“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
“So we can believe the big ones?”
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
“They’re not the same at all!”
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
“Hogfather”, Terry Pratchett
When you wish for something to happen so hard that you’re willing to go great lengths to achieve it and you finally get it, you may learn that it is not what you were hoping for in the first place. It’s even worse when you discover that it is exactly what you asked for but very far from what you wanted. I am pretty certain that there’s this bunch of genies who are always on the verge of dying of boredom and therefore try to pick up any wishes in the ether they can get their hands on, just to make someone’s life miserable – and therefore entertaining – by fulfilling those wishes to the letter, only with a horrible twist.
Having fantasies is extremely important (and by this I don’t mean the kind that will get you off, although those are nice as well). Their purpose is exactly what the quote above says – “to be human”. The older you become, the more boring your everyday life tends to get and this is where the brain can kick in and help you cope with the mindnumbing dullness of routine in order to avoid you becoming this bitter aging person that gets on everyone else’s nerves.
Every social construct is, when you get right down to it, a fantasy. They are simply shared by a significant number of people and are therefore considered The Truth. A million flies on cowpats can’t be wrong, right? Doesn’t necessarily have to be a cowpat, other animals poop as well to the flies’ great delight (and different cultures have different fantasies), but the general principle remains the same.
I don’t understand people who say they have no imagination. I’m sure they do but it’s somewhere very deep down and they just don’t want to let it out because that would be silly or improper or childish. Mine, on the other hand, is more vivid than I would care for at times… Yet again it seems that I may have imagined something that drew me to a person in the first place, as it looks like these features have been washed off as time went by and now I don’t even know if they were ever there to begin with. I don’t know what to believe any more and reality seems to be harsher than I would prefer.
The moment you try to squeeze a fantasy into everyday life without making the necessary adjustments in your mindset first is the moment when things start going downhill. It’s like trying to push a square peg in a round hole – if you try really hard, you will probably manage it but is it worth the trouble and broken fingernails?