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In my high school class Theory of Knowledge, the big question was "How do you know something?". The quality of knowing, questioning it and examining it, was pretty profound on my developing mind, and it has never truly left me. I often think of those debates, those questions, and have rigorous discussions with myself.

Today a revelation hit me in regards to knowing and 'false-knowing' when it comes to the narration of a story. There is a unique level of knowledge in a story - even with unreliable narrators, there is a sense of truth to what is being presented. (Unless the author is REALLY meta and REALLY messing with you, but then, isn't that a kind of truth in and of itself?) For a straight narration, take the following two examples:

"If you saw them, you would think they hadn't come from the same mother."

"If you saw them, you would know they hadn't come from the same mother."

A simple word switch, in the context of a narration, but totally different indicators of what is true. The first sentence is ambiguous - whether they came from the same mother is unclear. The second sentence grants knowledge. The power of the word 'know' loses the cumbersome burden of truth that exists in the real world because of the accepted conceit of narration. When contrasting the two, now the first sentence seems to imply that they are from the same mother - otherwise, why would the narrator be so coy?

Maybe this is just a lesson from my own reading/writing style. Maybe it's a symptom of the writing culture of the authors I like to read, or modern writing memes. Maybe it's American specific or English specific. Or not true at all. Maybe I only 'think' I know this, instead of actually knowing this.

Oh great narrator, dictate my life to me, so that I might know.

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*And* new knowledge lights up the reward center in the reader's brain!

Awesome! We live to light up readers' brains!

With fire!! Er, I mean, "knowledge!"

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