Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fantasy stories, escapism wishfulfillment


I generally don't mind fantasy stories that are escapist stories but there is a kind of escapist story that so reeks of wish-fulfillment that it is embarrasing to read. It feels as if the author is leaking her neurosis all over the reader.

Okay, I have no real problem with an author's neurosis per se. What I have a problem with is the leaking of it. I want an author who will grab her neurosis by the throat, wrestle it to the ground, and look it in the eye.

I want honesty. I want escapism but true escapism. One has looked into the eye of the minotaur of one's fantasy and one has escaped stronger and more clear-eyed.

So there is pulp fiction and there are escapist fluff romances. Not for me. Not for me. When I look at stuff like that I feel as if I'm reading un-self-conscious masturbatory fantasy. Again, note: I have no problem with being made to look at someone's masturbatory fantasy. But I want to think the author is examining the fantasy, facing its implication, and in general preserving the fantasy cake and destroying it as well.

As a black person, I've seen many manuscripts by black writers. Some of them are very Conanesque...they hail back to a mythic time when Blacks were a great empire. Some are revenge fantasies....they are about black vampires hating --eating-- white victimizers. On the whole, when I read stuff like this ..I don't feel empowered, I feel pity for the writer. Revenge fantasies like power fantasies just make me cringe.

But not neurosis.

At first one might think that a writer searching deeply and honestly into her fantasy (for all to see) would be embarrasing for the reader and for the writer. But that's not what happens. What happens is that we also want these truths to hit us. We know ourselves...we know we have indulged in fantasies very like the authors. We feel normal because we now see that someone has shared our fantasy. But something goes sour if we see our fantasies in the simplistic fictive dream. IT doesn't heal the self. It feels empty. Let's not just keep our childlike Christmas concept of our fantasy, all shiny and juvenile. We have to make this fantasy grow into adulthood, an adult saner understanding of the truth of the fantasy.  We have to recover from this fantasy while at the same time honoring it. To hold to the fantasy without examining it is to stay in the rut that created the fantasy. We want to see and understand elements of the fantasy that we have not seen. The fantasy gets old if it's not challenged. At the same time, the fantasy must still be redeemed in a valid way.

Everyone who has read my stories or seen my status on facebook KNOW that I have a thing for Asian men, for passive men, for pretty men. I wrote stories about them, about them loving dark women who don't love themselves. And yet. . . .I like to think that I have used my neurotic fantasies elegantly and I have searched deeply into them. I have never -- to my best ability-- brought my unregurgitated fantasies for the world to see.

Just my 0.02 cents
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