By the way, one of my proudest boasts about those uniforms is that, although some were made, lo, two decades past... each still fits like a glove. (Just sayin,’ he murmured modestly.)
Now, I don’t intend to make this a defence of cosplay, although there’s nothing wrong with it. (In fact, many years ago, I actually wore one of my uniforms to a Star Trek film premiere at the urging of students, although my suspicions that their motives were somewhat less than altruistic were confirmed when, the next day, they queried me on my experience, and some of the less reputable seemed slightly deflated when I replied that no, no one had beaten me up over wearing a uniform.) Besides, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, having published my fantasy novel Gryphon’s Heir, I have now set my sights on new clothing, suitable for an Arrinoran knight. My wife has so far greeted this new plan with diplomatic silence, in case you’re wondering.
But my intended goal --- which Windows very thoughtfully informs me has only taken 400 words or so to arrive at, thanks very much, Bill --- is briefly touching on flights of fancy. Or fantasy. Is there a difference? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Now, literature, at least on some level, has always been about escape, even thousands of years ago when folks gathered around the fire after another grindingly successful day of remaining alive to listen to tales of gods and goddesses and heroes and their various escapades.
But looking at film and literature today, there are a LOT of flights of fancy. Books. Films. Graphic novels. Video games. Anime. The concept of escape figures extraordinarily large in so much of it. Escape from what, you ask? Well... everyday lives which, in spite of being, on the whole, amazingly well off from a material perspective, just don’t seem to “do it” for many people. (Although that, too, is beyond the scope of today, a whole ‘nother discussion for some other time.) We’ve taken the concept of flights of fancy to a major new level. Mostly, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Those people who like to dress up as characters from their favourite film or book or historical period, who like to imagine a flight of fancy where they are that character... well, why not? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with some diversion that brightens up life, temporarily helping us to forget cares and stresses and worries. I say bravo to most flights of fancy.
However, a brief caveat: there’s an enormous difference between temporarily retreating into fantasy and allowing it to overwhelm your life. An enormous difference between picking up a book and reading for an hour or so, and becoming addicted to an online world, barely surfacing to eat or sleep or go to work. It’s like pretty much everything in life, as I frequently tell my students: there needs to be balance. Always. In everything. Too much, or too little, of anything is not good... downright harmful, in fact.
Regarding my own flights of fancy, I write in general because I have to, because some inner creative urge pushes me and will not allow me to simply rest in entropy like a blob of animated jelly. I write fantasy in particular because the amazement of creating a world all my own with all kinds of strange intricacies is one that was deeply impressed on me right from when, as a precocious 12 year old, I first was enthralled by an imaginary world called Middle Earth, created by an obscure Oxford don. I don’t know specifically whether his world was alive for him --- I strongly suspect it was --- but mine definitely is for me. And every time I return to it, there are new things occurring: sometimes wondrous, other times terrifying. But always captivating.
So let’s give the last word to C.S. Lewis. He was talking about literature, but I don’t think he would mind if we broadened it to ‘flights of fancy’: “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
Thanks, Jack. As always, your pithy observation both grounds us... and helps us to take flight.