How the Fantasy Continues to Live…A Moral Fantasia…Pachyderms on the Epiderm…

The topic of today is: How the Fantasy Continues To Live.

The first thing to resolve is the difference, if any, between “fantasy” and “dream.” I’m assuming that the technical definition of “dream” pertains mostly to sleep. However, there is the everyday presence, without stigma, about the “daydream.” But if we dream at night and dream at day, what is there to tell the difference between a dream and a fantasy?

The first urge is to consult a dictionary. “Let’s be specific, here,” we reason. “Let’s consult the data.” And perhaps I am accidentally broaching the fantasy/dream topic too early, but perhaps we can also agree that a dream, or the data of a word, as it were–a series of widely remarked-upon usages–often contain something different from that. Something a little bit more or less. Some aspect of the data, missing.

And I think in trying to tell the truth about something, there is really no reason to discount those missing pieces. A word, fractured into its public self and its private self.

Dreams haunt us. Even if they are happy, they are bizarre, and we don’t know why they happen. A scientific worldview only accommodates the view that they are random firings of the brain. And this would appear to explain some of it. But why do they haunt us? What is it that makes us feel violated and beholden by our dreams?

That requires examination of the private self of the word.

Here, normally, I would be eager to turn to somebody wiser than myself, mostly because I’d want to hear something wise said about something that occupied me but about which I had little to say. But I am alone in my room with not enough light to read, and so I am limited with myself for the moment.

A fantasy is in some way illicit, if only in that it represents a joyful betrayal of the present moment. Any longing at all, in fact, is that. That we are guilty of this it goes without saying. But it is a joy, and we are not haunted by it. We control it, to some extent–are able to turn our attention to something, anything, that our minds find pleasurable.

What is this strange relationship of the dream and the fantasy, of the line between them clearly demarcated by control and haunting and joy? Where does that line meet us?

ch. 2

I have a fantasy about a certain bicycle. I have a fantasy about cell phones. I have a fantasy about apartments. I have a fantasy about 1958 Corvettes, 1971 Malibu Customs, and a goddam 1964 Lincoln Continental in black-on-white. Life can never be a fantasy, because a fantasy is just anything you don’t have.

ch. 3

I wrote down a dream the other night: “Dream Last Night:

Living with Maayan in an
Apartment. Sleeping in a bed
In the kitchen, which is stuffed
With canned good and packaged foods.
There is a sink at the far wall,
And cabinets surrounding it, between
Which is a narrow window. Maayan
Is standing at it. Outside, an
Unreal vivid sky of clouds and
Dark purple is swirling together,
Being sucked out of sight around a
Single point directly over the point
Of the empire state building. Birds,
Mostly small gulls, are rushing in
Enormous, dense flocks past the
Window. She seems barely to notice
When some of them try to swoop
In. All the while she
Talks about how nice the apartment
Is. I comment on the strange
Occurrence of the disappearing clouds.”

(enjambment preserved)

ch. 4

How can I reconcile these hallucinations with one another? Where do I fit in among this crowd of alternate universes? And there is the fear that perhaps there isn’t enough room, and you must choose and step into a new one. And how disastrous, when you aren’t ready. But there is no ready; everything is different, and nothing happens more than once. So sometimes we are shuttled by force from dream to fantasy, from fantasy to dream, from dream to reality, all the way around, over and over again.

ch. 5

(click)

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One response to “How the Fantasy Continues to Live…A Moral Fantasia…Pachyderms on the Epiderm…

  1. I wrote about fantasy and its continual detractors in The joys of fantasy and Romance. It might interest you, like J. Hillis Miller’s On Literature, a short book that has much to say about books and the literary dream.

    Here, normally, I would be eager to turn to somebody wiser than myself, mostly because I’d want to hear something wise said about something that occupied me but about which I had little to say.

    Check out Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories.”

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