And I Quote: On Fantasy

Someone posted the following quote on Tumblr:

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle-Earth.”

-George R.R. Martin

To which @odinsbitch replied:

I read fantasy to REMIND myself there is beauty and magic and goodness in reality. I read fantasy to remind myself that reality itself is changed and shifted by how I look at it. When I fly on Southwest Airlines I always choose a window seat so that I can look at and see the cloud-castles and curve of the horizon and the way the sunlight turns the rivers into liquid gold and lose my ability to breathe because I am not Icarus. I can fly as near the sun as I want and my wings don’t melt because my wings are made up of both fantasy AND reality, wax and canvas and iron and bone wings as strong as I am.

Reality is the whimsical graffiti in the dirty alley in Cleveland. Reality is the chaotic circus of a strip mall where people are bad and selfish and good and welcoming. Reality is seeing the blue sky reflected on the Chicago skyline and thinking I already live in Minas Tirith.

Middle Earth is not better than here. Gormenghast is certainly not better than here. I believe it’s true that fantasy can remind us to listen to the siren songs and relish the color in our real lives. It does spark desires deep within us. But I want my fantasy to remind people that they don’t have to visit hollow hills to find adventure or Oz or Shangri-La to find love. We make ourselves heroes and villains in reality every day. I want my fantasy to remind readers – and myself – that we shouldn’t long for Camelot. We should create it right here.

When I die, I hope I’ve already built my heaven around me.

And to which I say “Amen!” to @odinsbitch.

While fantasy is awesome, the more I read or watch fantasy, the less I am surprised by what people can imagine anymore. The real world, however, is fantastic enough as it is, and the more I see of it, the more I am convinced that it will never cease to amaze me.

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