A novel way of living

Eneg: Some people have the silly idea that we all might be characters in a novel, and what we think of as the "real world" is actually just the novelist's setting. Of course this is nonsense, since novels are not a place, and so nothing whatsoever can live "in" them.

Salis: But what about a sufficiently rich novel? One with lots and lots of details about rivers and hills and cities and forests?

Eneg: Huh? What difference does the amount of detail make? Where do you think people living in the novel are?

Salis: In the novel!

Eneg: What do you mean? They live inside the paper and ink?

Salis: No, they live in the story!

Eneg: But the story is not a place. The only physical parts of the novel are the paper and ink, and they are a place one can live, if one is a bookworm. But the story only arises in our imagination, as we look at that paper and ink.

Salis: So, you are just like the people who in 1700 said a novel but never capture the inner flow of our mental life: but look at Ulysses! How can you say what the limits of the novel are? Future authors may write novels many times as complex as the novels of today!

Eneg: That they may. But they still will not provide a place in which living creatures may dwell.

Salis: You see, you just have an ideology that denies the possibility of people living in a novel, while not offering any reason whatsoever for rejecting the idea!

Eneg: Aargh! [He takes out a virtual gun, and shoots himself in his virtual head with it.]


  1. Question:
    If you rewrote the above dialog but substituted "mind of god" for "novel" (and made other appropriate adjustments), would you agree with the view's expressed by Eneg?

    1. Very perceptive question, Rob: no I would not, and this shows the difference between us and God: God can make something actual simply by thinking, whereas we creatures must use the materials given us by God to make our ideas real.


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