“Reality” is a big word. I wouldn’t care to use it lightly. The feelings that we have are real. Our dreams are real, and our fears. Our suspicions are real, and our fantasies. I don’t know that I can say that everything is real. But I will say that anything can be.
This is why we in the multiple-worlds business like the word “actual”. An English-speaker might look at that word and think “That just means the same thing as ‘real’.” But when my American parents first got to Brussels, they got a map with supposedly English-language instructions that claimed to be an “actual map!”
“What?” said my father, “as opposed to an imaginary map?” It was some time before they put it together that the French word “actuel” (As well as the less frequent Dutch “actueel”) means something more like “current” or “up-to-date”.
Because of the connection between this word and the idea of relatively recent events, French and francophile ontologists, narratologists and (presumably) theoretical physicists have adopted the term to refer to events which “actually” happen in the continuity and diegesis the speaker occupies, as opposed to some subjunctive secondary or tertiary creation.
Where this gets messy is when we talk about worlds that are already “imaginary”: things that happen within the world of a story have to be things that “actually” happen there, too, else how could we distinguish between those events and others that are (only) imagined by the characters?
But again, just because something doesn’t actually happen in the actual world, that doesn’t make the event (or its impact on the human psyche) any less real.
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