(Note: Due to some kind of mistake in the posting process, old comments, quoted below, are missing.)
"Many people are prone to inventing fantasies rather than dealing with reality...it's much easier to make crap up than to work out how the universe really works."
"Sounds a lot like White Wolf's 'Mage' to me. If they're borrowing terminology from that, it shows how serious this community really is."
"What is it good for? It sounds like a bunch of preschool kids crawling around, going 'Rawr, I'm a tiger,' 'I'm a unicorn!'"
"I think 'The Awakening' is merely the onset of a delusional state of mind...definition...is: 'A false belief held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.'... I simply cannot believe that people who are mentally stable can take this stuff seriously."
"...I hate to be harsh, but these people are just plain dillusional."
"I don't understand who on earth would get themselves involved in such ridiculous and mindless drivel."
Inventing Fantasies, not Dealing with Reality
- Inventing fantasies, not dealing with reality.
- Avoiding figuring out how the universe really works.
- It comes from RPG's.
- What is it good for?
- Delusional. Can't be taken seriously.
- Invalidated by evidence.
The picture given is almost identical to the picture of fantasy readers in general.
Most people call it escapism when someone even just reads a fantasy book. Fiction is all right, as a whole, just as long as it doesn't get "out there." If it's a fictional recounting of World War II, that's not escapism. But as soon as something gets out of line, it's suddenly "escapism".
Why are they reading it? "Because they are trying to escape the terrible reality around us."
So the assuptions there are basically:
I mean, we're sort of supposed to feel sorry for these poor creatures who read fantasy. They just can't take it.
- Reality is terrible.
- Fantasy casts a spell on you, where you think it's not.
- When you've had it with this world, you read fantasy.
Most people then pull out the image of some fat loser who's lost in sci-fi or star trek, always living in his mother's basement, and (of course) he's never had a girlfriend. You don't want to be like this person, and this person is a fantasy reader. Nudge nudge- get the ticket?
In my experience, most of the fantasy readers I have met are pretty "successful" in terms of most people's definition. They are now finishing their PhD's, or working in big companies making big bucks, they are highly intelligent, and they are very much involved in the world;
Far more than most people at that. They are physics students, computer programmers, and electrical engineers. They are married, have dated, or even have kids.
They aren't escaping. Many are improving the world we live in.
This isn't to say that my friends are representative of all fantasy readers. I've met people who were also living in their parents basement.
But the point is: There's nothing intrinsic to reading fantasy that means "escape".
Personally, my feeling is that people who avoid fiction are doing the escaping. They don't like something about imagination, and they somehow fear it. Why? I don't know. I don't understand it.
Avoiding figuring out how the universe really works.
Okay, at this point, I have to pull out Steuard, everyone's favorite Elwing the Demigoddess, and our resident high school prom king.
Look, he's getting his fucking PhD in String Theory. Again, most of my friends are chemists, mathematicians, physicists. You can say that the CS majors are avoiding reality- fine, but by and large, this whole thing is really overdone.
(Note: Most are not OtherKin, but they are most fantasy/sci-fi readers.)
In my experience, people who read sci-fi (in particular) and fantasy are more interested in Physics, Mathematics, and stuff like that, than people who don't.
Einstein said that imagination was more important than knowledge. I'm with Einstein. And I'd further argue that anyone who was cutting themselves off from imagination is going to be substantially cutting themselves off from knowledge as well. Knowledge seems to follow after imagination, not preceed it.
It comes from RPG's.
The argument goes something like this:
...or with more development...
- Fantasy stories and RPGs put crazy thoughts into people's heads.
- Some player's think it's real. Some make up similar stuff, and think it's real.
- But it's from an RPG.
- Therefor it's not.
(Special link: Galaxy Quest: "It's all real-" "-I KNEW it!" Ignore if you don't follow.)
- A being is of a race or they are not, it's not something that can change.
- But the person knows themself by reading an artists work.
- If the person read another artists work, they might identify another, different way.
- Thus it's unlikely to be real.
So, the second is a good argument, I'll address the 1st afterwards.
To address this, I give the following explanation, which I'll call "sympathetic identity."
So if a person is attracted to novels with elves and the like, and thinks that they are an elf, because they feel far more natural in the context of elves, what difference does it make if it were some other author's similar-but-different story of what it is to be an elf?
- A person has a mind, formless.
- Nonetheless, the mind has a "shape" or inclination of it's own, at least for a duration.
- That shape may feel naturally sympathetic to particular forms rather than others.
- The mind can identify any which way.
As for the 1st argument: We have to consider the source. Artists are making this stuff up. They are human, they have human minds. That qualifies them to figure out what other minds may be interested in being as well. Thus the foreign source is not a "problem."
Finally: Consider what an RPG is. It's a Role Playing Game. So naturally, if you have an inclination in a particular role, a particular identity, then what's the problem there? If you chose the role, then it came from within you. If you pick up a book, that choice came from within you. How was it placed in there? We don't understand that kind of thing, we don't even understand why or hwo we are experiencing a world (rather than being unconscious but responsive). We don't know. So no one can really say.
What is it good for?
First, I don't think either desire or existance has to justify itself. It Just Is.
The question is similar to "What good is being yourself?" I don't really know, I don't have a good answer to that.
(I'd like to note here that, I, personally, do not consider myself to be a non-human or an alien or dragon or anything like that. I did name myself Lion, but I feel no sort of spiritual connection with lions, or identify as a lion.)
What good is the question? What's it discriminating for us?
That said, I thank the Damanhur people for making such beautiful exotic rooms in their amazing temple. So if you like good art, there's one use.
Another: I personally believe that anything that gives you a stronger understanding of who you are is a good thing. And it's difficult to talk about "delusional" when talking about self-image. What Ghandi delusional for having the self-image of being a Saint, before being recognized as one? How about Joan of Arc? Was she delusional? What about Andrew Carnegie. When he was a kid, he said he was going to be the richest man in the world. But he was just hauling scrap, or whatever. Was he delusional?
I don't mean to say that the person who thinks they are a spirit is the same as the young Andrew Carnegy; I mean to point out the relationship between personal self-image, and our actual actions. That is, that what you think about yourself affects your life. And if someone feels most connected to the image of an elf, and thinks and speaks and acts that way, then in a certain sense it has become real.
Has their genetic code changed? No. But if they want to believe so, I say, "OK, Fine." I disagree, but in terms of what you think about yourself- That's just incredibly sacred territory. To desecrate that... (shudder...) Never.
To personal utility- if someone feels somehow more at peace with themselves or their nature by identifying as an elf, or a spirit, or as a horse, or wolf, or whatever, Whatever it is that they want to feel like or actually feel like, I say more power to them. What is the utility of inner peace? I think it has utility, even in measurable "how many times can you turn this crank for me" ways, if you must.
Personally, I feel the world would be a better place if more adults were tigers and unicorns.
Some of it sounds pretty goofy. A lot of it sounds like some way of bragging, and I don't like it. "I'm a high elf, unlike you mere humans." Spare me, please.
Unless it's something like the above bragging, I disagree.
Strongly disagree. Very strongly.
I mean, first, people have believed these kinds of things for centuries, and have not been ridiculed. Shamans, people in other cultures, totem animals; People have always felt connections with the things around them.
Did you think Yoda was rediculous? Yoda came on the screen, and you thought, "What a bunch of rediculous claptrap?" I didn't. Maybe you did. But some of the most famous people in history have been deeply moved to noble (and ignoble!) acts by such beliefs. They are not ridiculed.
Do you laugh when you see Japanese people on TV saying good morning to their dead ancestors? Yeah, ain't it a kick? What losers.
Actually, let me take this all back and put it another way-
I think there's an enormous culture rift between people calling this rediculous, and the people actually doing this kind of thing. So maybe the best approach is to describe my personal experience:
I've met people who have, in all sincerity, believed that they were not natural to this world (not my elsewhere-mentioned friend Kami-chan, incidentally, who's beliefs I have no idea of), and have had ideas of being agents from another plane somehow, or whatever have you. They were not illogical or crazy; These were just story/frameworks that they lived in.
Look, here's some people's framework:
That's it. Okay, what evidence is there of it? It's what we see around us, in our day-day waking existence. Is it leaving anything out?
- You're born.
- You live.
- You die.
Of course. It doesn't talk about before, it doesn't talk about after, it doesn't explain weird phenomenon we may experience in this life, it doesn't describe our subjective experience, it doesn't include imagination, all kinds of stuff. "Oh, well that stuff doesn't count." It doesn't? "Yeah, because it's not scientificly determined." Well, okay, excuse me. There are ways of thinking that are not scientific, but also rationally valid.
For example, if you perceive other worlds, why should you toss it out? "Ah, well, it's not repeatable, independently observable." Well, I disagree with that, I know of many points where people have shared observations. "Well, it wasn't in a lab." Okay, well "Fuck you too." How's that for a counter-arg. (It's a bad one.)
For an eloquent counter-arg, read the epilog to Michael Crichton's "Travels". Michael Crichton, who's done a movie and written a few books, served as a doctor and Psychiatrist, has a lot of metaphysical notions, and he quite eloquently argues why in the back of his book. I'm not as eloquent as he, I just say, "Oh yeah? Well Fuck You Too." But he actually does a good book of articulating what I mean.
But these notions aren't rediculous. People have been feeling these things for Aeons, and will feel them for Aeons future.
I would also like to point out that in countries around the world, scientists hold metaphysical ideas. In my experience, it's mostly just the US & Europe where scientists are religiously against metaphysics. But in other countries, it's not that way. I'm not talking about backwards Brazil, I'm talking about Japan again. Engineers will build robots and stuff on the "Metaphysics of the Square" and talk about spiritual theories of Souls and transmigration in their scientificly dissertations on childhood development. It's not dominant, it's not hidden, it's just there as a "perhaps this explanation." They aren't too worried about it. We just seem to be all hung up about it here. "How dare they?!" The horror!
Delusional. Can't be taken seriously.
More of the same, but I'll add that many of the people I have described are quite sane.
Here, a personal example.
One day, I had the notion that a good friend of mine, "Kami-chan", was not native to this plane of existance, somehow. It wasn't a sudden realization, it's just a notion that gestated over time.
So, what am I supposed to do with this notion? I suppose I could debate it to death, like beating it into a bloody pulp. I could think of all the reasons to doubt such a thing; There are many good arguments you could make.
But I decided against it, and just saw it for what it was: An idea in my head.
Is it true?
I don't know. Who does?
Can you live with not knowing what is True and what is not?
(Ooooooh- I think I just hit the nail right on the head.)
I can live with that. So this idea, image, whatever, came to me, and it seemed to be true. I realized that there's no way to say whether it is true or not. I decided to name him Kami-chan (btw, never say that phrase to a Japanese), and let him know what I thought.
His response? "That's interesting," and sort of thought about it for a while. I don't know what he thinks. I just know what I have thought for the past few years.
So who gives a flying fuck? You want to say I'm delusional? Say I'm delusional then. I don't care.
If it just came from my imagination, fine. That doesn't necessarily invalidate it, even. We are awarenesses, living in MINDS. Minds can take whatever form they like, right? The forms they chose reveal something about their nature. This does not perturb me.
Invalidated by evidence.
Well, no, not really.
Look, there's no evidence that the world is real, and not just an illusion.
It's perfectly plausible to me, hell, I even consider it likely, that this world is something that our minds stumbled across, and decided to couple with. So far, I see no evidence against that perspective.
I do see some cracks in the "this world only" perspective. In fact, I see the #1 crack in it. Namely, that I'm seeing anything at all..! There should be no need for it; The computer that is the world should just run in a closet without anyone ever seeing it. My neurons could fire and my body could move just fine, without being a display to a mysterious viewer (namely, yourself and myself). The physical model can explain EVERYTHING, except the very viewer that can see it all. That seems like a pretty big crack to me. If you said, "Look in this microscope, and see the weird bacteria there!", but then next told me, "Oh, but the microscope itself doesn't exist," I'd have some doubts about your weird bacteria as well.
So the "invalidated by evidence" thing is just totally wack. We could very well be spirits, ghosts, souls, creatures, races, beasts, devils and angels, tigers and dragons, raging from world to world through the celestial harmony.
No one can say otherwise, with certainty.
You really do not know.
Further Reading: The Neverending Story, & Momo, by Michael Ende, both famous in Germany. Michael Ende goes a long way to talk about how we bash our concepts of imaginationk, and the damage we cause ourselves for doing so.
Map Your Thoughts