Monday, October 26, 2015

Fantasy

You sit in office, laboring for 16 hours a day for the third straight day, and finish the Annual Budget in less time than it has ever been done before. You proudly go to your boss and present it, expecting him to say, "Fine job! However did you manage to do it so fast?" And he comes out with, "At last! I thought this would be ready only in time for the next year's budget." Wounded, you stagger home expecting a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. You are welcomed with the words, "Late again! Who have you been drinking with today?" (Even she does not think it possible that any other woman would care to look at you, otherwise the question may have been "Who is SHE?")

After all those shocks to the system, inflicted by reality, you sink into your sofa, open a book and start reading to lose yourself in a world where bosses are fair, wives are sympathetic, friends are helpful and the world, in general, seems not totally bereft of the promise of goodness. A balm to the soul, telling you of the possibility that mankind may, one day, arrive at that ideal state as long as the ideals are still alive as a mark to shoot at, in fiction at least. That, at least, used to be the case.

Reality, like the Black Plague, is so infectious that it seems to have started afflicting all literature. Now, you open a book and read about people who seem much the same as those you meet in real life. Exactly why that is supposed to be entertaining I have never been able to understand. I mean, if reality were entertaining, why would I even need to spend money on buying and reading books? And then my literati friend tells me, it is not supposed to entertain; it is supposed to educate.

I know that the people around me think that, when God made me, he sighed with ecstasy and said, "Perfection, at last! So what if I have only managed perfection in creating an idiot." But even I know better than to think that, if I took a manuscript of my writing to a friend, he would say, "Wow! What wonderful writing!" I know that 99.99% of the time the said friend would only give me a disbelieving look and say,"You intend to put THAT out for public view? Very...err...brave of you." I mean, there is the fiction that I was used to, where I read of people who behave as they ought to behave, and there is real life, where people will behave as they want to behave, which normally means that they will behave as they ought not to behave. God must rethink his ideas of perfection - even I am not so pure and distilled an idiot as to think that what I read in books is true of real life. So, if realism in fiction is meant to educate, the intended audience must be pure distilled idiots, if any such exist, since the less perfect ones already know about reality by living it.

Anyway, when the doors to escape to a better world became closed in regular fiction, I turned to fantasy. Here at least good was good and bad was bad; people really loved and not on a 'till divorce do us part' basis; friends were friends and did not operate on a 'as long as your friendship does not cost me my castle' basis; even foes were foes, and not merely masquerading as friends and measuring your back for the stiletto. Thank God that this genre of fiction, at least, had proved immune to the black plague of reality.

I spoke too fast. The plague HAS infected fantasy, too. Now the heroes of fantasy are much like you and me.(Must be gratifying to me to know that I need not feel bad about not being a better person, since even heroes are as bad as me? Nonsense. Like everyone else, I never applied those yardsticks to myself - only to the people around me) AND, just so you do not miss the point that they are ordinary men and women, the authors speak in great detail about their urination, defecation and every passing carnal urge. There used to be a time when, in the USA, the phrase, "What does it matter who he is? He also puts on his pants one leg at a time like me" and, somehow, that fact apparently made Abraham Lincoln equal to the chap who says that gem. Now, that is passe. Now it is more like "He also urinates, defecates, eats, barfs...."

I had never thought that the heroes of my myths - Arjun, Ram, whoever - did not have to do all that. It so happened that, since Arjun's pissing of a morning was not what made him a great bowman or caused him to kill Bhishma, the authors of those days did not see any pressing need to push my face into his shit. NOW, apparently, it is de rigeur. Distilled idiots among the reading populace must have increased rather drastically, if readers will assume that the heroes are above these needs unless they are repeatedly told about it.

So, anyway, my last refuge is also gone. Reality - or what passes for reality - is pervasive everywhere. And I am possibly the lone voice crying out that 'Realism is over-rated.'

Thank God, though, that I am not young. Otherwise, I may live till the time when realism infects my dreams as well!

20 comments:

  1. Ah! Our conversation last week ! Interested to see people's reactions to this, especially the ones who love realism in their stories.

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    1. I have no objections to realistic stories; I object mainly to the fact that escapist literature is getting marginalized :)

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  2. Really the article just portrays about the mindset of private management clearly in the very first paragraph. The same situation has been happened in my life while i have been working in research paper writing service website in the year of 2010. Yes, one day while i have been visiting my senior officer room to inform him that i have completed all the writing works which are allocated for myself. And so, i have been request permission from him to allow myself to go home. To the sad thing, my superior immediately assigned me some other new writing task and told me to go home after completing that. But, it made me to work till the completion of company working time. So, on reading this article, i have been really went on to my old memories.

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  3. Not having read contemporary fiction i am an ignoramus here.I wonder what brought this on,is it so bad?

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  4. Hidden beneath these words were some serious comments on our society today. Practicality has surely bitten everyone a tad bit too much,,

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    1. You got it, Richa! My point was exactly that. First we aspired to be heroic; then we were only guilty about not being heroic; now, we have decided that it is unrealistic and stupid to even think of being heroic - THAT is what seems to reflect in the fiction we like/write :)

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  5. What a take on the sad realities of life :)
    If all of us could indeed find an understanding boss and sympathetic partner ;-)

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    1. The saddest words in the language - if only :)

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  6. God forbid! If realism becomes all pervasive and escapist lit becomes extinct, I guess that takes the joy out of our lives. I have never ever understood people paying top dollar to come out of theaters weeping their hearts out or spending hours on end reading what passes for barf, piss, and shit lit--they can just close their eyes and imagine what goes on in their own lives, read a newspaper or take a drive around the slums. But I guess God made all of us differently, I might like humor but the next person might light reading gore, and the next person might like watching Ray movies--but I do hope that it my lifetime and perhaps for the next two generations realism doesn't become pervasive--a forlorn hope?

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    1. Absolutely forlorn hope :) I just finished reading the five books of George Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series and I find that 75% of the last two books merely details the pissing, defecating and effing of various characters :) THIS is top-hole and best-selling Fantasy, with no doubt most authors wanting to emulate it, so I daresay escapism will vanish far sooner than you thought.

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  7. "pure and distilled idiot", "realism is over-rated" - these are the two things I am taking from this piece. See, at least blogs can be educative :)
    A provactive commentary on how most literature is no longer about the inspiring and elevating. Well done, Suresh!

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    1. Wow! THAT was exactly my point - the raison d'etre of this post! Good to see that I have managed to communicate it to you, if to no-one else!

      I have always had this antipathy to people writing fiction (very well-written though they may be) about how it is alright if you are no better than a slimy worm that just crawled from under a stone because the rest of the world is the same. If one does not keep ideals alive even in literature, then how does one expect the world not to slide into the abyss?

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  8. Ha ha ! I always considered fiction to be something which afforded escapism from ordinary realities of life and non-fiction was something one could always resort to, if one was in dire-need of realism, in case you were still missing it ;) On an aside.. this was something that I read only yesterday - https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11/13/hemingway-on-writing-2/

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    1. Looks like that is not an opinion a lot of writers and readers share :) Unlike you and me :)

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  9. That's realistic.
    But, some wives are sympathetic :)
    True that over the years changed are the perceptions of - Hero & Heroic

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    1. Haha! Yeah - some are but humor thrives on exaggeration :)

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