Is fantasy a good thing?
Fantasy (n): something that is produced by the imagination; an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality.
Can fantasy fiction be a good thing? I mean, can pulling yourself away from reality be a good thing? Isn’t that what is so distorted about pornography? It’s not real. Studies reveal that men who look at porn find it more difficult to be aroused by a real person. Are they setting the ideal too high? Are they unmoved by a real person because they are absorbed in this world that isn’t real?
Some wonder if maybe the problem is with fantasy fiction. I read an article a while back by a gentleman who thought that fantasy fiction or anything nerdy was the problem. To which I respond, I guess my whole life is a problem.
I’m not only a fantasy lover, I’m a fantasy writer. And I believe both of these things about me makes me a better version of myself. That is because I believe that true fantasy is chiefly meant not to detach us from reality, but it is meant to help us perceive reality more deeply, which pornography doesn’t do.
Here’s what I mean. There is a scene from The Lord of the Rings, where Sam says to an elf, “Hey! Can I see some magic?!” To which the elf essentially responds, “Oh. Uh. Sure. Well, I’m not sure what you mean by magic. But there is this thing and it is beautiful and wondrous. And you might call it magic. But it is simply the way things are.”
See, magic for Tolkien simply was seeing the wondrous, transcendent nature of the world. Tolkien never saw himself as creating a world completely separate from our own. He actually wrote that he didn’t create some other detached universe; he simply wished to describe our world as he saw it. And in that world, he saw such beauty!
Pornography and fantasy fiction are vastly different. Pope John Paul II is reported to have said that the problem with pornography is not that it reveals too much, but that it reveals too little about the person. Pornography (in addition to objectifying the person) detaches us from reality and distorts our view of it. Good fantasy and good fiction on the other hand does the opposite. It helps us see more deeply into the world—about what IS and what COULD be. And this opens up to the mind the beauty laid dormant within the world itself.
As for those looking to read better fantasy—besides Tolkien and Lewis—I am sadly sorry to say I can think of very little. Any fun classic fairy stories by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm are rather delightful to read even for an adult. 1001 Arabian Nightsare good short reads Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrellwas quite a good story and Harry Potter of course. Still these are mostly classics and I feel like lately there has been a dearth of good fantasy. This is actually what most inspired me to write my books. If you know of other good fantasy books that I didn’t mention, feel free to post about them in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Gabriel Dantes is a fantasy writer inspired chiefly by the writings of JRR Tolkien. He will be promoting his book “The Love of Nessa and Kêlet” until August 26th 2018. Feel free to go to his Kickstarter to obtain a copy of his book and support him.