Beneath the entertainment and diversion of narrative and art lies a great power – the power to tell a truth or truths. Many of us would watch a film or read a book for an escape from the real world, but there are in fact much greater and deeper purpose to story and art.
Post-enlightenment theory and post-modern philosophy would have us believe that “there can be no certainty in an objective reality or morality.” The only certainty we can have is our own existence and experience.
In contrast, for narrative to work, a story must exist within a world built upon various rules: a historical, political, geographical, and moral framework, one fit with religions, fate and destiny for characters and a trajectory and denoument for the plot. The hero belongs to this world and explores it, constrained by its rules and limitations, struggling against foes therein, travelling through its landscape and striving to find catharisis and resolution.
Immersion in a narrative world for the contemporary reader, is immersion in a world of objective meaning, against which the protagonist can struggle to find themselves. By following the protagonist through this world, the reader can find some foundation from which to understand their own world, a world often too terrible and great to understand alone through one’s subjective lens.