As I said in the previous post, I am starting a series of sorts. This is my official kick-off of said series, and hopefully we will be able to view fantasy differently after we take in this post. I do say we and not you, because the process of writing this post has helped me more properly define fantasy. So, this is a learning experience for both of us, and I hope it is a good one.
Fantasy: What is it? Why is it so popular? Is it good or evil?
I don’t believe in middle ground when it come to right or wrong, good or evil. There is not an in-between point where something can be considered neither right nor wrong, there is also not a place where something may be both good and evil.
If I haven’t lost you with that last thought, I’ll explain myself. A man, is evil by nature. Sin corrupted finite man in the beginning. Since then, we have come to call ourselves fallen beings. To fall from perfection means to fall into imperfection. There is not a position mid-way where we can halt our falling and be both perfect and flawed; it is an either/or equation.
Man is evil, but that does not inherently or necessarily mean that all his actions are evil. A man who donates to charity is not a good man, he is still an evil being, but he is doing a good thing.
Our actions do not change our nature.
There is a way to change our nature, and that is to surrender our nature to the author of change, only He can make us into something other than evil continually.
But, you grasp my meaning. There is no middle ground here. So, with that in mind, what is fantasy?
The Oxford Dictionary of English describes fantasy in this way:
Fantasy: the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things.
Succinctly put, fantasy is anything you can imagine. And that, I believe is why it has such draw, such allure, such enchantment to readers. Fantasy is bound by the limits of your mind alone; if you think it, it can be so. Nothing is beyond the boundaries of fantasy… Except…
Fantasy, just like all other genres of writing, has certain boundaries without which it would not be fantasy. Certain limitations must be in place for it to retain its identity among the other genres.
The first limit to fantasy is reality. The imagination is used, primarily, to fantasize about things outside of reality; it is a method of distancing one’s self from the real world, an escape from life and it’s problems. It follows, of course, that if fantasy is a means of forgetting reality, that to have a reality fantasy is not only a contradiction, but an oxymoron of tremendous caliber. The two ideas clash in every area. There can never be reality in fantasy; elements of reality maybe, but when I say, “reality”, I mean the here and now. Again, referring to the Oxford Dictionary we get this definition of reality.
Reality: the state of things as they actually exist.
At its basist concept, reality is things as they are, and fantasy is things as we wish they were, as we dream they can be. But, as far as fantasy is concerned, it may never touch reality.
An arguement to this statement might be, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, by C.S. Lewis. In his stories, Lewis clearly divides Narnia, (his fantasy world), from England, (his reality), and joins the two by a wardrobe, or a painting, or some other portal. This seems to contradict what I said about the two worlds of fantasy and reality connecting, but it really does not contradict it at all. If Lewis had set out to write a simple historical novel with his stories, he could have done so, but, as soon as he brings Narnia into the picture, the story is no longer historical, it is instantly transformed into fantasy.
Fantasy is the great magnet of writing; wherever it is concerned it transforms the genre completely.
Many genres have indivuality that sets them apart, but if you’re going to use even an inch of fantasy, you are no longer writing your old story, you are writing fantasy.
But, is fantasy good or evil? I believe that fantasy is neither inherently good nor evil. It is a moniker designated to works of the imagination. It’s content will ultimately define of what sort it is. If the content is good, moral, containing a poignant message, and not just worthless words, then the story is good and the fantasy has served its purpose.
If the content is evil, dark, twisted, having no good message, portraying sinful actions without consequences, or just being fantasy for the sake of fantasy, the story is evil and the fantasy has served no purpose.
Stories are what you make them, and fantasy is just one of the tools we use to create stories. As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist