In Emmanuel Katongole’s Beyond Universal Reason he talks about (actually how Hauerwas talks about) how novels, good fiction, biographies and auto-biographies provide ways to experience concretely the sort of lives formed by different stories without experimenting with one’s own life as well (p. 136). We benefit, in other words, by seeing how other narratives and accounts of reality bear fruit in the character of other people’s lives. We are able to test or prove the power of another one’s story without entering into its potential destruction for our own. I view this to be a telling and brilliant analysis of the way we sort out truth within the narrative worlds of a post-modern society. Having said this however, there is the danger of living only in fictional, semi fictional or, dare I say, cyber worlds given the fractured world of simulacra we live in today.
In an admittedly obscure footnote Katongole offers this thick bit of caution,
“Significant as it is, fictional contact can never be a surrogate for the hermeneutical necessity of actual contact with real people. This particularly needs to be stressed in the context of the technology- controlled world of cyberspace. In cyberspace, a lonely soul, the product of the modern market and liberal individualism, seeks engagement with the other, but without, however, the epistemological and moral challenge such a contact would normally have. No doubt, cyberspace may create certain feelings and thoughts, but only in a way which significantly detaches them from their ‘normal’ context in life. This means that one is neither able to be seriously challenged by, nor himself/herself able to help or hinder, benefit or harm, comfort or dismay, the other … “ (p.286)Brilliant I say. Read More.