Saturday, August 02, 2003


There has been a certain amount of debate about escapist versus non-escapist fantasy that I think would be better discussed in the context of escapist versus non-escapist fiction.

First, though, I think it's important to reaffirm a very basic concept: All fiction is fantasy, on one level. No matter how "realistic" the fiction, it contains some element either in a different context than it occurs in the real world or an element of the imagination brought in by the writer that has only a loose association with reality. To me, this seems like a rather safe and in some ways banal assumption.

In addition, however, I believe all fiction is fantasy because in one way or another fiction disappoints reality. No fiction can adequately describe even the interior of, say, a bookstore in such a way as to render it as real, on the level of specific detail, as you do when you visit said bookstore.

To some extent, then, all fiction is escapist, regardless of how grimly real. And in this sense, "escapist" means "untrue." Thus, fiction can either be more or less escapist--it cannot be other than escapist, because it is, on the face of it, false to reality in some way, no matter how minor or major that way might be...(My own fiction often deals with the failure or the success of the imagination to transcend reality, or to transform reality, which fits into this discussion in a way that requires its own mini-essay in future.)

If you accept my argument above, then postmodern technique, by insisting that the reader face the reality that all fiction is fantasy (suspension of disbelief overruled), is in a sense less escapist than purely modernist fiction. By the same measure, postmodern fiction containing a "fantasy" element (for fantasy element, read: an event or person that could not exist in the "real" world in any sense) or fantasy containing a postmodern element, is thus the least escapist of all types of Fantasy (here I use the term fantasy as a publisher would label-wise, just for the sake of the hypothetical).

How does this impact the current debates in the fantasy field. First, a China Mieville novel with a milieu in which Marxist or Socialist society may be the norm is no more or less escapist than J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy of pastoral bliss threatened by industrialization. Ian R. MacLeod's The Light Ages, in which a socialist revolution fails, is also not any more or less escapist in the sense that, no postmodern technique being employed, the reader is still allowed to escape into the fiction of "suspending disbelief." And M. John Harrison's "forgiveness" of fantasy in his last short story collection by changing "A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium" to "A Young Man's Journey to London" does not in any sense change the escapist element or lack thereof, no matter how important that title change (and thus emphasis change) is to Harrison himself. (Whether he is describing London or an entry-point to the fantastic Viriconium, Harrison is still describing a place that exists only in his head.)

All of which is by way of actually saying--I don't know how useful it is to talk about escapist versus non-escapist fantasy. I am not claiming that postmodern fantasy is superior--just that the existence of postmodern fantasy allows for arguments like the above. Perhaps "escapist fantasy", or a degree of it, should not be dismissed so readily, considering that most everyone writing today is engaging in it. ;)

(This is a musing in progress, so no brickbats.)



At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Xylence said...

Interesting concept. I'm writing an essay on this topic, and stumbled on this blog. It's quite true. All fiction has to be to a certain degree, escapist. Simply because it is escapist does not mean it can't have deeper meaning, or a historical context.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Jess Gulbranson said...

I suppose this is the same continuum between opiates like laudanum where you are lulled into a pleasant dream, and maybe DMT, where you are smacked in the face with the knowledge of your own ultimate nonexistence.

Or dare I say perhaps like the continuum between an opiate like Christianity and something postmodern like Zen Buddhism? Sure, nothing's real, but let's examine exactly how we're experiencing it... :)

Call me crazy, but I always let resonances like these creep into my own fiction.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger uiyui said...

This momentousdecree warcraft leveling came as a great beacon light wow lvl of hope to millions of negroslaves wow power level who had been seared power leveling in the flames of power leveling withering wrath of the lich king power leveling injustice.wrath of the lich king power leveling it came as a WOTLK Power Leveling joyous daybreak to end the long WOTLK Power Leveling night ofcaptivity.WOTLK Power Leveling but one hundred years wlk power leveling later, we must face aoc gold the tragic fact thatthe age of conan power leveling negro is still not free. aoc power leveling one hundred years later,age of conan power leveling the lifeof the negro ffxi gil is still sadly crippled by the final fantasy xi gil manacles ofsegregation guild wars gold and the chains of discrimination. one hundred yearslater, maplestory mesos the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in themidst of a vast ocean of material clothes one hundred yearslater, the negro is still languishing in the corners of americansociety and finds himself an exile in his own land.

At 8:06 AM, Blogger John Pinem said...

Keep 'em coming... you all do such a great job at such Concepts... can't tell you how much I, for one appreciate all you do! Replica Watches

At 1:29 AM, Blogger Nikola said...

car insurance now its not what it used to be when we were kids

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Armando Iswahyudi said...

Hi there,I enjoy reading through your article post, I wanted to write a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuationAll the best for all your blogging efforts.

mebel jepara
lemari pakaian minimalis
lemari hias minimalis
kursi tamu jati
sofa kursi tamu
rak tv minimalis
kursi tamu minimalis
meja makan minimalis
meja makan jati
meja kerja minimalis
meja rias minimalis

At 10:57 PM, Blogger chenlili said...

2016-4-25 xiaobao
michael kors handbags
coach outlet online
pandora jewelry
coach outlet store online
coach outlet online
kate spade
jordan 3
ray ban outlet
celine handbags
replica watches for sale
nike air max
kobe 11
ray bans
ray ban sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
ghd hair straighteners
caoch outlet
gucci handbags
louis vuitton
nike air huarache
hollister kids
celine bags
michael kors outlet
michael kors uk
louis vuitton
coach factory outlet
michael kors handbags
nike roshe runs
kate spade outlet
tiffany outlet
ray ban outlet
kobe 9
true religion jeans
louis vuitton outlet online
michael kors handbags
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses

At 2:32 AM, Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

toms shoes
polo ralph lauren outlet
cheap air jordans
oakley sunglasses outlet
red bottom shoes
coach outlet store online clearances
jordan retro 13
kate spade outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
tods sale
designer handbags
north face jackets
gucci outlet
ralph lauren
vans sneakers
louis vuitton outlet
lebron james shoes 13
louis vuitton bags
ralph lauren outlet
coach factory outlet online
michael kors outlet clearance
air jordan shoes
kate spade handbags
kobe 8
michael kors outlet clearance
coach outlet store online
fitflop shoes
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet
retro 11
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses
christian louboutin wedges
adidas running shoes
christian louboutin shoes
replica rolex watches
jordan 11
mont blanc pen
coach outlet online
celine outlet


Post a Comment

<< Home