Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Danger of Fantasy

Photo by King of Ants .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Fantasy can be used as a tool to help one navigate the passage from the comfortable cocoon of childhood and adolescence to the (at times) stark reality of adulthood.  Fantasy frames what could be perceived as the pointless and brutal struggle of living in the more comforting terms of an epic quest.  Fantasy, when used according to its greatest purpose, helps people cope with and interpret reality: it adds meaning to their lives, enriching them.  

But is there a dark side to fantasy?  I'm afraid the answer is yes.  An overindulgence in fantasy can leave a person un-moored from the realities of life.  And this can cause people to turn toward negative behaviors like addiction.  By overindulging in fantasy I believe a person gradually replaces a foundation of empirical reality with one based on imagination.  Instead of fantasy providing a frame of reference for reality, it becomes a false reality. 

Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain I've witnessed a person traveling down this negative path.  This experience is probably the reason why I haven't written much in recent days.  It's hard when a person that you cherish and that you feel is composed of similar "DNA" to your own comes off the rails of life.  Because of this, I've been doing a lot of soul searching to reassure myself that I'm not heading down a self-delusional path myself.

I've emerged from this recent "funk" with renewed confidence that a moderate indulgence in fantasy is indeed virtuous.  But I also now have a direct understanding that overindulgence can be very dangerous.  I'm still thinking about what impact these recent experiences will have on my fantasy writing.  I've thought of a few things already--and they will be "baked" into Hemlock Book III (both consciously and unconsciously).

In the meantime, if you are a lover of fantasy like I am, just make sure to keep your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.  Whatever your reality is--it's fundamentally OK.  Even if you're in an adverse environment--it's best to accept that fact and chart a course toward better climes.  Fantasy can help you chart that course, and to persevere while on your quest.  Use it wisely and in moderation, and be careful out there.

1 comment:

  1. What distinguishes fantasy as that bridge you described from merely escapism is the character development that happens allow the way. In Harry Potter books, for example, the characters face real life challenges, make real decisions and experience real personal growth. Reading about other people's challenges and how they respond can be very helpful and contribute to one's personal growth in a positive way--whether through fantasy or some other genre. Of course, it's much more difficult to write than pure escapism (like most of romance, thriller, crime, murder mysteries), and you might lose followers because, duh, the readers might actually have to think.