At the beginning of the Michael Figgis film “Suspension of Disbelief” is a preface that states the following:
“Carl Jung had a theory on creative writing. He called it ‘Participation Mystique’ and its essence was this . .
The writer writes something intense, creative and the reader understands that it is as if he, or she was the actual writer.
It’s as if the writer has projected all kinds of unconscious material onto the fiction.
Jung goes on to say that fiction has become fact and most and most bizarre experiences can take place within the narrative because the reader is experiencing it directly.
There is no need for the reader to ‘suspend disbelief’ as the reader is already in the story.”
Whether this is actually what Jung was talking about or whether Figgis is interpreting what Jung said for the movie does not matter to me, it is the statement that matters. What I see in the statement is that the reader participates. We know that to be true as anyone who has read a book can identify with their involvement and the range of emotions they experience. And the reader does project unconscious material into the fiction. We all, as readers, bring our own life experience to the story and in so doing our imagination colors the story in our individual way.
For the life of me I can not understand why there are many high school English teachers who refuse to teach Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” because of their belief the novel is terrible. I can only guess they never studied literature, or are illiterate, why else? I studied the novel in college, I have studied the 1920’s as well, and studied symbolism, including reading Jung. Perhaps I bring a different life experience than these teachers, whose life experience is reading Harold Robbins. It is indeed our life experience and interpretation of what we read that creates disagreement. Why else can critics argue over moves like Siskel and Ebert.
I love the idea that fiction becomes fact for the reader because as he reads he experiences what is happening and what is happening is true for him or her at the moment, no matter how unrealistic, not matter how crazy it seems. It is happening, therefore it is real.
As a result I understand there is no need to suspend disbelief. The reader is in fact in the story. Now that is a Pirandello twist.
You may of course participate in any of the eNovels I have written found here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38