I think [the reader's existence in an imperfect world]'s the real reason "fans love crap." It's not that they love the flaws and mistakes that prove intolerable for nonfans. *If* they are experienced enough to be aware of the flaws, then they ignore the flaws in an *intentional* manner because they seek something in the reading-experience that transcends the flaws.
That "something" I've frequently called "myth" or "mythopoesis."
Now, in a comments-post Curt Purcell speaks of the "conventionally rewarding elements" of a narrative. In DEEPLY, MADLY IF NOT TRULY I asserted that the canonical-fiction reader was no less invested (and willing to be immersed in) the type of "rewarding elements" that such a reader seeks. One may be called (after Fiedler) "unearned gratification" and the other "earned gratification," but it should be evident that as both are gratification, any differences between them must be differences of degree, not of kind.
As I've said before, in place of "gratification" I prefer my term "dynamization," which connotes nothing more than a movement of some item, entity or presence from a "static" to a "dynamic" state. In the case of art and literature, the movement takes place in the mind of the reader/audience, and is especially easy to see in the context of narrative fiction, which is generally expected to have a "static" beginning that sets up a situation and a "dynamic" end that resolves the situation. But the simple binary formula of dynamization applies not only to other forms of art but to all other "forms" (as Cassirer would call them) of human cognition.
Northrop Frye takes a Cassirerean tack in THE GREAT CODE when he writes that "mythical thinking is universal or poetic thinking, and is to predicative thought as narrative myth is to history." The main thrust here, in both Cassirer and Frye, is to indicate the development of one from the other, but a secondary focus is to indicate also the continued relationship of these cultural forms.
Myth, being imbricated with the concept of narrative, must also share the binary form of dynamization. For instance, even in archaic myths whose connotations are largely obscure to modern readers, the pattern is evident.
Jesus predicts that Peter will foreswear him three times before the cock crows.
Peter does indeed foreswear Jesus three times before the cock crows.
This is a simple narrative with none of Aristotle's "reversal:" Jesus says an unlikely thing will happen, and it does. What this narrative meant to its original audiences has been the subject of many theories, of course, but that original intent is irrelevant in a narratological vein.
What is not usually considered is that the same narrative movement pertains in terms of what Frye calls "predicative thought." The predicative thought may be buttressed with formal dialectical logic or scientific examples, but the formula remains the same.
Curt Purcell theorizes on the presence of a "passive filtering mechanism."
Curt Purcell, having provided a "reversal" of sorts by considering opposing thoughts, completes his meditation on the "smart filter."
For me the expressive breakthrough that comes to the audience from the presentation of a dynamic resolution is the motive force that makes possible not only myth in its most formal sense but all narrative, fictional and philosophical.
This is not a popular view. Opponents of "myth criticism" often act as if it endangers their hard-won intellectual boundaries, as when T.E. Apter says of Jung:
"Jung's endorsements of the mysterious and the fantastic are fundamentally platitudinous, neglecting as they do the artist's specific aims and rigorously drawn distinctions." (p. 142)
I don't believe this is the case for Jung or for Frye, at whom I've seen roughly the same criticism leveled. A discerning appreciation for the ways in which the human mind constructs myths-- even while buttressing them with logical assertions and scientific evidence-- does not *have* to equate all myths as having the same content, or even the same form.
What is important to ask in all cases is what *dynamis* the artist expects to arouse in his reader, and in my next essay on this theme that will take me back to the matter of what has been called "crap."