—the very fuel of human society ...
I have only recently embraced the opinion that fantasy is much preferable to reality.
Reality is important, to be sure, probably more important, (even much more important) than fantasy. Reality must first exist to provide the background on which fantasy is placed. Without reality there could be no fantasy.
In a sense though, fantasy is the purpose of reality. It is the reason - as it were - that reality exists in the first place. In other words, if there is no fantasy under way, reality is being wasted.
It was actually very simple to arrive at this conclusion. Reality is of course the necessary background. Without it fantasy could never come to be. But reality, as fundamental and necessary as it surely is, is nevertheless quite boring. The only kind of reality that is not boring is nearly always undesirable, like earthquakes and volcanoes for example.
We need but consider one of the most basic realities to grasp the powerful truth of this notion: rocks. They are necessary. But what do we actually do with them? Just look at them?
The very purpose of rocks consists in their ability to be used as raw material - to make stuff with, whether it is structures, (houses) or works of art we call statues. We can also pile them up and make dams with them, or fences, or whatever.
The same applies to basic reality. We are not supposed to just sit around and look at it. We’re supposed to mess with it, turn it into something, in the same way that we turn rocks into a dam or fence or statue or build a house with them.
In reality, there are no unicorns. Very likely because basic reality has no need of them. We are supposed to make them up, in the same way that we make up fairies and elves and goblins.
It is very likely that a personal fantasy life is a hell of a lot more exciting (not to mention rewarding) than a real life. It may, in fact, be the purpose of a real life, to use is it as a foundation for the fantasy life that we are supposed to create, and spend as much time in the imagined one as possible (ideally all of our time).
In a way, all the stuff in our man-made world is a product of fantasy, what we might call fantasy made flesh.
Beginning with words.
Yes, words are human fantasies. This is easily proved. We need but conduct a casual survey. Do we see any words, other than in the presence of a human being, or community? We do not of course, since human beings invented words, as well as all the definitions of all those words.
Words are fantasies, and a great deal of what we do with them is also fantasy.
We make great efforts to apply our fantasies to the real world whenever we use words to describe it (in an effort to learn about it). We are actually doing little more than applying a coat of verbal paint to the realities that we talk about.
A rock, for example, is not transformed into the word that we use to refer to it. A rock is whatever it is, and is completely oblivious to the word we have coined for it (rock).
The fact is that the universe is not made out of words. After the fashion of the rock, it is whatever it is.
We are virtually adorning the universe with words whenever we talk about it. When we read (or hear) the words that someone used to talk about the universe, we are not sensing the universe through those words. We are doing little more than viewing a tapestry, or a painting or crude drawing that that someone created with words.
Everything that we make is a product of fantasy. But lately, it seems that our fantasies are getting into high gear. The computer graphics people are making animated characters that are very close to mimicking real people, not to mention heretofore purely mythical constructs, such as unicorns.
I have to say that this new position of mine is a total about-face from my previous opinion on the subject. I was formerly in the habit of offering comments such as, "Ah, that's nothing but fantasy," as if there was something wrong with it. Now, I think I would have a hard time saying that. There is nothing wrong with fantasy. As a matter of fact, the more deeply I think on it, the more I am convinced that there is nothing but right with it.
October 23, 2007