Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why we need fantasy.

There is a reason why we must have magic and fantasy in our stories. It has nothing to do with the sort of stories that can be told in fantasy. Rather, it is that desire for the fantastical that we must keep hold of. Whether or not you believe in faeries or magic or psychic powers or the like is pretty immaterial. But the desire for these things should not go away. And fantasy, whether it is dark and grim or childish and whimsical, drives and awakens that desire for the fantastical. The desire for the impossible.

That desire can be seen threaded through so many of our advancements over the centuries.

We have age old stories of the mirror on the wall that can see into distant places. And now we have television.

We talk about the crystal ball that carries so much wisdom and advice. And now we have the Internet.

We tell tales about healers of magical skill. And now we're replacing eyes and hearts, curing diseases that have given us trouble for ages; and performing many tasks the past would have considered miraculous.

We have legends about the creation of golems and homonculi. And now we have cloning.

We told tales about hidden lands of great promise. And it carried us over the horizon, over the sea and into the stars.

We tell the tales of the faithful and loyal spirit helper. And now we have Siri or other such assistants.

I am not going to say that fantasy is the only reason we have these things. Far be it from that. The path of development that led to all the great discoveries and advancements are complex and multi-faceted. The fact that a lot of the directions we've developed follow along with the powers of magicians and heroes of the ancient legends may be just coincidental. Or it may be because those are the desires that are instinctual to us, that our creative impulse is a following along of some instinct to push our own evolution. Or it may be because some dreamer grew up reveling in stories of Icarus and desiring to fly.

Fantasy gives us a target. An impossible thing to make possible.

This has, unfortunately also created horrors, but the wonders are much greater and much more plentiful and much more often what we seek.

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