occur? When we imagine missing a train, for instance, we feel a nervousness analogous to what we would feel were we to really miss the train. On the one side is the pull of continuity, a commitment to invariance, in which our engagements with the contents of fictions and other imagined creations are said to be modeled on our engagements with ordinary real-world states of affairs. On the other is the pull of discontinuity, in which such representations are posed as offering potentially sui generis sorts of experiences that resist assimilation or reduction to those we encounter in the everyday. Thus, questions concerning art and fictive imagining’s autonomy and belief are inherently imbricated within this discourse.
Keywords Value Theory  Jonathan Gilmore  Kendall Walton  Emotions  Aesthetics  continuity
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-020-09749-y
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