It’s possible that we can derive more pleasure from what we imagine than from what we experience. This novel idea, or this idea about novels, is explored by Yale professor Paul Bloom in his new book, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like.
In a chapter reprinted last month in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he says fiction is difficult to separate completely from reality because the pleasure we experience in both is essentially the same. Perhaps a little less intense, but the emotions it trigger are just as real.
When I growl and chase my granddaughter, she never thinks I’m a real lion. But she enjoys imagining that I am, safe in the understanding that I am not. All kids pretend.