Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist and novelist, is releasing a book about how fiction can improve our social understanding. You can read an excerpt of the novel here and listen to a brief interview here. While I’m not really sure why the phenomenon of fiction needs any scientific explanation, I’m more than willing to accept the notion that it somehow improves our ability to empathize with one another and transform steady readers into eyeglass-wearing social freaks.
From the excerpt, it seems like Professley Oatley does a pretty great job detailing how exploring our subconscious through the dissemination of fictions is probably a good way to normalize how we relate to one another. Still, I don’t know if he goes far enough. I’d like to think that by reading, I’m somehow reaching a deeper understanding of how to make everyone like me. In fact, while I sit here, alone, aleternating between my computer, a book, and pornography, I’m pretty sure somewhere, through miasma, someone became just a little bit more fond of me. I will read some more, then I will sleep, and eventually I will wake. Outside, everyone will be upright and still, smiling towards me, knowing I understand them.