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Fiction as Proofs

2003-10-14

Category: philosophies

This is a little different from my normal rants, but it’s one of those ideas that get stuck in your head until you ramble about it for a while. Here it is: one can approach fiction as a mathematical proof. Just hear me out a moment.

We all remember proofs from high school math classes. They would give you some figure and tell you to prove that it is the same as something else. You would then have to go through a series of definitions and identities and rules to lead from one step to the next until the path led from the first figure to solution they demanded. Such activities sucked unless you were a math geek.

The sucky part didn’t come from the proof part as much as the math part. If you aren’t a math geek then you didn’t know all the rules to make the proof easy. The proof idea can be applied to other things. What is your hobby? Given your hobby, you could probably prove something about it fairly easily because you know the rules. That’s just like when the math geek knows all the rules about math.

To illustrate the use of the proof on fiction, I’ll use a generic fairy tale. Here’s the problem: the witch has cursed a princess. End the end, the princess lives happily ever after. That doesn’t seem a likely series of events, so prove it.

By definition, a curse will prevent the sufferer from living happily ever after. This means that the princess cannot live happily ever after in her current state.

Also, by definition, fairy tale princesses attract fairy tale princes. Since cursed princesses require more effort and risk, they are more likely to attract capable and brave princes who should be able to deal with the situation. (NOTE: It is true that the princes are attracted to princesses and this includes all fairy tale princes. However, some princes, on seeing the amount of work required by a cursed princess will decide that other, non-cursed princesses may be more economical. More princes yet may attempt to pursue the cursed princess but not be capable of success. This is shown by the presence of skulls, skeletons, and assorted haunts experienced by approaching knights and princes. Presumably these scary items are the remains of less competent warriors.)

The interaction of the prince and princess will remove the curse. The witch knows this and wishes to prevent it. Since the witch’s power is weak against the prince/princess pair, she will need to try another tactic.

Witches, by definition, perform magic. There is typically an implication that the witch is a wicked with regardless of whether the wicked is stated. (Good witches are always assumed to be good or you wouldn’t go through the effort to specify that she is good.) The ability to cast spells should imply a reasonable amount of intelligence. This is not shown in the manner in which witches typically attempt to destroy the prince.

It has been shown that a witch will attempt to confront a prince through physical barriers and direct combat. Given that princes specialize in combat and that witches do not, there is no good reason for witches to do this. It is hypothesized that witches are insane and just lash out at knights and princes. All of this resolves itself into a law that states: witches will resort to direct physical confrontation if a prince attempts to interact with a cursed princess.

Based on this law, we can see that the witch will do battle with the prince. The prince, who is much more skilled and capable, will defeat the witch. With no witch in the way, the prince can easily reach the princess and once together the curse will be dispelled.

Relying again on definition, the prince and princess will have a fairy tale marriage which, by definition, involves living happily ever after.

There, by using simple definitions, rules, and laws we have created a proof that the cursed princess lived happily ever after.


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