thread: 2012-11-26 : Positioning: Two Timelines

On 2012-11-26, Gordon wrote:

(Vincent/all - as usual, I'm not sure if my musing is gonna help understand the eventual question or not. Feel free to ignore and/or just read the bold)

DWierd pointed at what I wanted to question, but I wasn't sure how to talk about it.  I'm still not sure I've got it, and I know just enough to suspect there's a cliff-edge to fall off of here.  But a stab . . .

No one (I hope) is confused about the fact that an imaginary bus won't hit and kill you, whereas a real bus will.  But the act of imagining a bus is real, the outcome of the various electrochemical (and whatever) reactions we call thought.  We can hear (potentially, if the imaginer chooses to speak), in the real world, a person say "I imagine there's a bus on the street." While I can't be hurt by that bus, or touch/etc. it, the mere fact that I can talk about it at all means that it is in some sense real.

I don't think you disagree with this - the sense in which you mean the bus is unreal is the obvious, and partial, sense in which it is different from a bus that could run me down.  But seeing the Fiction as somehow seperate from The Real World seems (for me, at least sometimes) to open up a knee-jerk "the bus is too real in some ways" response.

I guess what I'd do is to note that the imagined bus is not "actual".  And note (quite importantly) that while what somone said is an actual thing, what that means in the fiction is NOT.  Because while saying "imaginary bus" is almost always clear, imaginary speech in general often isn't.

To handle this concern, rather than divide things into "The Real World" and "Fiction", I'd divide it into "Actual Elements/Timeline" and "Fictional [or Imagined] Elements/Timeline", both of which exist in "The Real World."  But I suspect this is a (important?unimportant?) semantic thing, as you don't mean to say that the fiction is outside the real world in any real (haha) way, just that it does not have the (in my words) same actuality as character sheets, dice, and etc.

I did also have a thought that making The Real World a super-category had other uses - like room for a third timeline, representing real things that aren't part of the fictional timeline or the actual timeline.  But maybe not.  You've already got things in both timelines that aren't "positioning," and maybe later you'll add legitimate/illegitimate, so - that's definitely on hold for now, not even worth a question (never mind disagreement!)


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