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That state of mind has been called “willing suspension of disbelief.” But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful “sub-creator.” He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true”: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.

—J. R. R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”


  • Eric Dorbin thought to say:

    Great way of putting it Tolkien! I always do find myself projected into a well presented/designed fictional world, and it’s when that world is shaken too much or isn’t stable enough that I’m taken out of it and can’t enjoy it thoroughly.

    Offer a rejoinder↓

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