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Re: [mythsoc] What we're all about, I guess ... ?

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  • Solomon Deems
    OK, Here I go... I have a book called The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, in which our beloved genre is defined as being the fiction of the heart s
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 29, 2000
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      OK, Here I go...

      I have a book called "The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy," in which our
      beloved genre is defined as being the "fiction of the heart's desire." I
      like this definition, vague, but how does one define fantasy without either
      being vague or writing 3 pages, in fact what would all of you define fantasy
      as being? I am curious. Anyway, a writer of fantasy who I can not place
      also stated that the purpose of fantasy is to "heal the wasteland."

      The way I see it, fantasy is an embellishment of what one might fantasize
      about. There are times when morbid fascination draws us to a darker, less
      positive form of fantasy, suggesting hopelessness or apathy, yet consider
      the very act of expressing all of this into a well written piece? Is this
      masterful and creative action not contradictory to this "pointlessness of
      life" frame of mind? Not that I am saying one should not write about such
      topics and call them fantasy, much to the contrary; we escape hopelessness
      in doing so. It is the ultimate irony, for the expression of hopelessness
      to lead to the discovery of hope. When one merely enjoys a story- dark or
      otherwise, one proves to oneself there is SOMETHING worthwhile, if nothing
      else one knows this unconsciously.

      I think of fantasy as being the ultimate celebration of humanities most
      vital and defining quality: imagination. It is through the use of this
      sacred source, and the accompanying tool of creativity, that all may find
      salvation in one place or another. Hope is always there, we have but to
      keep the strength to look and we shall see it. If it is a sad story or a
      depressing song that we can identify with to show us this, all the more
      potent the lesson could be. All are inspired in different ways, but all are
      inspired. One has only to acknowledge that one has eyes with which to see,
      and one can look. Fear for the worst may attract the attention towards that
      which one fears, but through the eyes that inevitably seek new inspiration,
      and therefore we always have the potential to turn things around. It is
      creativity and divine inspiration that pair together when we read fantasy or
      enjoy any creative medium, for it is a glimpse into the human spirit.

      In conclusion, as long as one writes, as long as one creates, it is
      positive. If there is some sort of interest in an area at all, explore it,
      for the fact that one can give existance to the exploration is proof enough
      of ultimate salvation.
      From: ERATRIANO@... <ERATRIANO@...>
      To: Mythsoc@egroups.com <Mythsoc@egroups.com>
      Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 5:13 PM
      Subject: [mythsoc] What we're all about, I guess ... ?


      >
      >Hi, I have a few sort of questions all muddled together. The premise
      driving
      >them, I suppose, is that, for some of us, the mythie/writing life has at
      >least loosely Christian underpinnings. Whether one is strictly Christian
      or
      >generically looking towards the Light, are there certain fundamental
      >guidelines we should look to be following? Or something like that...
      >
      >One question is related to Sheri S. Tepper and authors, the other is more
      >related to writing. I will set them both out below, as beset (typo, but oh
      >how appropriate), I mean as best as I can:
      >
      >1. We've discussed Tepper a little bit, and offlist one kind soul has told
      >me a little more about her personality. I'm wondering a little whether I
      >want to encourage an interest, in myself or others, in literature and
      thought
      >that says that ultimately, we are on a downward spiral. (Not that I don't
      >like her books; they are haunting.) I am not sure whether that furthers
      >depressive thought or jars one to break the bad habits now. I hope this
      >question make sense. Probably I should read more "dark" fantasy to fuel
      this
      >query, because maybe it could help.
      >
      >2. Taking this argument over to the writing life. Some of us feel that
      life
      >IS ultimately futile, that maybe there ISN'T a God or any of the good stuff
      >we write about and hope to be true. Is it then hypocritical to write as if
      >it were? Or is it the working of the Will over the Emotions, so to speak?
      >
      >thanks,
      >
      >Lizzie
      >
      >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >
    • LSolarion@aol.com
      In a message dated 08/29/2000 3:15:18 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ERATRIANO@aol.com writes:
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 30, 2000
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        In a message dated 08/29/2000 3:15:18 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
        ERATRIANO@... writes:

        << Some of us feel that life
        IS ultimately futile, that maybe there ISN'T a God or any of the good stuff
        we write about and hope to be true. Is it then hypocritical to write as if
        it were? Or is it the working of the Will over the Emotions, so to speak?
        >>

        As I thought about how to answer this, I recalled the answer Puddleglum made
        to the Green Witch in "The Silver Chair." Paraphrasing from (too distant)
        memory, I recall him saying something like "even if life were meaningless and
        there were no God, it's a better thing to believe that there is, because it
        gives life a joy and meaning otherwise unattainable." (Lewis, of course,
        expressed the idea much more eloquently; go read the passage.)
        However emotionally appealing that point of view may be, however, I find it
        intellectually unsatisfying (he says, rudely snatching away the warm, soft
        comforter he had just handed her). For even if all the world felt otherwise,
        God would still be God. Our feelings cannot dent that titanic truth any more
        than a flea can knock over a mountain. I have never been able to derive the
        comfort others can from sentiments like "the meaning is in the myth," or "the
        journey is what matters, not the destination," or " it doesn't matter whether
        there is anything real to hope in or for, as long as we hope." These all
        sound totally bizarre to me. If the object of our hope isn't real, then what
        is hope but self-delusion? A journey without a destination is not a journey
        at all, but a mere lost meandering without purpose or direction. A myth that
        expresses no reality is simply a lie, for every myth claims to embody
        reality. We only call it myth from the outside.

        That's why Lewis' concept of Christ as the myth that really happened has such
        resonance for me. As an ex-Pagan, I had just spent the last ten years looking
        for some truth in world mythology, but none of it connected to the world we
        all live in. The gods and goddesses all seemed like characters in a fantasy
        novel. To think of any of them as having created the world seemed as silly as
        praying to Elbereth and expecting an answer.But only in Christ do we have
        both the numinous wonder and mystery that delights us in myth, plus the
        historical reality and dependable, comforting reassurance we need when our
        feelings tell us life is hopeless and without meaning.

        Anyway, I hope something in all this helps. Feelings come and go; but if your
        house is built on the rock of settled conviction, then the worst storms of
        emotion will break against it in vain.
      • ERATRIANO@aol.com
        LSolarion@aol.com wrote:
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 30, 2000
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          LSolarion@... wrote:

          << A journey without a destination is not a journey at all, but a mere lost
          meandering without purpose or direction. A myth that expresses no reality is
          simply a lie, for every myth claims to embody reality. >> And so on.

          Thanks, Solarion (whatever do I call you?) You make total sense to me. It's
          just hard to sustain that train of thought, at least for me. Religion and
          marriage are both things that may be generated by emotion but must be
          sustained by the will. However, the day to day presence (more or less) of
          the house and other reminders of the DH kind of make sustaining a marriage a
          little easier than sustaining the mental structure of religion, unless one is
          in community routinely, which I am not. I found _Surprised by Joy_ to be
          very good a number of years ago, but what I found to be absolutely pivotal
          was Williams' Arthuriad, in the yellow Erdman edition with the accompanying
          essay(s?) by Lewis (to enable one to navigate and understand). Perhaps a
          rereading of that would be good, and some more Gerard Manley Hopkins.

          Oh, and by the way, does anyone recall where that "healing the wasteland"
          quote is from? It rang a bell, a dim underwater one perhaps, but a bell
          nonetheless.

          Lizzie
        • Christine Howlett
          ... lost ... is ... Yet I can imagine that a myth that expresses the best that we know and can imagine might well be worth living up to. Faith is a difficult
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 30, 2000
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            >
            >LSolarion@... wrote:
            >
            ><< A journey without a destination is not a journey at all, but a mere
            lost
            >meandering without purpose or direction. A myth that expresses no reality
            is
            >simply a lie, for every myth claims to embody reality. >> And so on.
            >
            Yet I can imagine that a myth that expresses the best that we know and can
            imagine might well be worth living up to. Faith is a difficult thing to
            hold on to, and sometimes I have to just remember that every beautiful and
            good thing I know can be encompassed by God. But only the sterner beauties
            can be encompassed by atheism. Until God wills to help my unbelief again.
            No one willingly journeys to a place of bitterness and sorrow if you can
            hope for a better destination.
            Christine
          • Julia Palffy
            Christine Howlett wrote: Faith is a difficult thing to hold on to, and sometimes I have to just remember that every beautiful and good thing I know can be
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 31, 2000
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              Christine Howlett wrote:

              "Faith is a difficult thing to
              hold on to, and sometimes I have to just remember that every beautiful and
              good thing I know can be encompassed by God. But only the sterner beauties
              can be encompassed by atheism. Until God wills to help my unbelief again.
              No one willingly journeys to a place of bitterness and sorrow if you can
              hope for a better destination."

              It's Jesus - God - who encompassed atheism, and not just beauty and
              goodness, when he cried out on the Cross "My God, my God, why have you
              forsaken me?" AND he held on to faith by tagging on "Into your hands I
              commend my spirit". He does not take the struggle to overcome disbelief away
              from us - otherwise there would be no virtue in faith - but HE willingly
              went through the deepest bitterness and sorrow to show us the way that goes
              right through it to the best destination of all.

              I've been thinking a lot about the classical ancient mythologies on the one
              hand, and the Bible on the other. If you consider the world through the
              "lens" of the old myths, and then read the stories of Abraham or Moses, the
              Bible sounds as subversive a "myth" as one could possibly imagine - the most
              subversive part of it being that it came true. It's as if God gave us the
              power of imagination to participate in shaping the world (he makes us
              co-creators, as Tolkien wrote), and then keeps challenging our imagination
              by doing things we would never have dared to dream of, as if to say:
              "Imagine something still better!"

              When you talk about writing Christian fantasy, what does the expression mean
              for you? "Christianise" old myths? Express Christian beliefs in the guise of
              fantasy? Or, starting from a Christian point of view, create new myths? How
              far do you think the stories we invent may shape the world we live in, today
              and tomorrow?

              TIA for letting me know,

              Julia Palffy
              Zug, Switzerland
              jupalffy@...
            • ERATRIANO@aol.com
              Message 6 of 6 , Aug 31, 2000
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                << When you talk about writing Christian fantasy, what does the expression
                mean
                for you? "Christianise" old myths? Express Christian beliefs in the guise of
                fantasy? Or, starting from a Christian point of view, create new myths? How
                far do you think the stories we invent may shape the world we live in, today
                and tomorrow? >>

                Hi Julia,

                I'm so rusty I'm not sure any more. LOL. What I like to write is fiction
                and poetry that sees the world with the light of God's creation blazing
                through it. I mean, IF there's a God, but that's my problem, not the
                literature's. So it can mean working with popular older myths, or elements
                from them (after all, I think everything's been done to some extent, pretty
                much); or it can mean taking totally modern people and conflicts and trying
                to search out how to work through them to a happy ending (I personally prefer
                them) involving aesthetically pleasing spirituality. To put it succinctly
                and disrespectfully. I have in my fiction a "creation myth" which hasn't
                been tested against any authorities to see if it can be a "good Christian
                fantasy one," and a few creatures. I just need stronger plotting. LOL

                I liked _Canticle for Leibowitz_ but it's been Years. I did find Lewis'
                Space Trilogy to be more than a tad far-out. The coffin full of rose petals,
                especially.

                I agree that "true Christianity" has to include the starkness and darkness.
                I used to get a great little periodical called "Weavings" but I wasn't making
                time to read it so I discontinued the subscription. From time to time it
                dealt with the wasteland periods. Maybe if I read it more I wouldn't be in
                this one now!

                I tend to ramble, so i will sign off now, wondering if I've said anything.

                Lizzie
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