Sunday 2 September 2012

Fantasy as escape, demonism or glimpses of Heaven?


There are three common ways of regarding the Fantasy genre of which Tolkien is prime exemplar: as escape, demonism or providing glimpses of Heaven.

1. Escape - the mainstream view, essentially secular and materialist.

Fantasy is contrasted with 'real life', fantasy is unreal, real life is meaningless, purposeless and alienation - so anyone who wants to spend time on Fantasy is trying to escape 'real life': a taste for fantasy is thus a sign of weakness, immaturity, refusal of responsibility.

Fantasy is un-reality.


2. Demonism - Christianity is truth, Fantasy is not the same as Christianity and contains themes (or words) related to scripturally-prohibited activities.

A taste for fantasy is therefore seen as either evidence of or tending to produce anti-Christianity.

(The Harry Potter series is often, but utterly mistakenly, regarded in this light; however, the criticism does sometimes apply.)

Fantasy is anti-reality. 


3. Glimpses of Heaven - the view articulated by Tolkien in On Fairy Stories: that true fantasy is the successful attempt to write about Heaven rather than this earth ('real life') - but this can only be achieved very partially and imperfectly, and indirectly (as a sub-creation within the primary creation); in flashes, or hints, or reminders of what we already know and hope for ('eucatastrophe' is his word).

C.S Lewis sees this feeling as a natural yearning for Heaven and evidence that Heaven is 'real life' for Man.

Fantasy is reality. 


So Fantasy, as a genre, can appear either irrelevant, evil, or one of the most important things on earth.



The Crow said...

True reality, seen through unbiased eyes, and accompanied by a sense of wonder, may very well be construed as fantasy. Because it transcends the mundane that is usually taken to be reality.

I tend to view reality as that which exists, unseen by the many, in their preference for the deranged view that is commonly taken to be reality.
Such is the nature of madness.

Fantasy, as it is commonly understood, has its place, but naturally enough, like anything else that humans partake of, it often gets over-indulged-in, and so becomes unhealthy and unproductive.

It is not fantasy that is not-good, it is people.
As usual.

Samson J. said...

I think fantasy ("Faerie") *is* one of the most important things on earth. I'm a big non-fiction reader, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as they say. Tolkien's On Faerie Stories was one of the best things I've ever read, spiritually speaking.