I’ll be presenting my paper titled “Imaginative Fragility” at the upcoming APA Pacific conference on April 5th at 1 pm. I feel fortunate to be joined by an outstanding group of panelists, and I’m grateful to Olivia Bailey for bringing us together.

Here is the abstract of my talk:

Leyla, Fatma’s daughter, tells her that she is no longer in love with her spouse and wants to get a divorce. Fatma feels like she cannot imagine, let alone comprehend, why one would want to end a marriage because they are no longer in love. She can’t bring herself to imagine it because even the mere act of imagining it feels as though it would shatter her whole worldview. She was never in love with her own spouse, her mom was not in love with her father. Indeed, it never occurred to her that marriage involved such kind of feelings or commitments. Of course, she has watched many romantic Turkish soap operas, but she always thought that loving marriages or the idea of marrying for love were all purely fictional and have nothing to do with her reality. At times, she had contemplated what it means to be in love and felt some yearning for it but she never considered that marriage has anything to do with love. So now when Leyla tells her that she can no longer be with her husband because she is not in love, she cannot imagine why love has got something to do with marriage. 

I call this phenomenon Fatma experiences “imaginative fragility.” I claim that it occurs when an otherwise competent imaginer feels unwillingness or inability to engage in an imaginative activity because they perceive it as an existential threat to themselves. In this paper, my aim is to define imaginative fragility. To clarify this phenomenon, I compare it to cognitive dissonance and imaginative resistance. I argue some of the cases that we associate with cognitive dissonance may actually be cases of imaginative fragility. And some cases of imaginative resistance – but not all – can also be cases of imaginative fragility. Additionally, I claim that cases where we feel resistance or inability to engage with imaginative activities prompted by works of fiction are not always cases of imaginative resistance, but they are cases of imaginative fragility. Therefore, imaginative resistance cases and imaginative fragility cases do not always overlap.