The role of fic­tion in this day and age

How fic­tion suits help us power through the hell of ev­ery­day liv­ing

Northern Living - - CONTENTS - TEXT FERDZ PEÑA IL­LUS­TRA­TION WINCY AQUINO ONG

Wel­come to the age of the avatar. While our an­ces­tors had their spirit an­i­mals, we have our spirit book, TV, and movie char­ac­ters.

Okay, about the ti­tle: You got me. Je­sus is a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure, not a fic­tional one. But he is also the pro­tag­o­nist of the best­selling book of all time, and it’s his name that has sold a thou­sand WWJD T-shirts, all right?

It wasn’t that long ago when we sought wis­dom from par­ents and teach­ers—real, ac­tual, liv­ing, fle­s­hand-blood peo­ple. But that’s all in the past now.

Now, things are dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery form of fic­tion, from dig­i­tal comics to PDF ver­sions of best­selling nov­els to sea­sons upon sea­sons of TV shows, can be con­sumed from the light-emit­ting rec­tan­gles we keep in our pock­ets, and be­cause of our prox­im­ity to these fan­tas­ti­cal worlds, Jug­head from Riverdale has be­come more real to us than our own fam­ily mem­bers.

We look up to these fic­tional char­ac­ters. We tat­too the words they speak in our minds, on our skins. Dur­ing Hal­loween and cos­play par­ties, we even dress like them.

Comic book writer Grant Mor­ri­son first coined the term “fic­tion suit” to de­scribe the men­tal cos­tume one puts on to make the worlds of fan­tasy and re­al­ity in­dis­tin­guish­able from one an­other.

We all wear fic­tion suits now.

Most of the time, we have a whole wardrobe of char­ac­ters to choose from, de­pend­ing on the prob­lem at hand. Some­one stole your wal­let? Put on your Sher­lock Holmes suit and start in­ves­ti­gat­ing like a high-func­tion­ing so­ciopath. Mired in of­fice pol­i­tics? Try that Frank Un­der­wood suit for size and play the game dirt­ier than ev­ery­one else. Stressed out be­yond be­lief and need a break? Hey, there’s a Garfield suit that lets you eat lasagna and sleep all day. Why do we do this? Fic­tion is sim­ply a prod­uct of our sur­vival in­stincts. Our an­ces­tors had gath­ered around bon­fires to hear the tales of great hunters and how they had eluded dan­ger and es­caped death while hunt­ing and for­ag­ing for food. In a way, fic­tion is just the in­struc­tion man­ual of the Greater Hu­man in­side us all, giv­ing us ex­am­ples of dire sit­u­a­tions and how our broth­ers have sur­vived them through courage, wis­dom, or kind­ness.

That’s why we shouldn’t feel guilty if these fic­tional peo­ple be­come our sur­ro­gate par­ents or teach­ers, and per­haps in the end, our very own sur­ro­gates.

Peo­ple change. Peo­ple fal­ter. Ideas per­sist. Ideas go on for­ever.

So go ahead. Ask your­self: What would En­teng Kabisote do?

Hey, ev­ery­one has their own hero.

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