I wrote a novel about a girl who can turn into a wolf. Of course this is a fantasy, no one can turn into a wolf. (Though a world where there are fish with both eyes on one side of their head, where frogs can change gender, cows eat birds, and crows teach classes in tool-making, does make anything seem possible.) The belief that one’s wolf nature, or one’s dragon or cougar nature could rise to the forefront under certain provocation is absurd: no one can turn into another animal. As a metaphor for the complicated aspects that make up the human unconscious, it has a certain resonance, however. Following up the idea that if this girl was able to turn at will into a wolf, what adventures might befall her, is a natural progression. But still just a fantasy.
So, let’s not write fantasy. Let’s write reality. Let’s only write things that can happen because they have happened. Okay. Here I sit before this screen, touching keys which create words on something which is not a page, which will show up on the Night Bazaar, which is real, and not imaginary at all. But where it is, and what it is, could take quite a bit of explaining. If you were to try to explain it to someone who died a hundred years ago, he would know that you are insane. In the Country of the Blind, the one-eyed man is locked up for having hallucinations.
We live in a fantastical world. Black smooth lines of roads connect every village, town, and city across three thousand miles of this continent. Metal constructs tear through the sky, crossing from sea to sea in a night. I create light with a touch, I travel in a metal box on wheels at seventy miles per hour. Human made satellites orbit our planet, one of our robots is still wandering the plains of Mars, and the detritus of our visits litter the moon. Except some people, who were here to see it happen, believe that our landings on the moon are a fantasy.
Humans have re-made the world for our convenience. We did this, because of our fantasy. Look at our cell phones. They flip open the way they do because that’s how they were fantasized to look on Star Trek, a TV show that ran originally for three years, and is still changing the world. I hear that there is a prize in the offing for creating the medical tricorder. I expect it will look like a salt shaker.
I can’t remember if it was Dr. Watson or Dr. Crick I heard speak at Rutgers University. He’d come up with the idea that our DNA is the real intelligent being on the planet, living as symbiotes within us. Then there’s the theory that there are twenty-six dimensions, or that this universe is an atom in another, rather larger universe. So what is true? And was it true when we still believed that the Earth is flat? Or that the stars are pinholes of light from Heaven? And what is true now that we cannot yet even comprehend? I am still floored by the existence of dust mites.
It is our duty to write fantasy. If we reject living in small groups on the savannahs, hunting and gathering hand to mouth, having only what we can carry, and defending ourselves with rocks and sticks, then we must imagine for ourselves a better world. And we who can, create these worlds in our imagination, communicate them to others through the magic of writing and reading, and expand our collective mind. So how can we not write fantasy?