The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, March 22, 2016:

 

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality.  It’s a way of understanding.”

Lloyd Alexander

When I was growing up, George Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984 were considered fantasy.  Nowadays the stories, characters, and plots are all too real.  Today they became even more so, with yet another alleged terrorist attack , this time in the heart of Brussels, Belgium.  (As of this writing, no cause for the explosions has been determined, nor has anyone claimed responsibility, but it does appear to be a terrorist-related incident.)

According to Wikipedia, Orwell was a democratic socialist who wrote against the totalitarian regimes of his world at the time.  Animal Farm was published in 1945 and 1984 in 1949.  We are now all too familiar with words and concepts such as ‘big brother,’ ‘cold war,’ ‘groupthink,’ and several others that are now commonplace in our lexicon by way of Orwell.  Not only was he a critic of society’s then-dangers, he dared to warn us of dangers ahead.

Ursula Le Guin and Doris Lessing wrote of gender-blending characters long before the possibility became public reality.  The comic strip ‘Dick Tracy’ showed the detective speaking into his wristwatch to communicate with others decades before the tech giants and Silicon Valley were blips on the computer screens that were still to come.  The Star Trek franchise introduced us to science, theology, and social concerns we might not have tolerated, or even considered, in other ways without the fantastical peoples and cultures we watched every week.

There are so many other examples, it’s impossible to name them all.  Think, though, of H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, the movies ET, Close Encounters of a Third Kind, the Dune books, to name just a few.  I’m willing to bet one or more of them made some kind of impact on your understanding of your world at the time.

Terry Pratchett wrote that ‘Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.’  Why?  In my opinion, because they usually invite us to be more inclusive rather than exclusive, more thoughtful and compassionate, to look forward to and work for a better world, and that frightens some people.

Fantasy helps us address our fears.  Some may go at it through gentle humor, as Pratchett did, or bass-ackwards like Rod Serling usually did in The Twilight Zone, but these stories serve as our fables, our fairy tales and parables.  According to W. H. Auden, ‘A real book is not one that’s read, it’s one that reads us.’

If we don’t read or write fantasy, I suggest we owe it to ourselves – and the world – to do so.  Maybe, eventually, more of us will understand.  As cute as they were, after all, even those little tribbles multiplied too fast.

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3 thoughts on “The Prompter Room

  1. I just finished reading Octavia Butler Parable of the Sower and I’m currently reading the second book in the series, Parable of the Talents. Octavia is really hitting close to home with both books. Too close to be real.

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  2. Jungians would call it the imaginal – and, broken down, becomes the ability to ‘imagine it all.’ I’ve long maintained that if we can envision it, it already exists, even if just beyond the collective ‘s ability to comprehend it. Sticking by my story on this one 😉 Love your posts, Genie. Truly thoughtful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good! Keep sticking to your story, Bela! I wish I had remembered the imaginal – that’s perfect. That’s one of the drawbacks of time and space constraints. I don’t have the luxury of letting things sit before I post them, nor the space to go into all the detail I would like to. I’m so glad, though, that you and a few others seem to get my drifts even so. Many thanks, my dear. Aloha!

      Liked by 1 person

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