Why Stories Are Like Taking Drugs

Jonathan Gottschall in Literary Hub:

According to the English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), enjoyment of fiction requires a “willing suspension of disbelief”—a conscious decision. We say to ourselves, “Well, I know this story about Beowulf battling Grendel is hooey, but I’m going to switch off my skepticism for a while so I can enjoy the ride.”

But that’s not how it works. We don’t will our suspension of disbelief. If the story is strong, if the teller has style and craft, our suspension of disbelief just happens to us. Think of the metaphors we commonly use to describe what stories feel like. Narrative transportation is always something don’t to us, not by us. It’s a force we’re subject to, not something we control.

We think of storytellers as metaphorical bruisers who overpower us and hold us down—they hookgriprivet, and transfix.

More here.