Thursday, May 15, 2008

Imagined & Reality

“When we read story it can actually direct our brain processes so that the same signals are sent to our nervous system as would occur in the same situation in a life experience.”
- Gold, Joseph. Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 40

Ever read a story and you get so into it that your heart races? The character might be in some peril and you really feel like you are in the same situation. That is a great feeling when literature can take you away like that. It also goes to show you how our imagination works.

Our brains are unable to tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real one. I read that in a psychology book and it has stuck with me. It explains a lot.

Good writing can transport us. We can be right there in that situation. For this experience to work, you need to be truly in touch with the text on the page. You need to use your imagination and the writer needs to have communicated with you in such a way that you share this experience over distance, time, and space. It’s an amazing feat and just one of the amazing powers that reading opens us up to.

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