Is Fiction Closer to Reality?

By Besiana Hadri.

Lately I have found myself watching more and more science fiction movies and TV-series. Although the movies and series are based on fictional dystopian and utopian universes, they seem to consist of a lot of material that is relevant to the Anthropocene. We may be presented with things that seem far from reality but sometimes they present reality better then reality does by itself. Through different movie and TV-genres, I want to explore some ontological questions, that is, what to be actually means.

In an article by Vandana Singh called Science Fiction in the Anthropocene, she argues that science fiction asks us to look deeper. It challenges us to destabilize old ways of thinking and frees the imagination so that we can explore various futures and better understand and inhabit the present world. Singh writes about how terms such as the apocalypse and dystopia have been used to criticize human social norms and values and the problematic relationship we have with nature. She argues that although it may seem that science fiction is set to represent the future, it actually is essentially depicting us, the here and now, even though it is presented in another world. It is also in a sense a way of exploring our relationship with the non-human such as animals, aliens and technology.

The notion of animation can also ask us to look deeper. Animations emphasize the plastic nature of forms and how one thing can become another. Animation releases us from rationality and expands our imagination. According to the film theorist Sergei Eisenstein, animations call forth a pre-logical, pre-rational worldview (Cook, 2018, p. 237). This worldview is beyond and detached from the oppositions between the human and non-human, the mind and the matter. Animated cartoons are a direct manifestation of the method of animism. According to animism all objects, places and creatures possess a spirit, consciousness and soul. In animism all cultural systems consist of experience phenomena, such as dreams, visions, out-of-body experiences etc.

In the article "Where is the Exit? Speculative Art History in the Anthropocene," Ingrid Halland writes about another fiction story, Twin Peaks by David Lynch. In Twin Peaks we are introduced to a world, which seems to be set in one reality, but slowly, for the murder mystery to be solved, the subjects have to face different realities. Halland writes about how The Log Lady from the series is determined that the log she carries around knows more about the murder mystery than she herself does. And as Halland writes, by acknowledging the reality of the log, the log lady can also redefine her role as a human. The series consists of scenes where the rules of time and space that we know are irrelevant (Halland, 2016, p. 214). And how by putting aside our logical and rational point of view, we may come closer to the truth.

If humans try to understand the reality of the non-human through rationality, we may never reach a solid answer. Halland mentions theories that present the tool of speculation and the possibility of speculating our way closer to the unintelligible. Is this what sci-fi and animation tries to do? Is it the human way of trying to get closer to a reality we cannot know?