Why You Like Fantasy: Part 1
Did you know that not everyone likes fantasy? It’s shocking, I know. Well, for those of us who do like fantasy, this post is especially for us. To everyone who dislikes fantasy, perhaps I will make the case someday as to why they need it. But, let me stay on topic for the time being.
My premise in this post is a simple one, namely, that an enjoyment of fantasy fiction (and I would wrap sci-fi into fantasy) is really just a sign of a deeper truth about the human soul. That truth is about who you are as a human being. Someone much smarter than me said it very well:
"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis)
I know lots of folks who would say that reality itself provides more than enough excitement for a man or woman as is, and that another “realm of adventure” is really not necessary. Consequently, many of them don’t care much for fantasy. I agree with them in the sense that life can be crazy, if not well able to consume me at times, like, literally eat me alive, or chew me up and spit me out. When I read a fantasy, it’s not because I wish I could add to my life the stress of being chased by orcs, or having a dragon try to roast me like a duck, but because I have a certain desire to be somewhere I am not. That is the key.
Have you ever felt as if there is nothing in this world that can truly satisfy one of your specific longings or desires? I’m not talking about simple discontent. I’m talking about that longing that has caused men and women throughout the ages to pursue a life of isolated meditation, god-like feats of endurance, or pleasure to the point of destruction – all in a seeming effort to “find themselves,” or reach a new height.
I have most certainly felt it. I’m willing to bet you have too, in some capacity. I think it is because you and I are human beings - mind, body, and spirit, bound together to make a whole. We live in a temporal, physical world, as eternal, spiritual beings. In this state, it’s as if something is missing, or hidden.
I think Fantasy is a craft that helps us find a piece of that other world, feel it, and even connect the dots that we are very much eternal, spiritual beings. We are here on earth, and we belong here in one sense, but in another, we belong somewhere else. This is not to say of course that all fantasy is healthy or good for consumption, as there are dimensions of spirituality that are not healthy, and maybe even perilous. But even this is something we can learn in part by reading a story that transports us to other places through the cracked door of our imagination.
You and I, my friends, are made for another world, and that other world exists. In going to the world of a fantasy story, we are able to touch some part of it. This is not a desire that should be crushed for its impracticality or danger, but rather a desire that needs to be informed, and directed. If we are made for another world, we will go there someday. Perhaps the bigger questions are, "Which world?" or "Will we be ready?"